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Rebuilding the Tower of Babel – We will be “separated by the same language”

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“England and America are two countries separated by the same language.”

After reading the article Speaking of storms on the horizon: Motu Proprio on approval of liturgical translations in Fr. Z’s Blog, my inner linguist and I held a rambling dialogue on how the actions of Association of the U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) and its members may lead the English speaking Catholic world into greater separation and disunity.

If you like, you may read further and share in some of that rambling dialogue.

Actually: My beautiful spouse and I are trying to purge our speech of the useless and obnoxious filler word “actually.” When we catch ourselves falling into the trap of using it, we try to replace it with “factually.” Even if that substitution cannot atone for “linguistic sin”, the word “factually” at least signals that what is to follow comes from a reliable source.

Linguistic Sin: Factually, for some 50 years, my work has revolved around technical proficiency in two foreign languages. In addition to those two languages, I have been formally trained in three other languages. That includes two years of Latin. Be assured, I am no doctoral-level linguist. Nevertheless, my training in languages has put bread on our family table for 45 years.

My professional reputation is founded on my ability to interpret intended meaning and to convey that meaning faithfully to others in a different language. In my line of work, words, most assuredly, mean something. That is why I disagree with our Pastor and his beloved AUSCP. They do not have the same respect for words and their meanings that I do. They would rather abandon meaning because they are overly sensitive to “awkward grammar and diction.” – They would rather be wrong than stilted.

This is what the AUSCP Roman Missal Working Group and, by association and regular practice, our Pastor say about their Roman Missal Translation Concerns:

Purpose: To collect and voice the complaints of priests and laity about the awkward grammar and diction of the new Roman Missal’s “English translation” so as to move the USCCB Committee for Divine Worship to hear the concern and take steps to improve the texts used for our most important liturgical prayer.

Based on my observations and study of our Pastor’s frequent changes to the text of the Mass (many of which we have recorded here in this blog), I would say he either does not understand the original Latin or he does not agree with the meaning of the Latin terms he changes. Either way, he is in lock-step with his 1,200 brothers in the AUSCP.

As we have said before, “The AUSCP agenda is well served by our Pastor.”

In my line of work, when a translation intentionally changes the original meaning, it is a linguistic sin – a grave sin. People who commit that sin lose their jobs and their professional reputations.

This blog has established that our radical Pastor is an activist who is well versed in the Rules for Radical Pastors and other Saul Alinsky variations. I’m sure that he would be able to relate to the following guidance that appeared on the AUSCP site in April 2016.

The AUSCP Leadership Team is asking our members to become active in addressing the problems which so many are having with the New Roman Missal. The problems will multiply if Liturgiam authenticam continues to be used in the translation of other liturgical texts. WE NEED THE HELP AND LEADERSHIP OF OUR BISHOPS IN THIS MATTER.

Throughout the English speaking world, priests are on the front lines of church ministry. Every day we embrace the challenge to communicate and celebrate the gospel in “the language of our people.” We are expected to use the Roman Missal as it is. The “vernacular” used in the Roman Missal English translation has produced complicated and awkward phrasing and a strange vocabulary. The purpose of language is to communicate and build relationship. The language used in Eucharistic celebration should generate a sense of the sacral — not bewilderment and aggravation. To do our job well, we need good tools. The current translation of the Roman Missal using the translation method of Liturgiam authenticam has created a problematic tool.

And so, we encourage all members to request a “sit-down” and “face-to-face” meeting with their own bishop(s) (ordinaries & auxiliaries), not as a representative of AUSCP but as a concerned priest within their presbyterate serving the pastoral care of God’s People. These talking points may be helpful:

  1. Assure your bishops that displeasure with the New Missal is widespread among priests and the people of God as verified by a number of surveys.

  2. Prepare yourself by reviewing below a listing of commonly experienced problems and concerns submitted by our members. Please realize that sharing your own experience is of greatest value.

  3. Emphasize that priests cannot maintain their joy in presiding when so many texts in the Missal cause frustration and that, from a pastoral approach, the new Roman Missal is not found to be a good tool for effective ministry with God’s people.

  4. Beg for an intervention by your bishop(s) to:

    • Stop translating liturgical texts using the Liturgian authenticam method; and
    • To correct the translations we already have according to Liturgiam authenticam norms, especially the Missal and the Rites of Ordination.
  5. Above all, PLEAD for your bishop’s assistance in this matter, leaving with him, if prudent, a copy of the article Mission intelligible” by Fr. Michael Ryan. [Read the article carefully yourself by clicking HERE.

To every bishop in the United States, be prepared for this organized threat and please post your “No whining!” signs prominently.


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