English Catholics braced for a Mass disturbance

Feelings are running high about the introduction of a new translation of the traditional liturgy

For well over 1,000 years the English-speaking world celebrated the Roman Catholic Mass in Latin.

The great change came only in 1973 when, after the liberalising mood of the Second Vatican Council, a form of the liturgy was produced in the voice of the common man for the first time.

Three decades since redrafting began, a new version of the Mass is finally going live in churches across the English-speaking world on Sunday to mark the beginning of Advent.

But the gestation of the new Roman Missal has not been without rancour and pain. The Vatican twice went over the heads of English-speaking bishops to order it rewritten, which led to accusations of high-handedness and secrecy targeted at the conservative forces surrounding Pope Benedict and his predecessor John Paul II.

Some scholars even compared the handling of its introduction to the shortcomings of the way the Catholic Church dealt with the clerical-abuse scandal.

Britain's five million Catholics have already been dealing with half of the new liturgy since September. How- ever, the full translation becomes compulsory from Sunday.

The Catholic Church has paved the way for the updated text through digital marketing – Twitter, YouTube and the internet have all played their part. But there remains division.

Despite the tendency of the church to pull together in times of trouble some are said to be "quietly seething" at the change. One senior theologian said: "The process managed to offend everybody involved who has any intellectual or moral integrity."

To its supporters the new Mass is a richer text, truer to its Latin origins. Opponents say the new translation – although needed in some form – shifts too far away from the plain English style of the earlier version. They argue it is flowerier, often drawing on imperial court language and sounding stilted and artificial to modern ears.

It also marks a sea change in the consensual way of doing things under Vatican Two, it is claimed.

Father Allen Morris, parish priest at Church of Our Lady in St John's Wood, north London, conceded that churchgoers would notice the changes but be pleasantly surprised by what they hear.

"There are people who object to change for all sorts of reasons. Some don't like the idea of a language that is more heightened," he said. But since the introduction of aspects of the new Mass in the autumn feedback had been "positive" and churchgoers had reported experiencing greater understanding as a result of the richer language, he said.

There are misgivings about the new Mass in the US, where the changes are being introduced in one go this weekend. The Rev Michael Ryan, pastor of St James Cathedral in Seattle, said the text had lost its "noble simplicity".

"We're dealing with a power play on the part of people in Rome who wanted to make changes in order, I think, to bring under greater control people in the English-speaking world," he said.

Philip Endean, who teaches theology at Oxford University, agreed that those who had watched the rewriting process unfold were not finding the switch easy. "Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic instinct is to maintain the peace, to do what you are told, and to trust that God works through the Church's authority. This instinct seems to be kicking in," he said.

Suggested Topics
News
Food blogger and Guardian writer Jack Monroe with her young son
people
News
people
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
TV
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Life and Style
The racy marketing to entice consumers to buy Fairlife, which launches in the US next month
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Lawyer - Cheshire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital