Some Catholics seeking delay in new translation of the Mass
Catholics in English-speaking countries will begin using a new translation of the Mass next month with language more formal and closer to the original Latin, but the change is sparking protest.
"We probably won't face changes of this size in our lifetime," said Michael Aquilina of Bridgeville, who has written more than 30 books about Catholic history, doctrine and devotion.
The new translation will be used beginning Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent, the start of the liturgical year in the Catholic church. The Mass is the church's central form of worship.
"We feel confident that our members are well prepared," said the Rev. Brian Noel, a parochial vicar at St. Bernard Parish in Mt. Lebanon, where church members have been readying for the changes since August.
"Change is always difficult," Agnel DeSilva, who volunteers as a Eucharistic minister there, said he expects some resistance. But these changes to the liturgy are good. The language is more precise," he said.
More than 22,000 Catholics — including Rita M. Yeasted, a member of the Sisters for Christian Community — have signed an online petition asking that the new translation be delayed. A group representing more than 400 of Ireland's 4,500 priests has asked Irish bishops to postpone the introduction of the new English translation for at least another five years.
"Is this the most important thing the church has to do?" Yeasted said during a telephone interview. "Rome is burning and we're saying my fiddle is a little out of tune."
John L. Allen Jr., Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and the author of two biographies of Pope Benedict XVI, expects some churchgoers to grumble.
"Then, a few years down the road most people won't even remember it happened," he said.
Allen said there have been small changes to the liturgy in other languages, but the revisions in English are the most extensive.
"That's largely because a segment of the English-speaking Catholic world, with influence in the Vatican — generally, the more conservative segment — has long been unhappy with the translation. They see it as too "worldly" and too fast-and-loose with respect to the Latin original," he said.
In Greensburg, people attending morning Mass Saturday at the Blessed Sacrament Cathedral said the changes would be good for the church.
"I have no problems with it," said Larry Mendicion of Greensburg. "After a while, everyone will feel comfortable with it."
Don Guerrieri of Greensburg said the revisions are part of a process.
"Change is sometimes necessary," he said.
Yeasted said the new translation is awkward.
"As an English teacher, there are times when you could hardly get the words out," said Yeasted, professor and English Department chair at LaRoche College.
Tom Kennedy, 59, of Crafton sees the changes as part of a larger change in the church — an effort to reform Vatican II, which allowed the Mass, which had been said in Latin, to be said in the common local language.
"It removes the everyday language ... make things more exclusive," he said. "It makes it more restrictive of welcoming people into the church."
Parishes in Pittsburgh have been testing parts of the new translation since September, said the Rev. James Gretz, director of the Department of Worship in the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese. There have been no complaints.
The Catholic Diocese of Greensburg also has been conducting workshops on the new translation, said spokesman Jerry Zufelt.
That doesn't mean implementing the new language will be smooth sailing, Gretz said.
"I know that first Sunday will be rough," Gretz said. "I also know that Christmas Masses will have their difficulties as well."
There will be challenges with unfamiliar words.
"There are words that are not part of the common language, such as "consubstantial," Gretz said. "Words like that are part of the Church's teaching and have been for centuries."
The changes will help shake up a congregation that's been on "autopilot for so long," said Helen Hull Hitchcock, of St. Louis, founder of Women for Faith and Family.
"It's going to be work for all of us ... we're going to stumble," she said.
Gretz said he believes the controversy will get people talking about the Mass.
"That never hurts," he said. "Both priests and people will wrestle with the terms and images, however, it can only help our growth in the faith."
Staff writers Rick Wills and Richard Robbins contributed to this report.
Specific changes in the Catholic liturgy
Catholics in English-speaking countries will begin using a new translation of the Mass on Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent.
The English used in the revised Mass texts is more formal and dignified in style.
All : I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord, our God.
All : I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault; therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin, all the Angels and Saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.
• Sign of Peace:
Priest : The peace of the Lord be with you always.
People : And also with you.
Priest : The peace of the Lord be with you always.
People : And with your spirit.
• Introduction to the Lord's Prayer:
Priest : Let us pray with confidence to the Father in the words our Savior gave us.
Priest : At the Savior's command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say
• Ecce Agnus Dei
Priest : This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.
All : Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.
Priest : Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
All : Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.
Source: U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops