A new survey of Irish priests’ attitudes to the new Missal has shown that the majority are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with it and 80 per cent want it revised or scrapped.
The “Survey of Clergy: Views on the New Missal 2014” was commissioned by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) and conducted among a random sample of 191 of the Irish Church’s 4, 300 priests between 31 March and 11 April this year.
Close to two thirds of those surveyed said they were either dissatisfied (33.5 per cent) or very dissatisfied (27.2 per cent) with the Missal. This compared with just a quarter who were either very satisfied (4.7 per cent) or satisfied (19.9 per cent). Even among those who were satisfied, over half wanted to see a revised Missal within a few years.
The full text of the new translation of the Mass was introduced in Advent 2011. Before and during its implementation there were complaints from clergy and laity that the translation was too literal, with antiquated words and over-long sentences.
The findings of the survey were presented to three Irish bishops who met with four representatives of the ACP in the first meeting between members of the hierarchy and the priests’ group since the ACP was founded in 2011.
Fr Sean McDonagh, who attended the meeting, said the ACP asked Bishop Philip Boyce of Raphoe, who is a member of the Vox Clara commission, Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway and Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, to encourage parish councils to express their views on the Missal and if possible to survey those views.
He said people needed to be asked whether they find the collects understandable. “One priest, who is well known, said that on a number of occasions people asked him after Mass if he was well because of the way he stumbled through the collect and the preface.”
According to Fr McDonagh, who is a linguist, one bishop expressed surprise at the survey’s findings and said the new Missal had been much more readily accepted by the Church in England and Wales than in Ireland, according to what he had been told by a bishop there.
“I would like to see some empirical work done on that,” Fr McDonagh said and he called on the bishops in England and Wales to conduct a similar survey among their priests and people.
The ACP delegation was also told at the meeting that claims that a revision of the Missal is in the pipeline were incorrect.
According to the ACP survey, just 18 per cent of those polled said they favoured continued use of the Missal with no change, compared to 80 per cent who want the new Missal to either be replaced immediately (35 per cent) or as soon as a revision became available (45 per cent).
The survey also revealed that many priests are combining the new translation with the 1973 Missal when saying Mass. Seventy-seven per cent of clergy surveyed use the new Missal exclusively, 17 per cent combine the new and 1973 Missals while 5 per cent use the 1973 Missal exclusively.