Letter from ACP Leadership to every bishop over Lectionary translation concerns

Ahead of today’s AGM…a request to re-publish this issue on today’s page.

Below is a copy of the letter sent by the ACP Leadership team to each of the bishops of Ireland outlining concern over expected changes to translations of the Lectionary.

Replies were received from bishops from the following dioceses: Armagh, Dublin, Achonry, Ardagh & Clonmacnois, Cork & Ross, Elphin, Killaloe, Waterford & Lismore.


19th August 2020


Hope all is well with you.

We are writing individually to all the Irish Catholic bishops, on behalf of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), to draw attention to our concerns in relation to developments regarding the new Lectionary.

From what we have been able to glean from The Tablet and other sources, it would seem that the bishops of England and Wales, and Scotland are of one mind and intention in supporting the use of the ESV translation in the proposed new Lectionary.

Apart from personal preference in relation to this or other translations, we are concerned that the ESV translation does not allow for the use of inclusive language and favours the use of generic terms like ‘man’, ‘mankind’ and ‘brothers’.

Such terms are not just out of sync with modern usage but are culturally regarded as diminishing and disrespectful of women.

At a time when efforts are being made – internationally, nationally and at diocesan and parish level – to enhance the role of women in our Church and to encourage women to continue their invaluable participation in church life, acceptance of exclusive rather than inclusive terms will be interpreted as demeaning and insulting by many women (and men).

It seems obvious that, for the good of the Church, such a dispensation needs to be avoided at all costs.

Before the introduction of the New Missal, at a meeting between the Episcopal Commission for the Liturgy and the ACP, a bishop told the meeting that the problem with the New Missal was ‘that it wasn’t English’. More recently at a meeting between the ACP and representatives of the Irish Bishops, a senior bishop admitted that, in regard to the New Missal, ‘we (the bishops) took our eye off the ball’.

We are worried that, with arrangements apparently at such an advanced stage, other episcopal conferences may expect, indeed presume, that the Irish bishops will cooperate in giving the nod to a version of the Lectionary that will cause not just division, disunity and damage in our parishes but offer to women, especially younger women, yet another argument for jettisoning their connection with the Church.

We believe, in this instance, that our view represents not just our own members but the generality of priests in Ireland who know from personal experience in their parishes the contribution women make, and the need to support them – not to diminish or demean them.

We feel that if the conference of bishops was to ignore the concerns of the wider church on this issue it would hasten the exit of even more of the faithful and add to the already large number of Irish people who simply see us as irrelevant.

We ask you to urgently give this issue the attention it is due.

With every good wish,


Gerry O’Connor, CSsR; Tim Hazelwood; Roy Donovan and John Collins

ACP Leadership Team















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  1. Iggy+O+Donovan says:

    I await to see the contents of the new lectionary. As regards the missal which appeared some years ago, I have no problem. I simply do not use it. Paul VI is good enough for me.

  2. Pól+Ó+Duibhir says:

    Excellent letter. Very well drafted.

    Can you share the replies?

    Editor: Replies were most positive with assurances that the matter will be discussed by the Irish Bishops’ Conference.

  3. Michael Maginn says:

    In a Furrow article, PREVENIENT GRACE, August 2013, my response to the New Missal which we began using in Advent 2011, I wrote the following conclusion:

    Words matter. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s definition of poetry comes to mind: the best words in the best order. Sadly, his definition cannot be applied to the revised Missal or to many of the language and phrasing choices which now robe the revised liturgical texts.

    The emperor has no clothes. Rather, what linguistic clothes he has, are poorly made and poorly chosen. The liturgy deserves better. So do we.

    Please God, we are not now to be lumbered with a pastorally dysfunctional and defective Revised Lectionary.

    Michael Maginn

  4. Gerry+O'Hanlon says:

    I note that the Oct 7th Statement from the Autumn (on-line) meeting of the Episcopal Conference has no reference to any discussion about this matter (the new lectionary) at their meeting.
    Gerry O’Hanlon sj

  5. John Collins says:

    Out of the 26 dioceses only 8 replies!! Where are the other 18?

  6. Gerard Moloney says:

    To introduce a poorly translated and sexist lectionary, as appears will be the case, shows that the English-speaking bishops’ conferences have learned nothing from the 2011 new missal debacle. I will not be using this new lectionary.

  7. Roy Donovan says:

    It is not only language and inclusive language that is of concern in the ‘new’ Missal but also bad theology as was pointed out at the ACP Advisory meeting last week. These same concerns are at stake in the new Lectionary

  8. Jim Owens says:

    Well done on drafting and sending letter. Good to hear today that many of the replies are positive

  9. Eddie+Finnegan says:

    I suppose most bishops the world over still think in centuries or decades, rather than in months, weeks or by-return-of-post when it comes to answering letters or emails. Still, while you wait for the remaining 18, take some comfort in that those who replied include the youngest (Achonry) and possibly the oldest (Dublin).

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