Survey shows Catholic priests don’t like Mass changes

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Congregants pray during Catholic Mass at St. Therese Little Flower Parish in Kansas City, Mo., on May 20, 2012. Religion News Service photo by Sally Morrow

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(RNS) Nothing can upset the folks in the pews as much as changing the liturgy that they’re used to, and that seemed likely to be the case when the Vatican ordered revisions to the familiar prayers of the Catholic Mass. But now, more than a year after the changes took effect, a survey of American priests shows that they are more disturbed by the innovations than their flock.

  • gilhcan

    The problem with he so-called vernacular liturgies have always been that they are dictated by one group of hierarchy or another, whether is groups using the same language, national groups, or dictates as usual from the Vatican.

    Lay people have never been given the respect of inclusion in any group that determines the language to be used. And no respect is given to those who warm the pews and are expected to listen to that language and use that language.

    There are lay people who are much more learned about language and their vernacular than any clergy. It remains clericalism when the clergy dominate everything that happens in the church. Study your history of the sacraments. Study your history of the liturgy. And for goodness sake, don’t leave out the Middle Ages Mass of the asses with all its braying back and forth between the altar and pews. That was vernacular at its best!

    I am reminded of a relative who called me after her Holy Communion on the first Sunday of Advent, 1911, and asked me, “What the hell does ‘consubstantial’ mean?”


  • Every Catholic priest has a choice: they could celebrate the traditional latin Mass and no one would have to worry about the translation. I am fairly ambivalent about many of the changes but I find the current translation of the changeable prayers a vast improvement.

  • ProVobis

    Maybe they should ban English and all the other barbaric languages from the Mass altogether.

  • 1. Which dogmas should we tone down?

    2. Making the Mass more accessible and condensing the Catechism are two very different things. A five-minute catechism would either be very superficial or would only cover a few facets of the faith. I suppose you could start with Luke 10:27, but that leaves the question of HOW one properly loves God and loves one’s neighbor.

    3. You’re making a judgment by saying “Don’t judge — we’re not PROTESTANTS!” And Jesus did not only say “Judge not…”, He also said “Judge with right judgment” (that is, not by appearances) in John 7:24.

  • maria crouch

    I find the changes very confusing…For example, the response to : “The Lord be with you” used to be…”and also with you.” Now it is back to : “and with your spirit” the word “Consubstantial” could hardly be pronounced, to say the least, & cannot be understood by children or even adults. The Liturgy is a prayer & that should be simplified & understandable to peoples of all ages who attend our catholic liturgy. It is important that we know what we are saying & that we know it by heart…I also feel that the language of the mass should not be mixed up. Latin & English…The Mass is our best prayer & if we don’t understand what we are saying what is the point.

  • maria crouch

    I am for Improvement. However, it should not be beyond the comprehension of the users. the simpler, the better.

  • Raphael

    “Journalist”? Slightly moving the words around but not otherwise examining critically the claims of a press release may win awards. But it leaves one wondering upon how many parties the ingloriousness must be spread. Is journalism only press release regurgitation nowadays?

  • Joe

    “Pray Tell” — that says it all ! I wonder how many Dr’s complain about using the correct concise latin terms, or even Lawyers ! The former translation needed no prep work to read it. And now the celebrant has to prepare to be sure the reading is correct. Also — the amount of literature out there is incredible when it comes to the why’s and wherfore’s of this transaction. One might take the time to read it to help apprciate the translation.

  • Msgr.Harry J. Byrne

    The issue being discussed: which is preferable -the one in use from 1970 to 2011 or the new one in use since 2001? I do not favor the newer translation. But there is anoher issue: church governance. The International Commission of English in the Liturgy -bishops representing English-speaking countries and their translators worked on an English Mass translation from 1983 to 1998; then sent it to Rome for approval. John Paul II, iconic, impressive figure, but known for his passion for control and centralizing the Church in many matters, in 2001 dismissed the bishops making up the
    ICEL and established a new group of bishops and translators, called Vox Clara. This group set up by JPII prepared the new translation and submitted it to the bishops of English-speaking countries. The USCCB quickly approved it, without referring it for discussion and testing as was requested by a large group of priests. Thus, JPII’s new translation was imposed on the faithful here. Many of us disagree strongly with this kind of governance that by-passes the people who will use it. Our US bishops are known for quickly approving anything to which Rome nods its head. So unlike the Japanese bishops at the Synod for Asia in 1998 who forcefully oppossed JP II’s
    efforts to control liturgy translations into Japanese.

  • GP

    Although I agree somewhat to the “difficulties” many of our priests are having with the new Roman Missal, it really is necessary to make the changes as needed. Too many priests have taken the Novus Ordo mass as a “show” and start rambling about themselves and other things, thus taking away the whole sacredness of the Mass and why and who is truly being celebrated. The focus is on God, whether facing the altar or the people. It was and never should be about anything or anyone else.

    The manuscript was and has been written, accepted and blessed as the “norm” to be used when Mass is celebrated. Yes, the wording and other translations may be a bit confusing or whatever, but the words are written out in plain english and should be read as is.

    Change shouldn’t be too difficult when we’re handed a script to follow along. Old habits are hard to break, but they can be improved upon with much self effort, dedication and commitment. Such is life in more ways than one. The ship called the Church will continue to sail on, whether we’re on it or not.

    Just read the script as written. It was designed for sacredness and holiness.

  • naturgesetz

    There are points where I find the new translation infelicitous, but on the whole it is a vast improvement on the previous one in presenting the full meaning of the Latin.

    If there are points which significant numbers of the faithful don’t understand (e.g. “enter under my roof”) the priests should explain them, not grouse about them.

    If the complaining priests were willing to work at their job, there would be far fewer complaints.

    And complaints about the process are, ultimately, beside the point.

  • Bill N

    Tu David, stultus. caput amet implere Deus sapientiam et scientiam!

  • Bob Hunt

    It would be interesting to see the demographics of this survey: what percentage of priests who don’t like the new translation are over 60 and what percentage are under 60? What percentage of those who don’t like the new translation have been ordained 20+ years, and what percentage have been ordained less than 10 years?

    People generally don’t like change. If you’ve been doing something one way for 20+ years, it’s not likely that change is going to be much appreciated, especially if you don’t feel, rightly or wrongly, that you had much say in what changes were made. Twenty years from now, the new translation will be the old translation, and this debate will have gone the way of so many others that time heals.

    As a layman, I think most laypeople simply want the Mass to be celebrated with due reverance and clarity. Too many priests feel obliged to entertain the faithful, or to bless them with the wonderfulness of their own personalities. They forget, I think, that we have a right to the Mass, to the prayers of the Church, and that many of us are not near as disappointed with the prayers of the Church as they apparently are, or apparently think we are.

    I didn’t find much fault with the old translation. I don’t find much fault with the new translation. What I find fault with are priests who refuse to give us what we have a right to: the prayers of the Church.

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  • connie ingalls

    I still say as loudly as possible: for us HUMANS and our salvation every time I go to Mass because it sticks in my craw to say “for us MEN” … I still use the “old” words when I worship. (I am not one of the uneducated, holding a couple of MAs and a doc.) The truth is, the Church hasn’t spoken very loudly to me in several years but the parish worship community often does. Funny, but the most “verbal” of the parishes seem to be the ones that ignore whenever possible the interferrence of the hieararchy, concentrate on being family to each other, and build active and vibrant and moving liturgies with music and wide particpation. I am one of those folks who still remembers with great longing the years after VCII when there was fresh air and spirit present in so many parishes.

  • Veronica Milsted

    I don’t know how much longer I can hang on to a Faith that seems to be ‘out of this world’? The Gospel is needed in this World and is needed now. The Mass is only the Mass because it is a ‘shared belief in a need for the power of God’s love and mercy in our lives and in our world. What God are these learned MEN following? Who are ‘they’ to tell God’s people that we must change our service from a community action to a spiritual fest that burns away the vital human relationship between God and his people.

  • Wayne Bradley

    It seems to me like the purpose was to make the English translation more in line with the original Latin. Why that wasn’t done initially has always puzzled me.

  • Eckl


  • Brian Shelton

    I have only been catholic 4 years and do not like the new mass or music. Had it been this when I decided to take my family I wouldn’t have gone through RICA. I was very disappointed when it all changed. It is corny some of it now. The music is almost a grand stand tone binging the keys at least at my church. The old deleted songs and prayers to me were better.

  • Theresa Gunset

    The recent changes in the Mass are very upsetting to me. It seems as if someone was bored and had to look like they were working, so they made random arbitrary changes to the liturgy. I refuse to say these things. Sometimes the church sounds like the tower of Babel , everyone saying different versions of prayers. These changes are not the work of godly people, the authors of these changes work for a darker master. I seriously think the changes have a very bad effect on people. It is a mess! We try to comply, but it is awkward. If there are religious who need work to do rather than mess with our Mass, there are plenty of people who need help in the world. These random changes are having a very bad effect.


    My considered advisement? be glad you’ve even been invited to share in the Body and Blood of our Lord.

  • I relish, result in I found just what I was
    looking for. You’ve ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.


  • John

    I object to the new liturgy because now I am compelled to pick up a silly little blue booklet and try and find my place, when for years I’ve been making the responses naturally, from memory. It’s change for the sake of change. Reading from a booklet is distracting in the 1st place.
    I have my suspicions: they are trying to make the Virgin birth fuzzier, and, possibly more defensible, in my view. Furthermore, when there’s an upheaval like this, look for the money. Some publisher must be making money off this.
    Why doesn’t the church issue a line by line explanation showing the old text, explaining why it didn’t work and then justifying the new text?

  • cecilia73

    Nobody likes changes. As for the argument that we now have to learn new prayers, look a missal, etc. , that would have been the case when the standard Latin mass was changed to the NO mass. Everyone had to learn a new way of attending mass. The learning curve. Eventually, everyone knew it by heart. As someone mentioned, the changes were made to bring the language of the mass more in line with the original Latin mass. If anything, I’d like to see a few more changes. A bit more of the priest facing the altar during certain prayers, no more communion in the hand (risk of abuses), and more classical hymns and the use of incense. Basically, more reverence and more engaging of all the senses.

  • Tammie

    Yes I have to agree I don’t like the changes in the mass. I like the words before and the way the mass was done when everyone kneeled and was made humble and reverent. Why can’t we say and also with you? why just your spirit. Consubstantial. Yuck!!!! I feel the Catholic church is making changes that are letting the people fall away even faster. If you pay attention in church half the people look like statues and don’t even participate in mass until communion and that’s it. They don’t have traditional hymns anymore. So sad..

  • Lancy Mathew Pinto

    I am upset too about some missing but very important words which i recite silently related to Jesus Christ as Son of father instead of Son of Eternal Father and while consecrating the Holy Eucharist the words Eternal Father is missing. I wonder how many important words have gone missing which honors Eternal Father?

  • Lancy Mathew Pinto

    I deeply regret; I have now read the changes in Mass and agree with the changes as they are better:

    I will add words silently to glorify ‘Eternal & Ever Loving Father’

    May peace, love and joy of God be with you and all around you!

  • Kathleen

    Welcome to my world. I felt the same when my traditional mass was changed to the vernacular. Every thing you said I have said. See we are not so far apart. God bless you.