Skip to comments.An Open Letter to the Church Renouncing My Service on I.C.E.L.
Posted on 11/29/2002 5:00:21 PM PST by Loyalist
An Open Letter to the Church Renouncing my Service on I.C.E.L.
Father Stephen Somerville, STL.
Dear Fellow Catholics in the Roman Rite,
1 I am a priest who for over ten years collaborated in a work that became a notable harm to the Catholic Faith. I wish now to apologize before God and the Church and to renounce decisively my personal sharing in that damaging project. I am speaking of the official work of translating the new post-Vatican II Latin liturgy into the English language, when I was a member of the Advisory Board of the International Commission on English Liturgy (I.C.E.L.).
2 I am a priest of the Archdiocese of Toronto, Canada, ordained in 1956. Fascinated by the Liturgy from early youth, I was singled out in 1964 to represent Canada on the newly constituted I.C.E.L. as a member of the Advisory Board. At 33 its youngest member, and awkwardly aware of my shortcomings in liturgiology and related disciplines, I soon felt perplexity before the bold mistranslations confidently proposed and pressed by the everstrengthening radical/progressive element in our group. I felt but could not articulate the wrongness of so many of our committees renderings.
3 Let me illustrate briefly with a few examples. To the frequent greeting by the priest, The Lord be with you, the people traditionally answered, and with your (Thy) spirit: in Latin, Et cum spiritu tuo. But I.C.E.L. rewrote the answer: And also with you. This, besides having an overall trite sound, has added a redundant word, also. Worse, it has suppressed the word spirit which reminds us that we human beings have a spiritual soul. Furthermore, it has stopped the echo of four (inspired) uses of with your spirit in St. Pauls letters.
4 In the I confess of the penitential rite, I.C.E.L. eliminated the threefold through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault, and substituted one feeble through my own fault. This is another nail in the coffin of the sense of sin.
5 Before Communion, we pray Lord I am not worthy that thou shouldst (you should) enter under my roof. I.C.E.L. changed this to ... not worthy to receive you. We loose the roof metaphor, clear echo of the Gospel (Matth. 8:8), and a vivid, concrete image for a child.
6 I.C.E.L.s changes amounted to true devastation especially in the oration prayers of the Mass. The Collect or Opening Prayer for Ordinary Sunday 21 will exemplify the damage. The Latin prayer, strictly translated, runs thus: O God, who make the minds of the faithful to be of one will, grant to your peoples (grace) to love that which you command and to desire that which you promise, so that, amidst worldly variety, our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are found.
7 Here is the I.C.E.L. version, in use since 1973: Father, help us to seek the values that will bring us lasting joy in this changing world. In our desire for what you promise, make us one in mind and heart.
8 Now a few comments: To call God Father is not customary in the Liturgy, except Our Father in the Lords prayer. Help us to seek implies that we could do this alone (Pelagian heresy) but would like some aid from God. Jesus teaches, without Me you can do nothing. The Latin prays grant (to us), not just help us. I.C.E.L.s values suggests that secular buzzword, values that are currently popular, or politically correct, or changing from person to person, place to place. Lasting joy in this changing world, is impossible. In our desire presumes we already have the desire, but the Latin humbly prays for this. What you promise omits what you (God) command, thus weakening our sense of duty. Make us one in mind (and heart) is a new sentence, and appears as the main petition, yet not in coherence with what went before. The Latin rather teaches that uniting our minds is a constant work of God, to be achieved by our pondering his commandments and promises. Clearly, I.C.E.L. has written a new prayer. Does all this criticism matter? Profoundly! The Liturgy is our law of praying (lex orandi), and it forms our law of believing (lex credendi). If I.C.E.L. has changed our liturgy, it will change our faith. We see signs of this change and loss of faith all around us.
9 The foregoing instances of weakening the Latin Catholic Liturgy prayers must suffice. There are certainly THOUSANDS OF MISTRANSLATIONS in the accumulated work of I.C.E.L. As the work progressed I became a more and more articulate critic. My term of office on the Advisory Board ended voluntarily about 1973, and I was named Member Emeritus and Consultant. As of this writing I renounce any lingering reality of this status.
10 The I.C.E.L. labours were far from being all negative. I remember with appreciation the rich brotherly sharing, the growing fund of church knowledge, the Catholic presence in Rome and London and elswhere, the assisting at a day-session of Vatican II Council, the encounters with distinguished Christian personalities, and more besides. I gratefully acknowledge two fellow members of I.C.E.L. who saw then, so much more clearly than I, the right translating way to follow: the late Professor Herbert Finberg, and Fr. James Quinn S.J. of Edinburgh. Not for these positive features and persons do I renounce my I.C.E.L. past, but for the corrosion of Catholic Faith and of reverence to which I.C.E.L.s work has contributed. And for this corrosion, however slight my personal part in it, I humbly and sincerely apologize to God and to Holy Church.
11 Having just mentioned in passing the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), I now come to identify my other reason for renouncing my translating work on I.C.E.L. It is an even more serious and delicate matter. In the past year (from mid 2001), I have come to know with respect and admiration many traditional Catholics. These, being persons who have decided to return to pre-Vatican II Catholic Mass and Liturgy, and being distinct from conservative Catholics (those trying to retouch and improve the Novus Ordo Mass and Sacraments of post-Vatican II), these Traditionals, I say, have taught me a grave lesson. They brought to me a large number of published books and essays. These demonstrated cumulatively, in both scholarly and popular fashion, that the Second Vatican Council was early commandeered and manipulated and infected by modernist, liberalist, and protestantizing persons and ideas. These writings show further that the new liturgy produced by the Vatican Concilium group, under the late Archbishop A. Bugnini, was similarly infected. Especially the New Mass is problematic. It waters down the doctrine that the Eucharist is a true Sacrifice, not just a memorial. It weakens the truth of the Real Presence of Christs victim Body and Blood by demoting the Tabernacle to a corner, by reduced signs of reverence around the Consecration, by giving Communion in the hand, often of women, by cheapering the sacred vessels, by having used six Protestant experts (who disbelieve the Real Presence) in the preparation of the new rite, by encouraging the use of sacro-pop music with guitars, instead of Gregorian chant, and by still further novelties.
12 Such a litany of defects suggests that many modern Masses are sacrilegious, and some could well be invalid. They certainly are less Catholic, and less apt to sustain Catholic Faith.
13 Who are the authors of these published critiques of the Conciliar Church? Of the many names, let a few be noted as articulate, sober evaluators of the Council: Atila Sinka Guimaeres (In the Murky Waters of Vatican II), Romano Amerio (Iota Unum: A Study of the Changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century), Michael Davies (various books and booklets, TAN Books), and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, one the Council Fathers, who worked on the preparatory schemas for discussions, and has written many readable essays on Council and Mass (cf Angelus Press).
14 Among traditional Catholics, the late Archbishop Lefebvre stands out because he founded the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), a strong society of priests (including six seminaries to date) for the celebration of the traditional Catholic liturgy. Many Catholics who are aware of this may share the opinion that he was excommunicated and that his followers are in schism. There are however solid authorities (including Cardinal Ratzinger, the top theologian in the Vatican) who hold that this is not so. SSPX declares itself fully Roman Catholic, recognizing Pope John Paul II while respectfully maintaining certain serious reservations.
15 I thank the kindly reader for persevering with me thus far. Let it be clear that it is FOR THE FAITH that I am renouncing my association with I.C.E.L. and the changes in the Liturgy. It is FOR THE FAITH that one must recover Catholic liturgical tradition. It is not a matter of mere nostalgia or recoiling before bad taste.
16 Dear non-traditional Catholic Reader, do not lightly put aside this letter. It is addressed to you, who must know that only the true Faith can save you, that eternal salvation depends on holy and grace-filled sacraments as preserved under Christ by His faithful Church. Pursue these grave questions with prayer and by serious reading, especially in the publications of the Society of St Pius X.
17 Peace be with you. May Jesus and Mary grant to us all a Blessed Return and a Faithful Perseverance in our true Catholic home.
Rev Father Stephen F. Somerville, STL.
His condemnations of the New Mass cannot be so easily dismissed by the KJPL gang; he was one of its contributors.
I find this confusing: "SSPX declares itself fully Roman Catholic, recognizing Pope John Paul II while respectfully maintaining certain serious reservations."
Shouldn't it be that Pope John Paul recognizes the SSPX while maintaining certain serious reservations? It seems to me that the writer has his statement backwards and I'd guess that men like Fr. Richard McBrien recognizes himself as "fully Roman Catholic," so I'm not sure what that means. I'm also wondering what the SSPX means when they say "recognizes Pope John Paul 11" - what do they recognize him as?
This is a powerful testimony. As Fr. Somerville himself points out, this information has long been available to anyone who takes the time to investigate a topic so essential to the salvation of your immortal soul.
Clearly, I.C.E.L. has written a new prayer.
Even if you are convinced of the validity of the Novus Ordo, when you attend Mass in the vernacular, you are participating in a travesty of even this new service. THE PRAYERS ARE NOT THE SAME.
I have come to know with respect and admiration many traditional Catholics. These, being persons who have decided to return to pre-Vatican II Catholic Mass and Liturgy, and being distinct from conservative Catholics (those trying to retouch and improve the Novus Ordo Mass and Sacraments of post-Vatican II), these Traditionals, I say, have taught me a grave lesson. These demonstrated cumulatively, in both scholarly and popular fashion, that the Second Vatican Council was early commandeered and manipulated and infected by modernist, liberalist, and protestantizing persons and ideas.
"Conservative" Catholics (aka "neo-Catholics") are part of the problem, not part of the solution. They are not defending the 2000-year tradition of the Church. Instead they are institutionalizing abuses and corruptions.
Such a litany of defects suggests that many modern Masses are sacrilegious, and some could well be invalid. They certainly are less Catholic, and less apt to sustain Catholic Faith.
For the good of your soul, ATTEND THE LATIN MASS. You are gambling with all eternity otherwise.
It is FOR THE FAITH that I am renouncing my association with I.C.E.L. and the changes in the Liturgy. It is FOR THE FAITH that one must recover Catholic liturgical tradition.
Let's please dispense with all the hackneyed accusations of "schismatic" and "heretic." It is clear that Fr. Somerville is devoted to the Catholic Faith. Let's address the substance of his arguments. Your destiny for all eternity is riding on it. As Fr. Somerville said:
You, who must know that only the true Faith can save you, that eternal salvation depends on holy and grace-filled sacraments as preserved under Christ by His faithful Church.
This is where I go bonkers. Does this mean that they (SSPX & Fr. Somerville) believe that Vatican II was abandoned by the Holy Spirit and therefore is null and void? Where exactly does this thinking leave us?
Our parish celebrates a New Mass in Latin on every First Saturday, in honor of Our Lady. We use the booklets that come from Ignatius Press, which are free for the asking. The booklet is called simply, "The Mass of Vatican II" and it is in the public domain, so reproductions are permitted.
Your recognition of the pope [We'd know that guy anywhere! We recognize him! He's that Polish guy who claims to be pope, right?] is on a par with my making a promise to an errant child to remember the child in my will and then having the only remembrance be a paragraph to the effect: to my rebellious and unrepentant child whom I promised to remember in my will, Hi kid! Don't expect Fr. Somerville's "admission" to become an epidemic.
The "movement" huh?
The new Mass in Latin has been said often at St. Mary's Church in New Haven, CT, founding location of the Knights of Columbus, at Opus Dei houses and a lot more places as well. Where do you get the notion that it is never said?
SSPX is such a tiresome schism!
We have the NO in Latin on Sunday evening. My Priest used to do the Tridentine Mass during that same time slot, but the Archbishop pulled the indult.
I don't share the heated emotions that some on this forum do regarding the SSPX vs NO Catholics. Even at it's most reverent, IMHO, the NO basically stinks. The language is common, and there is nothing about it that I find elevates the Mass to that "glimpse of the supernatural" that I would like to experience during the Mass. Add to that mix, the many "pastoral innovations", aka, dancing girls with bowls of incense, less than noble vessels, bad music, etc, and I have to wonder if it's ever going to get better. I now attend the Rite I of the Anglican Use, so I no longer feel angry, sad, hopeless, etc, following Mass.
I know many people long for the NO as celebrated at EWTN or at Mother Angelica's new monastery in Hanceville. In fact we discussed it at Thanksgiving dinner yesterday, and we've all attended both of those Masses many times. The basic thought was that even the most reverent Priests, beautiful surroundings, traditional hymns, and lack of innovation can't overcome the defective language in the NO.
That said, I am curious what the replacing of Cardinal Estevez with Cardinal Arinze is going to do along the lines of "fixing" the defects in the NO.
So, we should get the "truth" from a group of schismatics?
What a waste of time reading this tripe was!
You got me lost! What is it exactly, in your opinion, the fullness of the Catholic faith? It seems something much better than the Pope or even Jesus would have imagined.
BTW, I found a nice little anti-Pope for you on www.truecatholic.org. Enjoy!