- May 30, 2020
Although at a symbolic level, Pope Francis’s decision on Saturday to shift considerably more control to local bishops’ conferences and away from the Vatican over translation of liturgical texts into vernacular languages may have been an earthquake, most experts don’t seem to believe it will mean much in the short-term for the prayers American Catholics say at Sunday Mass.
While Pope Francis was in Colombia on Saturday, the Vatican issued a new legal document in his name that transfers the lion’s share of the control over translation of texts for use in Catholic worship to local bishops’ conferences and away from the Vatican. In effect, it was the clearest signal to date of where Francis stands in debates about what went wrong after Vatican II, especially on the issue of collegiality.
In July 1967, a group of leaders in Catholic higher education gathered in Wisconsin, led by Father Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, and issued a landmark document called the “Land O’Lakes Statement.” In some ways it was a post-Vatican II declaration of independence, and a half-century later, its impact is still debated.
Pope Francis this week delivered an important address on liturgy, which was pounced on by the emerging Ultramontanists of the left — among other things, because it doesn’t cite Benedict XVI. But to see it through the lens of one’s political biases misses the real point, which is a call to discernment about how successful the liturgical reform actually has been.
The August 3 death of Bishop Giovanni Benedetti, who led the Diocese of Foligno in Italy from 1976 to 1992, probably won’t attract much comment anywhere outside his native region of Umbria. That’s too bad, because his life illustrates several truths about Catholic bishops that often go unacknowledged or under-appreciated.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl says he finds “a great consolation and sense of serenity” in the fact that, for Catholics, Peter is the touchstone of faith, but added that doesn’t mean you still don’t raise a question, if you “speak truth in love.”