By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — “Last week I shook the hand of Pope Francis.” In his homily Oct. 27, Father Paul Turner, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Kansas City, recalled his meeting Oct. 17 with the pope in the Vatican’s apostolic palace. He was in Rome for a meeting of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.
The International Commission on English in the Liturgy, ICEL, founded Oct. 17, 1963, is responsible for developing English translations from the original Latin texts, which, as much as possible, must be translated exactly, without paraphrasing or adaptations.
During the Second Vatican Council, Father Turner explained, it became clear that the language of the Mass would change from Latin to the vernacular, the language or dialect spoken by the people in a particular country or region. The English-speaking bishops decided to pool their resources and provide a uniform translation for Catholics from Australia to the United States.
ICEL serves 11 bishops’ conferences— the United States, Australia, Canada, England and Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland and South Africa. Since 2001, Father Turner has “assisted the bishops of this commission with translations, kept records of their conversations about changes to the translation and written reports on their meetings once or twice a year.”
Since Nov. 17, 2011, English-speaking Catholics throughout the world, especially in the United States, have become accustomed to updated, more exact translations of the Liturgy of the Mass and other liturgical texts.
ICEL and secretariat members — bishops and assistants, including Father Turner — gathered in Rome for the 50th anniversary of ICEL’s founding in the footsteps of Vatican II. Father Turner told The Catholic Key, “It was a great honor to be part of all the activity that week.”
Presented to Pope Francis by Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and former ICEL chairman, 25 members of ICEL and the Secretariat met the pope in a private audience.
“Most of the bishops on the Commission went,” Father Turner said, “together with some staff members of the Secretariat from Washington, D.C. Some … are lay people, and they brought their spouses. I was invited because I was in the right place at the right time. Pope Francis is a very impressive man. The words he spoke to ICEL were specific to its mission and appreciative of its work.”
In his address, the pope recalled that ICEL was founded as part of the “great liturgical renewal called for by the Council’s Constitution on the Divine Liturgy.”
Pope Francis praised ICEL’s work since 1963, providing English translations of liturgical texts … “The fruits of your labors have not only helped to form the prayer of countless Catholics,” he said, “but have also contributed to the understanding of the faith, the exercise of the common priesthood and the renewal of the Church’s missionary outreach, all themes central to the teaching of the Council.”
Father Turner said that Pope Francis concluded his brief talk “by offering us his apostolic blessing. We each then received the opportunity to greet the Holy Father individually. I only had a few seconds, and since Spanish is his first language, I used it when I spoke.” Father Turner introduced himself as the pastor of St Anthony Church, and that his parish wished to share with him “our love and our joy for his service. As we left the audience hall, we each received a rosary. I felt totally humbled in the presence of this great man, especially because he lives the message he preaches about caring for the poor.”
Father Turner encouraged his congregation to also care for the poor. “It’s a rare experience to stand in the presence of the Pope, but we can stand in God’s presence whenever we help the poor.”