The Mass in English has descended to the level of the bingo hall, public worship is in a state of utter indecisive confusion and Church leaders seem to take people for fools according to The Clergy Review.
Fr Michael Richards, the editor, writing in this month's issue, blames the National Liturgical Commission, the International Commission for English in the Liturgy and the International Consultation on English Texts, among others, for this.
"Neither in the books for the sanctuary nor in the books for the congregation is it possible to find one's way with any kind of ease, dignity and directness," he wrote.
"Liturgy has become a matter of thumbing through a bewildering variety of fat tomes, ring-files and flimsy leaflets, none of which appears to know its own mind, "Priests and people have been turned into objects of a never-ending series of experiments carried out by committees of nameless faddists who have never acquired any sort of pastoral or scholarly standing and who are now betraying the work of the great liturgists "There is no point in saying that the bishops of England and Wales have abdicated their responsibilities since we have never been given any indication that they took up or even understood their responsibilities in the first place.
"Their mission to the people of this country has been left in the hands of a few second-rank, rootless technicians who now want to extend their power beyond the field of translations to the field of pastoral and missionary application."
The only way of avoiding chaos was to use either the I at in text of the new missal or a single English text. Anything else meant the vernacular Mass "will remain where it has descended, at the level of the bingo hall, the quiz programme and the lucky dip."
Fr Richards concluded: "I have often thought, but hesitated to believe. that many of those set over us take their public for fools. Now I begin to believe it. And I shall share their view if the Catholic public accepts this nonsense for much longer."
Fr Richards' editorial was described as unjust, unfair and unfortunate by two liturgical experts who have worked on the new translations and an official comment is expected later from the Litergical Commission,
Fr Anthony Boylan, general secretary of the commission, said: "It is very unfair." Fr Richards was wrong in saying that no single text existed,. Three years ago C. Goodliffe Neale published the official National Liturgical Commission Translation and in January Goodliffe Neale with Collins published the ICEL text. Both texts were almost the same "with very very minute differences, and altar missals are now available if a priest bothers to use them."
Fr Boylan said the first NLC text published was not commissioned officially, but the main differences between it and the ICEL translation were in layout and preparation. The latter publication, as all vernacular editions published in different countries, also had the Mass in Latin for foreign priests not speaking the language of the country.
He thought Fr Richards' view that Mass was celebrated at the level of a bingo hall game "absolutely outrageous." This, however, depended on the celebrant, not on the text and his experience of use of the new liturgy was that it was "extremely moving." Fr Harold Winstone, chairman of the Advisory cornmittee to ICEL, said Fr Richards' criticisms were "very exaggerated. I don't see what he is getting at." Far from "avoiding their responsibilities" the bishops had appointed ICEL and ICET, he said.
As for Fr Richards' statement that those involved in the translations were trying to interfere in the pastoral field, liturgy was pastoral and most
members were parish priests. That they were "second-rate, rootless technicians" was not true he said, those involved were international experts and "immense consultation" took place at all stages.
"With hindsight, it is very unfortunate the ICEL text was not introduced years ago," he said. This was due to the fact that the bishops did not think that it would be accepted by the other English-speaking countries in its entirety and also that the Church of England might not adopt those translated prayers common to both Churches. However, the adopting of the ICEL text required a one third majority of the bishops.
Part of the delay was also due to the fact that the bishops were keen on preserving the English literary heritage. Fr Richards' criticisms "were certainly not going to help."
This week Fr Richards is a speaker at the Church of England/Roman Catholic Oxford Conference on "Agreement in the Faith."
Nigerian bishop to head Voice of Africa
Bishop Alex Makozi of Lokoja, Nigeria has been appointed executive chairman of the international Catholic organisation, the Voice of Africa. His appointment was made at a meeting in Hilversum, Holland, of the two administrative hoards of the organisation.
The Voice of Africa foundation aims at supporting, encouraging, and fostering broadcasting throughout Africa.