September 2010 letter to U.S. Bishops

In September 2010, members of the Louisville Liturgy Forum composed and mailed a letter to U.S. Bishops. This letter is reproduced below.

September 30, 2010

Dear Brother in Christ:

We are concerned and committed Catholics in the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, whose members include lay ministers, members of parish councils and worship committees, religious and priests. Ten parishes are represented and new people are joining us weekly.

Vatican Council II gave us hope and inspiration as Pope John XXIII opened the doors and windows of the Church to contemporary developments to be joined to twenty centuries of tradition and culture. The proposed new translation of the Roman missal now threatens to stifle the movements set in motion by the Council at a time of increasing tensions between Rome and local churches and bishops’ conferences. The Council’s renewal of Church style, structure and mood is being undermined by the new translation, both in its content and the manner of its creation and imposition. After prayer and discussion, we feel compelled to voice our concerns to you and to join in solidarity with bishops, priests and laity throughout the English-speaking world who question the new translation, how it came about and is being imposed.

In the 1960s and 1970s, clergy and laity alike learned that the fundamental changes set in motion by the Council were not only cosmetic. It was not simply about rearranging the appearances of churches and moving from Latin to the vernacular. Deeper changes were philosophical and theological. The Council declared that we are a pilgrim Church on a journey together: we are the church. With that teaching as our guide, we the Church believe we must speak out about the wrong turn our leaders are taking.

We ask that you slow the implementation of the new translation. Over the past few years, many have left the Catholic Church; and many more are wrestling with the decision to leave. Now is not the time to impose a translation which was not developed and tried by English-speaking scholars and believers.

The world’s Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council declared:

In this restoration [of the liturgy], both texts and rites should be drawn up so that they express more clearly the holy things which they signify. The Christian people, as far as is possible, should be able to understand them with ease and take part in them fully, actively, and as a community.

Sacrosanctum Concilium, 21

And the Concilium for Implementing the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy quoted Pope Paul VI in issuing this instruction:

The language chosen should be that in “common usage,” that is, suited to the greater number of the faithful who speak it in everyday use, even “children and persons of small education.”

Comme le Prevoit, 15

The new translation’s out-of-date and stilted language stifles prayer, while theological terminology unfamiliar to most people confuses rather than uplifts.

Mother Theodore Guerin, canonized by Pope Benedict in 2006, was once locked in a room by the bishop, who was infuriated by her independent spirit. One of her fellow Sisters commented: “We hope to make her known as a woman for all time, a bearer of hope, faith and deep humility , . . . a special source of courage to foster the gifts of strong women and men to take risks needed for mission. . . . We look to her as a model of commitment to Church, and yet as one willing to speak the truth respectfully to Church officials in times of challenge and disagreement.” We are one with St. Mother Theodore Guerin.

We will continue in prayer and dialogue as we embrace the dynamic tensions of the crucified and risen Christ. May we be open to the Spirit who blows among us all. And we pray that you also will be open to the Spirit in your decisions and actions.

Peace in solidarity,
The Members of the Louisville Liturgy Forum

Of the 172 letters mailed, the LLF only received two responses.

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