Saturday, May 17, 2014

How Documents Are Used to Deceive

On February 14, 2014, Junglewatch posted a post entitled "The Presbyter Conspiracy found here.  According to Tim Rohr, he stated: 

Okay, maybe conspiracy is a bit theatric, but the insistent use of the word presbyter in place of priest by the Neocatechumenal Way has a purpose....... 

The first step towards changing the way we think is to change the language.  By emphasizing the use of the word presbyter instead of priest, Kiko is preparing us for the transition from the necessity of a priest to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and turn bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, to simply an elder who will preside at nothing more than a thanksgiving meal and a dance around a flower-laden table............

But rather than get into a long historical analysis of presbyter v priest, let us see what the Church itself said recently about the interchange of the two words. 

Tim Rohr then tells a story of how in 1996, the US National Conference of Catholic Bishop requested approval from the Holy See to translate the word "priest" into "presybter" in the Rite of Ordination.  Tim Rohr then used an actual document, which is a letter written in response to the President of the NCCB. 

In this document that he used, Tim Rohr has concluded that members of the Way are NOT following Catholic teaching because we use the word "presbyter" instead of "priest".  After providing this document, he then made the following conclusion: 

In an addendum to the letter, under the section "Terminology", the Prefect goes on to say: 

Just as the Latin term "presbyter" should be translated into English throughout and always by "priest", the usual translation of "presbyteratus" should be "priesthood" unless in rare cases some special and serious reason intervenes. 

Perhaps "conspiracy" is not such a theatric word after all.  Here is the full text of the letter.

This actual document that Tim Rohr used in his blogsite was written to the President of the NCCB, NOT to the Neocatechumenal Way.  This actual document that Tim Rohr used was referring to the TRANSLATION that the NCCB wanted to use in the Rite of Ordination, NOT to our SPOKEN use of the word "presbyter in the NCW. 

 In other words, this actual document had always been referring to the TRANSLATION of the word "priest" to "presbyter" in the Rite of Ordination. But what Tim Rohr has done is deliberately used an actual document with the intention of propagating hate.  He used an actual document to deliberately mislead others into thinking that the NCW was not following Church teaching.....a letter than was not even addressed to NCW.....a letter that speaks about the translation in an "ordination rite".  The NCW has nothing to do 
with any ordination rite.   

As a matter of fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church used the term "presbyter." (See CCC 1530 as an example.)  One then has to wonder why then the Catechism uses the word "presbyter" in it? 

This is the kind of tactics that Fundamentalist Protestants and other hate groups use.  They use actual documents, but twist the facts around to incite hatred and division.  An example is when Fundamentalists use the actual document "Ineffabilis Due" and conclude from that document that the Immaculate Conception was a man-made invention created in 1854 by the Catholic Church.  

So, who is really causing division in the Catholic Church?  Well, in the first place, it was not the archbishop who wrote or even spoke of any "presbyter conspiracy."  This so-called "presbyter conspiracy" did not come from the NCW.  Who was the one who wrote about the "presbyter conspiracy" and used an actual document misleading others into thinking that the NCW should never used the term "presbyter".....when in reality that document was addressed to the NCCB who wanted to change a term in the ordination rite.    

Furthermore, I would like to add that our Statues, which was approved by the Holy See, also used the term "presbyter".  


  1. Diana, perhaps you can explain why it is better, in your view, to use the term "presbyter" rather than "priest"?

    What comment would you have in regard to the Congregation of Divine Worship's statement that (my emphasis):
    "Prominent among the problems is the decision of the translators to break with common Catholic usage and translate the Latin "presbyteri" into English not with "priests" but with "presbyters". This cannot meet with the Holy See's consent since it risks being misunderstood by the people and REPRESENTS AN UNACCEPTABLE THEOLOGICAL TENDENCY. In particular it constitutes a retreat from a term that carries a sense of sacrality, that carries with it the history of the development of the faith in favor of a term which does not. "

    Finally, speaking of deceitful use of official documents, why is it that the official NCW webpage does not include a copy of Cardinal Arinze's letter of 2005 (see footnote 49 of your Statutes), yet does include Mr Gennarini's response to that letter?

    1. Dear Anonymous at 9:48 p.m.,

      First of all, the NCW was never breaking away with common Catholic usage in regards to the terms "priest" and "presbyter." Below is how the Letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship started out:

      " Your Excellency,

      I write in response to your letter of 2 April 1996 in which you requested the approval or confirmation of the Holy See ad interim for an English-language translation of the editio typica altera (1989-1990) of that part of the Pontificale Romanum now entitled De ordinatione Episcopi, Presbyterorum et Diaconorum .

      The material submitted has been examined in detail and at length by this Congregation and also, according to its specific competence, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which gave its reply in a letter dated 12 May 1997 (prot. 216/73-04256). The conclusion of this examination is that the text cannot be approved or confirmed by the Holy See for liturgical use, not only by reason of its failure to adhere faithfully to the Latin edito typica altera and to convey accurately in English its contents, but also because the translation is not without doctrinal problems."

      As you can see from the letter, they said that the TEXT in the Ordination rite should not be changed from "priest" to "presbyter." It NEVER said that we cannot use the word "presbyter" in spoken words or other written materials. It is only in the Ordination rite. The Statues of the Neocatechumenal Way actually uses BOTH "priest" and "presbyter." Priest and presbyter have the same meaning. The only difference is that one is English and the other is Latin.

      As for your second question, I believe you misunderstood my post. Publishing or not publishing a document was never the issue. The issue is USING the document in a way that misleads others in order to fulfill an personal agenda.

  2. Wait till U'matuna tomorrow morning. You and Tim will be whaling like pigs.

    Senior SACK

  3. "Prominent among the problems is the decision of the translators to break with common Catholic usage and translate the Latin "presbyteri" into English not with "priests" but with "presbyters"."

    Evidently the use of "presbyter" in the English context "cannot meet with the Holy See's consent since it risks being misunderstood by the people and represents an unacceptable theological tendency. In particular it constitutes a retreat from a term that carries a sense of sacrality, that carries with it the history of the development of the faith in favor of a term which does not."

    1. Dear Anonymous at 1:28 a.m.,

      If the Catholic Church actually teaches that the word "presbyter" is not to be used at all, then explain why the Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the term? And explain why the Statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way, which was approved by the Holy See, used the term "presbyter."

      All you're doing is taking certain sentences out of context. Read in the context of the entire letter, it is saying that the translation of "priest" to "presbyter" in the Ordination rite is unacceptable. Tim Rohr used this document and took out the very same sentences out of it to mislead other people into thinking that the Neocatechumenal Way is not following Catholic teaching and therefore NOT Catholic because they SAY the word "presbyter" more often than "priest." The truth is.....NOWHERE in Catholic teaching does the Catholic Church forbid its members to SAY the word "presbyter".

  4. I still like the word priest.. Using the word presbyter sounds like one is attending a Presbyterian Church.

    1. Dear Anonymous at 8:09 a.m.,

      The Statues of the Neocatechumenal Way, which was approved by the Holy See, actually uses both terms. I also use both terms in the Way. Sometimes, I say "priest" and sometimes, I say "presbyter."

  5. The funny thing is that the English word "priest" etymologically derives from the Greek *presbyteros*. So when you say "priest", you really say "elder", and there is no current proper word in English for the Old Testament or sacrificial priest. Our question should be how the word priest came to be used as a translation of the Latin *sacerdos*. The English use of the word presbyter is quite silly, since you have the more proper English word "priest". But you guys in Guam don't give much importance to proper English anyway.

    1. Dear Anonymous at 6:47 a.m.,

      When we say "priest", we are not saying "elder." If you look at your latin missal, it says "Sacerdos" on the Latin side to indicate parts spoken by the priest.

  6. Annymous at 6:47 a.m., coming again:
    Diana, if you say "priest" (or "presbyter" for that matter), you do say a word that derives from the Greek word for "elder". The word "priest" is used to translate *presbyteros* in some Bible translations and Church documents. That's all I'm saying, but perhaps I wasn't clear enough about it.
    I'm not trying to accuse you or others of anything, just trying to shed some light on the anomaly around the terminology.
    The Latin New Testament never uses the word *sacerdos* (nor the Greek NT its original *hiereus*) to designate the ministerial priesthood of the apostles and elders. The word is used exclusively for the pagan and Old Testament priesthood, for the priesthood of Christ, and for the priesthood of the entire people of God. Later, in the Church the word *sacerdos* came to be used also for ministerial priests, since it is a special participation in the priesthood of Christ. There is nothing wrong with using the word priest to translate either *sacerdos* or *presbyteros*, as long as one understands the nature of the high priesthood of Christ, the priesthood of the baptized, and the ministerial priesthood. However, it would be wrong to use the word "presbyter" to refer to the priesthood we receive in Baptism, or to refer to the priesthood of Christ. Nevertheless, it is not wrong, when used to refer to the ministerial priesthood.
    On the other hand, since the word "priest" can translate both *presbyteros* and *hiereus/sacerdos*, (even though etymologically it derives from *presbyteros* only), we face an awkward situation in English: in order to be specific that it is being used as a translation of *presbyteros*, some Bible translations and translations of Church documents use the word "presbyter", even though the English language already has a proper word for that, which is "priest".
    Again, I am not saying that anyone is wrong in using the word "presbyter". I do think, however, that the word sounds bad in English, but I understand that its use is necessary when one wants to be specific in translating *presbyteros*.

    1. Dear Anonymous at 4:54 p.m.

      Thank you for the clarification. Although I use both terms, as you can see from reading my blogsite that I tend to use the word "priest" more often.