Eugene Kennedy Observations in NCR – June 30th


Vatican II Deniers in American Catholicism

American Catholicism should be preparing for 2020 when a large increase in the Catholic population, mostly Hispanic, will present Church leaders with the challenge to open rather than close new churches and schools. Instead of preparing for the future, bishops and priests now in key administrative and pastoral positions, led by Pope Benedict XVI, are dressing the set of Catholic life with props from the past in an effort to take the church back to 1920.

That era of simplistically captioned silent movies is now re-created through the awkwardly translated liturgical readings soon to be expensively imposed on what these self-styled “reformers” hope to be passive and silent parishioners. Americans are not, however, alone in experiencing this phenomenon. In May the bishops of England and Wales restored meatless Fridays year round for Catholics. In the same month a nun held up a silver reliquary carrying the blood of the newly beatified Pope John Paul II, to applause by a large crowd in St. Peter’s Square. Besides alerting Pope Benedict to beware of doctors holding syringes, this reveals the Transylvanian caste of some of the clerics now decorating the set of Catholicism throughout the world.

2 thoughts on “Eugene Kennedy Observations in NCR – June 30th

  1. In the interest of becoming less “passive and silent” in the face of the new Missal, here are a few aspects of the spin, not to say propaganda, that people may be hearing in their parishes or reading in their diocesan papers:

    1. “We needed a new, accurate translation of the Mass from the original Latin.”
    Problems: a) the Latin text that was used is not ancient at all — it was substantially revised before publication in 2000 in a way that emphasizes human sinfulness and dependence on God’s mercy. b) In 1998 we had a very well done new English translation of the 1970 Latin text that was approved by an overwhelming majority of English-speaking bishops, sent to Rome for approval — and was rejected out of hand. Why? We had no idea at the time. But this was followed up three years later by “Liturgiam authenticam” which changed the rules on translation to a literal adherence to the Latin, even when the resulting English text violated normal language structure and syntax. c) There are numerous mistranslations in the 2010 English Missal, many thousands of them added secretly after the bishops of English-speaking countries saw the proposed text in 2008.

    2. “The reason we have the new English version is translation.” In fact that’s the cover. One of the deeper issues is the suppression of inclusive language: see John Wilkins, “Lost in Translation,” in The Tablet, Dec 5, 2005. Another issue is clericalism: see the new prayer over the gifts in which the presider prays that “my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable…” It used to be “OUR sacrifice.”

    3. “This is a more authentic Catholic language.” Wrong again. It resembles an imitation of nineteenth-century upper-class British written discourse. Whether upper-class Brits ever spoke like this outside of “Masterpiece Theatre” is another story, but it’s telling that many U.K. Catholics have signed on to the petition at http://www.whatifwejustsaidwait.org

    4. “This style is more elegant and elevated.” The style is choppy and awkward, the vocabulary antiquated and sometimes invented (“coheirs”.) Dependent clauses float free of the elements they modify. Some phrases such as the much-ridiculed “dewfall” insert poetic or biblical references without context or clear relation to the text. Other expressions are simply shocking in their lack of pastoral sensitivity: one Preface for Lent claims that we are to be purified “so that, free of our disordered affections…” References to humility and self-abasement abound.

    A number of concerned Catholics plan to use the 1998 Missal come November, others just plan to continue using the current one.

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