14 December 2017, The Tablet

Irish bishops reflect on Missal translation

The Irish bishops have welcomed Pope Francis’ motu proprio concerning the translation of liturgical texts and said they will give time to “reflection and discussion” on the full implications of Magnum Principium.

Following their winter general meeting in Maynooth last week, the bishops said they would ­continue to move towards im­plementation of the provisions of the motu proprio while working collaboratively with other national bishops’ conferences, including the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore (pictured), who represents the conference on the board of ICEL, said the bishops had issued what he described as “a holding statement”, and that it would be wrong to say that the Irish bishops have taken a definite line.

“They are saying let’s pause for a while and look at options; let’s figure out how best to manage this,” he explained.

The bishop said that the conference wanted to see how the Holy See handled matters following the motu proprio, and whether the response would be “a lighter touch than had been the practice in the last 10 to 20 years”.

But the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has described the Irish bishops’ response to Magnum Principium as “disappointing and concerning”.

Speaking to The Tablet, ACP spokesman, Fr Brendan Hoban, said the bishops seem unwilling or unable to respond to the Pope’s signal that action needs to be taken to try to “undo the damage to worship caused by the New Missal”.

Bishop McAreavey also appeared to back the bishops of England and Wales in suggesting that the motu proprio cannot be applied retrospectively.

Citing Canon 9 of the Code of Canon Law, the bishop said it was a basic principle of law-making – civil and canonical – that new laws concern the future.

However, he added: “That does not rule out conferences coming to a different view about the 1998 Missal but that opens up another debate. The motu proprio in a sense recalibrates the relationship between bishops’ conferences and the Holy See.”

Fr Hoban also criticised earlier comments made by the newly appointed Bishop of Galway, Brendan Kelly, to the Irish Catholic newspaper, in which he ruled out a revision of the new Missal or the introduction of the 1998 Missal due to the prohibitive cost involved.

“It would appear that the ongoing damage to our worship is less important than financial considerations. Few priests would share their view,” said Fr Hoban.

But Bishop McAreavey denied that cost was the decisive factor. “We’re not a business and I don’t think the argument about cost is a compelling one,” he said. “It is a consideration but I wouldn’t put it any higher than that.”

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