Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) -
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted yesterday to accept proposed changes to the English translation of the Mass.
Although a survey released last November by the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy indicated that the bishops might be split on the changes, an overwhelming majority voted to accept the proposal, with some minor amendments. After much prayer and discussion during the months leading up to the meeting, the Bishops debated for only 20 minutes on Thursday on a variety of wording changes, then voted to accept the new translation.
The changes, widely reported by the Catholic and secular press, will alter the wording of 12 of the 19 texts spoken by Catholics during worship, including the Nicene Creed, the Gloria, the Penitential Rite, the Sanctus and Communion. While some fear that the changes will cause confusion in the parish, many bishops believe that the adjustments will be a smooth transition compared to the turmoil experienced by many parishes in the 1970’s, following the changes of Vatican II.
Fr. Christopher Layden, a scholar of Catholic liturgy who spent five years in Rome studying at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’Anselmo, said that Catholics should not be worried about the changes. “Thirty-some years ago we made the transition from Latin, a language which no one speaks, to English,” Fr. Layden said, “to think that the current changes will result in some kind of catastrophe at the parish level is to seriously underestimate the people of God.”
“I’ve heard the concern raised that the new translations are too distant from the way we speak ‘on the street’,” Layden continued, “in some ways, that is precisely the idea. While the saying of the Mass in English is meant to draw people in from their everyday lives, the whole purpose of the Mass is then to uplift us, to lift our eyes and ears to heaven. If anything, these changes will remind Catholics of what is really happening in the Mass.”
The long process of making changes to the English translation has taken the work of numerous linguistic, biblical, and liturgical scholars. Following the announcement of the document Liturgiam Authenticam in 2001 the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) was asked by the Vatican to propose a version of the English Mass which was more faithful to the original Latin. Liturgiam Authenticam - subtitled, On the use of Vernacular Languages in the Publication of the Books of the Roman Liturgy - aims at ensuring that the Roman Catholic Mass is celebrated using translations which are more uniform despite the diversity of nationalities and primary languages which exist among the faithful of Catholic Church. The English translation proposed by ICEL, which is led by 11 bishops from 11 English-speaking countries around the world, required the approval of the US Bishops before it can be finally approved by the Vatican.
A USCCB source has told CNA that although the bishops made slight adjustments to the proposed translation, the changes do not substantially affect the sprit of what the Vatican had encouraged through ICEL, and has no doubt that the amended final document will be approved.
Bishop Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds (England) and Chairman of ICEL, spoke to the American Bishops prior to the vote telling them that their vote was “a very important moment.” “If the bishops of the English-speaking countries can agree on a single version of the Mass,” Bishop Roche said, “what a sign of catholicity that will be.”
Bishop Roche told the bishops that following Vatican II there was, “an urgent feeling that the liturgy should be made available to the people as soon as possible, and the work was rushed.” Many theologians, he said, think that through the hurried translation currently in use, much of the richness of the Church’s Eucharistic theology has been “severely diminished.” This, he said can change with the new translation
Paraphrasing Pope Benedict, Roche closed by telling the bishops, “Of course, if you try to carry a cup of coffee across a room too quickly, much of the contents may spill. This time, we have tried to keep the coffee in the cup.”
Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) - The U.S.. Catholic bishops declared on Thursday that local bishops should decide, on an individual basis, how to handle politicians who profess the Catholic faith and yet deny Catholic teachings.
The Bishops’ task force on Catholics in political life, which was formed following the 2004 presidential elections, presented its findings to the entire U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who are holding their triennial meeting this week in Los Angeles.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retiring Archbishop of Washington and chairman of the task force, told the bishops that they should be deeply concerned for the souls of the Catholic Politicians operating in their dioceses and should attempt to draw them more closely to the Church through conversation and dialogue. "Our concern is not politics, nor just particular policies, but their faith and even their salvation. These dialogues are not about winning votes, but saving souls," he said.
The task force met with numerous Catholic politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, during their study.
The bishops who took part in the task force said that it is increasingly difficult to dialogue with many of the politicians who remain at odds with the Church’s teaching on life issues. While the bishops are intent on bringing politicians back into the fold in support of Catholic teachings, they say, it is slow difficult work. At the same time, one bishop said, there can arise pressure from the vocal conservatives in the Church who demand immediate action.
At that point, the bishop is faced with the question of taking severe action with the politician, such as denying communion to the politician or, if it seems that the politician may be coming more in-line, reserving direct action. This judgment, the task force decided, must be reserved for the individual bishop’s judgment in each individual case.
McCarrick also told the bishops that they should be on guard against over politicizing issues within the church, telling them, "My concern is the fear that the intense polarization and bitter battles of partisan politics may be seeping into the broader ecclesial life of our Catholic people and maybe even of our Conference."
The task force has published a small booklet of "Readings on Catholics and Political Life" which they have given to every Catholic member of the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives.
Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) - Following Thursday’s approval of a new translation of the Mass in English, by the Bishops of the United States, several Catholics are wondering how the Mass changes will affect their experience. Below are listed a few of the more notable changes to the words the congregation prays:
On of the most commonly used exchanges between priest and people during the Mass is currently translated "The Lord be with you" / "And also with you". The new translation would read, "The Lord be with you" / "And with your spirit". Bishop Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds (England) and Chairman of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, briefly explained this change yesterday.
The translation of the phrase “et cum spritu tuo,” Bishop Roche said, “cannot be understood without reference to St Paul, who will often address a person, for example Timothy, by referring to ‘your spirit’ rather than simply to ‘you.’ What is the significance of this? Well, he is addressing someone close to God who has God’s spirit. So when we reply, ‘and with your spirit,’ we are indicating that we are part of a spiritual community, it is God’s spirit that has gathered us together.
The prayer Catholics say prior to communion, which currently reads, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,” would now be translated, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.” This response, Roche said, is supposed to be reminiscent of the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant. (found in Matthew 8:8 and Luke 7:6).
During the praying of the Nicene Creed Catholics would together profess their own personal faith, saying “I believe,” instead of “We believe.”
The penitential rite at the beginning of Mass would be expanded to mirror more closely the Latin translation. Whereas Catholics currently say, "I have sinned through my fault," they would eventually say, "I have sinned greatly through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault."
Additionally, the wording of the “Sanctus” or “Holy, Holy” would change slightly, from, "Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might," to, "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God of hosts."
Bishop Roche emphasized that the translation changes not only reflect more precisely the Mass in Latin, but also aim at faithfulness to the origin of the prayers. “The prayers of the Mass, Bishop Roche said, “are mainly inspired and formed from Sacred Scripture, and the Commission of ICEL has accepted one very important point found in Liturgiam authenticam and accepted it as being crucial, namely the significance of the language of Sacred Scripture in our translation of the Mass.”
Denver, Colo., Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) - Only one week after Archbishop Charles Chaput announced a new, privately funded $3 million voucher program that would enable low-income children to attend Catholic Schools, all 250 of the available tuition vouchers have been issued.
The Archdiocese of Denver’s Office of Catholic Schools has since started a waiting list for the continuing wave of applicants.
The voucher program is privately funded by Seeds of Hope Charitable Trust. It allows the archdiocese to offer these vouchers to students whose families have found the cost of Catholic school tuition beyond their grasp.
To qualify for the vouchers, families must meet certain financial eligibility requirements. The vouchers are good for one year, but may be renewed for up to four years.
Thirty-three of the Archdiocese of Denver’s 39 schools had availability for the upcoming school year.
Brussels, Belgium, Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) - The European bishops have denounced the June 15 decision of the European Union Parliament to approve tax spending on embryonic stem-cell research, saying that “human life must never be instrumentalized.”
The vote in the EU came after an Italian government official took Italy's name off of a document signed by several nations that had been blocking the funding, reported LifeNews.com. Italy was formerly a part of a coalition of nations, including Germany, Malta, Slovakia, Poland and Austria, that tried to block the funding.
In a statement, the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) said it objects to the EU decision, noting that such research is controversial and poses a significant moral dilemma.
“This is not just a Catholic position. Scientifically, there is no reason to make a moral distinction between an embryo at the very beginning of his or her life and after implantation in the womb or after 14 days,” reads the statement.
“Every human life begins at conception and needs particular protection if it is created outside the woman’s body. Human life must never be instrumentalized,” the bishops said.
A majority of MEPs favored the embryonic stem-cell research funding proposal. A share of the EU funding for science projects in their 2007-2013 budget will be allocated to embryonic stem cell research. No funds will be spent on human cloning. About $64.3 billion is allocated for scientific projects and health-related issues.
COMECE expressed concern that the money allocated to stem-cell research could have certainly been used for other scientific endeavors. “In view of the limited resources available for EU research, and taking into account that not all excellent research projects can be financed because of the lack of money, it is even less understandable that this research is to be promoted by the EU as a community,” the Bishops said.
The guidelines from the last budget gave preferential treatment to adult stem-cell research but still funded embryonic stem-cell studies as long as they were not conducted in nations with bans on such funding.
Furthermore, the bishops argued, the EU “has a moral duty to abstain from promoting through joint funding such research prohibited in several member states.” Embryonic stem-cell research is not legal in all EU member states.
The bishops urged the EU Parliament reconsider its decision and to concentrate research efforts on truly common research priorities that are less controversial. The bishops also renewed their support for adult stem cell research.
The Irish bishops urged the Irish government to "take a lead in opposing the destruction of human embryos." The bishops reprimanded the government for its failure on that score, noting that such leadership is something "which regrettably, it has not done so far."
Montgomery, Ala., Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) - A Birmingham abortion clinic, which was under investigation for the mistreatment of a customer and could have faced criminal charges, has surrendered its license reported The Associated Press.
The Summit Medical Center surrendered its license June14 amid allegations that a woman delivered a nearly full-term stillborn baby after a nurse practitioner gave her abortion drug RU-486 and performed other medical treatments without a doctor present, health officials said Wednesday.
The Alabama Department of Health had issued a suspension order against Summit Medical Center on May 17, citing numerous violations of state health rules. The center has been closed since May 18 and will not reopen, Rick Harris of the state health agency told the AP.
However, the clinic’s decision to voluntarily surrender its license circumvents a public hearing on June 20 in which the state would have presented its case against the center and sought to revoke its license.
"We got the same remedy we were trying to get in the hearing," Harris said according to the AP.
Pro-life activists consider Summit’s surrender of their license an attempt to conceal the actions of the clinic.
“The last thing an abortion mill wants is for the truth to be told about the conditions that really exist inside their offices,” noted Operation Rescue president Troy Newman. “These mills would rather close than submit to the same standards legitimate medical providers must meet. And frankly, if they close, that’s fine with us.”
Grand Rapids, Mich., Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) - While the U.S. Catholic Bishops are currently meeting to discuss slight changes to the mass, delegates of the Christian Reformed Church in West Michigan are discussing how to resolve a historic condemnation of the Catholic mass, which appears in their Heidelberg Catechism.
The Protestant catechism declares that the Catholic mass is “a condemnable idolatry” and, essentially, that it denies that Christ's crucifixion paid for humanity's sins once and for all. But delegates to the CRC Synod spent about three hours Wednesday attempting to tone down the 1563 Protestant doctrine, reported The Grand Rapids Press.
Two years ago, the Christian Reformed Church Synod said the controversial passage should no longer apply as written. Advocates said the catechism got the Catholic mass wrong in the midst of the Reformation's theology war.
According to The Grand Rapids Press, the Christian Reformed Church had consulted with Catholic bishops and their findings were reviewed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.
But at this recent meeting, delegates were unable to decide what should replace the catechism’s condemnation of the Catholic mass.
Delegates reportedly debated a compromise. A study committee proposed keeping the passage for historic purposes but putting it in brackets, accompanied by a footnote explaining members are not required to recognize it.
But delegates got tangled in the wording of the footnote and sent the issue back to committee for fine tuning.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) - Breaking a 15 year-long tradition, Argentina’s Defense Ministry denied members of the Armed Forces and their families the chance to participate in the 48th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes because of a lack of funds.
The 48th International Military Pilgrimage to Lourdes-which brings military personnel from dozens of countries to the Marian shrine in France each year-took place in May and brought together some 300,000 pilgrims from around the world. The event was led by Bishop Patrick Le Gal of the Military Diocese of France and had as its theme, “Keep your lamps lit.” The first pilgrimage took place in 1958 at the request of Italian and French military personnel.
Argentina’s Defense Ministry said budget cuts forced it to cancel the trip for this year. Argentina was the only country from Latin America that had been participating in the event.
Father Jean-Louis Theron, who coordinated the pilgrimage, said it is “a unique event in the world” because “if anybody can speak about peace it is those in the military.”
Among the countries represented this year were Burundi, South Korea, the Ivory Coast, the United States, Lithuania, Poland and the Ukraine. The Holy See was represented by members of the Swiss Guard.
Bogotá, Colombia, Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) - A report by the University of the Andes and Catholic Charities of Colombia is warning that those displaced by the civil conflict in that country are worse off than poor families in urban areas. The report was the result of a survey of 300 displaced individuals from fifty different municipalities in Colombia.
According to the National Secretariat for Social Ministry, “The results show that the economic recovery of a displaced person, who is in better conditions than others, is barely equal to that of the historically poorest population of the country.”
Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, called the findings a “national tragedy” that requires “solutions of meaningful solidarity.”
According to the report, the economic situation of 76% of those displaced has worsened since they abandoned their homes. Government statistics indicate this to be the case for some 1,700,000 people-or 3.7% of Colombia’s population. “Given the expansion of the conflict throughout Colombia, almost all the municipalities of the country have either had some of its people displaced or have received displaced people from other areas. Moreover, in 2004, the level of displacements in the ten municipalities most affected by this phenomenon reached almost 60,000 displaced persons per 100,000 inhabitants,” the report revealed.
The report recommends special attention be given to the problem, as many people run the risk of “falling into chronic poverty.”
The complete report in Spanish can be found at <http://www.pastoralsocialcolombia.org/informe.htm>
Mexico City, Mexico, Jun 16, 2006 (CNA) - A statue of the Child Jesus dressed in the Mexican soccer team’s World Cup uniform has become a magnet for non-practicing Catholics in the Mexico City. Increasingly large numbers of people are visiting the parish of St. Gabriel the Archangel, where the statue is located, in order to pray for the Mexican soccer team.
The statue of the Child Jesus stands near the main altar of the church, and before and after each Mass, dozens approach the statue to pray for the national team.
The “soccer player” Jesus, wearing tennis shoes and Mexico’s official World Cup uniform with the number 12 (each soccer team has 11 players on the field), sits on a throne. A soccer ball rests on his left foot. Parish volunteers said they would break the tradition of changing the statue’s attire each week and leave the Child Jesus dressed in the uniform.
Parish sacristan Pablo Sanchez said the tradition of dressing the statue in the soccer uniform began in 1994 at the suggestion of a parishioner. Then-pastor Father Jose Reyes saw the idea as a chance to attract non-practicing Catholics to return to the faith.