Why South African Bishops Jumped

Bishop Edward Risi offers an explanation on why the South African bishops implemented the Order of Mass translation a few years ahead of every other English-speaking country:

We produced the Pastoral Introduction to the Mass, a project that took us five years, as a user-friendly application of the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal. The Pastoral Introduction was first released in draft form and three years later, in 2007, in its final form. It was our hope that diocesan and parish liturgical committees would use the Pastoral Introduction, and so we would have one increasing movement of renewal under way. It was, therefore, appropriate and timely, I believe, to see the introduction of the revised Mass texts as part of the same movement of renewal.

The new GIRM has been around for nine years. Bishop Risi is correct to say that changes in rituals have already been implemented in most places. And ideally, a reflection on the GIRM might well lead communities to a sound and spiritual renewal of their praying of the Mass.

Unfortunately, a number of priests and communities had already gone ahead in implementing the new ICEL version of the Mass texts without the prior permission of their bishops and we reached the point in the Conference where we either had to say to them “You are out of order” or to bring everyone on board together. We unfortunately, presumed too much, namely, that the ground work at the level of dioceses and parishes had been keeping pace with our timetable.

Even among conservative commentators on the internet, I’m not aware of a widespread jump to use the new texts. I did see a commentary from a bishop a few weeks ago in which one of his priests had begun using the new Creed with his parish. The reviews from the pew were not sparkling.

Bishop Risi’s explanation raises its own questions. Every bit of material I’ve seen suggests that the process with the translation is ongoing, and implementation is on hold until the whole missal is completed. A contact with ICEL told me that some were claiming that Cardinal Arinze’s cover letter with the translated and approved Order of Mass was missing from the South African copies. That would seem to place the blame, some of it anyway, with Rome. Easier to pass the blame on down than up, I suppose.

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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One Response to Why South African Bishops Jumped

  1. David says:

    The South African situation is a complete MESS, with some parishes using the old, some the new, most a combination of the two.

    There is no widespread joy and acceptance of the new translation in South Africa, neither among priests nor laity, which leads me to wonder about the presence of the Spirit in all this and whether the new translation will be still born.

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