Do they think Catholics are stupid?

I know we’ve seen a lot of bad media coverage of the changes to the wording of the Roman Catholic liturgy in recent weeks. But could we pause for a moment to just note how awesome it is that we’re seeing coverage of this in the first place?

I know, I know, one shouldn’t be excited when reporters are simply doing their jobs. But for my house, the Lutheran liturgy is a topic of daily conversation. My children’s favorite book right now is “My First Hymnal,” which features psalms, portions of the liturgy, selected hymns and pictures that apparently provoke a thousand questions.

When Lutherans got our new hymnal about five years ago, it was a huge deal! While it involved relatively little debate, it was an adjustment for folks. In many ways, though, it brought us closer to the hymnal we used from the 1940s to the early 1980s. Bring up these three hymnals in Lutheran company and you might settle in for a healthy discussion. But near as I can tell, it received no media coverage.

You seek, liturgy is one of the things that most affects the day-to-day worship life of traditional Christian and yet this topic receives almost no coverage. I wonder how much many reporters even know about the liturgy.

For instance, in a weekend comment thread, reader Hector wrote:

Significantly, the traditional-language liturgies done by Anglicans (which were what most Anglicans were using before the 1970s) are a lot similar to the language of the ‘new’ translation. This isn’t really ‘new’ at all, it’s faithful to the tradition of English liturgy.

And reader Jon in the Nati responded:

Yeah. Across town, the Episco-Anglo-Caths are wondering what the big deal is with the new translation.

Of course, as someone part of a tradition that moved to English fairly recently, there are good theological reasons why a group might not adopt another’s translation wholesale. But one gets the feeling that this entire world of liturgy and translation is not well understood by many reporters.

In any case, a reader submitted this article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer with the note “I get the feeling the reporter is slightly disappointed there were no riots with the parishioners burning the new missal.” But the last time I analyzed a piece by Michael O’Malley and the Catholic Church, I began by writing “I don’t know what the Roman Catholic Church did to anger Michael O’Malley and the editors of Cleveland’s Plain Dealer but I am curious.” So by those standards, this piece is downright friendly. Of course, by those standards, the editors shouldn’t let O’Malley write about religion. (And just for example, I didn’t even bother analyzing a by-the-cliche-book womenpriests piece. It was just that bad. But not even in an original way.)

If you go to the front page of Cleveland.org, the top story after the Browns’ loss to the Bengals is the wording change:

Cleveland Catholics struggle with new, more formal words at Mass
New words for various liturgical services include “consubstantial,” “ineffable,” “incarnate” and “ignominy.” Archaic words like “shall,” wrought” and “thwart” are also employed in the new translation.

No! Oh the humanity! Oh the humanity! I can’t be the only one that gets a kick out of the idea that no one understands the words “shall,” “wrought” and “thwart.” I mean, I was going to make a joke about how maybe the words are too difficult for newspapers to use but a quick Google search shows that even that’s not true within the last day or so! See: shall, wrought, thwart. Even the sports pages use these! (Hey, how about my Broncos? Sorry, tmatt.)

Anyway, the breathless reportage continues.

The new English translation of the Roman missal — closer to the original Latin version written centuries ago — went into effect this past weekend, the beginning of Advent.

It is the first major change in Mass prayers since the 1960s, when the Second Vatican Council ordered a loose translation of the Latin into common tongues.

So after nearly a half-century of sacred praise in the vernacular, Catholics are now trying to adjust to a loftier lexicon that’s meant to inspire a greater reverence for the Mass.

I assume the reporter is trying to articulate that the changes are “more faithful” or something like that rather than “closer” to the original Latin. But there’s just a general lack of precision in these lines. The mass is still in the vernacular, even if it uses words that fancy newspapers such as the Palm Beach Post use, you know?

Side note, I was wondering if anyone had seen a report that explained why the changes were happening on the first Sunday of the church year. I have been a bit behind in my reading so perhaps we’ve even covered that here, but it seems interesting that these stories don’t mention that the beginning of Advent is also the beginning of the church year.

Here’s a sample of the Cleveland take on the reaction:

“My brain was going back to the old words,” said John Sheridan, 61, of Cleveland Heights, following Mass on Sunday at Communion of Saints. “It’s habit.”

Sheridan said he liked the new changes because he studied Latin in high school. He remembers “Et cum spiritu tuo,” which, in English, is “And with your spirit.”

Sandy Pierre, 65, of Cleveland, was one of those at St. Ignatius on Saturday who uttered the old, “And also with you.” But, she said after Mass, she did it intentionally because she doesn’t like the word “spirit,” believing it conjures a dead person. The old response, “also with you,” she said, speaks to the living.

“I’m not going to say, ‘And with your spirit,’ ” she said. “I’m a stubborn Hungarian, and I refuse to say ‘spirit.’ ”

Pierre’s husband, Fred, 67, said he was not pleased with the missal changes because the words are too formal. “When Jesus walked the Earth, he talked in simple language,” he said. “You don’t need $3 words to pray.”

New words for various liturgical services include “consubstantial,” “ineffable,” “incarnate” and “ignominy.”

Archaic words like “shall,” wrought” (sic) and “thwart” are also employed in the new translation.

Isn’t it kind of comforting to know that there are stubborn Hungarians in every congregation? In any case, I still just get such a kick out of the attempt to make “shall,” “wrought” and “thwart” into a controversy.

Having said this, and I noted this in a comment thread to a previous wording change story, but my 4-year-old knows — along with everyone else in her class — hymns with words like the ones mentioned above as well as a Kyrie hymn with words such as “mediator” and “supplication.” My 2-year-old already knows a good portion of the prayers and liturgy we use regularly in our Divine Services.

This whole media narrative of “Catholics can’t figure out these tough words” is part of a larger media template, one that paints many Christians as yokels and idiots. I wonder if this particular approach to the wording changes doesn’t just perfectly showcase how silly that template is. Or maybe it shows how stupid journalists think all of their readers and viewers are. I don’t know, but I do find the whole thing fascinating.

I will say that I came across a couple of very well done articles that managed to avoid this overdone template. I’ll highlight them later if another GetReligionista doesn’t get to them first.

Print Friendly

  • Dave

    I blipped right over the article, fully confident that GR would pick it up (and apart). Problems with “wrought” and “thwart” I can sort of understand, but “shall”?

  • http://www.virtue-quest.com/ Robert King

    Some outright factual errors:

    closer to the original Latin version written centuries ago

    The Latin being translated is the recent revision of the Roman Missal, approved in 2002. That’s why there’s a new English translation in the first place: there’s something new to translate.

    the Second Vatican Council ordered a loose translation of the Latin into common tongues.

    V2 allowed the use of vernacular translations. It did not “order” them, and it certainly did not command them to be “loose” translations.

    Perhaps this story is as much about the power of precise language as it is about religion?

  • Bill

    The culture in most media is decidedly secular. Religion is widely viewed as irrational, nonsensical and superstitious. Can intelligent people really believe all that stuff? There is also a lack of knowledge about basic doctrines and doctrinal differences. A story on liturgy? Sheesh! No story there. Find a conflict angle!

    A TV reporter once remarked to me after attending Easter Vigil Mass, “It was a bad musical. Good costumes, but rotten music and a really stupid story. Elton John was better.” He didn’t consider that anyone with a modicum of intelligence would think differently.

    Obviously, there are good religion reporters, and I am guilty of complaining more about bad ones than encouraging the good.

  • sari

    Many, many moons ago, my H.S. English teacher taught us that most newspapers aimed for a third grade reading level, excepting the NYT and a couple of others, which shot for fifth grade. I fear there may be some truth to her statement.

    The topic of religious education seems to be missing from most (or maybe all) of the articles posted here. I haven’t done a search, but the problem, at least the *perceived problem*, is that Catholics don’t understand enough about the Mass itself to deal with the new changes -and- that no effort has been made to pre-teach those changes which might be difficult to the laity. So, one question I would have as a reader is whether most Catholic children still attend catechism classes and whether learning continues post-childhood milestones. What percentage of Catholics receive *any* formal religious education? Some, at least, may be Catholics by birth and tradition, whose instruction, for better or worse, came from their parents.

    You kind of touched on this when discussing your children, who at four and two, say words they lack the maturity to understand fully. Over time and with your and their religious instructors’ guidance, the deeper meaning will become clear. Without instruction, the words will be rote. I saw this with my own and others’ children, especially since our prayers are still recited in a foreign language.

  • Will

    One would think that “they” are trying to inspire greater reverence for GOD, not for the mass.

    P.S. I am a stubborn American, and always insisted on saying “with thy spirit” when I heard “the Lord be with you.”

  • Jon in the Nati

    Firstly, thanks for thinking my comment was worth reiterating. I’m not sure it was, but I’m always happy to contribute. Later in that same comment, I said this:

    One thing I am sick to death of hearing in the coverage is the argument (always dressed up in nice language, of course) that the average pew-warmer is too dumb to understand complex theological ideas and the words used to describe them. I find this personally insulting, and it needs to stop.

    While I stand by my feeling that this attitude is pretty insulting, I’m starting to doubt my answer to the question posed in this post’s title.

    Sandy Pierre, 65, of Cleveland, was one of those at St. Ignatius on Saturday who uttered the old, “And also with you.” But, she said after Mass, she did it intentionally because she doesn’t like the word “spirit,” believing it conjures a dead person. The old response, “also with you,” she said, speaks to the living.

    “I’m not going to say, ‘And with your spirit,’ ” she said. “I’m a stubborn Hungarian, and I refuse to say ‘spirit.’

    This woman is stupid. Not because she can’t say or understand the words, but because, with the maturity of a twelve-year-old, she’s just not going to try, and she’s going to show up at church and provide an obstacle to the faithful. Oh well; at least she has that very mature justification about why she’s not going to say the words. But it probably isn’t her fault; her parish priest should be embarrassed that this is apparently the result of his catechesis. I’m embarrassed for him, and for her.

  • FrH

    The reporters don’t necessarily think Catholics are stupid. What they are reporting is what they’re being fed by opponents of the new translation within the Church.

  • kyle

    It is the first major change in Mass prayers since the 1960s, when the Second Vatican Council ordered a loose translation of the Latin into common tongues.

    I actually laughed right out loud at that one. That’s simply and demonstrably factually false, and the newspaper should run a correction.

    Regarding the main thrust of the post, on thinking Catholics are stupid: It’s remarkable, isn’t it? The view that “ordinary Catholics” cannot understand these things necessarily means that the claimant thinks Catholics are more stupid than modern Lutherans, than modern Anglicans, than modern Catholics in countless countries across the world where the equivalent terms in other languages have been in use since Vatican II, and than previous generations of English-speaking Catholics who prayed these terms in Latin or with English translations that included them. Apparently no one on the planet has a smaller vocabulary than the modern English-speaking Catholic.

    And yet some of the Catholics now making this claim will, when appealing to popular dissent from some Church teachings, claim that this is the most educated laity in history.

    Go figure.

  • http://www.magdalenesegg.blogspot.com Rev. Michael Church

    I’m going to have t-shirts made up that say “Shall, Wrought & Thwart.” Maybe on the back, they’ll read “Ineffable, Incarnate & Ignominy.” Of course, some news writers will assume that’s a law firm.

    To be fair, though, the coverage I’ve seen of this story has drawn less attention to standard English words than to the use of a few expressly theological ones, such as “consubstantial” in the Creed. I can see why that one, at least, would raise some eyebrows — it’s less graceful than the Cranmerian “of one substance.” Still, we’re not talking about a lotta potatoes, which is my main criticism of the articles I’ve seen so far.

    Yes, liturgical change always meets with a little resistance (and sometimes, as we in the other Lutheran church have reason to know, it is well-deserved). But this just … isn’t news.

  • Jeffrey

    There is no Lutheran liturgy. The LCMS liturgy isn’t even the dominant Lutheran liturgy in the US and has been a source of great controversy inside the LCMS.

  • Julia

    Here’s a major part of the problem:

    So after nearly a half-century of sacred praise in the vernacular, Catholics are now trying to adjust to a loftier lexicon that’s meant to inspire a greater reverence for the Mass.

    1) The Catholic Mass is not only “sacred praise”; there is a sacred ritual happening at an altar in addition to hymns, prayers and a homily.

    Some reporters do not seem to understand that Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans and Anglicans are enacting very old rituals with the same words used every time with some seasonal variations, and updating from time to time.

    Other Christians’ services are “praise and worship” with a sermon. This type of service avoids ritual language because spontaneous, free-form speaking seems more authentic to them.

    2) And the phrase “inspire a greater reverence for the Mass” is just incorrect. There is hope that the revised translation will inspire greater reverence in priests and lay people during the Mass, not for it. The Mass is both an event and an action involving the priest and the people; it isn’t a show or a play.

    Bottom line: unless a reporter understands ritual, he or she will not do well in reporting on the Catholic Mass or other liturgies.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jeffrey,

    I’m not sure exactly what you’re trying to say but Lutherans are definitely liturgical. In my church body — the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod — our most recent hymnal (Lutheran Service Book) includes quite a few liturgies for the Divine Service and other offices. Our previous hymnals (LW and TLH) do the same. The ELCA and ELS and WELS are also liturgical. No, maybe not 100% of the congregations but a very high percentage. And officially speaking, these are liturgical church bodies.

    As for controversy, there is pretty much no way you could point to a “great controversy” regarding the LCMS’ most recent hymnal. I have a pastor friend in Chicago who was really opposed to it but I don’t think that counts for “great” controversy. It is wildly popular and had record sales in record time. As for the previous hymnal — LW, which began as a collaboration with other Lutheran church bodies and was not as successful — perhaps. I myself never cottoned to that hymnal, preferring even the “rush translation” of the 1941 TLH.

    But many would say that the LSB combines the best of the two previous English hymnals without the worst of either.

    Back to the matter at hand, though.

  • Peggy R

    So much to respond to!

    The old Hungarian lady doesn’t want to talk to dead people? Does she pray to saints for their intercession I wonder? These reporters can always find crochety older folks to interview, eh? Many of these folks in their 60s and up are often resentful b/c of the massive upheaval caused by the novus ordo in the first place. My parents in their 70s are full of angst about changes to the mass (there were some posture and demeanor corrections in the last decade) and the authority that bishops assert in this teaching.

    Reader Robert King picked up on two big factual errors by the journalist. There was NO V2 requirement to translate the mass into the vernacular. It was permitted. The mass that was translated was created after V2 (but again not required by V2 council). The ancient mass remains in operation according to the 1962 missal, freed up a few years ago.

    The StLPD (Townsend) had good background information. IT was educational to read.
    http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/for-catholics-it-s-the-start-of-a-new-liturgy/article_6abd24ce-af14-513b-a9ae-8cd9f6457fa2.html

    Though the NYT gave much room to the opponents of the translations, it was nonetheless informative.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/28/nyregion/for-catholics-the-word-was-a-bit-different-amen.html

    Also, on the Anglican v Catholic liturgy issue, this was only in religious media, the London Anglican bishop declared that Anglicans can no longer use the Roman Missal in English b/c the new translation makes the dogma of transubstantiation very clear. A Catholic priest writing in the British Catholic Herald agrees. Fr Zuhlsdorf covers it here.
    http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/11/ch-you-cannot-be-an-anglican-and-use-the-roman-missal/

  • Julia

    Good AP article where the reporter Tom Breen clearly identifies the Mass as a ritual. Good for him. And various reactions given in the people’s own words.

    http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/catholics-begin-use-of-revised-missal-at-mass/article_c0acd930-c836-50fe-ac5f-88127e12a8b7.html

  • Jeffrey

    Mollie, you implied in your post that there is a LUTHERAN liturgy that is comparable to the Catholic liturgy and that just isn’t true or close to being true. There are a variety of English Lutheran liturgies and the one in your hymnal is just one that won’t even be heard in every LCMS church. Despite the LCMS liturgy wars, what you hear in your so-called confessional church will be different from the almost Evangelical service at the LCMS church down the road. Your church busy has been fighting this battle for 40 years, as you well know as an activist.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jeffrey,

    Thanks for the clarification. Yes there are *definitely* worship wars in the LCMS. That might be our major point of conflict, actually. And it really goes back even further than 40 years, if you read what folks were writing back in the 1920s and such. Sometimes I worry that I explain too much about divisions between confessional Lutherans and other Lutherans (both within and without LCMS) but this thread is making me feel like I should feel free to fully explain in the future.

  • Karl

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s comments are interesting. Newspapers should give some explanation of the doctrinal differences between Catholics and Protestants (like transubstantiation, the idea that the Eucharist is a “sacrifice” that re-presents the grace of the Cross to the Father, etc.) and how the translation emphasizes these differences.

  • R9

    “I can’t be the only one that gets a kick out of the idea that no one understands the words “shall,” “wrought” and “thwart.”

    Well just reading that cleveland piece, it doesn’t specifically state that. It occurs to me there’s a difference between not understanding archaic words, and simply finding a piece of writing more leaden and clunky for using them. There’s probably a mix of both at work here (the only word so far that strikes me as being far removed from everyday use is “consubstantial”.)

    Also one day I’ll start a getreligion drinking game, and first on the list is taking a shot every time Mollie calls something breathless.

  • Martha

    Do you really want an answer to that question, Mollie? :-)

    “Incarnate” is too difficult for we ordinary pew-sitters to understand? Let me dig out the Missal I got for my First Communion way back in 1970 and used until 1973 (when the second English translation, the one that all the lamenting about, came into use) and quote you the form of the Creed as given there:

    “I believe in one God, The almighty Father, maker of heaven and earth, Maker of all things, visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, The only-begotten Son of God, Born of the Father before time began, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; Begotten, not made, one in substance with the Father; And through him all things were made. For us men and our salvation he came down from heaven, Was incarnate of the virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and was made man”.

    Several points to note there: one, the singular form (I believe), two, the horrors of non-inclusive, nay, even sexist language (for us men) and three, that word “incarnate”.

    If I was supposed to be able to understand this when I was nine, perhaps my agéd wits have declined and lost their facilities since then, but I think I could just about manage to struggle through saying “incarnate” once again.

  • Hector

    If someone doesn’t understand what ‘Incarnate’ means, then they don’t understand the Christian Faith. The Incarnation is the key to our faith, after all. This is an important change because it makes clear (in case anyone had forgotten) that the union of divine and human natures happened at Jesus’ conception, not at his birth.

    Re: Also, on the Anglican v Catholic liturgy issue, this was only in religious media, the London Anglican bishop declared that Anglicans can no longer use the Roman Missal in English b/c the new translation makes the dogma of transubstantiation very clear

    With due respect, why am I supposed to care what the Bishop of London thinks? There are plenty of Anglicans since the mid-19th century who do believe in transubstantiation, and there are plenty of us who have used English translations of the Roman missal. Go to any Anglo-Catholic church, and whether they’re using the 1979 BCP, the 1928 BCP, the Anglican Service Book, or the English Missal, they’re going to hold to the Real Presence (and in some places, at least, to transubstantiation).

    You can be an Anglican in good standing and believe in transubstantiation, and what the Bishop of London thinks is neither here nor there.

  • Karl

    (My 1928 BCP doesn’t make transubstantiation explicit)

    The bishop of an Anglican diocese “sets the tone” for what’s permitted. Many dioceses allow Anglicans to follow their own theological inclinations, whether they’re more Catholic or Protestant. Others don’t. The Diocese of Sydney has a very strong Reformed Protestant orientation and doesn’t use the BCP, for example.

  • http://holyprotection.wordpress.com/ Pete

    Ugh! Even GetReligion doth thwart mine attempt at escaping the reality of the Browns’ consubstiallity with failure.

  • http://www.authenticbioethics.blogspot.com AuthenticBioethics

    Mollie, the media aren’t interested in the Catholic liturgy per se. They are (generally speaking) interested in fomenting discord and portraying the Church in a state of controversy and turmoil antecedent to its eventual demise, which they hope to hasten. That is why this particular issue is everywhere, and naysayers are quoted ad nauseum. But after today’s articles, I bet you won’t see it any more, because the controversy is a non-story. That is, unless some adamant group starts a demonstration or officially breaks away, in which case they will be portrayed the heroic victims. How much did they cover the breaking away of the Society of St. Pius X before Abp. Lefevre was excommunicated, where the issues were largely liturgical? Not much, I think.

    I’m sorry to say but the media aren’t interested in other Christian groups in quite the same way. Just look at the disparity in coverage of sex abuse incidents – everyone knows there are cases in every religious group. The media aren’t interested in sex abuse cases per se (unless they are in themselves high profile, like the Penn State affair), but relish an opportunity to make the Catholic Church look bad.

    Oh, and that stubborn Hungarian lady should go to a Mass in Hungarian. They have been saying “and with your spirit” ever since Christianity appeared in that land, in whatever language… Hungarian, German, Russian, Latin, whatever.

  • Martha

    So what does that stubborn Hungarian lady do during the Mass when the prayers invoke the Holy Spirit? Does she say “the Holy You”?

  • Jerry

    I was going to post much the same thing that Pete did, but his instantiation of the idea doth thwarted my overwrought impulse to levity.

    I agree with Julia’s lauding of the Breen version of the story although my local paper totally mangled the headline.

    I also have to wonder a bit if this does not also reflect some of the debates about versions of the Bible between the KJV and those using more common English words.

    There’s also the usual perspective toward change lacking in the story. No matter what changes, some people will object because they like things the way they are, some will embrace the change and the majority will go along. I wish stories about something changing, like this one, brought in the psychological research that shows the predictability of the responses.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Jerry,

    I was thinking something similar with regard to change. I’ll fully admit that my instinctual response to change is negative. I’m no Hungarian mass-goer, but I was skeptical of each and every change I’ve ever seen in my church — unless it was explained to my satisfaction. There’s precisely no insight into this type of personality — and obviously I’m not alone — in any of these articles. There’s a light discussion of it, sure, but it’s a great opportunity to explore further. Perhaps that’s not a “GetReligion” angle but interesting still.

  • northcoast

    Interesting discussion of different practices here. Article xxviii in the Articles of Religion in my (1979) Episcopal Book of Common Prayer denies transubstantiation as well as adoration of the Host. Many of my fellow worshipers have evidently never noticed what is the back of the BCP.

    Incidentally, I think we had been using the 1979 wording for a couple of months before someone pointed out that we were starting the creed with the words “we believe” rather than “I believe.”

  • http://kingslynn.blogspot.com C. Wingate

    It’s kind of ironic that people are so hung up about the vocabulary that they don’t pay any attention to the syntax. Vocabulary problems are fixable. What’s not so fixable is the lousy syntax as is for instance is pointed out in two examples cited this Commonweal article. I don’t hold much truck with most of their criticism, but the longer excerpts demonstrate a decidedly non-Anglophone sentence structure.

  • Hector

    Re: Article xxviii in the Articles of Religion in my (1979) Episcopal Book of Common Prayer denies transubstantiation as well as adoration of the Host. Many of my fellow worshipers have evidently never noticed what is the back of the BCP.

    Sigh. As I have pointed out on this blog in the past, the 39 Articles are also in the section of the book called ‘Historical Documents’. I never gave allegiance to them when I became an Anglican, and I don’t give allegiance to them now. The Episcopal Church, at least, views them as an expression of the faith of the Church of England at the time, but not necessarily normative today. And if we considered them to be normative, pacifism would be out of court as well, as would socialism.

    I’m fully aware that I disagree with many things in the Thirty-Nine Articles, as does my priest, and as does Rowan Williams (i.e. the statements denying purgatory, the Real Presence, etc.). I don’t see why that’s a problem.

    (Sorry for the tangent, Mollie: I realize this is off topic).

  • Dan

    I have not seen any secular/mainstream coverage of the “pro multis” issue, but I haven’t read all the coverage either. It would be interesting to see how the secular press covers that issue. In the Eucharistic prayer in the just recently supplanted translation, “pro multis” was translated as “for all”: “It [Christ's blood]will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven.” The new translation changes “for all” to “for many”: “It will be shed for you and for many so that sins may be forgiven.”

    The pro multis issue was the subject of huge controversy within the Catholic Church for years. It is an issue that often divides people along ideological lines. The theological issue is obvious: “for all” suggests that all are saved and “for many” does not. I would have expected the press to accuse the new translation of retreating from “inclusivity” by suggesting that “all” aren’t saved but I haven’t seen anything to that effect. Again, though, I have read only a few of the articles covering the change in the translation.

  • Dan

    By what standard was the Hungarian woman worth quoting? Does her quote represent anything more than one crank’s idiosyncratic opinion? That the quote was included in the article makes me think that the article’s author was having a mighty difficult time finding parishioners who had anything negative to say about the new translation.

    (I am not a journalist and have no idea what is taught in journalism school about the use of anecdotal quotes, but the quote from the Hungarian woman seems to me to be an excellent example as to why anecdotal quotes should be avoided. (I always discount anecdotal quotes in any news article that I read about anything.))

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    I must say that our parishoners took the changes with good grace. I read today’s Boston Globe at the library and it had a very fair story which included a number of interviews they did with Catholics who also were handling the situation with good grace. Unfortunately, I left the data about who wrote the article at the library, but I want to put in a good word for that local newspaper of ours when it does its reportorial job fairly.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Note: I heard a radio news report telling of the liturgical translation changes and it referred to all the one billion Catholics in the world undergoing the turmoil of change. Wrong! It is only the comparatively tiny English speaking world going through the “trauma.”
    In fact a totally bilingual Hispanic parishoner of ours told us the new translation is finally like the Spanish translation (which hasn’t changed):: very much rooted in the original Latin (after all we are the “Latin” Rite of the Catholic Church whether Spanish or English speaking).

  • Jimmy Mac

    “This woman is stupid.”

    Nice of you, John in the Nati. And with your spirit, too!

  • DavidD

    I love getreligion, and your articles in particular, Mollie. But this is the second or third time I’ve read you using “Lutheran” when you meant “Missouri Synod Lutheran.” Furthermore, when you use phrases like “confessional Lutheran” in your articles and comments, I’d like to hear your definition of that term.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    DavidD,

    Thanks for the comment. I didn’t worry too much about the reference to the most recent hymnal because it so happens that both the ELCA and LCMS received new hymnals five years ago … but as I mentioned upthread, I will be more than happy to flesh these things out a bit more in the future! I’d previously worried that I was being too descriptive when discussing Lutheran issues … my favorite topic …

  • Dave

    Mollie @26, I think it is a GR issue because it would show some church people making up their minds rather than reacting in a knee-jerk sense — ie, not conforming to the stereotype of the church person — and thereby deepen coverage of churches.

  • Jon in the Nati

    Nice of you, John in the Nati. And with your spirit, too!

    I stand by it, Jimmie Mac.

  • Jimmy Mac

    Jon, your standing “by it” doesn’t surprise me one little bit. But will you let her come under your roof?

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie

    Friends,

    Take it to the coffee shop. Keep comments focused on journalism.

  • teahouse

    Sometimes no reporting is better than bad reporting, especially if it is just another attempt by people inimical to the Catholic Church to tell that church how to conduct its affairs.

    Robert King,

    “closer to the original Latin version written centuries ago”

    The Latin being translated is the recent revision of the Roman Missal, approved in 2002. That’s why there’s a new English translation in the first place: there’s something new to translate.

    I cringed just as you about the paper’s claim but I don’t what you say gives the right impression either.

    Any 2002 revisions have brought very little change. And these are not actually the reason why there’s a new English translation (they might be the occasion) as this has been intended for a while. The old English translation simply im parts wasn’t very accurate.

    The wording the paper should have chosen would have been “Closer to the the Latin written roughly forty years ago”.

    But then again, if the wording was inaccurate, I would also love to see it make its way to the rad-trad faction that acts like the missal of 1969 was all-new (and all-bad).

  • teahouse

    Jerry,

    There’s also the usual perspective toward change lacking in the story. No matter what changes, some people will object because they like things the way they are, some will embrace the change and the majority will go along. I wish stories about something changing, like this one, brought in the psychological research that shows the predictability of the responses.

    Both resisting and supporting any change is a stupid position. But since the media is usually enamoured by pro-any-change thinking, so why are they not doing it here?

    Probably because the change is actually a return to a proper translation of texts these reporters detest. It is a change for the better and that can never be tolerated.

  • teahouse

    Dan,

    The pro multis issue was the subject of huge controversy within the Catholic Church for years. It is an issue that often divides people along ideological lines. The theological issue is obvious: “for all” suggests that all are saved and “for many” does not. I would have expected the press to accuse the new translation of retreating from “inclusivity” by suggesting that “all” aren’t saved but I haven’t seen anything to that effect. Again, though, I have read only a few of the articles covering the change in the translation.

    This is not necessarily an ideological issue the way you describe it.

    The wording “for all” (which is not a correct translation) may imply that all are saved but it doesn’t say so – it says that Christ’s blood is shed for all, that the intention is for all to be saved. Neither does “for many” (the correct translation) espouse a quasi-Calvinist theology.

    That God wants all to be saved is Catholic theology, that all actually are saved is an illusion. Any one who thinks about this for a moment can see this.

    That “for many” is the correct translation of the missal’s Lating text “pro multis” does not mean that it’s the only tenable wording as biblical accounts vary on this. But the decision about the wording has been made in the missal when “pro multis” was adopted. It is the lating original that should be translated.

  • DavidD

    Thank for the response, Mollie. In the spirit of this entire website, my point is simply that instead of writing “When Lutherans got our new hymnal about five years ago…” (and then only linking to CPH), it would have been more accurate to write either “When Lutherans got our new hymnals” or “When the LCMS got its new hymnal.”
    I realize you were using your own tradition as an example in a larger story, but one of the contentions of getreligion is that lack of clarity in the media breeds confusion about religion in the media.
    I’m a former reporter and a lifelong Lutheran–anytime you want to go overboard on Lutheran details is fine by me!

  • Will

    Both resisting and supporting any change is a stupid position. But since the media is usually enamoured by pro-any-change thinking, so why are they not doing it here?

    Because that would not fit the narrative of the Oppressiveevil “Vatican” “imposing” its “edicts”. So they have to go with the “Help, I’m being repressed!”

  • R9

    What about the narrative of cartoon villain journalists determined to oppose all you hold dear?

  • Jon in the Nati
  • Will

    R9:
    [Post following the narrative "That's DIFFERENT! Because we're right and they're wrong!" (Thank you, James Carville.)]

  • Rockerbabe

    The new word changes in the mass are welcome to some degree. But, they are not going to inspire more attendance at mass or stop the defections from the church.

    What will increase catholic influence, is change in the attitudes of the hierarchy towards women, medical care and treatment of women and treatment and respect for people who are homesexual. And, let’s not get into the child abuse issues, the church really has not addressed sufficiently. No change in the wording of the litergy of the mass is going to help with these ongoing problems.

  • SouthCoast

    Rockerbabe, there’s a space available in one of the pews at the Episcopal church I left for Rome, if you’re interested. And, btw, the Church enjoins upon us respect for all persons, regardless of sexual orientation. In any case, we are both of us off-topic.

  • http://Yahoo! Always Happy

    I find the new translation sorely lacking! It is cold and very impersonal! Whether it’s faithful to the Latin or Scriptures, at this and time, I could care less! Who, in God’s name, came up with this translation? And WHERE were our English-speaking Bishops? Asleep? Afraid? I suppose we will get used to it! But at what price and cost? Won’t it be a surprise for our ‘holiday’ Catholics??!!

  • teahouse

    Always Happy,

    maybe you could care less – or couldn’t you?

    But your lack of caring is not what matters in this issue.

    What matters is that the missal is properly translated into English.

    Maybe translators could have done better this time, but that they did better than last time is beyond doubt.

  • Richard Kelly

    We live in a literal age but literal translations don’t alway capture the spirit of the original.

  • teahouse

    So you know better what the spirit is?

    “And with your spirit” does not capture the spirit of “Et cum spirito tuo”, while “And also with you” does?


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X