England: Every Priest a Pope…

England: Every Priest a Pope…


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 (Ed: endorsed by Catholic Truth) 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?  Source 

Comments (37)

  • leprechaun

    Madame Editor

    Fr. Butler writes:

    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).

    What he is saying is that the newly-revised current liturgy being used by the post-Vatican II Church is a dog’s breakfast.

    What a missed opportunity! If Fr. Butler is prepared to put his head above the parapet and condemn the current liturgy, why on earth did he not summon up a little more courage and say what he OUGHT to have said: “Bring back the Traditional Latin Mass and to hell with the novelties!”?

    January 30, 2014 at 6:36 pm
    • editor


      I think you misunderstand. The new translation of the new Mass was an attempt by Pope Benedict to move the new Mass closer to the correct translation of the old Mass (if you get my drift). The modernists were livid and so what Fr Butler is saying is that they can now ditch the IMPROVED translation and return to the “old new” translation if you know what I mean. The letters pages of the Catholic (in inverted commas) press were full of correspondents bleating about how they “missed” their “old” Mass – absolutely priceless – so Fr Butler has taken it upon his arrogant self to tell them “problem solved”. We have a new (“liberal”) Pope so we can go back to our (old) new Mass.

      I hope that’s clear 🙄

      January 30, 2014 at 8:23 pm
  • Sixupman

    Leaving aside the Fr. Butlers of this world, of which there is a proliferation, my real concern is the existence of Diocesan Liturgy Commissions – assuming that each diocese has one such. In Lancaster Diocese there existed one, self-elevated, liturgy adviser – he whose missal was a loose-leaf book.

    January 31, 2014 at 8:13 am
    • Nicky


      Bishop McMahon will have to do something about this if every priest has been given an illicit instruction from the “leader” of the diocesan commission. I agree about the diocesan commissions – they should be closed down.

      January 31, 2014 at 8:33 am
      • Margaret Mary


        I think someone on the Protect the Pope blog said that the Bishop had acted quickly by emailing all his priests, I think he must have told them to ignore Fr Butler’s email although it doesn’t actually say that.

        I agree the priests are getting more brazen under Pope Francis.

        January 31, 2014 at 12:28 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      I have no idea what the authority of these liturgy commissions is. Do you know, as I would like to have an idea what they are about.

      January 31, 2014 at 12:29 pm
      • Sixupman

        There is a central “Committee for the Liturgy” attached to the E&W Bishops’ Conference as at 2012 +Alan Hopes Chairman and Rev. Peter McGrail Chairman of Formation Sub-Committee (?).

        “advises the bishops on matters relating to liturgy, liturgical music, art and architecture ……. sub-committee works with diocesan Liturgy Commissions.”. Probably all manned by iconaclasts.

        January 31, 2014 at 4:28 pm
      • editor

        I’m sure we’ve all heard the old joke: “what’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist?” Answer: “you can negotiate with a terrorist”. 😀

        January 31, 2014 at 5:09 pm
      • Leo


        What about the liturgist’s instruction:

        “Everyone, get your hands up. This is a liturgy.”

        January 31, 2014 at 5:39 pm
      • editor


        That’s a new one on me – but it brings back vividly unpleasant memories of some Unhappy clappy NO Masses from my far, distant past…

        February 2, 2014 at 12:12 am
      • Margaret Mary


        Thank you for that information. I wonder what “advise the bishops” actually comes down to. As you say, they are all probably iconoclasts which is why so many Catholic churches are so bare looking, without statues and pictures. It’s very sad. It stuck in my mind when I read about the statue of the Sacred Heart being put in the back of the new cathedral in Glasgow when it was refurbished, way up high so nobody would see it. Anyone with a special devotion to St Margaret Mary and the Sacred Heart will be deeply saddened by that piece of iconoclasm. Instead of bringing Protestants closer to the Church they’re taking Catholics further away from it. I wonder why they can’t see that, after all these years.

        February 2, 2014 at 12:00 am
  • Josephine

    It would be good to know if the local Bishop did tell his priests to ignore Fr Butler but when I Googled to try to find out nothing came up. That priest should have to step down from his position on the diocesan liturgy commission (which I agree should not exist.)

    January 31, 2014 at 3:06 pm
  • editor

    Sorry for my absence folks – we’ve been busy with the mailing today so newsletters should be dropping through the letter boxes any time now.

    On topic: I have wondered from time to time if all priests have switched to the new translation of the novus ordo or if some of them/any of them have decided to stick with the “old” new translation.

    Are there any novus ordo Mass-goers out there who can enlighten us? Are all dioceses in the UK faithfully implementing the new translation or are they implanting that as “faithfully” as they’re implanting Summorum Pontificum? What’s happening where you live?

    January 31, 2014 at 5:14 pm
    • Vianney

      Editor, I know that one priest in Edinburgh wasn’t happy with the new new Mass and even organised a petition against it and said his parish was going to retain the old new mass. The rebellion didn’t last long, and the new version is now used. Obviously Novus Ordo folk don’t have the staying power the we Tridentines have.

      February 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm
      • Nicky


        You must mean the Edinburgh priest, Mike Fallon who was published in The Tablet blog with his views about the New Translation, I think he also sent a letter out, not sure if it was to other priests or just the Tablet. He has gone silent now, as you say his rebellion didn’t last long – maybe his bishop clamped down on him.

        February 1, 2014 at 11:38 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        I don’t think his bishop, who was Cardinal O’Brien, would have been at all bothered about his dissent on the new translation. I do wonder why he’s gone silent. Maybe there wasn’t as much support for his views as he thought?

        February 1, 2014 at 11:53 pm
      • editor

        Margaret Mary

        “Maybe there wasn’t as much support for his views as he thought?”

        I think that’s it in a nutshell. I think I’m correct in saying that the Association of Catholic Priests’ blog provided a platform for Fr Fallon and it was there that he expressed his disappointment that his attempt to set the heather on fire in Edinburgh, proved to be something of a damp squib. Do I have a way with words or not? 🙂

        February 2, 2014 at 12:22 am
      • Margaret Mary


        I didn’t know Fr Fallon organised a petition but he was very busy writing against the new translation and gave away some information I, for one, hadn’t known before, especially the information about the poor relations between the Congregation for Worship in the Vatican and Cardinal Winning. I found a source of interest just now that I thought I would put here:

        February 1, 2014 at 11:51 pm
  • Leo

    When I first read the start of this thread, I was reminded of Father Stephen Somerville STL, who was a member, from 1964, of the Advisory Board of the International Commission on English Liturgy (ICEL) which was charged with translating the new post-Vatican II Latin liturgy in to English.

    Twelve years ago Father Somerville, in a remarkable example of true humility, wrote an open letter by which he wished “to apologize before God and the Church and to renounce decisively my personal sharing in that damaging project.”

    I have attached a link to the full letter below, and quote a few excerpts here:

    “11 – Having just mentioned in passing the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), I now come to identify my other reason for renouncing my translating work on I.C.E.L. It is an even more serious and delicate matter. In the past year (from mid 2001), I have come to know with respect and admiration many traditional Catholics. These, being persons who have decided to return to pre-Vatican II Catholic Mass and Liturgy, and being distinct from “conservative” Catholics (those trying to retouch and improve the Novus Ordo Mass and Sacraments of post-Vatican II), these Traditionals, I say, have taught me a grave lesson. They brought to me a large number of published books and essays. These demonstrated cumulatively, in both scholarly and popular fashion, that the Second Vatican Council was early commandeered and manipulated and infected by modernist, liberalist, and protestantizing persons and ideas. These writings show further that the new liturgy produced by the Vatican “Concilium” group, under the late Archbishop A. Bugnini, was similarly infected. Especially the New Mass is problematic. It waters down the doctrine that the Eucharist is a true Sacrifice, not just a memorial. It weakens the truth of the Real Presence of Christ’s victim Body and Blood by demoting the Tabernacle to a corner, by reduced signs of reverence around the Consecration, by giving Communion in the hand, often of women, by cheapening the sacred vessels, by having used six Protestant experts (who disbelieve the Real Presence) in the preparation of the new rite, by encouraging the use of sacro-pop music with guitars, instead of Gregorian chant, and by still further novelties.

    12 – Such a litany of defects suggests that many modern Masses are sacrilegious, and some could well be invalid. They certainly are less Catholic, and less apt to sustain Catholic Faith.”

    “16 – Dear non-traditional Catholic Reader, do not lightly put aside this letter. It is addressed to you, who must know that only the true Faith can save you, that eternal salvation depends on holy and grace- filled sacraments as preserved under Christ by His faithful Church. Pursue these grave questions with prayer and by serious reading, especially in the publications of the Society of St Pius X.”


    For those with a bit time, the following article by Father Somerville goes into some very informative detail on the whole issue of language.


    January 31, 2014 at 5:41 pm
    • Theresa Rose

      Thank you for your excellent post Leo. It is not too long ago that I read about Father Somerville’s apology his renunciation of his personal sharing in that damaging project. If only other priests could or would do the same. It is a sorry saying “If only”.

      I agree with you about the things you have listed, that has meant such a loss of faith for many people.

      Along side Fr Butler, who else sits on these Diocesan Liturgy Commissions?
      The Laity and how many? Are they Catholic? Protestant or some other religion?
      I presume the Bishop and other priests are on this Commission.
      What ideas are put forward about the Mass? I doubt that any mention of the Tridentine Mass would be discussed, or even wanted.

      January 31, 2014 at 6:04 pm
    • editor


      Thank you for reminding us of Fr Stephen Somerville – his is an amazing story.

      Will read the links later – right now I have to head for town – pubbing and clubbing time again 😀

      January 31, 2014 at 10:16 pm
    • Fidelis

      That’s amazing about Fr Stephen Somerville. I don’t think many people in the UK have heard of him. I’m grateful for that wholesome information which is very encouraging. I wonder if there are any more “Fr Somervilles” out there, especially in the UK. (I wish.)

      February 1, 2014 at 8:26 pm
  • catholicconvert1

    Whenever I read things such as this, it really makes me chuckle to myself. All this confusion about what Missal to use, it makes me wonder why they ever suppressed the traditional Mass after 1969-70. Shame on them for confusing the children of God. As Our Lady prophesied at Fatima, we can only have faith in her ‘Immaculate Heart and the Holy Rosary’.

    January 31, 2014 at 7:52 pm
  • No one you know...

    Apparently, according to Protect the Pope, the bishop has sent out a letter to all the priests saying that Fr Butler was wrong and that he had no power whatsoever to issue the letter

    January 31, 2014 at 8:02 pm
  • Tirrey

    Here in my Parish(Ireland)the new Translation is used,the words being projected onto a screen.There appears to be full co-operation from the laity.
    The problems I have noticed are;
    1.The Gloria says::Glory to god in the highest,and peace to his people on Earth.
    This is not true to scripture.
    2.Where the leaflet says:”For us Men”, is rendered as “For Us” by the Priest.
    A well known agenda followed here.
    However,I attend a Missa Cantata at St Kevins,Harrington St.and have been for about 2 Months.
    The difference is striking.

    January 31, 2014 at 8:21 pm
    • editor


      “There appears to be full co-operation from the laity.”

      Which goes to prove the point that if the bishops priests lead, the laity will follow. Whether the path be the broad path that leads out of the Church or the “narrow path” of the Gospels. Which places an onerous responsibility on the shoulders of the hierarchy to make sure that the faithful are led down the correct path and not up the (Modernist) garden path. Do I have a way with words or not? Rhetorical – strictly rhetorical – question, folks!

      January 31, 2014 at 10:20 pm
  • Leo

    The Church was given advance warning, nine decades before the nuclear explosion, by a genuine Catholic scholar, a man truly worthy of the title liturgist.

    “Hatred for the Latin tongue is inborn in the hearts of all the enemies of Rome; in it they see a bond among the Catholics of the world, an arsenal of orthodoxy against the subtleties of the sectarian spirit, the papacy’s most powerful weapon…The master-stroke of Protestantism is to have declared war on the sacred language. Should it ever succeed in destroying it, it would be well on the road to victory.” – Dom Prosper Gueranger, Institutions Liturgiques 1:402-3

    January 31, 2014 at 11:20 pm
  • Leo

    Father Butler’s quoting from Sacrosanctum Concilium is a classic example of the deployment of the Conciliar ambiguities and double speak, otherwise known as time bombs, that have been well and truly detected for long enough. Tragically for three generations of Catholics, the bomb squad haven’t even been called, let alone begun to render the devices safe.

    The reference to the votes cast by the Council’s bishops also cries out for a response. Anyone who claims the voting numbers were an advance endorsement for the destruction of the Roman Rite and seemingly limitless and universal modernist mayhem, vandalism, endangering of souls, and sacrilege which has followed to the present day is, in my opinion, either very ignorant, naïve, or mischievous.

    Don’t take my word for it. Read the following words, taken from Michael Davies’ pamphlet, Liturgical Shipwreck- 25 Years of the New Mass.

    “The subject most fully debated was liturgical reform. It might be more accurate to say the bishops were under the impression that the liturgy had been fully discussed. In retrospect it is clear that they were given the opportunity of discussing only general principles. Subsequent changes were radical that those intended by Pope John and the bishops who passed the decree on the liturgy. His sermon at the end of the first session shows that Pope John did not suspect what was being planned by the liturgical experts.” – Cardinal Heenan of Westminster, A Crown of Thorns, p. 223

    “Who dreamed on that day the within a few years, far less than a decade, the Latin past of the Church would be all but expunged, that it would be reduced to a memory fading into the middle distance? The thought of it would have horrified us, but it seemed so far beyond the realm of the possible as to be ridiculous. So we laughed it off.” – Archbishop R J Dwyer of Portland, Oregon, Twin Circle, October 26, 1973

    January 31, 2014 at 11:39 pm
    • editor


      Thanks for that reminder that the changes to the Mass were not planned by the Council Fathers but the liturgical reform, so called, was hijacked by the Modernists. I’ve found that not a lot of people know that what took place what not a reform but a revolution.

      February 1, 2014 at 8:50 am
  • Frankier

    In England each priest is a Pope
    So it looks like there’s really no hope
    There is, though, a cure
    We just have to make sure
    That we feed them with plenty of rope

    February 1, 2014 at 12:54 am
    • editor

      CT Blogger, Frankier’s a poet
      Tho’ other bloggers don’t know it;
      Cos if they did,
      They’d say well done, kid”
      And not leave it to editor to say “well done, Frankier, maybe you should publish your poems in a book one of these days!” 🙂

      February 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm
      • Frankier

        Dear Missy it’s thanks for your praise
        I can assure you that one of these days
        By hook or by crook
        I’ll publish that book
        Then no-one will stand on my taes **

        ** Sorry, but I had no other option than to cheat.

        February 2, 2014 at 10:41 am
  • Nicky

    Pope Francis has been preaching against dissent

    It would be good to see him taking some action to underpin his words, beginning with Fr Butler.

    February 1, 2014 at 11:33 pm
    • Margaret Mary

      That’s very good news about Pope Francis preaching against dissent. I was delighted to read this bit especially, so copied it to put here:

      “Referring to the second pillar of a Christian’s “belonging” to the Church, Pope Francis said that it is a fidelity which “is connected to obedience.”

      “[It is] faithfulness to the Church; faithfulness to her teaching: fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, guarding this doctrine,” he explained, repeating, “humility and fidelity.” Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-francis-a-christian-without-the-church-is-an-absurd-dichotomy/#ixzz2s7J9088Q

      It gives me some hope that he’s maybe not going to be as bad as I first thought but I agree he should now take some action with dissenters and I also agree Fr Butler would be a good place to start.

      February 1, 2014 at 11:46 pm
  • Eileenanne

    The recent changes to the Mass were so slight that, if they had not been announced in advance, they would scarcely have been noticed. I honestly cannot understand wht anyone would want to make a fuss about them, either for or against.

    February 2, 2014 at 10:35 am
    • Josephine


      That’s an interesting point. I think it shows that the liberal types won’t allow any changes to bring the novus ordo closer to what it was meant to be in the beginning i.e. closer to the Mass as it was before, to make the translation more accurate. Even slight changes won’t be tolerated by them.

      February 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm
  • Frankier

    As you say, the changes were slight
    Probably done overnight
    What I’d like to do
    With the dissident crew
    Is to get them in a fist fight

    February 2, 2014 at 11:11 am

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