Fr Butler sends his Tablet letter to every priest in Brentwood diocese telling them it’s OK to dump the new Roman Missal

Fr Michael J. Butler, the chairman of Brentwood’s diocesan commission for liturgy, has sent his letter in The Tablet to every priest in the diocese telling them it’s legitimate for priests to ditch the new translation, and use the previous missal. Fr Butler has sent his brother priest the full version of his letter which the Tablet significantly edited for reasons that will be obvious as you read it.                                                 

 Dear Sirs,

                    Re: Revised Translation of the Roman Missal

‘It doesn’t get better’ is a very apt heading for Martin Redfern’s letter  (9 November 2013) on the Revised Translation of the Roman Missal.

I am Chairman of our Diocesan Commission for Liturgy and have had much discussion with clergy, 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 ever again. Others reject the Sunday Collects and have returned to the previous translation’s Book of the Chair. Another has said that he has returned fully to the previous translation ‘in order to preserve his sanity’ – clearly ‘all is not well in the state of Denmark’!

What has gone wrong?

At the end of Vatican II in 1965, there was a final statement from the Pope’s Apostolic Letter, In Spiritu Sancto, read out to the assembled Bishops by Archbishop Felici,  declaring the Council closed and enjoining that “everything the council decreed be religiously and devoutly observed by all the faithful.”

This prompted me to turn to Sacrosanctum Concilium to see what it was that referred particularly to matters of translation (Articles 34 and 36):

*34: The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity, they should be short, clear and unencumbered by any useless repetitions; they should be within the people’s powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation.

*36, #2: The use of the mother tongue is frequently of great advantage to the people in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments and other parts of the liturgy, the limits of its employment may be extended.

#3: … it is for competent ecclesiastical authority mentioned in art. 22,2 to decide whether and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used.

#4: Translations from the Latin text intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent local authority

The above quotations from the same document contain the words ‘mother tongue’ and ‘vernacular’, both of which are rendered as ‘vernacula’ in the Latin document.

If we consult Oxford’s Lewis and Short (Latin Dictionary) we find that the word ‘vernaculus,a,um’ is translated as ‘of or belonging to home-born slaves’; in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary we find ‘vernacular’ defined  as ‘the native language or dialect of a particular country or district; the informal, colloquial, or distinctive speech of a people or community. Now also, homely speech.’

‘Vernacular’, therefore, does not mean choosing the variety of English that is of scholarship and academe. I think that it would be closer to the reality if we were to think of the English that we learned from our mothers’ knees rather than the high flown, scholarly, Latinate vocabulary with which the Revised Translation of the Roman Missal is now unhappily afflicted.

Of course, it is not the fault of the translators that brought about this sorry mess. It is ‘Liturgiam Authenticam’ that is at fault: a document that is now a laughing stock among academics and scholarly linguists.

The document had the intention of creating a specific and recognizable language for the Liturgy – somehow a language set apart – but, of course, we already have a language that is suitable for Liturgical discourse, it is known as the Queen’s English with its enormous vocabulary, capable of describing all things to all men.

‘Liturgiam Authenticam’, therefore, is a Latin document that should be quietly removed from the Vatican bibliography and never spoken of again.

The notion of ‘competent local authority’ is a subject that is being given much attention these days by the Bishop of Rome, so there is no need to discuss it further. Doubtless, when we next have the excitement of translating Latin documents into English that is ‘understanded of the people’, it will be Anglophones who undertake the task.

I do hope that we can make use of the 1998 Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales translation (at least for a trial period and perhaps in paper-back form). In the meantime, I feel that it is legitimate to use our previous Missal, since what we currently have was conceived in error (neglecting to follow the rules from Vatican II’s Sacramentum   Concilium and the type of English to be used), and it was not born of  the competent local authority (and therefore lacks any authority).

I add a footnote, by way of a quotation from Father John O’Malley’s “What happened at Vatican II”: ‘On November 14 (1962) Cardinal Tisserant, the presiding president of the day, put Sacrosanctum Concilium to a vote on whether to accept the schema as the base text. … The outcome of the voting astounded everybody – a landside in favor, 2,162 votes, with only 46 opposed. .. The next year, on December 4, 1963, the council overwhelmingly gave its approval to the revised text of Sacrosanctum Concilium, and Paul VI then promulgated it. The final vote was even more of a landslide: 2,147 in favor, 4 against.’

The current Revised Translation of the Roman Missal has already been labelled a failure; it is also illegitimate.

I remain, Sirs, yours very sincerely,

(Rev. Michael J Butler)


Liturgy Commission, Diocese of Brentwood

Protect the Pope comment: Fr Butler has written his letter advocating that the revised Roman Missal is discarded in his capacity as the chairman of the Diocese of Brentwood’s Liturgy Commission.  To make matters even worse Fr Butler has recommended to all his brother priests in Brentwood that they reject the revised Roman Missal in his capacity as the chairman of Brentwood’s Liturgy Commission.  What will Bishop McMahon do to correct Fr Butler’s flagrant misuse of his position in the diocese?


113 comments to Fr Butler sends his Tablet letter to every priest in Brentwood diocese telling them it’s OK to dump the new Roman Missal

  • Rifleman819

    Deacon Nick ,

    Not aware that Father Butler is now Bishop of Brentwood.

    Someone ought to check whether he is dressed correctly?

  • If this letter is anything to go by, Fr Butler is as foolish as he is disobedient. The current translation has been approved by the bishops of England and Wales, at all the relevant stages of production and in its final form. Moreover, as Rev. Donnelly has already pointed out in a previous post, the decree of publication from the Conference quite clearly states that “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”.

    Regarding the 1998 translation: yes, Sacrosanctum Concilium 36.4 says that translations must be approved by the Conference of Bishops, but they must also be approved by the Holy See, as SC 22.1 implies and Canon 838 makes very clear. And, for all Fr Butler’s (rather selective) quoting of SC, he doesn’t ever appear to have read SC 22.3: no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority. Which, of course, is exactly what he is advocating – in the ‘spirit’ of the Council, no less!

    It is clear that Bishop McMahon needs to step in here with some correction, both of his Fr Butler’s erroneous opinions and of Fr Butler himself.

    It is also clear that Brentwood’s Liturgy Commission needs disbanding in its entirety. I don’t think Fr Butler would have pulled a stunt like this if he didn’t have the backing of at least a majority of the commission. As such, every current member of the commission ought to be informed that their services are no longer required. Perhaps the commission could then be reformed with people who are actually faithful to the laws and rubrics governing the liturgy?

    • Augustine

      I don’t think it is fair to blame any other members of the Liturgical Commission for Fr Butler’s rather silly letter – other than Fr Butler himself. He writes stating that he is (but perhaps that should now read “was”) the Chairman of the Liturgical Commission – but he does not say that he is writing on behalf of the Liturgical Commission.

      If he were writing with the support of the majority of the members of the Commission, I am sure that he would have said so – in order to add some further spurious authority to his daft letter.

      In any case, the President of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission is Bishop Thomas McMahon – who has already written to all his priests very politely and very firmly putting the record straight.

      The letter he sent to all his priests this morning made it quite clear that Fr Butler acted without his knowledge or approval.

      With a few crisp words the Bishop has refuted Fr Butler’s verbose and incoherent arguments – as surely as if he had used a pin to burst the balloon of an over-inflated ego.

      Which is in fact what he has done.

  • Fr Tom Craig

    A wonderful exposition by Father Michael! About time somebody spoke out for the silent majority! It’s also about time the Vatican Curia realised the See of Peter does not make the Pope Lord of all, but rather a servant of the servants. Thankfully, the Holy Father appears to so I suspect their will be little in the way of repercussions. Bishop McMahon will not feel compelled to act. Reason, informed conscience and common sense are reclaiming their rightful place and no longer seen perjoratively. The times they are a changing. Glory be..

    • Augustine

      “Bishop McMahon will not feel compelled to act.”

      I am sure you are right: Bishop McMahon (who could well use the excuse that he has been waiting for two years and eight months for a successor to be appointed) will not have felt “compelled” to act.

      He could easily just sit tight.

      But he has acted swiftly and decisively.

      God bless Bishop Thomas McMahon.

    • Bob Hayes

      Oh dear, an advocate of modernity stuck in a time-warp of half a century ago.

      • Fr Tom Craig

        Not at all. Im a Christian deeply uneasy about those with blind loyalty to a self-appointed magisterium that claims to be Spirit-led, when it fact it is usurped by the lavender mafia, it knowingly launders money for those who would do evil, who have no clue what God wills for his people. Then good, well-meaning but misguided apologists aid them in doing the devils work. The Vatican is corrupt, evil, and Jesus would throw the majority of them out where he around now.

        Or does ex opere operato apply to the magisterium too? No matter how sexually immoral, deviant, selfish or corrupt it’s all ok because we are an ontological reality, guided by the Holy Spirit. Just the sort of tosh the aforementioned self serving types would have no problem dreaming up to ensure blind obedience from those too Pharisaic or intellectually impotent to change.

        • Sonja

          I hope to God you are not a Catholic Priest. The Church does not need faithless Priests like you. But in case you are I am praying that you will find the heart and conscience to reflect on your obvious lack of Catholic Spirituality (not to say theology). If you are in charge of a poor flock — may God and the Holy Spirit be with them.

        • Augustine

          Fr Craig – You wrote:

          “Then good, well-meaning but misguided apologists aid them in doing the devils (sic) work. The Vatican is corrupt, evil, and Jesus would throw the majority of them out.”

          Thank you for informing me that I am doing the devil’s work.

          But if you are planning a career in ecumenism or diplomacy, I strongly recommend that you moderate your language. ;-)

          • Tom Craig

            Haha, fortunately I’m too busy running a rather large benefice to consider it. Besides, I rely on Deacon Nick to moderate me. He hasn’t slapped me yet ;)

          • Augustine

            Fr Craig

            You do not seem to realise how offensive you are.

            You cry foul when someone directs robust language towards you – but you do not apparently recognise how judgemental and unchristian your outrageous remark about Real Catholics “aiding them in doing the devil’s work” is.

        • Bob Hayes

          Of course there are those in the Vatican administration who have acted in error, at times gravely. We are all sinners. However, you seem to have merged ‘the Vatican’ in its role as an administrative entity with the Magisterium of the Church. They are – most definitely – not one and the same.

          Reference the final sentence of your first paragraph: Jesus IS ‘around now’. Has your faith and theology been swept aside by the concepts that reduces Jesus to a historical figure who provides a basic role model to be moulded by the ‘needs’ of contemporary society?

          • Tom Craig

            Bob, here’s a post I made earlier on the topic of the gay lobby in the Vatican. If you read it you’ll understand I agree with your assertion that the Curia are not the same as the magisterium. My point is that a magisterium, administered by a Curia, is open to corruption. When the corrupted curia are ultimately responsible for Bishops appointments, they are likely to appoint those who will not pose a threat to the ongoing corruption and vice. They control the bishops who make up the magisterium. It is an inherently weak system and anthropologists would not be surprised at how its autonomy has caused it to develop into a den of vice and iniquity. The Curia control the magisterium. They dictate who makes up the magisterium. Effectively, they are the magisterium.

            “Although the magisterium includes all the Bishops, it is essentially controlled by the Vatican Curia. The same Curia that is made up of the alleged self-serving, homosexual cabal. The same ones who require celibacy from their priests. Why would they be against married clergy? Perhaps because married clergy would threaten their hold on the church?

            What then if the magisterium is not always inspired by the Holy Spirit? What if it is steered by Satan’s apostles. Maybe instead of scripture, tradition and magisterium we really ought to have scripture, tradition and reason? The magisterium is open to corruption and suits those who would seek absolute power for selfish reasons. When the self-serving cabal that have infiltrated the Vatican seek to implement policies that prevent the church from bringing about the Kingdom of God, by stifling debate, reason and imposing policies that ensures they keep their power base, how are we to realise the “noosphere” of Teilhard’s vision?

            What if the greatest trick the devil ever pulled wasn’t to make the world think he didn’t exist? What if it was to have his acolytes have absolute power and control over the appointments of the successors of the apostles, thereby ensuring the loyal sheeple would obediently follow. Ensuring complete control of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

            The greatest mission for Pope Francis will be to clean up this den of iniquity and I suspect he might need different Protection than the kind offered by this blog. Let us pray he isn’t another Pope John Paul!”

          • Augustine

            Fr Craig.

            People in glass housees shouldn’t throw stones.

        • Bob Hayes

          Tom, you are erroneously portraying the Magisterium as a sort of ‘senior management team’ of ‘Vatican plc’. The Magisterium is the Church’s teaching authority inseparably and intimately linked to Sacred Scripture and Tradition. That is why Popes and Synods – even if they wished to do so – cannot simply ‘adopt new policies’: Scripture and Tradition underpin the Magisterium. The secular narrative seems to have clouded your understanding.

    • You seem to have a rather Lutheran approach.

      • Fr Tom Craig

        More Hooker than Luther.

        • Joseph Matthew

          I wrongly assumed that “Fr Tom Craig” is a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

          • Fr Tom Craig

            For the sake of clarity I’m an Anglo-Catholic priest. But I have a deep respect for Pope Francis and a deep love for the Catholic Church whatever the denomination.

        • Lynda

          There is only one denomination of the Catholic Church. It’s called the Catholic Church, and it’s one.

        • As an Anglican, why are you so interested in the Missal used by the Catholic Church?

          • Tom Craig

            2 reasons:

            1. I was a Roman Catholic before I swam the Thames.

            2. It is common for the Roman Missal to be used in the Anglican Communion as well as the BCP, CW rites.

          • Tom,

            First of all thank you for dropping the use of Fr. Tom Craig – on a Catholic website it will lead people to assume you are a Catholic priest rather than a protestant minister.

            Secondly, the Catholic Missal is for the Catholic church. If a protestant wants to read it then they are not bound by anything the Church says on the matter. You are no more or less permitted to use one translation over another.

          • Augustine

            2 questions for Fr Craig:

            1. Why did you swim the Thames?

            2. It may be common for Anglo Catholics to use the Roman Missal – but does the Canon Law of the Anglican Church permit this?

          • Tom Craig

            I am a Former Roman Catholic Priest who swam the Thames and now ministers as an Anglo-catholic priest. I didn’t drop the Fr, rather it was a typo. Please don’t refer to me as a Protestant it shows a level of ignorance. Ignorance and assumption are an unwelcome combination.

          • Tom,

            I am trying to give the most charitable response I can. I am finding it difficult.

            You may not think you are a protestant but the Church of England is a protestant church. While it may think it is both protestant and catholic we believe there is only one Catholic Church. You may in all conscience believe it is possible to be a member of a protestant church and not be a protestant. When there are Church of England vicars able to profess atheism without rebuke I believe anything is possible.

            The Catholic position is that you are not a Catholic – no matter how much you may think you are. You may well be a good person – I am not trying to pass any personal judgement on you. I hold to the position taught by the Church that Anglicans are not validly ordained. As a former Catholic priest you have been validly ordained but you don’t hold any faculties. My understanding as well is that you will have incurred a latae sententiae excommunication as soon as you went through with any form of Anglican ordination.

            You may not agree with any of that but I will point out that you are currently on a Catholic blog – not an Anglican blog.

            I have personally found much of your comments on this to be strongly anti-Catholic and gravely offensive. I find your references to “our liturgy” as being something shared to be gravely offensive. Whatever happens to liturgy within the Church of England is of no concern to me and I would wager most Catholics feel the same way.

            My view is that you are a protestant. The great thing about rejecting papal authority is that everyone becomes a pope. My view is every bit as valid as yours. I frequently pray that all protestants are able to find themselves lead back to the Church.

            I will cut you a deal – I will stop referring to you as a protestant if you do me the courtesy of stopping referring to yourself as a Catholic.

          • Tome Craig writes: “Please don’t refer to me as a Protestant it shows a level of ignorance. Ignorance and assumption are an unwelcome combination.”

            On December 10, 1678, Lord Chancellor Finch (1st Earl of Nottingham) addressed a circular letter to all the members of the House of Peers adverting to the “Act for the more effectual preserving the King’s Person and Government, by disabling Papists from sitting in either House of Parliament” [30 Charles II stat.2 (1678)] and requesting their attendance at Westminster within the next fortnight. It read:

            December 10: 1678
            My very good Lord.
            The late Act of Parliament which disables papists to sit in Parliament requires every Peer of the Realm to take their oaths of allegiance and supremacy and to subscribe a declaration therein mentioned before he can be capable of being present at any debate or making any proxy in Parliament.
            To the end therefore that your Lordship may give due satisfaction to the King and Kingdom by good obedience to the law the House of Peers has thought fit to command your personal attendance upon them within fourteen days after the receipt of this letter. And I am further commanded to let your Lordship know that no excuse for any default herein shall be received unless it be attested at the bar of the Lords’ House upon oath by two witnesses there to be sworn, and so I bid your Lordship heartily farewell and am
            My Lord
            Your Lordships very humble servant
            (Copy in the Parliamentary Archives: “receipted this letter the 12th of December”).

            The “declaration therein mentioned” reads:

            “I, Name, do solemnly and sincerely, in the presence of God, profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper there is not any Transubstantiation of the Elements of Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, at, or after, the Consecration thereof by any person whatsoever; and that the Invocation or Adoration of the Virgin Mary, or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are Superstitious and Idolatrous.”

            In other words, “I am a Protestant”. The same applies to day as then. Since the days when there was great jubilation at Rome when news reached of Fr Dominic Barberi having received Newman into Holy Mother Church there does seem to have been a practice in Vatican statements and documents of distinguishing (at least on some occasions, I don’t know about all) between “Protestants” and “Anglicans” (NOT Episcopalians of whichever provenance but precisely “Anglicans”).

            distinction is, witness above, artificial.

        • Augustine

          Do you have a hooker’s approach in the UK or the US interpretation of the word? ;-)

    • Do you disobedient snakes really think its safe to put your heads out from under a rock just because there is a different Pope in Rome? If you think that letter is a wonderful exposition then you must be as ignorant of Canon Law and the Conciliar documents as poor old Fr. Butler – I highly doubt that you are a priest at all.

      P.S. the silent majority of Catholics are those who don’t attend any Mass at all and who could not give a fig whether you are too thick to cope with words like consubstantial or not.

    • Joseph Matthew

      I am sure Fr Tom Craig would like to avoid us nasty conservatives as much as we wish to avoid him for the sake of our immortal souls. A pity. How divided the Church seems.

      • Fr Tom Craig

        I’m sorry but how might my view imperil your immortal soul? Am I advocating knowing God and rejecting him? Am I advocating grave sin and persisting in it until the end? No, this is a forum for options to be expressed and I expressed my opinion. Debate and reason are healthy and do not imperil souls. God loves us all equally. It is up to us to love one another not abuse or avoid our brothers. “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” John 3 14-15. God bless you and protect you always Joseph.

        • Lynda

          The Revelation of God through the sacred Tradition of the one holy and apostolic Church is not subject to relativistic opinions.

          • Tom Craig

            You forgot to mention Scripture and Magisterium too! Dei Verbum? Theology is faith seeking understanding, we are allowed to explore divine revelation. Christ is the fullness of that revelation but it doesn’t mean we can’t come to a deeper understanding of what the means to us as individuals or collectively. Trust me, in another 2000 years the CCC will differ considerably to the current one. As will our liturgy. Geosphere, biosphere, noosphere…we are heading to the Omega Point but we ain’t there yet. Same deposit of faith, but as it unfolds in all its glory we’ll have a completely different understanding.

          • Lynda

            Tom Craig, at 1.56 p.m., Scripture and the Magisterium are part of the whole sacred Tradition of the one, holy and apostolic Church.

          • Lynda

            And, no, we won’t have “a completely different understanding” of the deposit of Faith unless we dissent from the true understanding, like heretics and apostates. Pope John Paul II excoriated theologians who purported to propose a “theology” that was not subject to the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Deposit of Faith. Such is not Catholic theology but a personal theology.

        • Augustine

          Fr Craig

          You say that you are an Anglo-Catholic Priest (ie a member of the Church of England). That is fine. I am sure that you are following your conscience.

          But please remember that Roman Catholics (as you would call us!) follow our consciences by following the teachings of the Catholic Church as expressed in the Ordinary and in the Extraordinary Magisterium (as solemnly expounded in Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “Lumen Gentium”)

          If we did not wish to do so we would join another denomination – like your own.

          Furthermore, although you may feel able to use whatever Liturgical Texts you wish (including Roman Catholic texts – despite Anglican Canon Law stating otherwise) Roman Catholic priests at their ordination solemnly promise to faithfully celebrate the Church’s Liturgy and promise respect and loyalty to their Bishop.

          Roman Catholic faithful like me expect their priests to be faithful to these promises – just as married people are expected to be faithful to their solemn promises.

          Please do not attempt to project Anglican values onto the Roman Catholic Church.

    • BJC

      Fr. Tom Craig

      “The times they are a changing”.

      You are so 1973. Stop living in the past and being so rigid. You need to throw away your flared trousers and embrace change rather than being so fearful.

    • Lynda

      It is Fr Butler and other opponents of the faith that act like “Lord of all”, and bring shame to the priesthood he so dishonours.

    • David Edwards

      If the Roman Curia is meant to be self appointed and corrupt then why is the Curial offices of a local diocese any different?

      • Tom Craig

        Different because their boss, the bishop is answerable to and controlled by the Vatican Curia. They therefore, have limited powers compared to the Vatican Curia. That said, as the child abuse reports from Ireland and America show, they are not above covering up unlawful and immoral behaviour.

  • Brentwood? Home of Rupert Bear?

  • thisiscounterculture

    This idea that people cannot understand the Liturgy in the new translation is daft and rather condescending.

  • BJC

    Well what can we say. This letter is:

    (1) Judgemental

    - “….clearly ‘all is not well in the state of Denmark’!”
    - “‘Vernacular’, therefore, does not mean choosing the variety of English that is of scholarship and academe.”
    - “……Latinate vocabulary with which the Revised Translation of the Roman Missal is now unhappily afflicted.”
    - “…..a document that is now a laughing stock among academics and scholarly linguists.”
    - “…. but, of course, we already have a language that is suitable for Liturgical discourse, it is known as the Queen’s English”

    (2) Rigid

    - “Some avoid words like ‘dewfall’, ‘oblation’, ‘consubstantial’, ‘many’ (and prefer ‘all’), some refuse point blank to use the Roman Canon ever again.”
    - “Another has said that he has returned fully to the previous translation ‘in order to preserve his sanity’”
    - “…since what we currently have was conceived in error”

    (3) Rejects authority

    - “In the meantime, I feel that it is legitimate to use our previous Missal..”

    (4) Rude

    - “..’Liturgiam Authenticam’ …a document that is now a laughing stock among academics and scholarly linguists.”

    Seeing as it’s got all those qualities liberal “catholics” ceaselessly deride in others, i.e. “judgemental”, “rigid”, “mean” I hope Fr. Iggy and his fellow travellers like Cliffiord Longley, Catherine Pepinster and Tina Beattie will be consistent and similarly castigate Fr. Michael Butler for being the same. If they don’t they will begin to stink of hypocrisy. But then again, as someone said to me recently, “that’s all part of the tactics..”

    Finally, this letter has also got that “book burning” feel to it that Fr. Iggy was upset about yesterday, so perhaps it would be apt to quote what he told us before:

    “I will simply quote the author of All Quiet On The Western Front, Eric Remarque, when his book was burned by the Nazis, “Those who burn books will also burn people”. They did.”

    • Augustine

      BJC: you forgot

      (5) Pompous

      “The current Revised Translation of the Roman Missal has already been labelled a failure”
      Only by Fr Butler and his chums.

      (6) Deceitful

      “it was not born of the competent local authority (and therefore lacks any authority)”
      Not true. It was approved by the English-speaking Bishops’ Conferences.

  • “(at least for a trial period and perhaps in paper-back form)”

    What an incredible coincidence that Fr Butler and Kevin Mayhew should both have hit on the same idea at the same time. Spooky or what?

  • Will his Bishop show any backbone and publicly rebuke this open dissent?

  • Kinga Gray - Grzeczynska LLB

    Fr Butler has no authority over Rome. A designated group spent nearly 10 years putting together the New Translation of Holy Mass, with the seal of Rome.
    The Roman Missal is wealthy in beautiful wording- almost like poetry in motion, unfolding to the listener.

    Why would an individual Priest (in whatever position or title held) think that he can be greater than the Ordinary of the diocese or Rome?

    This letter to The Tablet has obviously brought embarressment to the Brentwood diocese.

    Certainly a trip to the Bishop’s Office for Fr Butler, who has decades of service under his belt.

    Also a lesson to others who think that they can get away with making any kind of public comment – verbal or written – without being challenged.

    Kinga Grzeczynska

  • Joseph Matthew

    Father Butler is now in open defiance. If he gets away with it, the question has to be asked: what does he know about what is happening in Brentwood that is not in the public domain?

  • Bob Hayes

    Fr Butler needs to be suspended from his role as Chairman of our Diocesan Commission for Liturgy with immediate effect, pending a thorough investigation of his conduct. Over to you Bishop Thomas……

    • Augustine

      Apparently Bishop McMahon sent an email to all his priests this morning.

      So he acted rather quicker than most of the people posting comments here!

  • Paul Waddington

    I suggest that all readers write to Bishop McMahon pointing out the outrageous behaviour of the chairman of his Liturgical Commission. Of course, Bishop McMahon is about to retire and may use this as an excuse not to act. It would be well to copy the the letter to the Nuncio.

  • Augustine

    My contacts in Brentwood tell me that Bishop Thomas McMahon has acted very swiftly and decisively.

    He has already emailed all his priests pointing out that Fr Butler’s letter does NOT represent Diocesan Policy and that all priests must use the “new” Translation of the Mass.

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

    Further news is that Fr Butler (thought to be one of the younger supporters of ACTA) is apparently 78.

    • Dilly

      Thank-you, Augustine. This is most reassuring. “The times, they are a-changin ” – the anthem of the soixante-retards. a song that is 50 years old this year. Oh the unintended irony!

      • Augustine

        Dilly: “The times, they are a-changin’”

        Memories flood back.

        “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
        But to be young was very heaven!”

        The more perceptive soixantes (like Rifleman!) may remember that there were a couple of lines (which I hope I am quoting correctly from memory: no I really haven’t looked this up.) :-)

        And don’t speak too soon for the wheel’s still in spin
        And there’s no tellin’ who that it’s naming
        For the loser now will be later the win
        For the times they are a-changin’

        Bob Dylan, for all his weaknesses, was more sophisticated (and wiser) than most. :-)

        • Fr Tom Craig

          Still, dylan was hardly original in his thinking, we know the meek are inheriting the earth… Or hesed and mishpat from isaiah anyone? God was telling us this when Dylan was written in the palm of his hand. It’s beautiful and should allow us to live our lives without fear. That includes fear of our neighbour even when they are different from us. We only have to serve them, love them and trust in God. The victory is already won. We can stop worrying and start loving and living.

          As a father of four children, two of whom have great faith and two who don’t, i love them all equally. I would never dream of calling them snakes, thinking them retarded, accuse them of endangering souls or indeed worry for their own souls. Deus Caritas Est.. These feelings and accusations are not borne out of love. They are not of God irrespective of whose theology is right. We should always endeavor to wrap our counter arguments in the love of Christ to ensure we really are speaking in him.

          • Fr. Craig, I apologize to you for having labelled you as a “snake” – I had assumed that you were a Catholic priest. Obviously as you are not, you can in no way be faulted for not living by the promises that a Catholic priest makes.

            For what its worth, a Catholic priest promises obedience to his bishop, promises to teach the Catholic faith in its fullness, promises to celebrate the liturgy in accordance with the Church’s law and promises fidelity to the Magisterium and Canon law of the Catholic Church. When men make these promises and then trample all over the rights of the faithful they are supposed to serve by breaking them and imposing their own ideology upon them, I don’t think its unreasonable to brand such people as a brood of vipers.

            I think most people who read this blog are quite aware of the corruption in high places in the Church and the problems with the Lavender Mafia. We would want to see it rooted out as much as you appear to do. However, we make a distinction between the actions of members of the Church (who are sinners like the rest of us) and the teaching authority of the Church which is protected by God.

            Once again, apologies for my harsh words.

          • Augustine

            Dear Fr Craig,

            You write “I would never dream of calling them snakes, thinking them retarded, accuse them of endangering souls or indeed worry for their own souls.”

            But you wrote earlier: ” Then good, well-meaning but misguided apologists aid them in doing the devils work.”

            Most rational people would consider that the devil’s work IS endangering souls.

            So have you changed your mind about accusing me and most of the other posters on this site of “doing the devil’s work”.

            Yes or No?

    • Bob Hayes


      Your news is good to hear. Thank you.

      As for: ‘Further news is that Fr Butler (thought to be one of the younger supporters of ACTA) is apparently 78.’ =D

      • Augustine


        Please explain =D

        • Bob Hayes

          Sorry Augustine, I assumed it would appear as an emoticon. It represents a big smile – at your comment. Well said!

        • Tom Craig

          Augustine, no I haven’t changed my mind. The endemic corruption, especially what i witnessed in the Irish church, is what convinced me the magisterium is not of God, or certainly not the way it operates in the modern Catholic Church. I studied at the VEC but it was only after studying theology at Durham and St Johns, Nottingham under Rev Dr John Darch that my eyes were opened. So now it is more than a consciencious objection, i have an intellectual objection. Happy to give you my email if you want to debate this further as this thread is really about the new missal. Regards Fr Tom

          • Augustine

            So you complain about relatively mild remarks directed towards you – but you think that it is fine to label most of the posters here as doing the devil’s work.

            And you cannot see the hypocrisy of that.

  • John Kearnety

    Well Fr Butler is writing to priests, academics and scholars. I just sit in the pews and alike all the Catholics around me I love the new translation and the scriptural content within them. But then I and thousands of others are just sheep and have no right to our opinion.

    • Lynda

      We have the “right” to bishops and priests who teach preach and sanctify in accordance with the sacred deposit of Faith.

    • Patrick

      We are not sheep; we have the right to the rite. The language of the previous translation was impoverished and theologically bowdlerised. If we really must (despite Sacrosanctum Concilium) have the whole Mass in the vernacular, let us at least have an accurate translation. Any priest celebrating in the previous translation must immediately be delated to his Bishop, and if nothing then happens, to Rome.

  • SteveD

    Forgive my ignorance but why would a diocese need a liturgy commission? Shouldn’t someone tell them to just ‘say the black and do the red’?

    • Augustine

      A Liturgy Commission is supposed to help the Bishop and the priests of the Diocese in planning and preparing for services – especially the Great Feasts of the Church’s Year, Ordinations and the like.

      Incidentally friends tell me that the choirs at Brentwood Cathedral – which were founded by Bishop McMahon – are excellent and enrich the Masses at the Cathedral with polyphonic baroque and plainchant.

      • SteveD

        A perfect candidate for that role then?

      • Louis

        Liverpool cathedral also has excellent choirs which sing a wide repertoire of traditional liturgical music, as demonstrated in this Aid to the Church in Need recording of Midnight Mass.


        Yet sometimes things are not quite what they seem. Mersey Mercy has already let the cat out of the proverbial bag, in another thread.

        An orchestra was founded at Liverpool cathedral under the patronage Archbishop Worlock, so he could celebrate Mass to the strains of Bach, Haydn, Mozart and Schubert on solemn feasts. I’m not kidding either. Orchestral Masses were stopped about six months after Archbishop Kelly arrived. Don’t fall for the trap of associating the promotion of high-brow liturgical music with theological orthodoxy – many Anglican churches perform outstanding liturgical music, as you probably know.

        • Augustine

          I do indeed realise that good liturgical music does not guarantee orthodoxy (either in doctrinal or in moral theology).

          I just thought it would be appropriate to publically acknowledge the good work Bishop Thomas McMahon has done in terms of Liturgical Music.

          I realise too that good music (especially if you pay professional singers and musicians) is expensive – which might be the reason for Archbishop Kelly’s decision in disbanding the orchestra.

          Another reason for the revival of Plainchant.

          • Louis

            The cathedral orchestra is alive and well, it just doesn’t “perform” at Mass any more.

            The music at Brentwood may be magnificent, pity about the liturgical configuration of the building. Which is why Fr Butler’s dissent hardly surprises me.

  • Steve

    Let us make our responses in latin.

  • Kinga Gray - Grzeczynska LLB

    I am sure that the matter has been effectively dealt with by Bishop McMahon.


  • Seaneinn

    Steve, great idea

  • Lionel (Paris)

    Habemus papam, Fr Michael J. Butler!

  • Michael B Rooke

    The Holy Father spoke yesterday (Jan 30) on dissent.

    “Being Christian without the Church doesn’t make sense. That’s why the great Paul VI, said that the most absurd dichotomy is loving Christ without the Church. To listen to Christ, but not the Church. To be with Christ, but stay at the margins of the Church. It’s not possible. It’s an absurd dichotomy.”

    Reflecting on today’s readings, the Pope recommended following the example of King David, who accepted God’s will even when he disagreed. For that to happen, explained the Pope, the humility is key.

  • freboniusthe2

    Dear Nick,
    I have just read in the Irish Times section that in their world news (Jan 27) that they reported that a phial of blood from a Pope ( presumably, that of Bl.John Paul II)has been stolen for satanic purposes! Can you confirm if this is true or not? Thanks!

    • confused

      It has been stolen yes. As to why no one knows.

    • Michael B Rooke

      There is a new report that the relic has been recovered.

      Rome, Italy, Jan 31, 2014 / 02:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An Italian bishop has voiced forgiveness for those responsible for stealing a relic of the blood of Blessed Pope John Paul II, soon after police announced the relic’s recovery.

      “I think John Paul has forgiven them. I think we have to do the same,” Auxiliary Bishop Giovanni D’Ercole of L’Aquila said a Jan. 31 press conference.

      The relic is a small square-shaped piece of cloth of John Paul II’s cassock soaked in the blood from the 1981 assassination attempt on the Pope’s life. There are only three like it.

    • iggy o'donovan

      This is news to me. But why would anyone want a phial of blood of a dead pope.? Does it not sound macabre?

      • Michael B Rooke

        It is dried blood on a piece of cloth not a phial.

        In the Catholic Church relics are regarded as sacramentals.
        The Catechism of the. catholic Church states:

        1667 “Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.”171

        Various forms of sacramentals

        1671 Among sacramentals blessings (of persons, meals, objects, and places) come first. Every blessing praises God and prays for his gifts. In Christ, Christians are blessed by God the Father “with every spiritual blessing.”175 This is why the Church imparts blessings by invoking the name of Jesus, usually while making the holy sign of the cross of Christ.

        Popular piety

        1674 Besides sacramental liturgy and sacramentals, catechesis must take into account the forms of piety and popular devotions among the faithful. the religious sense of the Christian people has always found expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as the veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals,178 etc.

        1675 These expressions of piety extend the liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it. They “should be so drawn up that they harmonize with the liturgical seasons, accord with the sacred liturgy, are in some way derived from it and lead the people to it, since in fact the liturgy by its very nature is far superior to any of them.”179$1WS

      • I think Michael B Rooke has gotten the wrong end of the stick on this occasion, I don’t think you were querying relics. Whatever it was that was involved here, it was macabre. The fear was in some quarters that it had been stolen for use in some sort of Satanic ritual.

        • Michael B Rooke

          @ Hugh McLoughlin
          Thank you for your comment.
          I was responding to the comment
          ‘But why would anyone want a phial of blood of a dead pope.? Does it not sound macabre?’
          which taken in isolation can be construed as an attack on relics.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    From conversations with those who object to the new translation the main motive for their objection is that this is something imposed by Rome without consultation in their view. The objection is just a symptom of a much wider rejection of the Magisterium.

  • Kinga Grzeczynska LLB

    I can confirm that there is a report in the Catholic Times (2nd feb.2014)that a theft has taken place of the relic of Blessed John Paul 11. The relic was of a piece of fabric soaked in the Holy Father’s blood. The theft took place in the church of San Pietro della Ienca, which is found in the mountains east of Rome.

    It is reported – and not evidenced – that a group of satanists has organised the theft of the relic.

    My comment is this: Do not be afraid. The Holy Father survived the Nazis occupation and the Second World War, the Communists in his beloved Poland, the assassination attempt of 1981 in St Peter’s Square, the politics of the Vatican and 27 years Papacy.

    He lives on in heaven and nobody will manage to take advantage of him. God’s Will is stronger than any evil.

    Kinga Grzeczynska

  • Michael B Rooke

    It is an error to consider The Tablet as a Catholic journal that promotes and teaches the Catholic Faith.
    The Trust Deed makes the Catholic Church subservient to something called ‘Christian Religion’

    The objects of the ‘TRUST DEED DATED 7TH MAY 1976′

    The contact to and list of Trustees are on this link

    Trustees who might regard themselves as Catholic should also reflect that it is one thing to report dissent from the Catholic Church it is quite another to promote dissent.

    The Bishops of England and Wales should reflect whether it is appropriate for a journal that campaigns against the Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church to be sold on the premises of Catholic Churches. Cf Mt 5:39

  • Kenny

    There is no question that the “new” translation is yet another dogs dinner. It is certainly a slight improvement on ICEL, but still nowhere near the original. But this Clergyman has no right to reject its use. No more that the Bishops have a right to ban the Old Rite. Which, they do in many places, still.

  • taad

    “But some of those who put themselves forward as great defenders of the (Second Vatican) Council also need to be reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which the tree draws its life.” Pope Benedict XVI

  • Freddie

    The man calls himself Father, not an official Anglican title

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