Catholic Herald Reporter THE English and Welsh bishops have decided to introduce the language of the people for the whole early part of the Mass—from the opening prayers to the end of the Creed. Latin will be retained for the central part, from the Offertory to the priest's Communion. The Communion of the people and the final dismissal and blessing will be in English. Liturgical experts described the amount of vernacular allowed as " very generous."
The vernacular has also been approved for all sacraments except.ifoly Orders, and all blessings in common use for which a translation is available. Other blessings and ceremonies will be translated and approved soon.
Priests who find serious difficulty in reciting the office in Latin may apply for permission to use an English breviary. Already several priests have applied.
These are the chief points in a statement issued from Archbishops House, Westminster, this week. The statement gave no date for the introduction of the changes. This and other decisions will he taken at a meeting of the Hierarchy in July.
The changes will be introduced in two stages. The first will permit the Gloria, all readings from the Sacred Scripture and the Credo to be recited in English. (A Welsh version has also been approved). The second stage, which the bishops say will not be delayed longer than is necessary, will include all the rest.
The full text and the statement was as follows :
"The decrees of the English and Welsh Hierarchy by which the interim provisions of the Liturgical Constitution are put into effect have been confirmed and approved by the Condi/ion or Standing Committee appointed by the Holy Sce for this purpose.
"The Bishops' Decree is divided into six sections :—General Principles: The Mass; Ordination Ceremonies; the other Sacraments; Blessings and similar ceremonies; Divine Office.
"The sections on the Mass, the Sacraments and the Divine Office are likely to be of widest interest.
"The bishops consider that here in England and Wales those parts of the Mass intended for the people's instruction should be in the language of the people. They have therefore decided that the whole of the Mass known as the 'Liturgy of the Word' and also the Communion of the people and concluding prayers at the end of the Mass are to be in English in Masses celebrated publicly. As this is a wider concession than that granted by Article 36 of the Con
Vernacular for England
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"In order le.) give experts and publishers time to produce a uniform text. the implementation of this section will he in two stages. The first will allow the Gfirria, all readings from Sacred Scripture and the Credo. to be recited in English, The second stage, which will not be delayed longer than necessary, will include all the rest.
The Ordinary of the Mass from the Oflertory to the C'ommunion of the priest will be in Latin excepting the invitation Orate fralres, etc." and the people's response Dominus, etc. An official translation of the Gloria, ('redo and other prayers has been approved and will shortly be available. For the Scriptures either the Douay or Knox or Confraternity version may be used. (A Welsh version also has been approved).
The Sacraments and Blessings "All the Sacraments with the exception of Holy Orders may be administered in English and all blessings in common use for which a translation is available. A new edition of the Small Rituals also approved by the Roman Coned/um to bc published on the 26th of this month, contains all the Sacraments and Blessings in common use. Other blessings and ceremonies will be translated and approved in the coming months.
The Divine Office
"Priests who experience serious inconvenience in the recitation of their Divine Office in 1..atin may apply to their Ordinary for leave to use an approved translation. The 'Collegeville Breviary" published in America has been approved but this approval is not exclusive and those who receive permission may use the translation of the Psalms published by the
"There will be a meeting of the Hierarchy in July to discuss the implementation of these approved Decrees. After the meeting, instructions will he issued giving the dates when the changes should come Into effect,"
Desmond hisher writes :
The Ifierarchys' decree will probably not please the extremists on both sidesthose who would put the whole Mass in the vernacular at once and those who are against ally use of the language of the people.
But in the circumstances of this country. the decision is as good a compromise as could he expected. The amount of vernacular provided is generous. In fact. the Bishops went further than is provided in Article 36 of the Liturgical Constitution (which gives bishops powers to decree the vernacular for the teaching parts of the Mass). They applied for an extension of this permission in the fore-part of the Mass under Article 40 of the Constitution which deals with "an even more radical adaptation of the liturgy."
By putting all the fore-Mass into the vernacular and retaining Latin for the central part lexcept for the Sliscipiat) the bishops have. in a sense, given us the best of both worlds. The faithful will have an excellent opportunity of adjusting to the vernacular while the more conservative of them will feel that the main liturgical action is unchanged.
Whatever the liturgical objections to this, it seems a sensible arrangement in a country which has a long leeway to make up in liturgical participation. Any more complicated arrangement might have been more difficult to introduce. Where this has been done on the Continent. the transition has been made much easier because dialogue Masses and the use of the vernacular have been commonplace for years.
The statement issued this week is. of course. not the full decree. It is a precis and in preparing it for publication several important sections have been omitted and some confusion may he caused. For in