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!
Actually it's quite common.
<> Who signed the infamous "We resist you to the face" schism sheet and specialises in attacking the Pope in the execreable "The Remnant."<>
Romano Amerio (Iota Unum: A Study of the Changes in the Catholic Church in the 20th Century),<> Read it. Big deal. Personal opinions of a peritus whose agenda wasn't put into action<>
<> Michael Davies (various books and booklets, TAN Books),
<> English school teach whose books are suffused with errors<>
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
<> The Pope who excommunicated him is presumably one of those Catholics<>
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. declares itself fully Roman Catholic, recognizing Pope John Paul II while respectfully maintaining certain serious reservations.
<> Is this Thanksgiving or April Fool's Day?<>
Let it be noted the so-called traditionalists NEVER Post a defense of an Ecuemnical Council or the Pope. They ALWAYS attack legitimate Divinely-constituted authority. Some Tradition (if you are a So. Baptist)<>
The significance of Father Somerville's opinion is that it may help those to act in favor of better language who are in positions where they could do something.
One of the last times there was a discussion on this topic I stated that Protestants were involved in the formulation of the Novus Ordo and I was told I was full of hooey. Well, whoever you are how told me that here it is. Now put THAT in your crack pipe and smoke it.
Many of us do not disagree with the idea that the Tridentine Mass is usually said more reverently than the Novus Ordo (without a need for it to take an exaggerated hour and a half for a normal High Mass just to show our fellow man how VERY reverent we truly are), but recognize that there are also reverent Novus Ordo Masses.
Many of us prefer that the priest OUGHT to face ad orientem rather than ad populum, that the Sacrament of Penance OUGHT to be conducted in traditional confessionals (although again that is NOT an essential) and ought NEVER to be administered en masse other than in strict emergencies, that there are Novus Ordo priests, bishops and laity every bit as insolent, disrespectful and disobedient as the schismatic SSPX and, perhaps, even more so.
None of the above or any of the repetitive ravings of offended calcified trads amounts to a justification for the disrespect, disobedience, disdain and absolutely diabolical hallmark of your "movement", the ingrained habit of the sin which is the rebelliousness shared by SSPX with the worst of the reformation.
When your little temporary sect illicitly ordains priests and illicitly consecrates bishops, it ordains and consecrates IN and FOR disobedience, rebellion, insolence and dissent from the only legitimate religious authority available among men: the Vatican and the papacy in particular. You and that sect of yours then compound this by poisoning the souls of your young people against the papacy itself (against the Vicariate of Christ on earth).
I certainly hope that you get around to repenting before going the way of all flesh. If you want to adhere to this schism to your dying day, tugging pitifully at the sleeves of obedient Catholics bleating your petty arguments against the Church itself, have a party but it may well be both negative and eternal. God did not designate you to judge the pope any more than he designated Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Woods, Ferrara, Droleskey, Marcel Lefevbre or a legion of their respective followers to do so.
Neither SSPX nor Tom Woods nor Chris Ferrara nor Tom Drolesky nor the Remnant nor any other self-appointed religious authority will prevail against the Church any more than the other gates of hell. It's a guarantee on the Highest Authority.
For Catholics, Catholicism ought to be a norm, a sign of contradiction to the world, to be sure, but normal life for Catholics nonetheless and the safest of spiritual harbors welcoming a world weary of the consequences of the world's sorry standards.
We Catholics ought to be able to wear and live our Catholicism with a sense of joy in the conviction that Our Savior lives and, through the Paraclete, continues to govern the Church's life through His vicar on earth and we will. That vision does not seem satisfy you and others like you who worship themselves, their tastes, their opinions and, above all, (don't burn your fingers on their foreheads) your unjustified presumption of theological and prudential adequacy. It is unfortunate that your apparent need to draw attention to yourselves is more important to you than humility before and obedience to the best pope you will ever see and his successors whoever they may be.
He is rather mindlessly resorting to the cheap convenience of vernacular. After all, if you expect the laity to have to learn and understand a dead language in order to participate fully in liturgical life, the least the clergy can do is to use it in their daily business.
I'm looking for a good opportunity to dispense with all of those hackeyed accusations that McGovern was at the least a communist sympathizer, that Willie Sutton robbed banks, that Johnny Appleseed was a boon to the creation of apple orchards, that the sun rises in the East and that disrespect and insolence are to be discouraged among actual Catholics. Valid opportunities in all cases are few and far between.
I also note the repulsively presumptuous abuse of the prefix "neo" yet again. We have in politics isolationist Simon Legrees who imagine themselves the real conservatives and attack the real thing as "neo-conservatives" and now we have schismatics imagining themselves Catholic who abuse that overused prefix by dismissing actual Catholics in communion with the Holy See as something called "neo-Catholics." It is in such cocoons of abused vocabulary, in each case, that politically or spiritually carcinogenic fantasies must be protected lest they be blown away by cold cruel reality and/or common sense as the case may be.
Another way to look at it is that there was an explosion of bad ideas at the turn of the last century and for about 40 years before. Darwin, Dewey, G. B. Shaw, Freud, Jung, H. G. Wells, and a host of others who bent their intellects to the task of erasing any connection between man and God. They buttressed the movement for "progress" and "reform" by getting that pesky old God and His restrictive rules out of the way of creating new Soviet (whoops, creating a new humanity.
Within the Roman Catholic Church, these demonic characters were aided, abetted and joined by the likes of George Tyrell, SJ, and Teilhard de Chardin, SJ, who tried, as gates of hell to overcome the Church from within. Tyrell was excommunicated and refused burial in sacred ground. Teilhard, also known for an evolutionist hoax (Peking Man) died silenced but was apparently a buddy of Angelo Roncalli (personally not theologically) who was elected as John XXIII. After the election of John XXIII, the floodgates were opened to prudential errors in Church governance and the carnival of misbehavior which proceeded from opening the windows of the Church and letting the world's pollution in.
As a result, there has been entirely too much encouragement of people like Sinkspur who serve as deacons while never seeing a Catholic principle or dogma that ought not be subjected to the misbegotten excuse for "wisdom" that might arise from democracy in the pews and anarchy in place of hierarchy on the one hand and his opposite numbers of SSPX, such as ultima ratio and zviadist and, apparently, Maximilian and a few others who seem to imagine hellfire and damnation for anyone who considers JPII who gave us their Tridentine Mass back as a dangerous subversive not in communion with their schism.
Our job as faithful Catholics is to keep the Church alive with the help of and according to the guarantees of our Savior. In that way, neither the enthusiasts of the misbegotten heretical left nor the the adherents of the misbegotten schismatic SSPX will be allowed to feast on the carcass of the Church. Of course, neither will be allowed to do so because the Church will prevail, as guaranteed.
Back to the original source: Pascendi Domenici Gregis and Lamentabili Sane are published in English by the Daughters of St. Paul in one pamphlet for a modest price well below $5.
He composed many of the Mass settings and some of the hymns in Catholic Book of Worship, the CCCB's official hymnal.
With this letter to the SSPX, he will probably become an unperson in the Canadian Church.
Q. Isn't it true that the excommunication of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre did not apply to his followers or individual members? Is your decree, by including Catholics who belong to the St. Pius X Society, going beyond what the Vatican decree does?
A. The sanction of interdict and excommunication that is in the legislation of the Diocese of Lincoln applies to membership on the part of people who are in or of the Diocese of Lincoln in the Society of St. Pius X and/or the St. Michael the Archangel Chapel. Both have been fraudulently advertising themselves in Lincoln as "in full union with Rome," causing confusion, ambiguity, and uncertainty on the part of many of the faithful in Lincoln, and giving rise to many serious questions which the legislation was intended to answer.
Bishop Bruskewitz is someone I listen to. My parish priest calls him "medievil" and "out of touch" and so I know the liberals can't stand Bruskewitz which is a huge point in his favor, IMO.
Where does that leave us??? It leaves us exactly where we have been for 2,000 years, before the radicals (some of whom we now see are repentant) decided to pull the rug out from under the Faith.
You mean to tell me you honestly cannot imagine life outside Vatican II? You are so alienated from your 2,000 year faith that without Vatican II you would not feel Roman Catholic? That in itself speaks VOLUMES about the REAL destruction of Vatican II -- the way it has pulled people from the 2,000 year old faith and into a new religion. Amazing!
Of course. I expected you to say no less.
You have turned the ancient faith into a quarrel.
I'm 43. Of course I cannot imagine life outside of Vatican II.
Can you imagine life in Auschwitz?