| 14.9°C Dublin

Catholics move back to beating of breasts

In a move that will begin in churches here next week, thousands of Catholics across Britain are now "beating their breasts" in acts of penitence at Mass.

And, instead of responding to the greeting of their priest with "And also with you", they replied: "And with your spirit".

The controversial new translation of the English Missal has taken more than 30 years to bring to fruition and signals a victory by conservatives over the liberal liturgical tendencies of the late 20th century.

The gradual introduction of the missal will begin at Masses here from Sunday. It is planned that it will be in full use throughout Ireland and the English-speaking Catholic world by the end of November.


Breast-beating during Mass has never officially ended, but the practice became less common after the previous translation appeared to minimise its significance.

The new translation includes the phrase: "And striking their breast, they say: through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault" rather than, as previously, just "through my own fault".

This reflects the Latin: "Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa".

Meanwhile, the American priest who led the campaign against the new translation is now leading the campaign for its use throughout the English-speaking world.

Father Michael Ryan, former chancellor of the Seattle Archdiocese, writes in The Tablet, the Catholic newspaper in Britain, that although he still has doubts about some of the translations, priests should follow them. He said: "I intend to implement the new Missal and not change a word... no matter how offensive I may personally find it."