Tuesday 16 January 2018

Priests fear Mass confusion as Vatican gets lost in translation

John Cooney Religion Correspondent

MASSGOERS will be faced with an archaic version of the missal if bishops push ahead with a controversial plan, despite priests warning it would be a "disaster".

Yesterday, a group representing priests around the country called on the bishops to delay the introduction of the new prayer book, which it says uses sexist and outdated English.

At a news conference in Dublin, the Association of Catholic Priests appealed to the Conference of Bishops to defer the new translation for five years.

The translation -- which is being prepared by the Vatican -- is a literal translation from Latin to English and is due to be introduced in November.

It also urged the bishops to begin consulting clergy and lay people in preparing a more suitable and understandable text.

However, last night a spokesman for the bishops said they will go ahead with the Vatican edition on November 27.

He also rejected suggestions that the text was anti-woman.

The Irish bishops plan to use the new English version, but the final official text is still to be published by the Vatican.

Chairman Fr PJ Madden said the association feared that the imposition by the Vatican of a revised prayer book containing arcane language would lead to "chaos and confusion".

Pointing to "the grave concern" of priests, religion teachers and lay people that the style of English was so "convoluted", he said the bishops should follow the example of the German bishops, who told Rome of their opposition to "unfamiliar new interpretations" and have insisted on "good German texts".

Fr Madden urged the Bishops Conference to assert its right to make its own decisions about how Mass is celebrated here.

"It is particularly ironic that this Latinised, stilted English is being imposed on Irish people who are so blessed with world-renowned poets, playwrights and novelists," he said.

The association also opposes the use of texts that insult and offend women. "Many women will be rightly enraged by the deliberate use of non-inclusive language," he said.

Fr Dermot Lane, a theologian, said that if implemented, it would discourage the involvement of the people.

He also warned that parts of the translation used inclusive language insensitive to other Christian churches.

He instanced "a betrayal" in the creed that changes the traditional references to Jesus as saving "all" to "the many", and of "Christ being one with the Father" to "consubstantial with the Father", which no one seemed able to interpret at all.


Limerick priest Fr Gerard Alwill deplored "the terrible language" which was "very cumbersome, awkward and archaic".

"It is a disaster for young people, who will laugh at the language, and it will make it harder for parents encouraging their children to attend Mass," said Fr Alwill, who feared it would push away many Irish Catholics clinging to their faith in the wake of the clerical child abuse scandals.

Fr Padraig McCarthy, a retired Dublin priest, highlighted how some passages consisted of long sentences of up to 70 or 80 words which would not be understood by worshippers.

In a clear signal of its intention of going ahead with the Vatican version, the Catholic bishops' website yesterday published its explanation of -- and support for -- the new text.

Irish Independent

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