A BENEDICTINE liturgist has criticized Pope Benedict XVI for trying to turn back the clock in bringing back the old liturgy, saying the growing movement promoting a “reform of the reform” was threatening to derail changes brought by Vatican 2.

“Dark clouds are forming ominously on the Western horizon. They move hurriedly and decisively toward the direction of the sun that burns radiantly in the sky. They cast upon it stronger shadows to hide it from view. Suddenly it is dusk, before the appointed time. In reality of our day, the realness is called by the passing clouds. This cannot put the clock back to yesterday’s evening hours,” Fr. Anscar Chupungco, O.S.B. said in his speech during the 2nd Annual Edward Schillebeeckx Lecture last February 22 at the UST Hospital auditorium.

The forum discussed the Vatican’s recent approval of the new English translation of the Mass, which takes effect on Advent in the United States.

Other priests in the forum, such as Fr. Mitchell Joe Zerrudo of the Diocese of Cubao and Jesuit Fr. Timoteo Ofrasio, welcomed the changes in the English version of the Roman Missal, which adhere to the Latin and are closer to the biblical texts.

“In general, the new translation of the Roman Missal will be more formal and theologically deeper, more provocative emotionally and intellectually,” Ofrasio told students of the Central Seminary and the Ecclesiastical Faculties.

Ofrasio said there was a need to preserve the Mass and guard against tendencies to tinker with the liturgy.

The traditionalist movement in the Church, which is critical of changes in the Mass following the Second Vatican Council, scored a victory in 2007 when the Pope issued the “motu proprio” Summorum Pontificum. The decree liberalized the use of the Traditional Latin Mass, or the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, in which the priest and the congregation offered Mass facing one direction.

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The 1970 New Order of the Mass released by Pope Paul VI in the wake of Vatican 2 permitted the use of the vernacular in the liturgy, with the priest facing the people.

Last year, the Vatican approved the new English translation of the Mass of Vatican 2, which, critics claim, contained a number of errors. Pope John Paul II last revised the New Mass in 2000, but the English edition had to wait until the release of translation guidelines in 2007.

Chupungco, head of the Paul VI Institute of Liturgy in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, placed the changes in the context of the liturgical “reform of the reform” pushed by Benedict XVI even before he became pope.

He said there was a need to distinguish between papal decrees and the “theological musing” of Joseph Ratzinger, who, as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope John Paul II, wrote the celebrated book Spirit of the Liturgy, which decried abuses in the aftermath of Vatican 2.

In the book, Ratzinger said changes in the liturgy undermine the sacrificial nature of the Mass as worship, placing the focus on the priest and tending to celebrate the community.

But Chupungco, who had served as president of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in Rome and consultor to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Congregation for Catholic Education, said these moves were coming at the expense of “active participation,” pointing out that the old prayers and language had long been discarded.

It’s too simplistic to claim that before Vatican 2, many churchgoers became saints by simply going to Mass, he said.

Moments of stutter

“The agenda is an attempt to retrieve the discarded liturgical practices and paraphernalia, sometimes at the expense of active participation,” he said. “This movement has entered the Philippine shores, those that manifest the use of the defunct Latin language and the singing of distant generations. It is no longer a requirement to understand what is said, sung, or read,” Chupungco said.

Chupungco said liturgical tradition is not necessarily Church Tradition (with the capital “T”) that must be preserved through the ages. The need to emphasize the sacred nature of the Mass need not involve turning back the clock, he added.

“The liturgy does not need to be backtracked to its early context that was understood after the Council of Trent, which the Pope is trying to revive, but should be “in the atmosphere of mysterium tremendum et fascinans (a mystery that creates fear and yet fascinates).”

‘Mass is a treasure’

Meanwhile, Ofrasio, a professor of systematic theology at the Loyola School of Theology, said it was the Church’s prerogative to promote “renewed evangelization.”

Pointing to various liturgical innovations, he said the Mass is not “free [for priests] to tinker with and change depending on their understanding.”

“The Mass is a treasure entrusted to them by the Church which they must cherish, guard, and preserve,” Ofrasio said. “The Mass that they celebrate is not their Mass. It is the Church’s, given to them, entrusted to them by God through the Church. [The priest] is just a steward.”

Zerrudo, parish priest of the Lord of the Divine Mercy Parish in Quezon City, said: “We should not be afraid of the coming of the new translation.”

Eight-pound elegy

He said the new translation of the liturgy also called for a new translation of music for the Mass using the Latin liturgical text.

“Much of the liturgical reform is really academic – the books, the prayers, the rites were studied, revised, and rearranged by experts,” Zerrudo said.

Zerrudo, whose parish offers the Traditional Latin Mass every day, is an alumnus of the Central Seminary.

The Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan is taking the lead, implementing some changes in the Mass effective March 9, Ash Wednesday.

“The English translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal will soon receive the approval of the Holy See to be used for the entire Philippines. Even before the actual implementation of the new English translation, some phrases and responses in the Order of the Mass have been decided on by the Apostolic Instruction Liturgicam Authenticam foremost among which is the translation ‘Et cum spiritu tuo’ which was translated in the 1970 Missal as ‘And also with you,’” Archbishop Socrates Villegas said in a circular last February 11.

As a result, the new response to the priest’s greeting, “The Lord be with you,” is “And with your spirit.”

Before the consecration, when the priest says “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,” the people’s response is “It is right and just,” instead of “It is right to give him thanks and praise.” J. M. Orillaza and B. B. Tabora


  1. I agree with the Benedictine Liturgist, I think the Pope has forgotten that the Goal is to Worship and Praise the Lord through the most Ultimate Sacrifice, masyado naman yatang binibigyan ng pansin ang Literal Translation from the Latin. for example “And with Your Spirit”, even a young Kid would find more sense with the response “and also with You”, masyado namang maarte ang Pope ngayon, He should focus on how to get the youth to attend mass by making it more Youthful, instead of lietening to Manangs(Trad.) who don’t focus on the already dead Language

  2. Fr Anscar Chupungco said it right when he criticized the current pope for his ‘musings’ in the liturgy. When he was in the UK last year, he insisted of saying the Eucharistic prayers in Latin (although some participants have booklets with translation, it makes you feel out of touch with the current world.) and having a crucifix on the altar in front of him (when there was already a crucifix somewhere near the altar). The crucifix on the altar actually obstructs people from seeing him or the sacred host when he elevates this during consecration. It’s like bringing back the old times when priests use to say Mass facing the altar (with the crucifix) and not the people.

    I am not happy with the new English translation of the Roman Missal. I’m sorry to say this, but those who are involved in it as well as those who just said “Amen” to its implementation are not pari (priest). They are pari-seo (pharisee)!

    • The Blessed Mother warned there would be a bad council introduced that would cause the dogma of the faith to be lost every where in the world except in Portugal the dogma of the faith would be preserved. Vatican ll did this very thing !!!!! To preserve our faith we MUST GET BACK TO THE TRIDENTINE MASS. We must get back to the traditional Mass that Jesus through His apostles gave us. Many souls are being lost and going to hell due to Vatican ll, the world is being punished for altering the liturgy of the Mass. The third secret of Fatima is a warning not to alter the faith and the mass. It warned of the punishment that would ensue because of Vatican ll. Pope Benedict XVl is doing His best to follow the will of God by going back to tradition and the Latin Mass. This must be done and Russia consecrated properly to save us and the world. We must all learn or relearn Latin and fully and forcefully work to get back to tradition. We must forget our selfish wishes and do the will of God. May the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven. May God help us all to do His will. Pray a daily rosary and make the Five First Saturday Devotions that the Pope will succeed. May God bless you all ! We must stay in touch with God and forget following the worldly ways or suffer the consequences forever.

  3. Maarte, your talking about Practicality, and thats a very Stupid Term that you have larv0525. You call that Traditional??? yes the Church must retain its Tradition. Look at what they have done. Wow it seems that your Caprice is more Important than what the Pope is saying. Wala ka naman magagawa dahil siya ang Santo Papa at ang mga katulad mo alongside Fr. Chupungco ang mga Anay na sumisira sa Pader ng Simbahan!!! And also you Pietro Albano, it is the Church that will decide, not your Hypocrisy!!!

  4. I agree, Noah that it is the Church that will decide. And the Church is not just the Pope, not just the cardinals and bishops, but ALL baptized Catholics, including the “anays”.

    It is very appalling that in spite of the many issues that the Church is facing such as the sex scandals involving men of the cloth in Europe, America, etc; the low number of church attendees; and the decline in priestly vocation the Church leadership (i.e. Pope, cardinals, bishops) have been more keen in implementing a new yet clumsy English translation of the Mass. If this is not hypocrisy, I don’t know what it is! If it is not downright insensitivity, I don’t know what kind of behavior our hierarchy is showing.

    I beg to disgaree with Fr Zerrudo who said that “Much of the liturgical reform is really academic – the books, the prayers, the rites were studied, revised, and rearranged by experts.” The translation was a slavish literal translation of Latin. Fr Chupungco, an expert liturgist sought after across the world, whom you consider as an “anay” wasn’t consulted. English experts were not consulted. It was politics of the powers-that-be, the obsession with being faithful to Latin (which Jesus didn’t even use when He preached to the people) regardless if ordinary churchgoers would fully make sense of it or not that called the shots. If there are any discussion, it’s more of imposing what Rome has decreed. Is that how the Church decides?

  5. The EWTN do the Roman Mass v1962 in a mix English and Latin and the priest faces the participants. I find it much more solemn and appropriate and propagates the mass’ sacredness. I say it is applicably appropriate and not out of this time.

  6. @Pietro Albano: Are you Hallucinating or what. Are you saying that Sacredness can be find in the Liturgical Dancing. You know the Youth Ministry is committing such Liturgical Abuse have been check by your world sought Liturgist??? I do not think so, being a follower of that Liturgical Wrecknovator of the Vatican II is not enough but to make matters worse. HE is widely known and that the likes of Fr Zerrudo are Etsapweras!!! So who do you think is making ground. By the way tayo lang ang mahuhuli sa Implementation next year pa. If being Faithful to the Faith of the Church means being a Pharisee, then so be it. SAVE THE LITURGY, SAVE THE WORLD!!! +


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