Reforming the Reform



Catholic bishops are usually loath to acknowledge dissent within their ranks. So it was surprising when the U.S. bishops publicly released the results of an internal poll that showed them almost evenly split on new English translations for the Mass. The divisions among the bishops revealed that perhaps they do not walk in lockstep as much as conventional wisdom holds. Some disagreement is to be expected, of course. But what was surprising about the bishops’ comments on the proposed translations was their intensity and passion. Liturgy is “where the rubber really hits the road, as far as church is concerned,” said Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “So [bishops] are very honest in what they have to say.” Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, vice president of the USCCB and U.S. representative to the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), agreed. “It’s the most important thing we do, to worship God,” he said. “We’re all pastors here.” Over the summer, the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy polled bishops on proposed revisions to the Mass. The translations, submitted by ICEL, are intended to bring the post-Vatican II Mass-celebrated in U.S. churches since 1970-in line with new Vatican directives that require greater adherence to the original Latin. [Editor’s Note: For more on the background to the debate over ICEL and how disputes...

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About the Author

Kevin Eckstrom covers Catholicism for Religion News Service in Washington.