After a lengthy and, at times, contentious debate over
recent years about a new English translation of the Order of Mass, which
relies more heavily on a sacred vocabulary closer to the Latin originals,
some observers were surprised by the relatively anti-climatic nature of
the vote of the American bishops last week in Los Angeles. Following a
fairly brief discussion, the bishops approved the translation by an
overwhelming vote of 173 to 29.
Several factors no doubt help explain the result, including a recent
letter from Cardinal Francis Arinze of the Congregation for Divine Worship
to Bishop William Skylstad, president of the American conference, which
made adoption of the text seem inevitable, and the general fatigue many
bishops feel with the "liturgy wars" which have rocked English-speaking
Catholicism since the mid-1990s.