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New Ecumenical English Missal

Ecumenical Liturgy

UPDATED with some other sites telling this same story: Fr Z (Fr. John Zuhlsdorf), Pray Tell, The Telegraph,…

A rumour has been growing about a possible review of the Roman Catholic missal translation, but no one anticipated the announcement of a New Ecumenical English Missal Project, which will mean that the words for the whole Eucharist will be the same across a number of significant English-speaking denominations.

Pope Francis, ever taking people by surprise, in only the second year of his papacy, pointedly, on the feast day of a woman saint, St Theodora (April 1), is formally signing the declaration that he has the agreement of significant English-speaking churches and ecclesial communities to work towards a new Ecumenical English Missal.

Real dissatisfaction with the recent English-language missal translation has been present from the start.

In January this year the Irish Association of Catholic Priests and an article in the Tablet said that a review of the Missal translation has been promised. Fr. Paddy Jones has just finished 21 years directing the national liturgy office in Ireland, and in the office’s bulletin New Liturgy he has an editorial on the topic. “A review is promised, though the mechanism of such a review is not known”, wrote Fr Jones.

Like other surprise announcements of Pope Francis, this one goes totally beyond expectations. In the document entitled (still surprisingly in Latin!) Aprilis Stulte ‘Dies (translation of the Latin here), the pope reveals that a board will oversee a commission of English-language liturgical, linguistic, and musical experts.

Four people will form this board. The four are (left to right in the photo above) Bishop Susan Johnson (National Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada), Pope Francis, the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori (Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church), and the Most Reverend Justin Welby (Archbishop of Canterbury). The gender and church-background mix is seen to be no accident.

One of the strongest criticisms of the current English Language Missal Translation is its gender-exclusive language. Prior to this current translation many texts were shared ecumenically. This new work, however, will move beyond a few shared texts. The whole text will be usable by English-language liturgical churches. Insiders predict that the commission will start by trying to bring together the best of the rejected 1998 translation and The Episcopal Church’s Book of Common Prayer.

Only dioceses and churches that wish to take up the Ecumenical English Missal will do so. In the Roman Catholic Church it will be used as a third “form”. Alongside the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form will be an “Ecumenical Form”. Other denominations will be able to use it however their particular decision-making bodies allow. The work will be copyright-free.

Last but not least is the explanation that the time has come to move from ecumenical dialogue through which so much has been achieved, to increasing shared action. Pope Francis who recently called a Pentecostal pastor a “bishop brother” is just the sort of person to move us on to that next step.

This story is also told on
The Telegraph
Fr Z (Fr. John Zuhlsdorf)
Pray Tell

This site has been in the forefront of keeping people informed of these breakthrough developments. See also herehere, and here.

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109 Responses to New Ecumenical English Missal

  1. I had thought His Holiness the Dalai Lama was to be involved with the translation work? Or was it just to be used as a consultant by the board….

    What I do love about Francis is that he likes people with funny hats and funky robes soo much

    • “When the fairies are displeased with anybody, they are said to send their elves to pinch them. The ecclesiastics, when they are displeased with any civil state, make also their elves, that is, superstitious, enchanted subjects, to pinch their princes, by preaching sedition; or one prince, enchanted with promises, to pinch another.”

      (Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan, 1651)

  2. Putting the PB of TEC in the announcement is the alert to the Aprilis Stulte Dies character of this implausible news. What has New York to do with Rome on liturgical matters?!

  3. I doubt these rumors are true. This is all silliness.

    Our theology of the Eucharist and ecclesiology is VASTLY different from the Protestants which makes such a thing untenable.

    keep dreaming your dreams people…ain’t happening.

  4. My hopes surged when I read this. And then I realized it was a cruel April Fool’s joke (it’s only March 31 here). While I applaud the commentary, and perhaps the point was to highlight the pain of disunity, it does bring me pain. As somebody in an interchurch/ecumenical relationship (Anglican/Roman Catholic) I live out the joys of learning from each other and the pains of our church’s lack of recognition of each other (well okay, more like his lack of recognition of mine…). This, perhaps rightly, brings up some of the pain of constantly disappointed hopes; some of the frustration of constant “dialogue” without full communion or even really any recognizable steps towards it. I do not advocate for a dialogue of return, nor for a dialogue of all being the same, but for diversity within unity…May the Lord bring us all into one Holy, catholic, and Apostolic church as we were intended to be.

  5. Very interesting and encouraging. I was just having this conversation at yesterday’s post-worship coffee hour with the Lutheran and Roman Catholic parents of some new parishioners. The Lutheran, especially, is looking for Church union.

    • I started off spotting and sharing this as a April 1st April Fool Day prank/joke. Something fun. Something so improbable that puckish humour about it would spread a little mirth. Some joy.

      The building vitriol of the day has made me travel in spirit from wishing for my simple response of laughter to be posted to join in on such merriment, to wishing it to be posted to clue people in on the joke, to the sense of deep sorrow I feel now at the end of this day. This exercise has revealed not just the realistic difficulties behind pursuing such a project in the first place, but the deep-seated disregard, disdain, loathing, suspicion and contempt in which we hold each other before our Christ. This is the most moving testament I can think of to how deluded I have been, moving from the faith tradition of my youth – being taught how all the other churches would band together one day under Rome to persecute and enact the death penalty upon members of my own birth sect – to the church I embraced in my adulthood that considered us all parts of The Lord’s body here on earth, whether or not certain parts were willing to admit it. And somehow valid expressions of a generous grace reaching, hands stretched outwards, whether or not we needed to work acknowledging each other from a distance in order to reach a diverse humanity with its myriad needs.

      But this.

      This set of postings.

      This has revealed just how deeply diseased we are. What an extraordinarily leprous corpse we together comprise. Branches of ashes from a weeping, withering vine, stretched forth to no avail.

      Well done.
      Well done all.
      Well done indeed.

  6. Nice try, but putting significant English-speaking churches and Katherine Jefferts Schori in the same article is a giveaway.

  7. History suggests this will a total disaster. For a start, if gender exclusive language was ok for Jesus, it should be ok for us.

    Another huge issue will be the divisive presence of Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori. Why do Americans always get invited to the top table?

    Handling the furore will mean that Francis will need more than his usual stunt-double and invisibility cloak to avoid the public ridicule that is bound to come.

    Also – you forget to mention St Theodora’s excommunication…

  8. Did the Latin document cited in the story include the dating formula “datum Kalendis Aprilibus Anno Domini MMXIV?” If so, perhaps we are dealing with a bit of “docta stultitia” with which to ring in the new month. ;-)

  9. This is a joke, right?
    However this is not:
    You wrote:
    Only dioceses and churches that wish to take up the Ecumenical English Missal will do so. In the Roman Catholic Church it will be used as a third “form”. Alongside the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form will be an “Ecumenical Form”.
    There is already a third form of the Roman rite: the Divine Worship form used by the Ordinariates.

    Happy April Fools Day.

  10. Being faithful and loyal to the one who succeeds the First Pastor of Christianity expresses itself in many forms. At times through complete harmony; at other times in dialogical contention seeking Unity & Love, the Soul of the Eucharist, the Very Soul & Entirety l Of Christ Which the Eucharist Is! TIME WILL TELL WHERE WISDOM EXISTS. I personally support & adhere to the Bishop of Rome who presides over all the churches whether or not he is revered as such or whether he is agreed with.

  11. I was so excited for this breakthrough until I realized it was probably an April Fool’s thingie. Not cool, Bosco! Not cool at all.

  12. I guess no one took the time to to see what “Aprilis Stulte ‘Dies” means. It’s Latin for April Fools’ Day.

  13. Jesus’s use of gender- specific language in the first century doesn’t make it good enough for us. He lived in a completely different context and worked with (and against) the mores and attitudes of those days. He specifically made it clear that his knowledge was not universal and theologians have gone to great lengths to describe the self-accepted limitations involved in incarnation. In any case, once you start down that path, you have to say – for example – that an appropriate first step in treating blindness is to spit on the ground and make a mud to apply to the eyes. Or you would have to say that using smartphones is inappropriate for followers of Christ, because he didn’t. He knew nothing of the science of psychology, most anatomy, biology, earth science, and all those additions to human knowledge and understanding that have been developed since the first century. People who want to say that Jesus’s use of language or adaptation to social norms of those days are actually denying his full humanity and claiming his full divinity trumped it, which is an old but insidious heresy. He wasn’t/isn’t here to lock our understanding of gender and society into a first century norm, but to save the world – oh, and to put in place just two commandments on which everything else depends, which have to be reconsidered in the light of who our neighbours are what loving themselves as ourselves means today, not how it seemed in the past.

    • “….. theologians have gone to great lengths to describe the self-accepted limitations involved in incarnation”

      Tee hee.

      What a completely disgraceful thing it is to be a lying theologian describing how much better they understand things than Christ Himself.

      The only thing more disgraceful is that such cretins are not bodily thrown out of any Church in which they dare to blaspheme the Lord of heaven and Earth.

      He will not be harmed by these boll weevils.

      But the poor innocent children- and their mush minded parents- might.

      PS: The entire article was an obvious April Fool. Read the first letters of each paragraph.

    • @ Nicholas
      There is nothing new under the sun despite your ‘oh so’ philosophizing. God has not changed.

  14. Folks, it’s past noon in the UK. If any of you are into acrostics, check out the letter at the start of each paragraph and spot the hidden message.

  15. Your use of significant initial letters for each paragraph is very much in keeping with the “hermeneutic of continuity”, Bosco. Just like the capital T in the Latin “Te igitur”, which the new Roman Catholic translation retains in English: “To you, therefore…”

  16. Ï cannot put limitations on whât Jesus did or did not know. What wë do know is that our culture in The west is different than The culture in Jesus’ Palestine. So our extrapolation of Jesus’ words and actions are not going to be perfect.

  17. yikes let’s water it down more and more. The devil works to make the catholic church more like the PROTESTants. He has the useful idiots at work inside as is obvious by the comments here. Why dont you just leave the church and go become lutheran/

  18. This is horrible news. While the FSSPX is held outside of Rome, our Pontiff calls an actual schismatic his “brother bishop”. Is this the Apostasy warned of by so many saints and seers including La Salette? Our Mass is already so pedestrian that few even care if they miss. These are friends of mine that feel like sometimes its ok– after all its become just another bad form of entertainment to many. This will make it even worse. Why are we bending over backwards? I have non Catholic friends and I tell them — they are on the wrong side. NO salvation outside the Church. Ecumenism is wrong as taught by the PASTORAL V2.

  19. I think the most ecumenical thing Bergoglio is doing is turning all sincere Protestants into Evangelicals! This is straight anti-Christ/false-prophet, masonic syncretism masquerading as compassion, as every abomination under the sun does. He’s at best mad, but at worst, he is the “destroyer” St Francis of Assisi prophecied about on his death bed…
    Shortly before he died, St. Francis of Assisi called together his followers and warned them of the coming troubles, saying:
    “1. The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase.
    “2. The devils will have unusual power, the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who will obey the true Sovereign Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal hearts and perfect charity. At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death.
    “3. Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.
    “4. There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God.
    “5. Then our Rule and manner of life will be violently opposed by some, and terrible trials will come upon us. Those who are found faithful will receive the crown of life; but woe to those who, trusting solely in their Order, shall fall into tepidity, for they will not be able to support the temptations permitted for the proving of the elect.
    “6. Those who preserve their fervour and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and, persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth. but the Lord will be the refuge of the afflicted, and will save all who trust in Him. And in order to be like their Head, [Christ] these, the elect, will act with confidence, and by their death will purchase for themselves eternal life; choosing to obey God rather than man, they will fear nothing, and they will prefer to perish rather than consent to falsehood and perfidy.
    “7. Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Jesus Christ will send them not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.”

    (Except for breaking up the narrative into numbered paragraphs and adding bold print for emphasis, the prophecy is presented without any alteration, as given in the Works of the Seraphic Father St. Francis Of Assisi, Washbourne, 1882, pp. 248-250;)

  20. Non Catholic and protestant ecclesial communities are by definition infused with error.

    True ecumenism seeks unity by encouraging erroneous factions to divorce from error and rejoin the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

    This is yet another liberal, modernist folly which will fail like all the modernist silliness before it.

    • I see that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t realize this was an April Fools Day joke that Father Bosco has played on us! :P

      My culture doesn’t have this “holiday,” what is everyone else’s excuse?

  21. What a disaster in the making.

    Instead of bringing heretics back to the Church that Christ founded, we’re playing patty-cake and telling the wayward sheep that it’s okay not to be unified with the Vicar of Christ and the Graces that come from the Sacraments. I’m sure the English Martyrs and all who fought & died for the Catholic Faith are praying hard at this moment. At least they’re enjoying the Beatific Vision while the Church Militant continues the good fight!

    While the Ecumaniacs are at it, let’s have a missal to include Buddhists, Animists, Muslims, Jews, and the 30,000+ protestant denominations out there. Should be fun.

    God Help us.

  22. This is an April Fool’s Joke people. You Anglicans and Lutherens and Baptists can have the exact same liturgy with us, if you join the Roman Catholic Church or the Anglican Ordinariate. You can also join us by converting and attend the Extraordinary Form Mass in Latin. It can be in the exact same language worldwide. That will be Brilliant! Welcome back brothers!

    God bless you

  23. Lord Jesus, please deliver me from sinful Schadenfreude at the outbursts of the Usual Suspects. [But, per Augustine, “not yet, not yet” ;-/]

    But SRSLY, after at first gasping in delight, I noted the *date*. Is this on the Up&Up?

    Prayers!

  24. Frankie 1st is becoming more an agent and disciple of Satan. Every day more heresy, blasphemy and un-catholic words and actions. Burn him at the stake

  25. Do keep holding all the spoiler comments in the moderation queue, Bosco. The earnest ones are just too delicious. :)

    But in all seriousness, “Aprilis Stulte Dies”? The lads in the Curia might as well have called the document “Romanes eunt domus” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIAdHEwiAy8).

    If they’d consulted me (and they never do), I would have suggested “Aprilium Dies Stultorum”.

  26. Why does everyone think this is real? If you look at the Latin document you will notice it is an April fools day joke.

  27. I am wondering why no Presbyterian is on the Board? Theirs is a very fine liturgical tradition with a corporate episcopacy from which Catholics, Anglicans and Orthodox could learn.

  28. Oh my GOSH!!! You really got me good there!! I was really sacred when I saw the photo. Good one. Way to keep us on our toes. God Bless our Holy Father

  29. I find it remarkable how seriously some people took this prank…including me, momentarily. Time to take a good hard look at our outlook & attitudes. VERY interesting & an excellent opportunity to laugh at myself & remember to lighten up & stop worrying so much about stuff I have no control over. God Loves us all.

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. I was concerned I had made it too obvious (big blue letters running down the side spelling it out, title with a link to its translation, links to previous April Fools jokes), so do get surprised by reactions like “If someone were dying of a terrible disease and a doctor offered hope and then was found to be pulling a prank, what would you say?” Blessings.

  30. I knew this was coming, but wasn’t the announcement originally scheduled for February 30, 2015? I had no idea el Papa would rush this through the system!

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Rev. Bosco Peters Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.