Monday 13 April 2015

ICEL and "The Problem of Exclusive Language": The 1980 Eucharistic Prayers Green Book

In 1980, ICEL issued a "Green Book" to the member and associate member Conferences of Bishops, proposing some revisions to the Eucharistic Prayers as they appeared in the Sacramentary at that time. (The term "Green Book" denotes texts that ICEL sends to Conferences for study and comment; after any comments/suggestions are incorporated into the text, ICEL re-issues it as a "Gray Book" for the Conferences to vote on it.) These revisions were described by John R. Page, then Executive Secretary of ICEL, as follows:
The proposed changes are designed to eliminate from these liturgical texts anything that has been judged to be exclusive or exclusionary, in particular, anything that may be considered discriminatory to women. (Eucharistic Prayers: For Study and Consultation, Green Book [ICEL, 1980], Foreword, p. 3)
To give some context for their work, ICEL provided a statement in the same book entitled "The Problem of Exclusive Language with Regard to Women". This statement makes for very interesting reading, and makes clear that ICEL's policy (at that time) of foisting inclusive language upon us all - a principle writ large in the rejected 1998 Missal translation - goes all the way back to the mid-1970s.

I have transcribed the foreword to the 1980 Green Book, along with the proposed emendations to the Eucharistic Prayers, and the Statement in its entirety (including the bibliography ICEL provided) - click here to download it as a PDF. Attached to the end of the PDF is an interesting 1982 letter from John Page to the Methodist theologian Geoffrey Wainwright, which happened to be in my second-hand copy of the Green Book.

As an aside regarding my last post of ICEL material, I have also updated the PDF of An Original Eucharistic Prayer: Text 1, since I have discovered that, though this original composition of ICEL was never given any sort of recognitio by Rome (and thus was never allowed for liturgical use), it was actually approved by eight Bishops' Conferences, and also made it, in a slightly edited form, into the Anglican book Common Worship as "Eucharistic Prayer G". So, I have added the Anglican text to the end of the document for the purposes of comparison.

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