Liturgy Vote Goes To The Snails

Five liturgy votes at the USCCB meeting failed to muster the required two-thirds for approval. So the drama shifts from the snazzy electronic voting at the San Antonio “spring” locale to the Pony Express. Just kidding there. I meant the US Post Office.

You know, all the words I will say and sing and set to music for the Mass have already been USCCB-endorsed, Rome-approved, and even implemented at WYD and in South Africa. So it seems curious that some bishops have grown more concerned–suddenly–about 13-line paragraphs and sentences that aren’t sentences and what seem to be occasional examples of English that are so poor, all 16 ICEL countries can agree on it. Oh yeah … these are the texts they have to convince their priests to proclaim.

I get it.

Do you find it curious that the USCCB does so little work online? Hundreds of pages of liturgy documents could be distilled into pdf’s and liturgy-minded bishops could haggle all they wanted. Give every interested bishop his own color of text, and see what kind of a document they could come up with. “That’s no rainbow sash, that’s the 37th draft version of the Gray Book, part VI.”

From what I see on Twitter, and what I hear from my sources, there are a minority of bishops who really want to strong-arm the translation through. After all, with those bishops past retirement age in big city sees, the track must be cleared for the St Thomas-Fall River-Palm Beach-Boston express, or the LaCrosse-St Louis-Apostolic Signatura line, or even the Los Angeles-Rome-St Louis-Philadelphia route.

Bishop Serratelli, a member of … ICEL … emphasized that after an eight-year process to get to this point, the Vatican is waiting on the U.S. bishops to weigh in with their approval.

“We’re at the end of the process,” Bishop Serratelli said. Of the missal text, he said it’s “a very, very good text. … It’s not perfect, but we’re at the end of a long, healthy process.”

The Vatican is waiting for us? Waiting? Does this whole thing hinge on the approval of our bishops? Bishop Seratelli clarified later, suggesting that any delay means the US bishops lose their say in the process. It doesn’t seem from past encounters that ICEL (which includes the Paterson NJ bishop) is terribly concerned with episcopal input, only their “yea” votes. Ask Bishop Victor Galeone about it.

And a long, healthy process must surely be judged by reams of paper getting jammed through the in-boxes of bishops. “It came during Lent and Holy Week!” the protest came.

Another minority is concerned about quality. Even that other bishop whose name the conservatives love to misspell conceded a reform2 point or two:

I say yes to more accurate Latin translation … yes to a more elevated tone. But a resounding no to incomplete sentences, to two and three clauses in sentences, no to 13 lines in one sentence, no to archaic phrases, no to texts that are not proclaimable, not intelligible and not pastorally sensitive to our people.

And most bishops, it seems, are going along because they’re too close to retirement to care or to fight.

These inconclusive votes will eventually be cleared up, I’m sure. And bishops’ input or not, they will be asking their parish priests to carry the burden on this one. Don’t be deceived: the words we laity will sing and say have already been decided upon. Any further debate will be the kids on the staircase eavesdropping on the adult cocktail talk after bedtime.

Gosh, that’s a cynical start to a Friday. The thunderstorms have passed in central Iowa; the sun’s out, and I have a yard to mow.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Liturgy Vote Goes To The Snails

  1. Todd, most of us here have worked a sufficient number of years within ecclesial bureaucracies to know “indecision” and “procrastination” are secret virtues, though those words are never to be uttered.
    I agree, it’s a done deal, let ‘er rip. Fears of a second PIP backlash and whether the big three are geared up, notwithstanding.

  2. Liam says:

    As I understand it, these spring meetings virtually guarantee this result because attendance is somewhat less than at the November meetings, and the required vote threshhold is an absolute percentage of all the bishops, including those not in attendance.

  3. Liam says:

    Here are the results:

    Fascinating (to parliamentarians and procedurally-oriented folks, at least) procedural discussion about revealing the interim votes before the final votes are counted.

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