6 February 2014


I have a little more to say about the Fr Butler, Boss of Liturgy in the Diocese of Brentwood, who regaled his brother priests, and the readers of the Tablet, with his views about the current translation of the Roman Missal into English and about its "illegal" imposition by the wicked Vatican and the pretty wicked English hierarchy.

We all, I hope, realise that there is something thoroughly nasty going on here. Do you remember how, a few years ago, there was a group of clergy in American, opposed to the new translation, who started a movement called "What if we just said wait?" In the 'Vernacular', upon which Butler regards himself as such an expert, this was clearly to be translated as "What if we just said wait until Ratzinger is dead?" And Ratzinger, in the view of these unpleasant individuals, is now dead. So this is their moment to try to bend the ear of a new regime in Rome and to try to reverse the losses which they have suffered in the last decade. It may be something of an up-hill struggle for them; the English-speaking hierarchies, having had 'Liturgy' on their agendas for decades, may not be uniformly keen to go back to square one ... the blue books, the green books, the latest schedule of proposed changes ... and all the rest. And Parish Treasurers are not likely to be in the forefront of a movement for binning all those expensive and still-shiny Altar Missals and Mass Cards and buying new ones. (It is rather sinister that those recently calling for change included a ... liturgical publisher! Turkeys may not vote for Christmas, but turkey-sellers very certainly do.) But ... if they could get a roll going ... if they can persuade disaffected 1970s-trained clergy to open their aged mouths ... if they could somehow manipulate the media so as to present a view that their aims are "what there is a widespread call for" ... and that this is all bound up with burying Ratzinger and moving on to the broad sun-lit uplands of the Francis pontificate ... nuff said, my dear brethren; you see the dangers. Perhaps this is why Butler so boldly put his head above the parapet: he detected the strategic moment. Clearly the Tablet will not be, is not, in the rear-guard of this movement.

It is worth reminding ourselves why this battle is so very important. For four decades after the Council, Catholics were made to worship by a rite which had been changed and in which some important elements of Catholic truth (sin, grace ...) had been weakened. That, however, is by no means the worst news. In that post-Conciliar Latin Missal, a lot of material did still survive from the older rite, and very many of its 'new' materials were drawn from the ancient Roman (and some other) Sacramentaries. The real, major, disaster is that in the 1970s an English translation was imposed which obscured the lines, theology, ethos, of the Paul VI Missal in much the same way as a fair bit of our Oxfordshire countryside is now obscured by flood-water ... you really can't see much more than a few trees marking where some of the field-boundaries are. Think of the new 2011 translation as a Major Drainage Project; it has as its purpose to reveal the landscape once more; to open up for English worshippers the fields and roads and paths, the culture, the world-view, the imagery, the biblical theology of the Missal which emerged in the aftermath of the Council, and which was in greater continuity with the older rite than some people (on both sides) realise.

The Father of Lies, of course, is an adept at putting things exactly the wrong way round. He and his followers claim that the older 1970s English translation somehow is 'the Council'. But that translation deliberately buried, concealed, the Council's teaching beneath bland, cliche-ridden mistranslations ... dirty flood-water. Perhaps you will forgive me for reminding you of the oft-quoted maxim of Hitler (or was it Goebbels?) that, if you make a lie big enough, people will believe it. You wouldn't credit it, would you, if you hadn't seen it happen: an entire generation was persuaded by deceitful men that the translation which prevented them from being fed with the post-Conciliar liturgy ... was what the Council wanted!

Next time, I hope to conclude by arguing that this is the time to close ranks, whether one is a 'tridentinist' or a 'Reform of the Reform' enthusiast, in order to combat the Enemy of all that is good and holy and wholesome. Because he's up and active again.


Anonymous said...

"The real, major, disaster is that in the 1970s an English translation was imposed which obscured the lines, theology, ethos, of the Paul VI Missal"

Oh no, dear Father, I beg strongly to disagree. The defects of the Missal of Pope Paul VI go FAR beyond an inadequate 1970 translation.

Fr Dickson said...

Father, may I first of all thank you for an excellent blog and the wonderful information you give to the rest of us not so educated as your good self.
|Can I also impose upon you and ask you, with all your knowledge, to comment on my thought that "the 'new' materials drawn from the ancient Roman (and some other) Sacramentaries" which were recovered for the Pauline Missal are in fact those which were dropped from the liturgy because they were not the best? They were dropped for a reason, after all, and recovery of them is perhaps a somewhat doubtful move.
Thank you.

Jesse said...

If I might venture an "amicus brief" in response to Fr Dickson, it would be to point out that the evolution of the modern (1570-1962) Roman Rite was not linear, in the sense that some old materials were dropped and new materials took their place. The vast pluriformity of early medieval liturgy found, by many and various channels, a particular expression in Rome.

A potted summary might read like this. Local papal and presbyteral forms (at least two separate traditions) found their way across the Alps, where they were adapted, "corrected," supplemented, and fused with Frankish customs. A particular version of that synthesis then found its way back to Rome, where it displaced the "organically developing" local rites and then underwent "improvement" for use in the Curia (and later in the Franciscan Order). That Romano-Frankish-Franciscan hybrid was then lightly tweaked and purged to produce the Missale Romanum (1570) and Breviarium Romanum (1568).

Local dialects of the Roman Rite (diocesan and patriarchal), while standing in the same tradition of the "Romano-Frankish synthesis", were nevertheless diverse, especially at the level of euchology, lectionary, and chant texts (to say nothing of melodies).

And then there are the other great Western Latin liturgical families (Ambrosian, Gallican, Iberian), which were more or less displaced by the advance of the Romano-Frankish synthesis, but more often for political rather than liturgical-theological reasons.

So there was and is a great thesaurus of beautiful, orthodox liturgical material to be mined in the cause of enriching the Roman Rite. The question to be answered by those who implemented that project was to what extent texts originating in, say, the Mozarabic liturgy could be said to grow organically out of existing Roman forms. But that is more a question for a canonist!

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Wintersturmer: I don't want to get into a long argument with someone with whom I am in substantial agreement. I would only say that if a priest uses only the Roman Canon, the NO Mass is not very much different from that of S Pius V ... no more different than, say, the Sarum Rite or the Dominican Rite (which have a different Praeparatio, different Offertory Prayers, different Prayers before Communion; no Last Gospel).
To Fr Dickson: Thanks!! You're very kind.

What I find most problematic in the NO is the provision of alternative Eucharistic Prayers. On principle, on the rare occasions when I say the NO, I will not use those Prayers. I'm not so sure that the old prayers brought in by the NO are all that bad. I just object to the total exclusion of the Sunday Collects which the old Rite gave us in Advent, Lent, and Easter; and I dislike the new prayers, mainly collects, composed in the 1960s. The Liturgy of the Hours is even naughtier than the Missal.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Again, thank you Father.
It is easy to present Bugnini as some kind of ultra fiendish destroyer, I certainly do not have a high opinion of him but as you pointed out previously he was Pius XII's liturgist.
What was presented by the previous translations of the Mass he developed gave such a poor illustration of his scholarship and yes, in a peculiar way his 'genius' that you are right to compare it to dirty flood water.
The revised translations now reveal to English speakers the true nature of post Vatican II liturgy.
We now have 'the Mass of the Council', Fr Butler & co want to deny English speaking Catholics even that.
That is sinister!

Jacobi said...

“what if we just said wait”, until?

Interesting! Personally, as I have said elsewhere, I think we may well have to wait, another three or four Popes perhaps, and of course another Council, this time called for a specific reason, as Councils should be called, to sort out false interpretations of Vatican II, often as expressed by the Reformers through misleading, de-sacralised, liturgy and translations.

ps , sorry about all the commas, in the interest of conciseness. My 4th year English, not to mention RE and Apologetics, teacher at school, would not be happy, with the style, of course, not the content!

Anonymous said...

" I would only say that if a priest uses only the Roman Canon, the NO Mass is not very much different from that of S Pius V ... no more different than, say, the Sarum Rite or the Dominican Rite (which have a different Praeparatio, different Offertory Prayers, different Prayers before Communion; no Last Gospel). "

My great respect for your deep scholarship, dear Father, makes me reluctant to get into a long argument with someone with whom I usually violently agree.

On this issue of the similarity of the two rites, unfortunately, we will have to "agree to disagree".

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

A serious question from a convert.

Was VII worth it? A daily missal that can double as a lethal weapon or confusing lesson in curbing one's Catholic enthusiasm; lost in translations that some would prefer never to be found again; the demonisation of the sacred language of the West; the new evangelisation that must have 200 and something popes spinning in their hallowed graves. Catechesis that teaches how passé is that which all those Popes and Virgins, and unruly Christly enthusiasts died for.

VII. Was/is it worth it?

"Can a pope declare a Church council, such as Vatican II, null and void?

- The Council of Ephesus (449) was regularly called and attended by all the Eastern bishops and by legates from Pope St. Leo the Great. That pope nullified the decrees of that Council and branded it the Latrocinium, or "Robber's Council," by which disparaging term it is known to this day.

- The Qunisext Council (692) was declared a "reprobate synod." As authority for this verdict, we have St. Bede the Venerable.

- The Council of Hieria (754) introduced and blessed heretical Iconoclasm, with the well-known catastrophic consequences for the Church. Pope Stephen II nullified the decrees of that Council in 769.

- The Council of Pistoia (1794), involving the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II, the Gallican bishops of France, and some bishops of Italy, blessed liturgical changes that resemble to an amazing extent the corrupt innovations of the New Order after Vatican II. The Council prescribed that there should be only one "table" in each church; condemned processions in honor of the Blessed Virgin and of the Saints, the Rosary, the Way of the Cross, and holy images; instituted a "simplified" Mass said entirely out loud in the vernacular. Pope Pius VI nullified the decrees of that Council in his Bull Auctorem fidei of the same year as "rash, offensive to pious ears, insulting to the Church, favorable to the charges of heretics against [the traditional Latin Mass]."

Would a pope declare VII passé?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

No; definitely not. A pope cannot annul a real Ecumenical Council. Further, a pope is as subject as any other Catholic to the Magisterium of past Ecumenical Councils, and of his own predecessors.

But ... and there is a big But here ... non-dogmatic Councils, AND the non-dogmatic parts of Councils which also defined dogma, just sort-of fade away.

Viterbo: your big mortal sin is that you do not read my blog daily and carefully!!! Look back to 22 January and read "Lefebvre (2)"

Your heart is bang in the right place. But the way ahead I described there is one which was also favoured by Benedict XVI, and is the only one that really makes sense.

Alex Benziger.G said...

In 1979 the Catholic Bishops of Tamilnadu(South India) while introducing the translated Missal, jointly made a declaration on February 5, 1978 that “it is a matter of delight that the Roman Missal is translated in Tamil and published as a complete book, in its final shape”. On the contrary, the Catholic Bishops of Tamilnadu again translated the Roman Missal in Tamil in 1993, removing the basic teaching on ‘sin’, ‘eternal life’, ‘resurrection of body’, ‘salvation’, ‘mercy’ and ‘eternal reward’ - from the text, and the translation is misleading and confusing the Catholic Faith. Hence, myself and two other Catholic laymen filed a civil suit in the City Civil Court, Chennai, South India in 1995 challenging the unapproved Missal translation in Tamil in 1993. The prayers in the Missal are misrepresented by improper and illegal translation. On careful scrutiny of the contents of the Tamil translation of Missal of 1993 with that of 1979, the unapproved commissions and omissions can be seen.
On September 10, 2013 the Hon’ble City Civil Court, Chennai, has Decreed that the translation of Missal in 1993 (Thiruppali Puthagam-1993) made by the Catholic Bishops of Tamilnadu are illegal, improper, incorrect, unbiblical, ultra vires of the Canon Law and hence invalid; and granted permanent injunction thereby restraining the Catholic Bishops of Tamilnadu or their priests from using the Missal 1993 in all Roman Catholic Churches under their jurisdiction.
The Catholic Bishops of Tamilnadu had not obtained Prior Review from the Holy See for the Missal translation of 1993 as per Canon Law 838(iii). Again the Catholic Bishops of Tamilnadu have signed a false declaration on March 4, 1993 that they had been accorded permission from the Holy See to use the Tamil formula of “the Words of Consecration” at the time of Elevation in the Holy Mass. But the Catholic Bishops of Tamilnadu had not obtained permission to use the Tamil formula of “the Words of Consecration”. The same has been admitted by the witness of the Bishops in the cross examination in the trial of the civil suit and it is absolutely false and defrauding the Laity, the Holy Catholic Church and ultimately Our Lord Jesus Christ. “It is a mockery of the Holy Mass, and a mockery of the Words of Consecration” It also attracts criminal liability for penal action.
Please see the judgement

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

'scuse my lazy approach. must do better in Fr Hunwicke's class, and stop buying into those dodgy internet study notes that Fr. would never recommend.