Thursday, September 30, 2010

FAQs About the new English Missal.

A couple months ago Cardinal George of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), announced the Vatican’s approval of a new English-language translation of the Roman Missal. It is scheduled to begin use in U.S. dioceses on Nov. 27, 2011.

“From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America” he proclaimed.

He probably didn’t mean to ban other Missals in Latin, Spanish, French, etc. Nor is it clear that George has any real power outside his own diocese. Nonetheless, the official indoctrination of the new liturgy has begun with priests and liturgists across the country. To help the faithful laity (pray, pay and obey types), an anonymous author offered some Frequently Asked Questions about the new missal.

What principles lie behind the translation of the new missal?
Primarily, the principle of personalities triumphing over policies; secondarily, the principle of centralism triumphing over collegiality.

What, then, is the primary reason for accepting the new missal?
Obedience to authority apart from narrow considerations of competence or rationality.

What can one expect to gain by accepting the new missal?
The obedience proposed above is a rich source of grace. It is precisely in this sense that the new missal will contribute to the sanctification of clergy and lay ministers.

What role did concern for the People of God play in the creation of the new missal?
The who?

What role did the teachings of the Second Vatican Council play in the creation of the new missal?
The what?

How will the new missal serve to restore a sense of mystery to the sacred liturgy?
Complicated sentence structure will make it a mystery what a pronoun might refer to, or which noun might go with the verb.

Does the new translation faithfully follow the Roman instruction on translation Liturgiam authenticam?
Yes, except when it doesn’t.

Does the new translation faithfully translate the Latin of the Missale Romanum?
Yes, except when it doesn’t.

Does the inclusion in the new translation of elements of the current translation suggest inconsistency on the part of Roman authorities?
No; it suggests, rather, the passage from truth to greater truth.

Is there a discernible pattern to the inclusion of elements of the current translation in the new translation?
The pattern of inclusion of the current translation, like the triune nature of the Godhead, lies beyond the powers of human reason but is not contrary to human reason.

What is the Holy See offering to the English-speaking churches with this new translation?
A strong apologetic for the rejected 1997/1998 sacramentary.

What attitude on the part of clergy and lay ministers will be most helpful in the implementation of the new missal?
A desire to serve the People of God by making the best of things, no matter what.

Is that last answer intended ironically?
No; it is, rather, the most serious response here given.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Does the Pope dress funny…

... or is he just a Fashionisto? As Vatican II thinking and theology takes a backseat in Rome, and by imposition, in dioceses throughout the world, fashions are also going retro. With a new raft of monsignors in Chicago, the demand for fancy cassocks is going up. Once again young clerics can treasure red-plumed birettas in their “hope chests”. Mothballed fiddleback vestments are again seeing the light of day with the revived Tridentine Masses which takes laity off the altar and puts them back in the pews.

To keep the laity informed of Papal sartorial trends, the Chicago Catholic New World recently did a lengthy article on the inside cover. It tried to explain the intricacies of papal couture. One must admit that B16 is a sharp dresser and makes a fashion statement wherever he goes.

Of course there are some critics (including Justice Ann Burke) who feel that rather than regal garb and Prada slippers, simpler papal clothing would show greater humility– but obviously those critics simply aren’t Catholic enough to understand.

Monday, September 13, 2010


During the past half-century renewal weekends have been one of the church’s most effective tools for deepening and enriching the faith of thousands of adults and teens. Cursillos, CHRP (Christ Renews His Parish), Kairos, TEC (Teens Encounter Christ) and similar programs have powerfully impacted individuals, families and entire communities. So also have more specialized efforts such as Pre-Cana and Marriage Encounter. However, the growing shortage of priests, coupled with a rise in clericalism, threatens to diminish these activities.

In the old days, traditional religious retreats were conducted by a spiritual director, most often a priest, who gave a series of talks to devout Catholics who were expected to maintain silence, examine their consciences, make a good confession, and compile a list of resolutions for future improvement. It was all done with a minimum of interaction with the other retreatants. By contrast, renewal weekends were presented by a team of lay men or women who, with a priest, deacon, nun or pastoral associate, worked together to present a series of “witness talks” based on Scriptural themes illuminated by their own personal experiences of God in the ups and downs of daily life. Following each talk was a table discussion in which participants shared their reflections and experiences. Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation offered opportunities to integrate all of this in a sacramental context.

The weekend was only one part of the total experience. The presenting team met weekly for two months beforehand to prepare and test their talks, recruit participants, and work out practical details. At the end of the weekend, the newcomers were invited to volunteer to form a new team to present the next weekend. The old team often continued to meet periodically to continue their own spiritual development. In some cases, these groups have continued for decades. As a result of these experiences, many participants have become much more actively involved in other parish or civic activities.

Renewal weekends have had an especially powerful effect on teens, especially high school Seniors, for whom it has provided an opportunity to sort out their lives and values as they prepare to enter college. Many young people, who had been turned off by institutional religion, have rediscovered new dimensions of faith and spirituality. In some cases, there has been a strong impact on their fellow students, especially in public schools, and on their families. Some participants have even initiated renewal weekends at their colleges and universities. And, not surprisingly, a number of marriages resulted from contacts made on these weekends.

However, this treasure of the Post-Vatican II Church is vulnerable today. One wag observed that the title “Christ renews his parish” could be recast as “Christ destroys his priest” because all of this requires so much time and energy from the clergy or lay ministers. Even though the laity does most of the work, they need the cooperation and encouragement of a supportive pastor. Today’s clergy shortage compels even the most dedicated and creative priest to ration his time and energy. Likewise with other staff members. Moreover, the new clericalism of many so-called J.P.II priests focuses more on the hierarchical prerogatives of the ordained, and less on the value of the life experience of the laity. “Pray, pay and obey” appears to be the job description of lay folk in the current dispensation.

So, is there any way to save this wonderful treasure? Or is it destined to become a footnote in the history of the Catholic Church in the 21st century? As the old comedian Jimmy Durante was wont to say, “That would be a revoltin’ development, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Taking on the Cardinal?

Years ago the Association of Chicago Priests (ACP) banded together to face the heavy-handedness of Cardinal Cody. The ACP found much more in common with Cardinal Bernadin and lost the confrontational edge. Now, it seems to be more of a lapdog for George... but that doesn't mean some individual priests aren't still able to state some dissent when necessary. Here's a blog from

Cardinal facing increasing unrest in Chicago-area parishes -- from those in pews and pulpits

(POSTED: 9/6/10) In a sign of increasing tensions within the Catholic Church locally, a west suburban pastor recently used his parish bulletin to rip Cardinal Francis George's decision to pursue the honorary title of "monsignor" for a number of Chicago-area priests -- calling the move "silly" and "shameful."

The Rev. Thomas McQuaid, pastor of St. Leonard Church in Berwyn, wrote a scathing column in the Aug. 15 bulletin that indicated there were more important things to be focusing on -- including the Church's response to sex abuse by clergy."Recently, the Cardinal has announced that he has recommended [to Pope Benedict XVI] that 40 among us be named monsignors," McQuaid wrote. "You might see all this, as I do -- as rather silly in light of far more important matters which remain unaddressed like the failure of the Cardinal, [Auxiliary] Bishop [George] Rassas and Fr. Ed Grace to have protected children from the abuse of Fr. Dan [McCormack] and the inestimable damage done to these young people and their families and the millions of dollars paid by the Archdiocese in settlements.""

Months ago, I asked the Cardinal not to move forward with this plan, calling it shameful in light of the economic situation we find ourselves in these days. You ask: 'Why is this an economic issue?' It is 'expected' that a 'gift' be offered to the Vatican for each title conferred. In the past, I think the 'expected gift' was around $5,000 each. I suspect that now it is probably $8,000-$10,000 each -- of course, we will never know.Again, it's your money!"

In response to a question from about this, the archdiocese indicated the figure was substantially lower: $150 for each "scroll," which was covered by the cardinal. But the media office did not answer a follow-up question about whether that constituted the total offering.Neither the cardinal nor Rassas returned phone calls. Grace, the former vicar for priests, declined to comment.

McCormack was convicted of abusing a number of boys while he was at a West Side parish. Archdiocesan officials -- including the cardinal -- have been criticized for not heeding warnings, investigating allegations fully and acting quickly enough to protect children.

George also has been under fire for petitioning the pope to bestow "papal honors" on a number of priests. The recently announced honors carry the "monsignor" title, which dates back centuries but fell out of favor starting in the 1960s with Vatican II reforms.

The cardinal consulted with a number of local priests, who told him resurrecting the title wasn't a good idea, because it would effectively create a new caste of priests. But George went ahead anyway, explaining in an archdiocesan publication:"

Some will not want to be honored because of their humility; but sometimes humility means accepting an honor that is not just for the individual but for everyone else as well. A few in the archdiocese might object to anyone receiving papal honors because they want to distance this local church from the Holy See. But alienation is not a virtue."Twenty priests just received the title, although others may have been approached about it.

Either way, that's not the only thorny issue in the local Church these days. There are signs of rebellion elsewhere, rooted in part in a recent Vatican pronouncement that puts female ordination on the same level as priestly sex abuse. (Only men may be priests in the Roman Catholic tradition.)

In Oak Park, members of St. Giles Church launched a massive petition drive to advocate for better treatment of women in the Church.

And the pastor of Ascension Parish in Oak Park, the Rev. Larry McNally, recently apologized from the pulpit to the women of the congregation for the way they have been treated by the Church leadership.His own spiritual director, who is a woman, recently stopped attending mass because she was so "totally disgusted" with the Church, McNally said.

Over in Glenview at the massive Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, the Rev. Tom Hickey touched on various themes in his Aug. 15 bulletin."Increasingly I don’t think the ordinary people of the Church should have the burden of trying to understand the machinations of what seems like an old boy’s club," Hickey wrote. "The way I see it, it is the institutional Church that needs to work harder at understanding us, the faithful."

He also wrote: "What can we do? Well for one, we need to speak our truth with love to our Church leaders, including parish priests like myself. Keeping silent is being complicit. We need to encourage one another, let each other know that we together are the Church. Each of us has a part to play. And we need to hang in; it is our Church too. Recently I visited Siena where St. Catherine, an unschooled woman, took on Popes and Bishops to reform the Church she loved. Can we do any less?"

By ChicagoCatholicNews.comContact: