September 15, 2006

Letters to the Editor

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Mass translation shows Vatican needs to reprioritize its agenda

I was disappointed to read about the latest edict coming from the Vatican regarding the new translations of prayers used at Mass.

Particularly strange seems the change from “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you” to “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof.”

During the celebration of the Eucharist, these are not the words that convey to me the spirituality of that moment.

Father Richard McBrien, professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, stated that Jesuit theologian Father Karl Rahner once pointed out that the Church becomes most visible during the celebration of the Eucharist.

Also, a poll taken during a meeting of U.S. bishops last November found that 56 percent of the bishops were opposed to the “under my roof” revision.

Furthermore, Father McBrien writes that the words “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof” have nothing to do with the Eucharist or the reception of Holy Communion.

He adds that this was the response given to Jesus by the centurion after he had begged Jesus to come to his home to cure his gravely ill servant. Father McBrien states that “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you” is far more appropriate, given the liturgical context.

The new translations also do not take into account the cultural differences of the two-thirds of the 1.1 billion Roman Catholics on earth who live in the global south and for whom these translations could have an entirely different meaning.

During a meeting of Catholic ethicists held in July in Padua, Italy, an African theologian viewed the liturgical translation debates as “fiddling while Rome burns” given the poverty and violence that are daily realities in his country. Theologians spoke of being “less preoccupied with internal debates
for Church reform and more energized about changing the world.”

The laity has not been consulted on what is seen as another control issue from Rome.

As the writer in the Aug. 11 issue of The Criterion stated, “in a world with so many issues—starvation, war, terrorism”—perhaps the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and
the Discipline of the Sacraments needs to not only reprioritize its agenda but also redirect its energies.

- Judy Harpenau, Columbus


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