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Online Edition - Vol. VI, No. 10 - February 2001

News

"Differing Visions" | ASL a liturgical language? | We demand? | Celebrating consecrated life | Congressional Medal to pope | Ecumenism askew

"Differing Visions"

"Differing Visions, One Communion Catholics and Liturgy in the United States" is the title of a conference to be held in June, sponsored by The Liturgical Press at its headquarters at Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.

The conference's stated goal is to incorporate "all parts of the theological spectrum" into a common discussion about liturgical issues, the announcement said. "Within a framework of prayer, participants will hear from important thinkers in the field of liturgy and join in the conversation with those from whom they might otherwise feel estranged".

The conference will consist of major addresses from liturgists and seminars "led by an outstanding group of scholars". Among the presenters are influential liturgists Nathan Mitchell and Gilbert Ostdiek , OFM, both regular contributors to Worship , a journal published by the Liturgical Press.

Monsignor Francis Manion , founder of the Society for Catholic Liturgy and director of the Mundelein Liturgical Institute (to open in the fall of 2001), and Father Richard John Neuhaus , editor of First Things , are also presenters.

Monsignor Mannion and Nathan Mitchell will jointly present the opening session, "Liturgy in the United States: The State of the Question".

A session entitled "Building for the Liturgy", will be given by Father Richard Vosko , noted consultant on church renovations, and Dr. Denis McNamara , who will teach at the Mundelein Liturgical Institute.

The Reverend Richard Gile s, Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in Philadelphia will conduct a forum, "Space and Design". Giles is the author of Re-Pitching the Tent: Reordering the Church Building for Worship and Mission , which advocates radical changes in traditional church architecture.

Father Mark Francis , CSV, of the revision/translation subcommittee of ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy), and former professor at the Chicago Theological Union, will conduct a forum on "Inculturation and Multi-cultural Liturgy". Father Francis is now Superior General of the Clerics of St. Viator. - (Liturgical Press: www.litpress.org )

ASL a liturgical language?

The liturgist's group We Believe! is calling for the adoption of American Sign Language as an official liturgical language, that is, a language that may be used as a basis from which other translations may be made.

"Liturgical texts must enable all members of the assembly to worship in their own voice", said a statement that appeared on the We Believe! web site (no longer online)last August.

"Translation that truly makes possible the participation of peoples of various cultures and needs in the divine-human dialogue of the liturgy inevitably inculturates and transforms the liturgy. The only way to prevent such a transformation is to insist on a single normative liturgical language presumably Latin or a Latinate vernacular. Yet even a Latinate vernacular is impossible with ASL, and probably with a number of other languages, especially non-Western ones. With languages such as these, dynamic equivalence or even outright creativity are unavoidable and even necessary", the unsigned article said.

"The use of printed texts as a supplement to liturgical proclamation in ASL excludes those with hearing disabilities from the dialogue between ministers and assembly, and implicitly favors English as a normative language over ASL", the article claims.

Ignoring generally acknowledged challenges concerning signed liturgies, the author says that "the subjects of the liturgy are Christ and the church the assembly with its presider. The languages of the assembly are the language of celebration. No segment of the assembly or its language can be relegated to the margins, and certainly not because of a disability. The fact that translation of the liturgy into ASL is harder for ecclesiastical authorities to govern does not mean that ASL is not appropriate for liturgy. There can be no canon of liturgical languages". - (We Believe! Newsletter, August 2000, www webelieve.cc )

We Demand?

We Believe!, in reaction to the new Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani , has sharply criticized the draft translation by the Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, and has issued a list of changes they believe must be made in the Institutio. These liturgical rules that form part of the revised Roman Missal were released last July.

The liturgists' critique of the translation was published in their November 2000 Newsletter posted on their web site ( www.webelieve.cc ) . The nine-member editorial board includes one bishop Erie Bishop Donald Trautman, a member of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy and now chairman of the Committee on Doctrine.

We Believe! posted a list of demands for 29 changes in the new Institutio , nearly all of which would assure that innovations introduced in recent years would become part of Church law, either through changing the Institutio itself, or by making special "adaptations" for the Church in the United States.

Leading the list is a demand for "inclusive language" (him/her) in the Institutio. Other changes include standing throughout the Liturgy of the Eucharist (including the Consecration and after receiving Communion); liturgical dance ("gesture"); chatting before Mass begins (to signify that "Christ is truly present in the assembly); and that extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist should assist in "breaking bread" for Communion, and consume the leftover species following Communion. (The Institutio reserves this to ordained ministers. A similar demand was made in a "Resolution" of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions last summer.)

The bishops are planning to discuss American adaptations to the new Institutio at their June 2001 meeting. (The new Roman Missal is now expected to appear this spring.) We Believe! urges people and organizations to lobby the bishops to adopt their list of changes. We Believe!'s "GIRM 2000 Adaptation Worksheets" were posted on its web site January 1. - (WeBelieve!: web site ) 

Celebrating Consecrated Life

On February 3 and 4, Catholic churches in the United States will celebrate the 2001 World Day for Consecrated Life, according to the web site of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB) Office of Communications.

This celebration is part of the Day for Consecrated Life celebrated by the universal Church on February 2, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The celebration recognizes those who have made a commitment to the Church through consecrated life.

The site reports that currently there are approximately 82,000 sisters, 9,000 brothers and 14,000 religious priests serving in the United States who have taken public vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. In addition, there are many others who, through organizations not affiliated with religious orders, have chosen to live as consecrated laymen. - (NCCB web site: http://www.usccb.org/)  

Congressional Medal to Pope

"You are a pillar of morality, an advocate for the poor and the oppressed and a voice for the unborn and the aged. Your strong words inspire the 1 billion Catholics you lead and impress people of various faiths all over the world", House Speaker Dennis Hastert said as he presented the US Congress's highest honor to Pope John Paul II .

Speaker Hastert, along with several members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, presented the Congressional Gold Medal to the Holy Father at a ceremony at the Vatican on January 8.

In his response to the delegation, the Holy Father said, "it is not for the Successor of the Apostle Peter to seek honors, but I gladly accept the Congressional Gold Medal as a recognition that in my ministry there has echoed a word that can touch every human heart.

"I accept this award as a sign that you, as legislators, recognize the importance of defending human dignity without compromise, so that your nation may not fail to live up to its high responsibilities in a world where human rights are so often disregarded", the Holy Father told the Congressmen.

The Congressional Medal had also been given to Mother Teresa and John Cardinal O'Connor. It was originally reserved for military leaders and was first awarded to George Washington .

-(Congressional News Release; Vatican Information Service)

Ecumenism askew

A Catholic priest in Salzburg, Austria, has been suspended for concelebrating Mass with a Methodist minister. An account published in a "progressive" British Catholic journal, The Tablet (October 28, 2000), reported that Archbishop Georg Eder of Salzburg suspended Father Peter Hausberger after his "concelebration" with the Reverend Markus Fellinger last October 15.

Archbishop Eder said that Father Hausberger's actions were "an enormous setback for all honest ecumenical endeavors in the Salzburg diocese", and that the priest's behavior was "helping to bring about a schism".

Father Hausberger reportedly claimed he would have stopped the concelebrations had he known they were illicit.

-(The Tablet: www.thetablet.co.uk)

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