28 November 2023

Dubia addressed to Cardinal Roche

Dear Eminence

I would be grateful if you could some resolve some Dubia relating to the legislative document Traditionis Custodes.They concern the requirement that the lections be in the vernacular.

(1) When the congregation is linguistically very mixed, how is a celebrant to establish which vernacular he is to use?

(2) When a congregation is mixed and divided by political or cultural antipathies (for example, part Russin and part Ukrainan), how is a celebrant to proceed?

(3) When a congregation is predominantly of a vernacular which a celebrant does not himself even know well enough to read uncomprehendingly (ex. gr., Polish, Malayalam), how is that celebrant to proceed?

(4) It can be difficult to switch between languages differently structured. Latin, for example establishes its meaning through syntactical aggregations; English requires a speaker to group words ad sensum and at his own discretion. Your dicastery will have considered this problem scientifically by calling for vota on the problems concerned. Would it be possible for your dicastery to publish a representative selection of these vota, preferably in Latin?

Your Eminence's obedient Child and Servant

John Hunwicke


Mary Kay said...


coradcorloquitur said...

I am sure, dear Father, that your query is purely rhetorical---for surely you must know that in the Church of Francis all dubia, canonical recourse, serious clarifications, and justice itself are superfluous and null and void. Only one thing counts: the will of Francis, exercised either directly, through cunnings gestures (like buses with trannies on the way to lunch in the once Holy City), or through his lap dogs. Anyone expecting truth or justice or charity is sadly deluded or a willing fool.

El Codo said...

Dear Fr Hunwicke, Sweet child and servant: Words mean what I choose them to mean…neither more nor less.

Michael Gormally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Gormally said...

Dear Fr Hunwicke

I will reply to your letter as soon as Austin Ivereigh has finished explaining to me the meaning of the words of more than one syllable.

Francesco ha sempre raggione!

Big Art.

Arthur Gallagher said...

This lawless, vindictive pontificate cannot end soon enough.

PM said...

Tom Charles-Edwards (father of the Oxford historian of the same name and an early member of the Latin Mass Society after the Council) raised the same question about disputed languages within the British Isles. A Welshman, he pointed to the tricky political questions about 'the' 'vernacular' in Wales: was it to be Welsh or English?

scotchlil said...

...sono morto dal ridere...

Moritz Gruber said...

Reverend Father,

I see, of course, where your are going with this, and much as I disapprove of Traditionis custodes... well, maybe they could be answered.

1) The question results from a misconception that the celebrant is to celebrate in the language of the attending congregation. This is not, however, the general principle. While there are exceptions, the default is the following:

"The Mass is to be in the official language of the State where the Mass takes place."

Which by the way logically that the standard version of the tongue is used. If the language is English, let the celebrant use Received Pronunciation, except in the United States where he is to use General American. If the language is German, let it be pronounced as a Hanoverian would. An exception can, perhaps, be made for Italy to let not Florence, but Rome be the pronunciation focus, but all the same the celebrant is not to use Romanesco.

The exceptions are those so-called "mother-tongue communities" (that's really what they are called around here), the expatriates of some specific language residing in a city. But those are linguistically united by definition.

- In areas where it is disputed which state they belong to, use the language of the state the Holy See recognizes them as belonging to; which, unless proof exists to the contrary in a specific case, can be assumed to be the state the United States recognizes them as belonging to. (But the nice thing is that often, looking closely at things does resolve issues; e. g., the official language of, say, Taiwan, being the hold-out of the old noncommunist Republic of China, is not Taiwanese but actually Mandarin.)

2) If they can't be induced to go to a Mass in the official language of the state they belong to, let them perform itio in partes.

(In the specific case of Russians and Ukrainians, an exception can perhaps be made to settle for Russian. Ukrainians speak Russian, and do not, as I perceive it, have an antipathy specifically against the language. But then, in what was once Galicia-Lodomeria and the Bukovina things may be different, I don't really know the country.)

3) a) Let him use his own mother tongue.

I am still loyal enough to a Roman Cardinal, whatever his demerits, not to suppose him to answer b), but many of the "opponents of Latin", to brush them together, obviously would:

b) If the priest in question, for the sake of his own piety, wants to celebrate a Mass at all, let him go home and celebrate a Mass-without-the-people; and let him offer it for the congregation of he wants to. The congregation, however, is to have a Liturgy-of-the-Word in their own language, presided over by some layman who studied theology whom we after have on our paycheck, so he needs to do something; or else dissemble. They have no priest to offer Mass for them.

4) It would not be possible, because the point is for the people to receive in obedience whatever their bishop and the Roman Curia decide, irrespective of the assistance they may have had to come to their decision. We may, however, give out as much that in this the local bishops - and their Conferences organized according to national boundaries - have a lot to say. Situations where their general alignment diverges from the one Rome prefers are, naturally, an exception to that general rule.

Moritz Gruber said...

The real question, thus, is what language they are supposed to use in Bombay, Maharashtra. Marathi, the language of the state and of a plurality of the population? Hindi, a somewhat related language propagated as the national language of the whole of India? English, which the authorities with some embarrassment uses as the language of administration, given that the nation as a whole, and its Christians perhaps in particular, remember the time of English-Christian colonial rule, notwithstanding the pride in their independence, with some fondness? Konkani, a language closely related to Marathi which is apparently the mother tongue of a plurality of Latin-Rite Catholics there, who come from Goa? I can even imagine someone from the European (or American) outside to say, "Sanskrit, because that is what Indians use when talking about holy things"? (The Indians would, I guess, react rather harshly to the latter suggestion, as I guess an English recusant under Elizabeth I recusant would react against English where he is accustomed to Latin. Languages carry their associations, and those Indians have left heathenry. Still, as a point of theory it is true that Indians use Sanskrit when talking about things they consider holy...)

Oh, I forgot the addendum to my no. 1 from above:

"In case of a doubt, use the language of the world, that is to say, English [*]".

So, together with the fact that it is an official language there, one would presumably settle on English.

Frugifex said...

How is the celebrant to proceed when a liturgical text does not exist in the congregation’s dialect or in a rare language?

Moritz Gruber said...

>>can be assumed to be the state the United States recognizes them as belonging to

Oops. Granted at the moment this amounts to the same thing in most cases, but what I meant to say was, of course, "United Nations". I did not intend to sound, or be, anti-American.

Ed Ahlsen-Girard said...

"The Mass is to be in the official language of the State where the Mass takes place."

Except to the extent that naturalization requires familiarity with English (honored rather in the breach), the USA has no official language.

Arthur H. said...

Dear Father,

A few days ago I attended the Solemn Requiem Mass for Mr. Brian Poulian, partner in the Preserving Christian Publications company, of Boonville, NY. It was said in a beautiful old church in a certain city. The priest was diocesan.
It was sad, but utterly beautiful. The Schola chanted the Dies Irae, and the prayers from the choir loft. And of course, they were joined by the choir of babies crying and babbling. Please do pray for the repose of the soul of Brian, and for the consolation of his family. Please also pray for his partner in the work, John. The work has been a labor of love, and on a wing and a prayer.
Most in the congregation had their missals, so the Latin Mass is easily followed... The Missal: now there is a great Christmass gift idea. Brian's son said they can't keep them in stock!

Ben Whitworth said...

In my experience, dubia addressed to Cardinal Roche are simply ignored. I sent him the following straightforward question more than two years ago, and am still waiting for an acknowledgement, let alone an answer: 'In your article, “The Roman Missal of Saint Paul VI: A witness to unchanging faith and uninterrupted tradition”, in Notitiae 597 (2020), you have written that the Missal of Saint Paul VI “retains … ninety percent of the texts of” the Missal of Saint Pius V. I would be very grateful if you could let me know the methodology by which you arrived at that figure.'

Chaswjd said...

I am not one who attends a Latin Mass. That said, I think that the treatment of those who do prefer mass according to the 1962 Missal has been shabby, to say the least.

There is perhaps a compromise: a Latin mass said according to the Missal of Paul VI, ad orientem, using Eucharistic Prayer I, a chant ordinary and the chant propers. There is actually noting in Traditionis Custodes which prohibits this. And since the Sacrosanctum Concilium requires that the use of Latin to be preserved, I don't see Rome outlawing this very soon. (Interestingly, Traditionis Custodes does not seem to require vernacular readings in a Novus Ordo mass.)

Of course, those who prefer the 1962 Missal will say it is not the same. And it is not. Those who recoil at Latin will do so for such a mass, even though it is completely in keeping with the Council documents and the GIRM. Thus, the proposal, although I believe it to be sensible, has no constituency.