Saturday September 10 2011
Priests branded the new translation of the Roman Missal from the original Latin into English as archaic and sexist -- and described it as a step backwards for the church.
But the move was defended by the Catholic Church which said it marked "a significant step" toward the full use of the new edition of the Roman Missal, the liturgical book that contains the texts for the celebration of the Mass.
Changes to some of the people's responses and prayers at Mass are being introduced this weekend and missalettes with the changes will be available.
Announcing the changes, the church emphasised in a statement that the structure and order of the Mass were not changing and that with practise, congregations would become familiar with the new texts.
One of the new translations for the laity changes the words of "Christ being one with the Father" to "consubstantial with the Father".
Currently, when the priest says "The Lord be with you", the congregation replies, "And also with you". In the revised translation, a literal translation from Latin requires the congregation to reply instead "and also with your spirit".
Other new translations will apply to a number of areas including the "I Confess", the Gloria, Apostles' Creed and the invitation to Communion.
However, the biggest changes are not expected to surface until November when passages for priests come into effect.
The new edition of the Missal was welcomed by Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore, Co Down, the Irish bishops' representative on the international Commission for English in the Liturgy.
"The challenge faced by the translators of the new text was to produce a text that was faithful to the original Latin and, at the same time, was suitable for worship today," he said.
"I believe the new texts capture the wealth of theological vocabulary of the original text."
But the move was criticised by the Association of Catholic Priests, which said its members had not been consulted and had been presented with a fait accompli.
"It's a dog's dinner and a very bad dog's dinner at that," said Columban missionary Fr Sean McDonagh, a leading member of the association.
"This is an example of Rome controlling things. It is an effort to control the language of worship. I hope the faithful will say, 'we're not buying this'."
He urged the Catholic bishops to undertake a thorough review of the new translation in two years' time to see how it was "going down" with the people.
- Fergus Black