Priest in charge of liturgy in Diocese of Brentwood argues it’s legitimate to ditch the new translation, and use the previous missal

Fr Michael J. Butler, the chairman of Brentwood’s diocesan commission for liturgy, has written a letter in The Tablet stating that it is legitimate for priests to ditch the new translation, and use the previous missal. Fr Butler’s public rejection of the authority of the Holy See and the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is in response to The Tablet’s report that ACTA have written to the Bishops’ Conference requesting that they drop the new translation:

‘I am chairman of our diocesan commission for liturgy and have had much discussion with clergy about the revised translation of the Roman Missal,both within the diocese and without. Most priests have got on with it, but grumbled about it. Not only grumbled, but also changed or avoided some words and phrases that they found somewhat difficult to say with meaning . Some avoid words like “dewfall”, “oblation”, “consubstantial”, “many” (and prefer “all”), some refuse point blank to use the Roman canon again. Another has said that he has returned fully to the previous translation “in order to preserve his sanity”.

I do hope we can make use of the 1998 Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales translation (at least for a trial period). In the meantime, I feel it is legitimate to use our previous Missal, since what we currently have was conceived in error (neglecting to follow the rules from the Second Vatican Council’s Sacramentum Concilium about the use of the vernacular), and it was not born of the competent local authority, as Sacramentum Concilium requires, and it therefore lacks any authority. (Fr) Michael J. Butler Diocese of Brentwood.’

Protect the Pope comment: It is untenable for Fr Michael J. Butler to remain the chairman of the Diocese of Brentwood’s commission for liturgy when he publicly defies the CBCEW’s Decree of Publication For England and Wales which states ‘From this date forward (27th November 2011) no other English language edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the diocese of England and Wales’. Signed: Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, President, Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Rev. Marcus Stock, General Secretary.

28 comments to Priest in charge of liturgy in Diocese of Brentwood argues it’s legitimate to ditch the new translation, and use the previous missal

  • Rifleman819

    Zo his name goes on ze list!

    Hadn’t realised that Brentwood too has its own Magisterium.

    Bishops have pastoral Staffs…………time perhaps to use them on their own staff??

  • SteveD

    Untenable to remain chairman of the commission for liturgy? You can say that again! Perhaps it is untenable for him to remain a priest or even a Catholic.

  • Shaun the Sheep

    If they are so unhappy they can turn their backs on us and just use Latin. I, for one, would certainly not complain, for in truth, I would rejoice!

    • Louis

      Have you seen interior of Brentwood cathedral? The priest can’t turn his back to you even if he wanted to. No one sits in front of the altar. A Member of my local Liturgical Commission looks to Brentwood as an example of good liturgical practice.

  • Priests already have three choices:
    1. Use the new translation.
    2. Offer Mass in Latin
    3. Offer Mass in Latin according to the older form.

  • “I am chairman of our diocesan commission for liturgy… ” he tells us somewhat more than pompously. And then instructs us that the new translation “was conceived in error” because Vox Clara, composed not of experts like he but of nonentities appointed by Blessed Pope John Paul II (see below), neglected “to follow the rules from the Second Vatican Council’s Sacramentum Concilium about the use of the vernacular…”

    Neglected to follow the rules, eh? Rules like:

    Sacramentum Concilium
    A) General norms
    22. §1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. (NOT the chairman of the liturgical commission appointed by the bishop.)

    §2. In virtue of power conceded by the law, the regulation of the liturgy within certain defined limits belongs also to various kinds of competent territorial bodies of bishops legitimately established. (NOT the liturgical commission, if there be one, set up by the Conference of Catholic Bishops.)

    §3. Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority. (NO OTHER PERSON! Even if he be the chairman of the diocesan liturgical commission OR a priest egged on by same.)

    One might also remind Fr Butler of the Introduction: Sacramentum Concilium n4:

    (First sentence) “Lastly, in faithful obedience to tradition, the sacred Council declares that holy Mother Church holds all lawfully acknowledged rites to be of equal right and dignity; that she wishes to preserve them in the future and to foster them in every way.” This applies to RITES and not translations.

    (Second sentence)”The Council also desires that, where necessary, the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigor to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.” Ah, “where NECESSARY” and “SOUND tradition”!! Makes one think, does it not?

    And those nonentities who Fr Butler says “neglected to follow the rules? I refer to the Vox Clara Committee Press Release after its meeting of July 24-26, 2011:

    “The Vox Clara Committee is chaired by Cardinal George Pell (Sydney). The participants in the meeting were Bishop Thomas Olmsted, First Vice-Chairman (Phoenix), Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Second Vice-Chairman (Bombay), Bishop Arthur Serratelli, Secretary (Paterson), Cardinal Justin Rigali, Treasurer (Philadelphia, Emeritus), Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I. (Chicago), Archbishop Alfred Hughes (New Orleans, Emeritus), Archbishop Michael Neary (Tuam), Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J. (Ottawa), Bishop John Tong Hon (Hong Kong), and Bishop David McGough (Birmingham, Auxiliary). Also assisting the meeting were Monsignor James P. Moroney (Executive Secretary), Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B (expert), Reverend Dennis McManus (expert), Monsignor Gerard McKay (advisor), Reverend Joseph Briody (special assistant) and Reverend Gerard Byrne (special assistant). Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, O.S.B. (advisor) was unable to be present. The representatives of the Holy See included the Delegate to the Vox Clara Committee, Reverend Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary of the Congregation, accompanied by officials of the Congregation.”

    I know, I know. Absolutely ridiculous! Not a diocesan liturgical commission chairman in sight.

  • tro

    It’s called “making a mess”, innit? And if he gets a letter from the CDF, he needn’t worry about it. He can just “keep going forward”, no?

  • Fr Butler is stirring things up, because he knows that Bishop McMahon is two years over retirement age, and so (unfortunately) isn’t going to do anything about it. He ought to resign his position in the diocesan curia, if he has any integrity.

    Prayers for Brentwood to get a new bishop soon, preferably one who’s willing to do a bit of cleaning up in his curia.

  • Chrysostom

    It is quite outrageous that some priests think they can defy all authority. I am a Catholic lay man. I have a right to go to Mass on Sunday, or any other day, and hear only the liturgy authorised by my Church and not the liturgy made up by some Little Luther. I hope that good Catholics cut all financial contributions to parishes and organisations that defy the Church. The Vicar General of the diocese should sort out any priests who refuse to do what the Church orders.

    • Rifleman819


      Absolutely right……………the way forward is undoubtedly via the Vicar -General and diocesan finance offices.
      If you have them by the chasubles-their hearts and minds will follow.

      I like that phrase “some little Luther” btw- sums matter up so accurately.

    • Augustine

      My contacts in Brentwood tell me that Bishop Thomas McMahon has already acted very swiftly and has saved his VG any extra work.

      I suspect that Fr Butler is due for an “interview without coffee” with his Bishop.

  • Patrick Fahey

    Unfortunatley the majority of the Faithful in the pew listen and quite rightly believe what they are told by their priests and if that is deliberatly in error then it is up to the Bishop to sort it out.
    Why have we such a bunch of indolent prelates!

  • Can anyone scan the text and email it to me?

  • David Chapman

    I have e-mailed the Bishop of Brentwood, Instead of posting here, or perhaps as well as doing so, could I urge everyone who reads this to do the same.

  • Lynda

    Yes, fr Butler has by his own admission rendered himself unfit (gross misconduct and incompetence) to chair a diocesan liturgy commission or to minister as a priest.

  • Bob Hayes

    Over the coming months we will see a great deal more of this sort of thing from disobedient clergy, ACTA, The Tablet and the likes.

    With the election of a largely unknown individual as Pontiff, the media busied themselves creating a pope to suit their agenda – ‘Francis the Revolutionary’. As the Extraordinary Synod draws closer, however, the media are starting to become bored with their ‘Action Man Pope’ – look, for example, at Der Spiegel’s recent hostile coverage.

    The disobedient, the schismatic and the downright heretical know perfectly well that the warm media spotlight in which they dance will soon be turned to a piercing focus of attack on Holy Mother Church. They have to act now while the window of opportunity is open. The dissidents care not one iota that this is the same window through which the smoke of Satan seeks to enter the Sanctuary once again.

    Lots of this nonsense will appear like the diverse colours of autumn. But, like the autumn leaves, the brightness will be short-lived and soon scattered by the winter blast of hostile secularism. They have to act now because they know we are on the way to the smaller, persecuted Church anticipated by Pope Emeritus Benedict. Their secularist live-in lover is about to dump them and they’ll say anything to try to hang-on to the relationship…..

  • Paul Commins

    I don’t see what problem anyone could have with the words mentioned above(dewfall,oblation,etc.),unless one tends toward Protestantism.Talk of sanity speaks more of the Priest than the Translation.How many Traditionalists would like to ditch the banal,on the spot fabrication,foisted on them.

  • Malcolm Drummond

    I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that although a heretic, Cranmer was the best translator the English have ever had. What can match “It is meet and right so to do” for “Dignum et Justum set” –certainly not “It is right and fitting” ( earlier translation) or “It is right and just”. Liturgical language ought to instruct in its usage and uplift the soul by its beauty. Does anyone really believe that the new rites fulfil the second of these pre-requisites?

    • @Malcolm Drummond: if, by “new rites”, you mean the new translation, then it’s far, far better than the dross we had to put up with before! Not perfect, by any means, but still much better than any other English the Church has used in her liturgy after 1970.

  • David Chapman

    You can e-mail the Bishop of Brentwood at:

  • Charles

    I have encountered the priest concerned together with some of his like-minded colleagues, some of their “faithful”….and some of their liturgies for which the words banal, trite, horizontal and self-worshipping are not unreasonable. The design of the extended Cathedral (completed 1991) with its central altar seems, unfortunately, to be a product of yet another misinterpretation of Vatican II. Whilst an effective building for concerts & recitals it does not lend itself to reverence, silence and a “vertical axis” in worship especially at the Sunday Masses. I am praying even more now for a good, holy and orthodox new diocesan shepherd who can “sort the wheat from the chaff”.

    • Bob Hayes


      I agree entirely with your observations about the cathedral. A couple of years ago, when working in Essex, I took the opportunity to visit the cathedral for quiet prayer. On entering I really did not know which way to face, in which direction to genuflect or where should be the focus of my attention. If Richard Dawkins wanted to design a church to confuse the faithful Brentwood Cathedral would make a fine template!

  • I wonder if it would be better to write rather than email? Either way, I think it is important as many people as possible get in touch, preferably with charitable, well reasoned arguments as to why this needs to be publicly responded to.

  • Malcolm Drummond

    I hope that you are not implying that dear Bishop McMahon is unorthodox. Are you a trained theologian? Are you the voice of the Magisterium ? or just one who wants things their way, the besetting so=in of Martin Luther LOL

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