5 January 2011

Permission to keep the Old ICEL Mass?

1st January 2011
Another "iconic insult"
Father Gaudium et Spes seems to be remarkably short of both in his retirement, which is sad. One wishes that the poor man did not have to suffer the continuing "iconic insults" he complained about so loudly of before Christmas.
Now Father has written another article in which he tells us that "a vast crowd of priests and laity who passionately love the church...are alarmed at having a new and unsatisfactory translation of the liturgy about to be foisted on them due to power politics at the top."
"This last confrontation" he warns us "may well backfire. Many priests are simply not going to introduce the new translation. They say that if the Anglican newcomers and the Latin Mass groups can keep their liturgy, so can they."
He may be on to something here. Priests and people of his generation may be unwilling or unable to change. We should be sensitive to them. Why should they have to suffer an accurate vernacular translation of the Mass of Paul VI after all these years of using the ICEL version from the 1970’s, which has made them what they are, of course?
Why not give elderly priests who would find it difficult to make the change permission to keep using the old ICEL Mass? Only in private, without a congregation, of course.
If there really is a “vast crowd” of laity who want this translation, perhaps they could organise themselves into “The Old-ICEL Mass Society”? They could lobby the hierarchy for an indult to have public celebrations of the old ICEL Mass. After about fifteen years they could be given permission, but only on condition that this never took place in parish churches and didn’t involve any criticism of the new Mass, of course.
The Old ICEL Missal
Perhaps they could try the outright disobedience warned about by Father? They could even found a “Priestly Society of Paul VI” which could set up rival chapels, clergy, and even bishops, to ensure the continuation of the old ICEL Mass into the future. But they would risk excommunication, of course.
They may even hope for a pope who would encourage bishops to be generous with the indult for the use of the old ICEL Mass, or for another one almost twenty years later still who, to promote reconciliation, would permit it to any group of the faithful who really wanted it, only on condition that they recognised it as “extraordinary”, of course.
Perhaps by then Father Gaudium et Spes may be enjoying its fullness at last, but be looked back upon as a prophet who knew that the old-ICEL Mass of Paul VI had never really been abrogated. Or perhaps not. Time will tell, of course.


  1. The real pity is that backbone seems to be completely lacking from the English speaking hierarchy. They should take a page out of the German hierarchy's hymnal when, at one point, they informed the Holy See translations of the missal in German was completely unacceptable. The bishops simply sent the missal back saying it won't be used.

    The days of a dicastery issuing decrees imposed without consultation with the bishops and appropriate authorities; the continuing imposition of shoddy workmanship for the Church's public worship, considering the 40 years of completely unsatisfactory translations and repeated instances of downright incompetence, carried out in the dead of night, and in an atmosphere of secrecy and stealth, should be over.

    Until the consultative process has been restored and the translations of the Mass's proper parts have been significantly improved to the satisfaction of the national conferences, the English speaking church should continue to authorize the use of the propers from the current missal.

  2. Anonymous,there has been plenty of consultation.Its time now to stop the talk and get on with the job.
    As for the Germans, the sooner their government gets rid of the Church Tax the better.Then The Catholic Church in Germany will have to stand on its own feet paid for by those who are really committed to the faith and not the toady's they have now

  3. A “Priestly Society of Paul VI”? That would be too clerical. Maybe the "ICEL base community" would be a better name. It would be ironic that by wanting to keep the "old" translation they would become "traditionalists".

  4. This a clarion call and we should all start NOW to take measures to avoid such wholesale disobedience among clergy and faithful. The January issue of "Magnificat" has a particularly beautiful and cogent justification for the new Mass translations, pp. 5-8. This short article needs to be reproduced and widely distributed. Other ways and means, too, should be pushed early and often to head off and blunt opposition. Up to us to do this if clergy drag their feet.


  5. There was a letter in the Tablet a few months ago proposing just that!

  6. Why not just forget these 'old' & 'new' translations & revert (or return) to the 1962 Missal in Latin & just forget the lost years since VAT II. Perhaps we can then become an 'obedient' Church again & not subject to the whims & fancies of oyr hierarchy.

  7. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times to parishioners...We wouldn't have all this bickering and nit-picking over translations if we just said the Mass in the normative language: Latin! Most of them do not agree with me, but my comment usually prevents further discussion. Apparently to the average, run-of-the-mill progressivist, any English is better than no English at all. Go figure.