There is an interesting letter in this week’s The Tablet from the retired bishop of Portsmouth, Crispian Hollis.
It confirms the worst suspicions about the lack of attention that was paid by bishops when the ‘new missal’ was being foisted on us.
They cannot claim they weren’t warned, with various campaigns calling for a slowing down of the process of approval of the missal and for proper consultation. In February 2011 the ACP called on the bishops “to defer its introduction for five years. During that period the bishops, together with the people and priests, can properly examine the suitability of these texts for the Irish Church.”
There was the well publicised campaign by Fr. Michael Ryan, What If We Just Said Wait? that gathered over 22,000 signatures.
It is sad that the bishops and the officials in Rome were not listening or not willing to hear.
Crispian Hollis has the good grace to admit his shortcomings and he regrets “deeply that I did not take the discussions in the Bishops’ Conference about the translations more seriously.”
I wonder how many more bishops in the English speaking conferences might now be willing to admit to a similar lack of serious attention when “the appalling texts with which we have now been saddled” were being discussed.
Bishop Hollis now says “I confess that I was wrong … I am sorry!”
His apology is obviously sincere and he has an awareness of the consequences that flowed from the decisions, or indecisions, of the bishops of the English-speaking world.
His call on bishops to now accept the authority given them by Pope Francis and take responsibility for the texts of liturgical translations should be listened to and taken seriously. “The matter is urgent; things will not get better” he writes “and we need to think again”.
We certainly do, and ‘sleeping dogs’ should never again ‘be let lie’.
We bishops got it wrong about the missal
06 December 2017
I am grateful for the correspondence about the current translation of our liturgical texts and for Eamon Duffy’s cogent article, “Broken English” (2 December). It has given me an opportunity to look back and to regret deeply that I did not take the discussions in the Bishops’ Conference about the translations more seriously.
There were notable exceptions to the consensus among the bishops about the new translations but I think Eamon Duffy is right when he writes that most of us were content “to let sleeping dogs lie”. With the benefit of hindsight, I confess that I was wrong and am therefore partly responsible for the appalling texts with which we have now been saddled. I am sorry!
I am regularly engaged in supplying Masses in our local Clifton parishes and I now constantly have to adapt or change the texts with which we are presented because, as they stand, they are so often unintelligible or so clumsy as to be virtually unusable.
If, as I understand it, Magnum Principium gives the Bishops’ Conference the opportunity to think again, and revisit the 1998 Missal, then such a move would have my full support and encouragement. The matter is urgent; things will not get better and we need to think again.
But then, I am only a retired bishop!
Emeritus Bishop of Portsmouth