Home » Features » Who’s Actually Upset with the New Roman Missal?

Who’s Actually Upset with the New Roman Missal?


Wading through the press coverage surrounding the introduction of the third edition of the Roman Missal, as this post at GetReligion points out, can get repetitive quickly, particularly because of reporters’ insistence on covering the liturgical changes from the angle of a “controversy.” But regardless of whether the press’ inclination to ensure dissenting voices get their due (or, in many instances, undue) column ink is a calculated decision or simply the side-effect of a misguided belief in ‘fairness’ that every story should have competing voices, the real question remaining to be asked is about the source of this alleged opposition. Is there even a serious challenge to the Missal’s revision in the Church’s own ranks, or does the bulk of the criticism originate elsewhere?

Perhaps the most significant and coherent internal opposition came in the form of “What If We Just Said Wait?”, an online petition urging bishops to delay (not abandon) the introduction of the revised text. And, truth be told, this campaign  really wasn’t all that significant: as of today, it has approximately 22,000 signatures, mostly laypeople (despite the New York Timesnumber-immune assertion that “many” priests have signed it). And, in a country where an estimated 77 million citizens are baptized Catholics, 22,000 is a rather miniscule number.

For the most part, it looks as if even the Church’s most articulate internal critics have no desire to wage a protracted battle over the changes. Implementation seems to have mostly gone smoothly on the clergy’s side, and lingering resistance seems to be settling into “loyal opposition”—hardly ideal, but hardly a catastrophe or a civil war in the making. To take just one telling article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a prominent member of the local clergy, Fr. Michael Ryan, who is described as a “former critic” of the changes, is now publicly vowing to “make [them] work” as best he can. Though the newspaper seeks out a dissenting voice, it can only find it in “former priest” John Pinette, who lobs laughable hyperbole at the Church (the new translation, he blusters, constitutes “Vatican vandalism” by a sort of ecclesial “Tea Party” uncomfortable with “modernity and pluralism”). [more]


First Things



  1. Wendy says:

    I take exception to the article’s reference to the insignificant number of dissenters. In today’s Church there is no forum for the laity to voice their opinions so how would the author KNOW how many people are unhappy with the new format? The laity can’t or worse yet are afraid to speak out and even if they did their opinions wouldn’t carry any weight. Even the involved theologians weren’t heard! We don’t have a loving patriarchal church we have a frightened old group dictatorship in Rome grasping for the security of “old ways”. Instead they should be leading with faith in the Holy Spirit (Not Ghost) and faith in a loving God who has already died for our salvation. We don’t need a fearful, sin filled approach to faith. What we need is leadership by people who grasp the concept that we are already saved by Christ’s death and we just need to live life by the New Commandment he gave us! I’m a grandmother who is getting really tired of waiting for the Rome to catch up!

  2. Le-an says:

    I’m displeased with the new translation, too bad it’s not in effect in the Philippines. The 1998 translation was better than this, wait for the uproar it will cause here in the Philippines, not all of us are literate, and majority are Fair-Weather Catholics(mediocre catholics who don’t care to know anything about they’re faith). Sure You can translate verbatim from Latin but it will sound RUBBISH! especially if it will be translated verbatim to Filipino(P: SUMAINYO ANG PANGINOON
    All: AT SUMAKALULUWA NIYO RIN). Its like Jejemon. eewwwww!!!!! let see if it reaches a year here in the Philippines

  3. terry paul says:

    Eucharistic prayer: from All, to MANY, next, MAYBE SOME!
    Evangelazation! Reduction is what is being sought and they will make decision of who is honored with Rome membership. Yuk

  4. D G Timbs says:

    It’s no wonder that the revised English translation of 1998 – eighteen years in the making was swept aside by Card Medina-Estevez bureaucratic diktat, Liturgiam Authenticam of 2001. Some of the important rationale of this can be seen in a 2003 letter to the SSPX disciple Heinz-Lothar Barth by Card Ratzinger,
    “I believe, though, that in the long term the Roman Church must have again a single Roman rite. The existence of two official rites is for bishops and priests difficult to ‘manage’ in practice. The Roman Rite of the future should be a single rite, celebrated in Latin or the vernacular, but standing completely in the tradition of the rite that has been handed down….. Dear Dr Barth, if you commit yourself to work for the cause of the ligurgy in this way, youwill surely not stand alone, and you will prepare ‘public opinion in the Church’ for eventual measures in favor of an expanded use of the earlier liturgical books…” Full documentation can be accessed in Joseph S. O’Leary weblog, 2007/11.

  5. EUGENE AHERN says:

    I for one am MOST upset by the bizarre new translation.
    In my parish in Melbourne< Australia, despite efforts by the pastor to promote the new responses by the people, most of the congregation have "voted with their voices". They now either remain silent or answer with the "old" responses.
    The new translation is just another act of stupidity by the Church heirarchy who are happier playing liturgical games and dressups instead of trying to bring the person and spirit of Jesus to the people of our world today who are hungry for real spirituality.
    Eugene Ahern
    Melbourne, Australia

    • Jim says:

      I am dumbfounded when I read this. As a Catholic, I believe that when the Son of God sent the Holy Spirit upon his bride, the Church, it would be led to all truth until the end of time.

      The new translation of the Roman Missal is an example of a spirit-lead gift given to the Church for good reasons. It is not happenstance. Our God speaks to us through his Church. That is an important and fundamental tenet of our Faith. Why do so many find this absolute truth so difficult to grasp?

      It frankly doesn’t matter what I think of or feel about how we now celebrate Mass. Divine Providence is in charge and is revealed through the authoritative teaching office of the Church.
      Let us rejoice and be glad.

    • Chuck Hunt says:

      Great comment brother!!! Keep up that spirit!!!!

    • Chuck Hunt says:

      This is a great comment brother! I tried to sent you this comment before but I guess I posted it to a wrong person!!!

  6. Tom Mycals says:

    I am sad for our Church and her BIshops that has become so far out of touch with the people in the pews. I long to pray in my own language. It is my right. This is not American English.

  7. Jim says:

    I can’t imagine anyone who would be upset by the new 3rd edition of the Roman Missal. This volume represents an attempt to rediscover the sacred roots of our liturgy from many centuries ago through a precise and faithful English translation of the original Latin. It also corrects the hastily done inaccurate paraphrases of some liturgical language from the 1960s that we’ve had to live with for nearly 40 years. Thank God for Pope Benedict XVI and for the “reform of the reform.” His completion of what was first begun by Blessed John Paul II is commendable and long overdue. How blessed we are to have had these two enormously gifted men occupying the Chair of Peter since 1978.

  8. “So who’s most upset with the new edition of the Roman Missal? In short, individuals who don’t seem to have a stake in the matter, nor any interest in acquiring one.”

    If you will also look at the http://www.praytellblog.com/
    you will see that those most upset include those most competent in the matter.

    A few in the Roman Curia pushed their jurisdiction beyond all previous limits and forced out those with academic expertise or experience. This translation is not the one which had wide consultation. This is a travesty which was imposed with no concern for English-speakers getting something functional but for the sake of avoiding inclusive language, ending shared language with Protestants just for the sake of distinctiveness, elevating the idea of a sacerdotal clergy instead of a servant leadership ministry.

    In the process, the Curial insiders arbitrarily discarded two decades of work which had already been approved by eleven different bishops’ conferences.

    This palace coup already has struck down those with great stakes in the matter and finished the counter-collegialty agenda of the curialists. They took over the synods, they now create their own lists [ternae] of possible bishops instead of actually consulting local bishops, now they have steam rolled the episcopal conferences in this and imposed a rule of unanimity in making other statements. The power is re-centralized.

    The people in the pews are being returned to passivity, exactly the opposite of what Vatican II intended. This process has been visible ans successful for more than two decades. So, if the author thinks the only relevant people, the only one with a stake in the matter, are the laity at Mass, there is no interest in making an issue of it. They are pretty well tuned-out and attending under penalty of law.

    Nor will it drive many away. The truly angry are already gone. Changing the words will make it harder for them to come back comfortably. Maybe that was part of the idea.

    • Peggy says:

      Right on, Tom! I strongly suspect that the 22,000 responding to the survey represent those who really care about the liturgy as the “worship of the People of God”. People usually just go meekly along not paying much attention to the meaning of the words, even before the new Missal. Listening carefully to the catechesis on the changes only made me reflect on the meaning of the words I’ve recited by rote and disagree more strongly with the changes. If we needed change, how about changing the INSULT of “lead us not into temptation”? What kind of God would do that? It is an acknowledged mistranslation of Scripture. And now EVERYONE is supposed to confess “most grievous fault”. And MEAN it?!!! Not likely.

  9. irene hartman says:

    I can’t say I like the changes but this is the least we can do…accept them with a grin. They won’t go away.Might as well be positive about them.

  10. Michael says:

    I haven’t heard one complaint in my parish about the New Missal. Most of us were saying,”I like it.” and, “We’ll get used to it.” I guess there are still priests from the sixties who were denim stoles and sing songs that don’t go beyond a grade school level. They still think that the common people are stupid. I think we’re growing up.

  11. John says:

    OK, First Things. Time for empirical evidence. Find the grandmother, the teen and the single mother of two in your assembly. I know we usually ignore these folks as we gaze on the face of the clergy, but try. Now read both versions of Eucharistic Prayer III to these members of Christ’s body. Then ask them to diagram those prayers and to immediately repeat what they heard, that is, what they understood they were hearing. If the least among us cannot understand what they are actually praying, then your article is nothing more than grandstanding propaganda.

  12. J.C. Paisley says:

    Sorry, very poor excuse to say that the reporters are only contacting those upset. I think the whole process is “top down” power of poor leaders in the Church.

  13. Msgr. Andrew G. Varga says:

    Chicken Little didn’t get too far with “The Sky is Falling!” angle either…
    99% of the changes fall upon the tongues of priests (of whom I am but one); only 1% upon the people of God in the pew.
    Yes, as I go through them day by day (all of 3 now), the prayers make me stop and think about how to render their inner meaning as effectively as I can… is that the worst that could happen?


Leave a Comment