Pope Francis with Bishops

Pope Francis is calling a meeting of Church leaders from across the world to discuss child protection as he seeks to step up his response to the clerical sexual abuse crisis.

On Wednesday 12 September, the Vatican announced that Francis will hold a meeting with the Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences from across the world on the “Protection of Minors.” It will take place in Rome on the 21-24 February 2019.

This is the first time a global gathering of bishops has taken place to discuss the worldwide scandal of abuse in the Church and was ordered by the Pope following a request from his cardinal advisory body. 

Paloma García Ovejero, the deputy director of the Holy See Press Office, told journalists today that the Council of Cardinals have been reflecting with the Pope on the issues of abuse. 

The council has been meeting with Francis over the last three days and on Monday expressed their “full solidarity” with the Pope noting that the Vatican was preparing a response to an explosive dossier from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

The former papal diplomat has alleged the Pope knew about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s abusive behaviour with seminarians and that Benedict XVI had placed sanctions on the former cardinal. 

Tomorrow Francis will meet with leaders of the United States Bishops’ Conference to discuss their response to the McCarrick case and the findings of a Grand Jury Report in Pennsylvania into clerical abuse and its cover-up in six dioceses. 

A spokesperson for the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, told the Tablet: “This is a welcome development by the Holy See in ensuring the protection of minors in all countries across the world given the difficulties and complexities involved in safeguarding. It stands alongside the Holy See’s safeguarding initiatives with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and also the setting up of the The Centre for Child Protection (CCP) of the Pontifical Gregorian University.”

There are more than 5,000 bishops worldwide,while an episcopal conference is an official assembly of bishops in any given area that allows them to address problems collectively. Presidents of conferences are ordinarily elected to their post by their fellow bishops.

The council of nine cardinals advising the Pope, known as the C9, met with Francis from the 10 September to 12 September. Three members were not present including Cardinals Francisco Errázuriz Ossa, 84, Laurent Monsengwo, 78 and George Pell, 77. It is likely they will be replaced from the council due to advanced age. Chilean Cardinal Errázuriz has been accused of mishandling sexual abuse complaints in his home country while Cardinal Pell is back in Australia defending himself against allegations of historic sex offences. Pell denies the allegations. 

Bishop Paul Swarbrick

Installed as the seventh Bishop of Lancaster on the 9th April 2018 on the Solemnity of the Annunciation.

“Just grin and bear it” is not a rubric that appears in the currently authorised translation of the Mass into English. Maybe it should. It sums up the outcome of a discussion at the latest meeting of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, in the light of a change in canon law giving them more authority over liturgical translations. But not enough authority, they have decided, to dispose of a seriously flawed translation and replace it with a very much better one – or even to allow that alternative translation to be used beside the current one. 

Pope Francis’ motu proprio Magnum Principium was hailed – and recognised as such by Archbishop Peter Smith at the press conference at which the bishops’ decision was announced – as part of his programme of reform intended to return to diocesan bishops and hence to episcopal conferences their jurisdiction over such matters as the translation of the liturgy best suited to their territories. Under the previous system, translations had been imposed by Rome irrespective of the wishes of the bishops. That was wrong in principle, theologically unsound, and contrary to the intentions of the Second Vatican Council. But the bishops of England and Wales, and of every other English-speaking part of the Catholic Church, felt they had no choice but to knuckle under when in 2010 Rome issued the English text of the Roman Missal now in use, despite the fact that they had previously agreed to a superior translation.

According to guidance – which the bishops said they were “grateful” for – from the Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW), the change in canon law does not allow bishops to interfere with translations already authorised. But guidance from the Roman Curia to the bishops can always be challenged, and even rejected. Pope Francis could have been appealed to directly, and a review of the version the bishops themselves had commissioned and approved be commissioned immediately, to make it ready for use.

The bishops of England and Wales are well aware of the unpopularity of the current translation, and of its flaws, as Archbishop Smith was candid enough to concede. It includes many crude attempts to find literal equivalents in English to the official Latin text. Some English-speaking Catholics may have become inured to its poor, exclusive language, and the bishops may be counting on them to accept the status quo. They are mindful too that new missals cost money.

Yet England is the motherland of the English language. English Catholic bishops have missed the chance to show the way forward to the other 10 nations where the Mass is usually said in English. Before deciding to “grin and bear it” they could at least have consulted the others, including the bishops of New Zealand, who have already indicated they are considering reviving the translation the Vatican buried. It is quite possible that bishops in other English-speaking countries too will not take the CDW’s “guidance” lying down. Might we one day witness the sight of the Catholics of England –  who have included Chaucer, Shakespeare, Pope, Newman, Hopkins, Chesterton, Tolkien, Waugh and Greene – being reluctantly dragged along behind?

Most Reverend Excellency,

With the Motu Proprio MAGNUM PRINCIPIUM, dated 3 September 2017, entering into force on 1 October, made known through the Press Office of the Holy See on 9 September and published in
L’Osservatore Romano
on 10 September in Latin and in Italian, the Holy Father modified canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law.

The new guidelines, concerning the translation and the adaptations of liturgical books into the modern languages, concern both this Dicastery and the Conferences of Bishops.

As such, we all must, with respect and acknowledgement, accept the thrust of this Pontifical document, of the motivations and principles raised in it, in a particular way, the intention that brought about the modification of this canon, namely to "make the collaboration between the Holy See and Bishops Conferences easier and more fruitful.” The Pope, in fact, wishes "a constant collaboration full of mutual respect, vigilance, and creativity."

The Motu Proprio does not have retroactive force. The important outcomes come to maturity in recent years, in obedience to the discipline up until now in force, retain their value. For the future, the guidelines concerning liturgical translations are to be interpreted in the light of what has been indicated by the Holy Father.

In recalling the genuine responsibility of Bishops’ Conferences, the new norms do not fail to underscore the grave task of fidelity in translating texts for liturgical prayer that belongs to the Bishops, who must guarantee the unity of the Church that celebrates the Mystery of Christ. Liturgical adaptations require discernment and the sensus Ecclesiae, with the awareness that no one is master of the holy mysteries that we celebrate, rather, we are all servants, obedient to the mandate received from the Lord Jesus.

The collaboration between the Holy See and the Conferences of Bishops must be strengthened for the good of the Church and to the glory of God.

To this letter, which is known to the Supreme Authority is attached the commentary and the note that accompanied the publication of the Motu Proprio. The Dicastery will provide, in due time, further indications of a practical and procedural nature.

I take this opportunity to give my sincere greetings, with a profound sense of respect [for Your Excellency].

Fr. Corrado Maggioni, S. M. M., Undersecretary

We had wonderful news about Pope Francis statement on the English Liturgy and the translation of the Mass last week.

Please consider writing to the Bishops and the Bishop's Conference about it. Use this form on this web site. No need to write a long letter- even just a few sentences will help!
Pope Francis has decentralised authority over the English translation of the liturgy from the Vatican to the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales.   In 1998 every Bishop's Conference of the English speaking world collegially approved an English translation of the Mass, after 17 years of intense international study by ICEL. That body of ICEL was disbanded.  After only four years, a newly formed ICEL introduced the 2010 translation, which has not been received well by many. We want to ask the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, meeting in Leeds in mid-November, to discuss introducing the 1998 Liturgy which they themselves had chosen, as soon as possible.

ACTA has been campaigning for years for the adoption of the 1998 Missal approved unanimously by the Bishops Conference of England & Wales - this is our chance - please help if you can NOW! 

Please send an email to Fr Paul Gunter This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..uk  (Secretary for the Department for Christian Life and Worship) and ask his Department to add it as an item for full discussion on the Agenda of the Plenary Assembly of Bishops in November. It has to be proposed by this Department first for the Bishops' Conference to discuss it together.