Response to Vincent Twomey by Brendan Hoban
Response to Vincent Twomey
Vincent Twomey¹s unseemly and supercilious assault on the membership of the ACP at a recent conference merits a response.
First, a few clarifications.
1. It is well known that the St. Colman¹s Society for Catholic Liturgy, which organised the IV Fota International Liturgical Conference, effectively exists on paper only. While its Vatican contacts allow it to attract “international” speakers albeit from a very narrow base, its occasional conferences receive little or no support in the Irish Church and receive little or no coverage in the Catholic or other media.
2. The ACP was not invited to participate in the Fota Conference.
3. If we had known of its existence and if we were extended an invitation we probably would not have attended, not as Vincent Twomey suggests because we lack “courage” but simply because it would have been pointless. Debate is one thing; being lectured at is something else; and we recognise the legacy of both. The Fota conference had less to do with what was said in Ireland than what was heard in Rome and the ACP was a safe target.
4. The ACP did not call for the postponement of the Eucharistic Congress, though many of our members have reservations about its wisdom, its timing and its cost.
5. The reservations of the ACP about the new texts are well known and run counter to the unquestioned assumptions of the Fota Conference, that
(i) there was adequate consultation regarding the new Missal
(ii) that the new texts are not being imposed
(iii) that the new texts will deepen our faith in the Eucharist.
The dogs in the streets know that (i) and (ii) are simply untrue and the jury is out on (iii). Indeed there are grave fears that the unnecessary and convoluted changes being proposed could damage the scaffolding of our worship. Repeating (i), (ii) and (iii) ad nauseam – no matter who does the repeating – is unconvincing and counter-productive. (The recent series of articles in The Tablet by Robert Mickens give the true story.)
6. It is the contention of our association that the vast majority of theologians, liturgists and priests working in Ireland are either worried, unhappy, upset or angry about the proposed new texts.
Fr Twomey is of course entitled to his views. But he is not entitled to suggest that the Association¹s views “reflect the disturbingly low level of theological knowledge in Ireland about the liturgy”. That arrogant and disparaging comment pays undue disregard to the membership of the ACP, in particular the many esteemed theologians and liturgists we number among our almost 600 priest members.
I don¹t wish to be unkind to Fr Twomey when I say that among our membership are theologians and liturgists who have shone much more brightly than he in the theological firmament, even though they may not be as well-regarded by the members of Vox Clara or have not, through an accident of history, had the opportunity to visit Castel Gandolfo. The ACP does not share in the Irish media¹s presumption that having tea with the Pope once a year confers by osmosis some kind of creeping infallibility on Fr Twomey or anyone else.
Fr Twomey represents no one but himself and his position on the new Missal does not reflect a growing consensus in Ireland among theologians, liturgists, priests working in parishes and some bishops that the new translation of the Mass has more to do with living in the past that ministering in the present or preparing for the future.