Reading ICEL through Francis…

What Does the Prayer Really Say?
“Pope” Francis Praises ICEL Translations

Bad news for “Fr.” John Zuhlsdorf, the internet’s most famous biretta-wearing, Latin-loving Modernist: For years this defender of the Novus Ordo Antipopes has been answering the question “What Does the Prayer Really Say?” (WDTPRS) on his blog as a popular antidote to the deliberate junk translations provided by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) of the already-watered-down prayers of the “New Mass.” These asinine ICEL translations are what Novus Ordo adherents have been subjected to since the early 1970s in terms of the liturgical books used in the United States (things changed somewhat in 2011, when major improvements to the translations were finally implemented). In other words, it is this dreadful ICEL collection of prayers that virtually all church-going Novus Ordos in the United States know and are familiar with as the “prayers used in the Catholic Mass.”

Over the years, a number of Semi-Traditionalists and conservative-leaning Neo-Catholics have blasted ICEL for their dimwitted and deliberate mistranslations (such as rendering the Latin pro multis as “for all” when it clearly means “for many”). This includes some of those who have nevertheless been defending Francis’ soup kitchen theology at every step and tried to force a “conservative” spin on it — Mr. Zuhlsdorf being one of the most notorious offenders in this regard.

The presbyter known as “Father Z” satirizes the ICEL nightmare translations quite aptly in a recent post:

I think we all remember the bad-ol’-days, decades of:

you are so lucky that we are here.
You are really big.
Help us to be big too.

These days, however, we are happier (though not ecstatic) with the new, corrected translation, which by degrees of ten conveys better the content of the Latin texts.

(Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, “ICEL: 50th Anniversary – Two Cheers for ICEL!”Fr. Z’s Blog, Oct. 17, 2013)

Indeed, commenting on the 1973 ICEL translation of the Novus Ordo “opening prayer” for the so-called “28th Sunday in Ordinary Time”, Mr. Z calls it “appallingly bad as a translation for Mass” and instead fit as a “wonderful little prayer for use on a Catholic grade school playground” (source).

Now, this is the same “Father Z” who has been telling us that Francis is just as much of a “conservative Catholic” as Benedict XVI was (not that he was one, either: Reality Check) and has been doing everything in his power to convince people that despite his obvious 1960s hippie Modernism, “Pope” Francis is a staunch defender of Catholic orthodoxy. But now Francis has come out swinging in favor of the “translation” work done by ICEL, the very junk Zuhlsdorf has rightly criticized as “appallingly bad.” You see, ICEL is celebrating its 50th anniversary these days, and on that occasion “Pope” Francis received some of its members in an audience on October 18, 2013.

Of course, Francis being Francis, he heaped nothing but praise on them for their work of destroying Catholicism in the minds and souls of the faithful, going even so far as to thank them for “contribut[ing] to the understanding of the faith [!!!], the exercise of the common priesthood and the renewal of the Church’s missionary outreach, all themes central to the teaching of the Council.”

Here is an excerpt of the more juicy parts of Francis’ address:

Founded as part of the implementation of the great liturgical renewal called for by the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Divine Liturgy, ICEL was also one of the signs of the spirit of episcopal collegiality which found expression in the Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (cf. Lumen Gentium, 22-25). The present anniversary is an occasion for giving thanks for the work which the Commission has accomplished over the past fifty years in providing English translations of the texts of the liturgy, but also in advancing the study, understanding and appropriation of the Church’s rich sacramental and euchological tradition. The work of the Commission has also contributed significantly to that conscious, active and devout participation called for by the Council, a participation which, as Pope Benedict XVI has rightly reminded us, needs to be understood ever more deeply “on the basis of a greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relation to daily life” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 52). The fruits of your labours have not only helped to form the prayer of countless Catholics, but have also contributed to the understanding of the faith, the exercise of the common priesthood and the renewal of the Church’s missionary outreach, all themes central to the teaching of the Council. Indeed, as Blessed John Paul II pointed out, “for many people, the message of the Second Vatican Council was perceived principally through the liturgical reform” (Vicesimus quintus annus, 12).

…By enabling the vast numbers of the Catholic faithful throughout the world to pray in a common language [English!], your Commission has helped to foster the Church’s unity in faith and sacramental communion….

(Antipope Francis, Address to Members of ICEL, Oct. 18, 2013)

You can see here that Francis is as far detached from a proper understanding of Catholicism and the Sacred Liturgy as the devil is from holy water. Shame on all those who are still trying to spin Francis into a “conservative Catholic.” He is neither!

In any case, it seems pretty evident that Francis has no room for people like Mr. Zuhlsdorf, who try to upstage the enormously “fruitful” (wink, wink) work of ICEL. It remains to be seen whether “Father Z” will simply ignore this latest Bergoglian salvo against Catholicism and sanity, or whether he will try to minimize, spin, or re-interpret “Francis through Benedict”, as his mantra goes. Then again, he’s probably too busy drinking Mystic Monk Coffee, informing you of his latest reading list, asking for you to send him money (so he can go on trips) or purchase items for him from his Amazon wish list, or uploading fancy dinner photos through his iPhone. So few assignments, so little time.

However, Mr. Z is right on one thing (though not the way he means it): It’s the silly season. Make popcorn.

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