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Liturgy official to priests: reject Mass text Chairman of the liturgy commission in Brentwood launches outspoken attack on the new English translation, describing it as a ‘sorry mess’


THE DIRECTOR of liturgy for the Diocese of Brentwood has said that the new English translation of the Roman Missal is “a sorry mess” and should be scrapped.

In the Catholic magazine the Tablet, Fr Michael Butler said the current translation was “conceived in error” and that parishes should use instead the 1998 Mass translation by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

In his letter Fr Butler said: “I am chairman of our Diocesan Commission for Liturgy and have had much discussion with clergy, both within the diocese and without. Most priests have got on with it but grumbled about it. Not only grumbled but also changed or avoided some words and phrases that they found somewhat difficult to say with meaning. Some avoid words like ‘dewfall’, ‘oblation’, ‘consubstantial’, ‘many’ (and prefer ‘all’), some refuse point blank to use the Roman Canon ever again. Others reject the Sunday Collects and have returned to the previous translation’s Book of the Chair.

“Another has said that he has returned fully to the previous translation ‘in order to preserve his sanity’ – clearly ‘all is not well in the state of Denmark’! What has gone wrong?”

Fr Butler went on to say: “It is not the fault of the translators that brought about this sorry mess. It is Liturgiam Authenticam that is at fault: a document that is now a laughing stock among academics and scholarly linguists.

A Roman Missal containing the new English Mass translation. Fr Michael Butler has urged all the priests in his diocese to use an older translation instead Photo: CNS

“The document had the intention of creating a specific and recognisable language for the liturgy – somehow a language set apart – but, of course, we already have a language that is suitable for l i turgical discourse, it is known as the Queen’s English with i ts enormous vocabulary, capable of describing all things to all men.”

Fr Butler ’s comments follow a letter by the publisher Kevin Mayhew,

who wrote to the Tablet saying that he didn’t want to publish the new translation of the Mass because it was “so poor it would not last”.

But Fr Seán Finnegan said that Fr Butler did not speak for all priests. He said: “Fr

Butler is, of course, entitled to his views. But he mustn’t think he speaks for all of us. Personally, I do take issue with some aspects of the new translation. There is no point rehearsing them here, though. I find the 1998 Collects generally better, though not the Ordinary of the Mass. What is unquestionably true is that I find the greater depth of meaning revealed in the new translation much more spiritually nutritious, if I can put it like that, than the 1975

version. I find it much easier to pray the Mass now that its expression is less banal.

“But this really isn’t the point. When we had the old translation, I didn’t fiddle with it, because the way we pray is not just about me, or even just about the people with whom I celebrate Mass. It is about the entire Church.

“Celebrating ‘together with your servant Francis our Pope, N. our bishop, and all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith’ means just that: celebrating with them. If I am doing simply my own thing, then that communion is not expressed. I have become a Church unto myself. The Church does of course have different rites, but they are always of a family of congregations, not one community, one parish, simply doing its own thing. Fr Butler ’s suggestion that priests, parishes, should simply do as they think best in my opinion runs the risk of damaging the bonds of communion.”

Fr Finnegan said he had experienced almost no opposition to the translation in his parish.

He said: “But I think that probably that had something to do with the fact that I and my colleagues implemented it calmly and without fuss. Another priest of my acquaintance huffs and puffs, stumbles and grumbles his way through it, so it is not surprising that the people therefore find it hard to get to like.

“The Sacred Liturgy is meant to be something we look through, rather than something we look at, as if it were a sort of end in itself, like a television programme, designed to entertain. It is meant to point beyond itself to the Paschal Mystery, to eternity, and to express our communion with each other.”

A spokesman for the bishops’ conference’s l i turgy office said there were no plans to change the current translation.

Pakistan hospice set up by English priest faces closure


FRANCISCAN SISTERS are appealing for donations to save a 50-yearold hospice in rural Pakistan that was founded by a Liverpudlian priest.

St Joseph’s Hospice in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, was created 50 years ago when a young Fr Francis O’Leary started caring for a desperately sick woman who had been abandoned by her family. He nursed her until her death in a mud hut, the only space he had available. Her plight prompted Fr O’Leary to establish a hospice of his own, in the foothills of the Himalayans, staffed by the Sisters of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and paid for in large part by Catholics in Liverpool.

One year after the hospice had opened an outpatients department was built, followed by a nursery for sick and disabled children. The hospice also began outreach work for the local community.

In addition to nursing patients who are terminally ill, the Sisters care for people with long-term illnesses, patients too frail to care for themselves and children with special needs. Many of the patients’ families have abandoned them because medical care is too expensive.

Sister Mairead, the centre manager, said: “We don’t want people just to come here to die. People want to live. We want people to rehabilitate, to go home to their families.”

The hospice and outpatient programmes also provide treatment for people whose families can afford care at any hospital, but come to St Joseph’s because of the hospice’s attentive nurses and outstanding medical care. A new project to provide day care and physiotherapy services for severely disabled children is under consideration. Children and their families would gain precious access to special-needs child experts.

Dr Munawar Sher Kan said: “There is no place to the best of my knowledge, that helps the disabled, the chronically i l l [patients] are rejected from other hospitals, they can’t afford to go to hospitals, and they can’t afford expensive treatments.”

But now the hospice’s work could be in jeopardy if extra funds do not come soon. The hospice needs about £99,560 to function annually and only 34 per cent of these costs are being met through the hospice’s own revenue.

The Sisters and the Rawalpindi

Hospice Board are adamant about saving their hospice and have launched a fundraising appeal. According to the hospice’s finance officer Naveed Inderyas, local staff employees have agreed to donate 20 per cent of their salaries for the next six months in order to stave off closure.

But there are only enough funds to run for another four months.

Pat Murphy, director of fundraising and communications at St Joseph’s Hospice, said: “The hospice in Rawalpindi was the inspiration behind St Joseph’s Hospice Association and the first of many centres which the late Fr O’Leary opened to care for the sick, destitute and dying in Pakistan, South America and Britain.”

Mrs Murphy said the hospice had already raised £60,000 since it began its appeal but still needs £100,000 a year to function.

Catholic Herald readers can donate by visiting Stjosephsho

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Half of speakers on GCSE tour are secularists BY STAFF REPORTER

Catholic priest, Fr Georges Lemaître.

BETWEEN a third and half of the scientists involved with an organisation that promotes science among schoolchildren are high-profile atheist campaigners, it emerged this week.

GCSE Science Live! will hold tours around the country in the coming weeks, starting with London, where prominent scientists give lectures to year 10 pupils, aged 14 to 15.

“The pity is that our children learn that faith is opposed to science, often by age 12, long before they can express what faith and science mean (if indeed they ever learn).”

A spokeswoman for the organisation said: “That’s not the intention. They’re just the ones at the top of their professions. We do try to get a good mix, and we have women scientists who are role models, they’re very much in demand.

Among the 13 scientists listed as speaking on the tour, which begins next month are God Delusion author Professor Richard Dawkins and Prof Jim Al-Khalili, president of the British Humanist Society. Also featuring in the speakers are prominent supporters of Humanist and atheist groups Prof Steve Jones, Prof Alice Roberts and Dr Simon Singh, the mathematician and bestselling author.

Fr Andrew Pinsent, research director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford, said that “several members of the group represent a worldview that encourages the conflict metaphor of science and faith, advocate medical practices that are unethical from a Catholic standpoint or give historically selective accounts of history. For example, Prof Al-Khalili presented an entire documentary on the BBC on the Big Bang a few years ago, without once mentioning that the theory was invented by a

“Their religious affiliations are their business we have them because they are great scientists.”

Scientists in general tend to have lower levels of religious belief than the public at large; in America while just 14 per cent of the public describe themselves as having no religious affiliation, 52 per cent of scientists do so. Only seven per cent of American scientists express a belief in a personal God.

Fr Pinsent is the author of LUMEN – The Catholic Gift to Civilisation, which seeks to show how modern science was influenced by the Church, and has also produced a set of posters for schools called the Catholic Knowledge Network, which feature Lemaître, Gregor Mendel, the friar who founded genetics, the medieval music theorist Guido d’Arezzo, Maria Agnesi, the first woman to be appointed Maths professor at a university, and J R R Tolkien.

MP urges Gove: drop free school faith cap


A CONSERVATIVE MP has called on the Government to drop the cap on admissions to free schools and new academies. Writing for the website Conservative Home, Fareham MP Mark Hoban urged the Department for Education to remove the current restriction, under which these schools can only accept 50 per cent of their pupils on the basis of religion.

The MP said: “I am proud that we have expanded the diversity of schools through the academy and free school programmes, creating choice for parents. But choice is only a reality if there is both diversity and capacity... But this Government’s policy actually limits diversity where there is the demand for a new Catholic school. The Coalition agreement has killed off the prospect of new Catholic academies and free schools.”

Mr Hoban, who as a child was sent to Catholic schools alongside his sisters, helped draft the Government’s education policy when he was an opposition spokesman for education.

He said that the Coalition Agreement had been “translated into a cap on the proportion of places that can be allocated to children of the faith behind the academy or free school. This cap kicks in when the school is oversubscribed, and it could lead to a Catholic school turning away Catholic parents and pupils.”

Does your school have an Open Day that you wish to bring to the attention of 45,000 + Catholic Herald readers? If so, would you like to advertise in our special Educational Feature coming out in e Catholic Herald on February 21st? To find out more, please contact Frank Pells on 020 7448 3612 or email



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