An outspoken critic of the new missal is reversing course:
A prominent Catholic pastor in Seattle is “letting go” of his campaign against a new Latinized translation of the church liturgy, but not his convictions in starting it.
“It is the people who will have the last word on the new missal once it is introduced,” Fr. Michael Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral, said in a Sunday morning homily.
Noting that the missal will be introduced later this year, Ryan added: “This is neither the time nor the place for arguing the matter.” He pledged to work toward harmonious introduction of the new language into the cathedral’s worship.
Ryan caused a national stir among Catholic priests, bishops and scholars, when he wrote a critical 2009 article for the Jesuit magazine America.
He launched a campaign entitled “What if we said ‘Wait’?” aimed at taking a second look — involving the laity — at liturgical handiwork of the Vatican’s powerful, insular Congregation for Divine Worship.
The new translations demonstrate that precise translation of Latin texts into English can result in language that is “awkward, arcane, clumsy and in many cases far removed from the way people speak,” Ryan wrote in America.
The texts will have Catholics using such phrases as “consubstantial with the Father,” “serene and kindly countenance,” “Joseph, spouse of the same virgin,” and “send down your spirit like the dewfall.”
Such language, Ryan told his congregation Sunday, he felt to be “a step away from the spirit of the Second Vatican Council on the renewal of the liturgy,” and the Council’s stress on an enhanced decision-making role for the world’s bishops.
Ryan shared with his congregation what has been a struggle with the new language in the light of Jesus’ call in the gospel for trust. It was a theme of Sunday’s reading from the St. Matthew Gospel.
As a young priest, Ryan stood in St. Peter’s Square as Pope Paul VI proclaimed reforms in the church. Bishop Raymond Hunthausen of Helena, Montana — a future Seattle archbishop — was one of the youngest bishops at the global gathering.
But the Vatican isn’t waiting, and a majority of American bishops support the new translations, which “stacks the deck” against those urging a more deliberate approach, Ryan said Sunday.
“As the saying goes, they’re coming soon to a church near you,” Ryan added. (Use of the new texts will start in the pre-Christmas season of Advent, which is the beginning of the church year.”
And you can visit the website Fr. Ryan created on this subject for more comment and analysis.