Bishop Thomas McMahon, retired bishop of Brentwood, has now belatedly admitted that the lack of attention paid by bishops (“we failed to do justice to something as important as translations for the Missal. “) when the ‘new’ missal was being prepared has led to the “the rather convoluted prayers that we now have”.
He also alludes to the pressure they were put under from officials in Rome, “I was also very aware that whatever text we came up with, Rome was intent on complete oversight ..”
The admission that he paid a lack of attention is worrying because he was for many years part of the National Liturgical Commission for England and Wales. Perhaps bishops need to seek advice as to how they should spend their time and what should demand their attention. Maybe they need to question if much of what currently occupies them needs to be delegated.
Certainly, one wonders what happens to bishops when they retire that they suddenly see things so differently.
Bishop McMahon wrote to The Tablet in the aftermath of the letter by another retired bishop, Crispian Hollis.
Below is the letter from Bishop McMahon to “The Tablet”.
Your headline “We bishops got it wrong about the Missal” (Letters, 9 December) prompts me to add my own mea culpa. In my case doubly so, since for many years I was part of the National Liturgical Commission.
As Bishop Crispian Hollis indicated in his letter, the volume of work at the Bishops’ Conference is considerable and sometimes we failed to do justice to something as important as translations for the Missal. However, I was also very aware that whatever text we came up with, Rome was intent on complete oversight and having a translation closer to the Latin; hence the rather convoluted prayers that we now have.
Like others, I feel sure that given the support expressed by Pope Francis, a way forward could be found.
EMERITUS BISHOP OF BRENTWOOD
The difference between the various missals is rather stark; consider the opening prayer of today’s Mass, 22 December.
Opening Prayer 22 December
O God, who, seeing the human race fallen into death,
willed to redeem it by the coming of your Only Begotten Son,
grant, we pray,
that those who confess his Incarnation with humble fervour
may merit his company as their Redeemer.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
when we were sunk in sin and death
you turned toward us
and rescued us by the incarnation of your only Son.
Grant that we who acknowledge his coming with reverent love
may also be one with him,
our Lord and Redeemer,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
God our Father,
you sent your son
to free mankind from the power of death.
May we who celebrate the coming of Christ as man
share more fully in his divine life,
for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.