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Monday, 7 March 2011

Facing the real problems

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Fr Reginald Foster once told the story (he used to tell lots of these, indiscreetly) of how he was hauled over the coals by his superior in the Pontifical Office of Papal Briefs (cue: silly jokes) for not wearing his habit to work. He took the guy over to the window, looking out over Rome, and said. "Look out there! That's your problem! I am not your problem."

Now we may think that Fr Foster should have worn his Carmelite habit instead of the cotton worker's overalls that he used to sport, but that is another question. I have always remembered his justified assertion that we should be more concerned about the impact of the gospel in the world than in our own internal squabbles. Of course, we need to be concerned about problems internally but sometimes it is screamingly obvious that we need to look further afield.

Hence I was stirred by Fr Zuhlsdorf's fisk of the article in the Irish Times about the "forthright criticisms of priests who are complaining about the new translations. (See: Ireland: obsessing over the wrong problem) Here's a taster:
Fr Pádraig McCarthy of the Dublin archdiocese suggested the bishops suspend publication of the new translation immediately. ['Cause they have nothing more important to worry about in Ireland.] A leaflet highlighting its pros and cons should be circulated, after which priests and parish liturgical groups should make their views known to the local bishop and the National Centre for Liturgy at Maynooth, he said. [Let me picture this for a moment: The local bishop is opening his mail. He hefts the envelope from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about the little dust-up over Fr. Just-Call-Me-Seamus. Then he spots the missive from the angry parish liturgical group at St. Brigit's in Inisfree. He drops the CDF's latest and opts for St. Brigit's because he is dying to read their insights into inclusive language.]
The new, corrected, translation is not actually going to cause any great problems - in fact probably far fewer than the rapidly-imposed old ICEL translations for which there was no preparation at all. The ordinary people who come to Mass will just pick up the leaflets and learn the new responses off by heart over the course of a few weeks or months.

To make a big issue of this in a country which is currently suffering Catholic meltdown does indeed seem to be an exercise in displacement activity. New translation: like it or loathe it, just say the prayers and get on with facing the real problems that bear down upon us.
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