Anthony Ruff resigns

An Open Letter to the U.S. Catholic
Bishops on the Forthcoming Missal

Anthony Ruff | FEBRUARY 14, 2011

our Eminences, Your Excellencies,

With a heavy heart, I have recently made a difficult decision concerning the new English missal. I have decided to withdraw from all my upcoming speaking engagements on the Roman Missal in dioceses across the United States. After talking with my confessor and much prayer, I have concluded that I cannot promote the new missal translation with integrity. I’m sure bishops want a speaker who can put the new missal in a positive light, and that would require me to say things I do not believe.

I love the Church, I love the sacred liturgy, I love chant in Latin and English, and I treasure being involved with all these as a monk and priest. It has been an honor to serve until recently as chairman of the music committee of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) that prepared all the chants for the new missal. But my involvement in that process, as well as my observation of the Holy See’s handling of scandal, has gradually opened my eyes to the deep problems in the structures of authority of our church.

The forthcoming missal is but a part of a larger pattern of top-down impositions by a central authority that does not consider itself accountable to the larger church. When I think of how secretive the translation process was, how little consultation was done with priests or laity, how the Holy See allowed a small group to hijack the translation at the final stage, how unsatisfactory the final text is, how this text was imposed on national conferences of bishops in violation of their legitimate episcopal authority, how much deception and mischief have marked this process—and then when I think of Our Lord’s teachings on service and love and unity…I weep.

I see a good deal of disillusionment with the Catholic Church among my friends and acquaintances. Some leave the Catholic Church out of conviction, some gradually drift away, some join other denominations, some remain Catholic with difficulty. My response is to stay in this church for life and do my best to serve her. This I hope to do by stating the truth as I see it, with charity and respect. I would be ready to participate in future liturgical projects under more favorable conditions.

I am sorry for the difficulties I am causing others by withdrawing, but I know this is the right thing to do. I will be praying for you and all leaders in our church.

Pax in Christo,

Fr. Anthony Ruff, O.S.B.

Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., is a Benedictine monk of Saint John’s Abbey and a professor of liturgy and Gregorian chant. He was on the committee which drafted the 2007 document “Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship” for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is founder of the National Catholic Youth Choir and blogs at Pray Tell. His letter above to the U.S. bishops is printed in its entirety.

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  1. Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh says:

    I wish to thank Anthony Ruff, O.S.B. for his courage in making it clear to the American Bishops, that the new literal translation from Latin to English, is not a translation that should be accepted for the Roman Catholic liturgies. The literal translation from Latin to English is clumsy.

    When we are giving worship and praise to our God, elitist and clumsy language is not the way to pray to our God. We need words that come from our hearts and souls, and that convey meaning to us, and not to the people of the Middle Ages.

    As an American Catholic lay person and as a physician, I feel that the American Bishops seem to have no minds of their own. Is this what it has come to?

    There is real need for the American Bishops and the Bishops of the World to unite in challenging the poor decisions of Pope Benedict XVI and of those in the Curia, if they really care about the future of the Roman Catholic Church. Among these poor decisions I include the disastrous decisions of the Pope and Curia in protecting predator priests and robbing innocent children of their childhoods! We can no longer defend the indefensible.

    I have great praise for the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland. Those priests are like a beacon of light and hope to me. Thank goodness there are priests that refuse to continue to act like they are mindless sheep before the authority of Rome.

    Having been to Rome and to the Holy Land, I was struck by the wealth and power of the Vatican and the simplicity of Galilee and the simplicity of the life of Jesus, Our Lord.

    I feel that the leaders of the RCC want to be Princes, rather than Servant Leaders like Jesus was.

    Our leaders have lost their way and need to be helped back by the bishops, priests, and lay people.
    Thank you Anthony Ruff, O.S.B., for being part of this much needed reform in the policies and structures, and hopefully reform in the leadership of the RCC.

    Sincerely yours, Dr Rosemary Eileen McHugh, Chicago, Illinois,

  2. The bishops are the ones primarily responsible for liturgy in their dioceses. The US bishops have ignored voices like Fr Ruff’s before; they virtually mocked at their own Bp Trautman. Being an “expert” wins you no credence, but rather draws ridicule from bishops and Vatican bureaucrats who are sure they know best. Cardinal Pell assures us that the new translation has been warmly greeted throughout the world (implying that Ruff, Trautman et al. are merely recalcitrant malcontents). It is all a little like Tony Blair’s doggedness in leading the UK to war in Iraq.

    The Irish bishops won’t be able to escape the coming outcry by saying they were following Vatican orders.

  3. Vox Clara press release, Feb 3:

    “Finally, the Committee expressed satisfaction that the completion of the English translation of the Roman Missal has been welcomed throughout the English-speaking world.

    “The widespread development of formation programs for clergy and people and the publication of resources were acknowledged with gratitude by the Committee, which remains firmly convinced of the spiritual and catechetical value of this moment in the liturgical renewal envisioned by the Council Fathers almost a half century ago.”

  4. As a 75 yr old resigned priest, who loves the Church and advocates a restoration of the Vatican Council II mentality in the administration and liturgical practices of our beloved church, I am concerned about the already growing hostility and name calling towards the recently established Association of Catholic Priests.
    I am referring to a recent email I received from a group that I am not familiar with ………Los Leandros. The name calling and derogatory comments directed towards the new associotion is disturbing. I feel there is place for both conservative Catholics and progressive Catholics within Roman Catholicism.
    I respectfully submit a proposal to the Assoc of Catholic Priests for their consideration.i.e to intoduce a space for dialogue between pro Vatican II Catholics and anti Vatican II on their new website. I speak as one who has for 45 yrs has being involved as a successful moderator and paricipant in Catholic/non- Catholic Christian dialogue, Catholic/Jewish, and for five years as moderator of Moderate Muslim/Non-Muslim dialogue sponsored by Rotary International.
    I believe the key to the success of any religious dialogue is a willingness to listen as well as speak and trust the Spirit to guide both sides to learn from each other……….The present hostility of Los Leandros towards the renewal of our Church advocated by the Association can only encourage the demise of our beloved Church. As I am now retired from teaching I am available to help in creating the dialogue process. I have no doubt that members of Los Leandros love the Catholic Church as much as I do and agree that many changes need to be made and much purification needs to happen to the Catholic Church worldwide for it to survive.

    Fraternally in Christ

    Finbarr M Corr

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