Saint Thomas Aquinas

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fr. Anthony Ruff's Open Letter to the Bishops on the New Translation.

As you already know, there has been constant bickering over this new translation of the Novus Ordo Liturgy for the past year or so. Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB has been vocal in rejecting the new translation. I believe he has a right to do this, as many of us have even critiqued the Novus Ordo Mass text in general, so why would it be out of bounds to scrutinize a translation of it? So I will not criticize Father Ruff for voicing his opinion on the matter. I am however a bit disappointed in the lack of substance in his letter.  Below is the complete open letter that he wrote concerning the translation. I want to stay away from personal attacks here, and instead focus on the few comments that he did make. I will offer my observations in between the indented paragraphs of the letter.

Your Eminences, Your Excellencies,

With a heavy heart, I have recently made a difficult decision concerning the new English missal. I have decided to withdraw from all my upcoming speaking engagements on the Roman Missal in dioceses across the United States. After talking with my confessor and much prayer, I have concluded that I cannot promote the new missal translation with integrity. I’m sure bishops want a speaker who can put the new missal in a positive light, and that would require me to say things I do not believe.
So far so good. Fr. Ruff here has apparently prayed about the matter and has decided that he cannot go along with the translation. Not much to comment on here.

I love the Church, I love the sacred liturgy, I love chant in Latin and English, and I treasure being involved with all these as a monk and priest. It has been an honor to serve until recently as chairman of the music committee of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) that prepared all the chants for the new missal. But my involvement in that process, as well as my observation of the Holy See’s handling of scandal, has gradually opened my eyes to the deep problems in the structures of authority of our church.
Here I have to take him at his word that he loves the Church, etc. What is interesting here is that he was involved in ICEL which prepared the chants for the new missal. This involvement however supposedly opened his eyes to problems of authority as well as a perceived problem with the Holy See involving scandal. He does not elaborate here and gives his readers no idea as to what he is even referring to. This may be an effort to avoid further scandal, or it may be something to the likes of not getting his way, so he sees that as a problem. Yet it is a bold move to criticize the Holy See on the handling of a supposed scandal with no substance whatsoever to back it up. We can only speculate here, so we will move on.

The forthcoming missal is but a part of a larger pattern of top-down impositions by a central authority that does not consider itself accountable to the larger church. When I think of how secretive the translation process was, how little consultation was done with priests or laity, how the Holy See allowed a small group to hijack the translation at the final stage, how unsatisfactory the final text is, how this text was imposed on national conferences of bishops in violation of their legitimate episcopal authority, how much deception and mischief have marked this process—and then when I think of Our Lord’s teachings on service and love and unity…I weep.
This paragraph here gives us a little more insight into his thoughts on his view of the hierarchy involved. There are a couple of observations here. Fr. Ruff apparently does not like top down authority. Unfortunately for him, he is on the wrong Church if he does not like top down authority, because, although the pope and bishops certainly serve the Church, they also decide what is better for the faithful, including liturgical changes, for better or worse. And at the top of that hierarchy is Jesus Christ. He says he is upset that priests and laity were not consulted. Considering all of the bickering going on between the priests and the laity over this mess, is it any wonder they tried to bypass the peanut gallery? As far as hijacking goes, an authority cannot hijack what it has a right to. The bishop's conferences do not stand on their own and they are subservient to the papacy and those authorities appointed by the papacy. He also thinks the translation is unsatisfactory, yet he never gives one example as to why it is unsatisfactory. I am more interested in why he thinks it is unsatisfactory than his opinion on authority. As far as deception and mischief goes we can only speculate since no examples were given, which I must assume was again done to avoid a perceived scandal. As far as Our Lord's teachings on unity go, they are intimately tied to Saint Peter and the bishops in union with him, not individual bishop's conferences. The less than stellar accomplishments of the USCCB in promoting the authentic Catholic faith speaks for itself. It seems that Fr. Ruff somehow thinks that the bishop's conferences have an absolute right to determine liturgical translations, which is not the case. 

I see a good deal of disillusionment with the Catholic Church among my friends and acquaintances. Some leave the Catholic Church out of conviction, some gradually drift away, some join other denominations, some remain Catholic with difficulty. My response is to stay in this church for life and do my best to serve her. This I hope to do by stating the truth as I see it, with charity and respect. I would be ready to participate in future liturgical projects under more favorable conditions.
Here we get to the reasons he thinks that people leave the Catholic Church, and quite frankly none of them are valid, nor can any of them be excused. If you are convicted to leave the Catholic Church then you are convicted by a deceiving spirit. If you gradually drift away and then and join another "denomination" then again, a deceiving spirit led you on that journey, not a Holy One. One has to wonder why Fr. Ruff even included this in the letter. It is as if the decision on the translation made by these higher ups is going to result in more people leaving the Church? One can only speculate. I am glad to see that Fr. Ruff is not going to join some of his friends in their dangerous decisions to abandon Christ and His one and only Church. Again, I can appreciate Father's decision to reject the new translation. I would have expected a bit more of an explanation in reference to the text itself however, rather than hear about all of the supposed secretive political games going on behind the scenes. In my opinion, all of this controversy gives us yet another reason as to why the Church needs to go back to the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. A top down change like that would be a most welcome remedy for what plagues the Church today.

I am sorry for the difficulties I am causing others by withdrawing, but I know this is the right thing to do. I will be praying for you and all leaders in our church.

Pax in Christo,

Fr. Anthony Ruff, O.S.B.
Link to article here.  

4 comments:

GADEL said...

Let's remember Fr. Ruff in our prayers. Thanks for the comments Matthew.

Ted said...

Dear Matthew Bellisario: We are American Catholics who follow Christ in our sinful ways, asking evermore to be relieved of our sins, studying the tenants laid down by Jesus. I do not find, in my studies; “Christ and His one and only Church“. The Capital H on his is not there either. I do not find us as “the peanut gallery” either. I do not find “subservient to the papacy” either. And, I especially do not find “subservient to those authorities appointed by the papacy”!

I am subservient to Christ who I love and who loves me.

Thank you for any consideration other than “peanut gallery“, Ted Bunne

Ted said...

Dear Matthew Bellisario: We are American Catholics who follow Christ in our sinful ways, asking evermore to be relieved of our sins, studying the tenants laid down by Jesus. I do not find, in my studies; “Christ and His one and only Church“. The Capital H on his is not there either. I do not find us as “the peanut gallery” either. I do not find “subservient to the papacy” either. And, I especially do not find “subservient to those authorities appointed by the papacy”!

I am subservient to Christ who I love and who loves me.

Thank you for any consideration other than "peanut gallery", Ted Bunne

Matthew Bellisario said...

So you are Catholic Ted, and you do not find in your studies where the Catholic Church tells you that it is the one and only true Church of Christ? Are you telling me that you cannot find this is any official dogmatic or doctrinal statements from the Church? Please clarify what you mean.