In the United States, on this first weekend in Advent, Catholics are confronted with a changed Eucharistic liturgy. It has been imposed on them by a church leadership day-dreaming about the 1950s. One cannot call this changed liturgy a translation. It is Latinized English gobbledygook masquerading a reactionary and regressive ecclesiology.

Across the North Atlantic, in little Belgium, Catholics on this first weekend in Advent, have issued a pointed, earnest, and urgent Church Reform Manifesto. We have had enough fumbling around in the church, the Belgians are saying.

Last week, four Belgian priests launched the Manifesto. Today five thousand publicly active Belgians have joined the movement. Close to five hundred are now joining each day.

An English translation of the Manifesto appears below.

Happy Advent: There is Hope


Believers Speak Out

Parishes without a priest, Eucharist at inappropriate hours, worship without communion: that really should not be! What is delaying the needed Church reform? We, Flemish believers, ask our bishops to the break impasse in which we are locked. We do this in solidarity with fellow believers in Austria, Ireland, and many other countries, with all who insist reform on vital for Church reform.

We simply do not understand why the leadership in our local communities (e.g. parishes) is not entrusted to men or women, married or unmarried, professionals or volunteers, who already have the necessary training. We need dedicated pastors!

We do not understand why these our fellow believers cannot preside at Sunday liturgical celebrations. In every active community we need liturgical ministers!

We do not understand why, in communities where no priest is available, a Word service cannot also include a Communion service.

We do not understand why skilled laypeople and well-formed religious educators cannot preach. We need the Word of God!

We do not understand why those believers who, with very good will, have remarried after a divorce must be denied Communion. They should be welcomed as worthy believers. Fortunately there are some places where this is happening.

We also demand that, as quickly as possible, both married men and women be admitted to the priesthood. We, people of faith, desperately need them now!


11 thoughts on “Advent 2011: Reform Manifesto

  1. I think we should begin by refusing to use the “new” language. I plan to go along this morning at Mass with most of it, but expect i’m going to have a very un-celebrative experience. Tomorrow I may decide to refust to go along.

    Thanks for all you offer us in enlightenment.

    1. Dear Patrick

      Absolutely! What I appreciate about the Belgians is that they strssed they are not dissidents but FAITHFUL Catholics..enough is enough!

      Now I have aquestion….were you at the Baltimore lecture of Bishop Gumbleton?


  2. Our faithful lay Catholics should mobilize and refuse to go along with this absurd “new translation” —
    A silent response during Liturgy would alert our leaders that they need to act in accordance with the people’s
    universal comments on this parody.

  3. I just returned from celebrating the “New Mass”. Because the people were so well prepped, it went fairly smoothly. There were no comments on the translation after Mass as I greeted the folks. I wonder if they are just going to passively accept this whole thing, and if those who really care are already gone. I have heard more comments during the week on the street than on weekends at Masses. The street discussions go well beyond just this new translation. As bad and as difficult as the wording is, what annoys me most is how it was imposed from on high with almost total disregard for any of us at the lower end of the food chain. I find myself seeing the folks in the pews as the Church, and the “leadership” (such as it is) as an irrelevant embarrassment. I am disturbed at the quantity and quality of the folks who are just staying away for whatever reason. I really don’t see any improvement in church dynamics on the horizon. Yet I also believe that the Holy Spirit is alive and well in this mess, and that each of us needs a solid prayer life so we can be open to what the Spirit is calling us to do.

  4. Once again, John, you come through with exciting news. This time from, my Alma Mater in Louvain,

    .Where are our bishops in this? Nowhere to be found. For the most part they ineffective clones of Rome and have no credibility.

    Meanwhile the Catholic people of Belgium are crying out for many of us, maybe most of us,

    Instead at home we are faced with ever-growing betrayal of the reforms and spirit of the Second Vatican Council. I am convinced that a good number of today’s hierarchy (who were not around for the Council and missed our enthusiasm in those heady days after the Council) wish it had never happened and that we could return to the triumphalist Tridetine chuirch.

    Sadly they are calling all the shots and pulling the wool over the eyes of the laity who are unaware of the not-so-hidden agenda in play today.

    1. Dear Richard

      You say it very, very well! But……let’s go forward and gather people around us who are supportive. 30 million people have now left the Catholic Church. If I were a bishop I would be very concened. I mentioned this in fact to Tim Dolan…Archbishop of NY….He said: maybe they should go if not happy. …………Unlike Tim, I wonder what Jesus would say……

      Veritas vincit!


      1. Thanks, John, for your comment. The problemis with the likes of Dolan is that his comment is reflecting Benedict’s idea of a “remnant” church. They don’t give a damn about those leaving the Church actually as long as they themselves and otherb like them remain the “pauici electi” the chosen few. Forget the massa damnata. We ” percect ” Catholics don’t need them.

        Note how in the new translation of the Canon today the text no longer says Christ died “for all.”
        The Canon of the mass the text now has been chabnged from Jesus died for “all” to Jesus died for “many.”

        That tells me something and says what’s in their mind. We are back to a concept of a church that ,is exclusive, and the rest be damned. This “remnant” idea of course is in the New Testament . – but I can’t at the moment give the actual quote.

        I really think our leadership is interested in smaller numbers of committed Romanists who adhere to every jot and tittle of traditional church teaching. For them the Second Vatrcian Council shiould never have happened; was a milstake and must be undone.


  5. Rich brings up a good point that I noticed right away that the Mass was “jacked up.” I had prepared for it as a musician, but not paying much attention to the rest of the liturgy. Now I’m just waiting for Archbishop Lefebvre to come through the door, an organization I was a member of in the 70s, only to find out that they really were a “hateful” group. We also must remember that the Catholic Church is NOT a democracy; never was and most likely never will be. I also like the points made of what people THINK Jesus said and what IS written in the bible, as said the Jesus said little if anything about sex. The Catholic Church has its Dogma, but it also has its Doctrine that continually changes. The current church hierarchy reminds me of the Bush administration’s Republican agenda to undo all the progress of the Roosevelt administration where the current church hierarchy wants to undo the progress of Vatican II. I am leary of what the Pope’s Rotweiller (aka Benedict) will come up with next. The Church will survive and continue, but may have more bumps in the road than what it really needs.

  6. Thank God there are rational, faithful, courageous Catholics in Belgium who have had the courage to speak out about the the use of pre-Vatican II wording in our ‘NEW’ Liturgy. I am a Catholic woman, age 66, mother of 7 daughters and live in Maryland, USA. I was in Catholic elementary school in the 50’s when Catholic sisters taught me the Mass responses. I didn’t know what words like ‘transubstantiation” meant, but I said them anyway. Vatican II was like a breath of fresh air in a Church that was distant and irrelevant to my young adult life. I married at age 23 and with the birth of my 7th daughter I began to question the patriarchal church. I’ve struggled with my Catholic faith since that time. Attending Mass last Sunday, I felt as if I had walked into someone else’s church. I was handed a new Mass leaflet, and saw the same words that I had learned as a child. Those words stessed my sinfulness and God’s divine perfection. I was saying words that throughout my life had created a chasm between God and me: “through my fault, through my most grievous fault.” I asked myself do I really have to strike my breast three times right now? As I walked out of church, I thought, “Should I stay or should I go?” Once again the hierarchy has imposed it will on the Body of Christ/the people of God sitting shell-shocked in the pews. Because of the courage and faith of Belgian Catholics, I will stay and be a quiet presence in my church.

  7. A friend of mine is a Eucharistic Minister. She brings communion to an assisted living facility located in her parish. The elderly Catholic residents who receive communion once a week said. They told her that at their age they don’t want to learn new words. She said that it would be fine to continue using the Eucharistic prayers which they have been accustomed to using for so long. Not to worry! The new young deacon from that parish went with my friend last week and was upset that the women at the communion service were still using the ‘old version’ when the ‘new version’ had been introduced last Advent. ‘Plenty of time to learn it.; they need to learn it”, he told my friend.. He said that they were expected by the pastor to use the Eucharistic prayers that are currently being used.’ they will just have to learn them; that’s all ,the young deacon told my friend,

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