Priests say missal is 'sexist and elitist'


THE NEW missal for use at Mass from next November is sexist, archaic, elitist and obscure, the Association of Catholic Priests has said.

It has called on the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference not to introduce the third edition of The Roman Missaluntil it has consulted with priests and laity. The conference has said, however, that the new missal is “set in stone”.

Thousands of changes have been made to the current missal, the association said at a press conference yesterday. And the language used, a more literal translation of the Latin missal, is not in keeping with the “natural rhythm, cadence and syntax” of English.

“The association is gravely concerned that this literal translation from Latin has produced texts that are archaic, elitist and obscure,” the association said.

“Many women will be rightly enraged at the deliberate use of non-inclusive language.” The new translation perpetuated an “exclusivist, sexist language”, it said.

Prayers including The Confiteur, The Gloriaand The Creedhave all been changed.

The phrase “begotten, not made, of one being with the Father”, from The Creed, has been changed to “begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father”.

The response to “The Lord be with you” has been changed from “and also with you” to “and with your spirit”.

The opening three sentences of the Third Eucharistic Prayer have been replaced with one 72-word sentence. Throughout, the missal only refers to “man”, “men” and “he”.

The new wording of the prayers used at Mass and other church celebrations, as yet unpublished, is planned for introduction in Ireland on the first Sunday of Advent, November 27th.

It was produced by the International Commission for English in the Liturgy in consultation with the Congregation for Divine Worship in the Vatican. And according to the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference, it captures “the biblical resonances of our prayers more clearly and the rich words and phrases of the prayers, many more than 1,200 years old”. The current missal was introduced to Ireland on St Patrick’s Day, 1975.

In 2001, the Vatican issued Liturgiam Authenticam, a document that laid down new principles for the translation of the Latin Mass. It required literal translation of the language and its guidelines were used to produce the new missal.

Fr Gerry Alwill, parish priest at Drumkeeran, Co Leitrim, said the new version uses more “cumbersome” language that is “very awkward” and “very arcane”.

In a study carried out by Fr Pádraig McCarthy, a retired Dublin priest, the current missal scored 8.4 on a scale that measures readability, the Flesch-Kincaid scale. This means an average 14-year-old can read it. The new version scored 13.3, equivalent to third-level education standard.

Theologian Fr Dermot Lane highlighted a change in words used at consecration which currently state Jesus died “for you and for all”, but have been changed to “for you and for many”. The shift implies “Christ was for some, not all”, he said.

The German hierarchy had rejected a new version sent to them and “Rome accepted that”, Fr Lane said; the Irish hierarchy could do the same.

A spokesman for the bishops’ conference said the wording in the new missal was “set in stone”, but it was premature for any group to be critical of it.

“Over the next six months the plan is to inform and advise the priests and the people in a sensitive way so that the changes can be fully understood and integrated into the Mass for Advent,” he said.

Third Eucharistic Prayer Old And New


Father, you are holy indeed, and all creation rightly gives you praise.

All life, all holiness comes from you through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, by the working of the Holy Spirit.

From age to age you gather a people to yourself, so that from east to west a perfect offering may be made to the glory of your name.

Three sentences, 61 words


You are indeed Holy, O Lord, and all you have created rightly gives you praise,

for through your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, by the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy,

and you never cease to gather a people to yourself, so that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.

One sentence, 72 words

Readability:  how selected texts rate

Compiled by Fr Pádraig McCarthy using the Flesch-Kincaid reading grade level (the lower the score, the more readable the text):

Third Eucharistic prayer1973 8.4

Irish Times, Frank McNally, January 27th10.30

Irish Independent, Lise Hand, January 27th10.50

Micheál Martin's leadership speech10.81

London Independent, Robert Fisk, January 27th11.56

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's Christian unity speech11.58

Irish Times, John Waters, January 27th11.93

Irish Times, Elaine Byrne, January 27th12.16

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's Good News speech12.20

Third Eucharistic prayer2010 13.31

Irish Times editorial on the crisis in Egypt, January 27th15.04