New Roman Missal: Archaic, elitist, obscure, awkward and sexist

Archaic, elitist, obscure, awkward and sexist are just some of the words used by clergy to describe the English translation of the new Roman Missal.

Priests in Australia, Ireland, the United States and New Zealand have also criticized the new translation, which is being partially used in New Zealand and will be used by the rest of the English speaking world from the first Sunday of Advent, 2011.

The main reason for the new translation is to make the English more literal and closer to the original Latin.

A few of the changes include:

  • “One in Being with the Father,” will become “consubstantial with the Father”;
  • “Before he was given up to death, a death he freely accepted,” has been changed to “At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion”; and
  • the priest’s introduction to the Lord’s Prayer, “Let us pray with confidence to the Father in the words our Savior gave us,” has been changed to “At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say.”
  • currently when the ministers says, “The Lord be with you,” the congregation responds, “And also with you”, come Advent, the congregation will respond, “And with your spirit.”

However, the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in Ireland has objected to the translation and called for the new edition to be postponed for five years for more consultation.

The ACP argues that a word-for-word translation “demonstrates a lack of awareness of the insights gained from linguistics and anthropology during the past 100 years.”

A statement from the association said, “The ACP is gravely concerned that this literal translation from Latin has produced texts that are archaic, elitist and obscure and not in keeping with the natural rhythm, cadence and syntax of the English language.”

Further, it said the new text was unfair to females.

“We fear that the continued use of sexist language with its use of man, men and brothers as generic terms will alienate some women and men,” it said.

The association also raised the issue of theological accuracy in the new missal in which the Eucharistic prayers state that Jesus Christ died “for many” rather than “for all.”

“A central teaching of the Christian Churches is that Jesus died for all people. This meaning is conveyed in the current translation of the Latin words of consecration over the chalice, pro vobis et pro multis. The phrase is translated for you and for all in the current missal. The new text opts for the more literal translation, for you and for many. In English, the word ‘many’ contrasts with the word ‘few,’ so people may be led to ask, are there some for whom Jesus did not die?” added the statement.

Some Australian priests have called for a boycott of the new translation. However Fr Peter Williams, executive secretary Australian Catholic Bishops Conference Liturgy Commission said to boycott the translation was “opening the doors to liturgical anarchy.”

The Rev. Michael Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral in Seattle, started a petition asking to delay the introduction of the new missal. The petition, called “What if We Just Said Wait,” has been supported by more than 22,000 priests, nuns and laypeople around the world, some of them prominent liturgists, theologians and musicians. Only about 10 percent asked to be anonymous; the rest signed their names.

The new missal is the product of a long tug-of-war over liturgy, which began with the decision of the Second Vatican Council to make the Mass more accessible to Catholics by allowing churches to replace the Latin with the local vernacular.


News category: World.

  • Sharon

    It is time some men and women grew up and stopped being "offended" by what they regard as "sexist" language. The word "man" or "mankind" has always embraced men and women, human kind. I am a woman and I and many others are offended that we have had to bow to the petty complaints of some men and women. With all the problems in the world, there is much more to worry about and those sorts of people should busy themselves with works of charity instead of interferring with the words of the Mass.

    Pro multis is a Latin phrase that means "for many" or "for the many" and is taken straight from the Gospels – so why argue with that? It was mistranslated originally and has now been put right..

    • Patricia Carroll

      I couldn't agree more with you, Sharon!
      Faith Convert 2006

  • Sharon

    As for quoting the church in Ireland – it is in a terrible mess with very low Mass attendance – the more you remove the sacredness from the Mass which was done through the misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council, the more you see a drop off in Mass attendance, which has happened all over the world. We are now returning to a sense of the sacred which has been missing for 40 years.

  • Patricia Carroll

    I, too, am dismayed at the egocentrism of the "sexist" so-called argument. I do wish and pray that Christians in our catholic church would be God and Christ-centred instead, and put all their energy into reading and absorbing the Gospel and New Testament books and letters as well as Old Testament, the four fifths of our Holy Bible upon which our Judeo-Christian faith is based. It is disturbing that women communicants think so lowly of them selves that they appear to me to misunderstand and marginalize our divinely commissioned roles in life.
    Faith Convert 2006

  • Jan

    I agree with all the posters here, it is time that Catholics started obeying the Magisterium of the Church instead of following their own whims and fancies – if they don't like it the door is wide open for them to walk and leave the rest of us in peace.

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