The Chairman of the IV Fota International Liturgical Conference, which was held in Cork City last Friday, has criticised the absence of any member of the Association of Catholic Priests at the event.
Fr Vincent Twomey, SVD, said it would have provided them with a platform to put their criticisms of the new translation of the Roman Missal to three members of Vox Clara who attended the conference. The theme of Fota IV was The New English Translation of the Missale Romanum.
Fr Twomey told ciNews that ACP members were free to attend the conference but that “not one of them turned up.” He expressed disappointment that “none of those who criticised the translation had the courage to come and enter into honest debate with those responsible for the new English translation.”
The three members of Vox Clara who made presentations at the second session of Fota IV included its Chairman, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, as well as Bishop Arthur Sarretelli of New Jersey and Mgr James Moroney of the Diocese of Worcester in Massachusetts.
Asked if he took the ACP’s criticisms of the new translation of the missal seriously, the Professor Emeritus of moral theology in Maynooth said, “I take their criticisms very seriously because they reflect the disturbingly low level of theological knowledge in Ireland about the liturgy.”
Fr Twomey, who is a member Pope Benedict’s annual gathering of former doctoral students that now takes place in Castel Gandolfo, rejected claims that the new translation had been imposed by Rome. “There is no imposition – this is the work of English-speaking Bishops throughout the world (representing 11 Episcopal Conferences, including Ireland) and their various theological advisers working over several decades on translating the Latin of the ordinary rite, which itself had been revised twice since the Novus Ordo was first published”, he explained.
“They were working on a richer Latin text with the object of finding a translation that would be both more beautiful and more in tune with the theological richness of the new prayers in the Ordinary Rite,” he stated.
Asked if he was anticipating any problems in the pews when the Church begins to informally introduce the new translation from September and officially from the first Sunday of Advent, Fr Twomey told ciNews, “I am a bit nervous because the Irish Church, as far as I can see, has failed – yet again – to do what Pope Benedict XVI asked all the English-speaking conferences of the world to do – namely to introduce the new text with due sensitivity and with proper catechesis.”
The Divine Word Missionary added, “After all we have all become fond of the old text (myself included) and don’t like change in the liturgy. As the Pope has said, many, including many priests, will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly 40 years of continuous use of the previous one.”
Fr Twomey added that the Irish Church had “failed in this golden opportunity to use the new translation for a deepening of our spiritual experience at Mass, as hoped for by the Pope.” He also rejected calls by the ACP for the postponement of next year’s International Eucharistic Congress that is due to take place in Dublin from June 10-17.
“The Eucharistic Congress is an opportunity for actually rediscovering for ourselves the wonderful mystery that is the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass,” Fr Twomey said.
He added that the “real problem is not the new translation but the impoverished theology of the Eucharist that has crept in to the Irish Church. Very often we have reduced the Mass effectively to, at best, a private devotion. The main object of the priest is to make sure it is not boring – now that means that something has gone radically wrong,” he said.
But he was upbeat about the possibility of eucharistic renewal, stating, “I am quite convinced that once the Church as a whole begins seriously to prepare for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin next year, our ancient tradition of genuine Irish liturgical piety will come to the fore. I am also convinced that the liturgy itself, and especially the new translation of the new missal, will help us in Ireland to regain something of the awe and the wonder that is the Eucharist – the source of our joy.”
by Sarah Mac Donald