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Spanish, not Greek

2013 April 14
by Gordon Reid

The Episcopal Church still (I presume) teaches its ordinands Greek, and maybe some Hebrew, and even less likely, some Latin.

All a waste of time. Only a few scholars need these languages, and certainly not parish priests in America.

What the seminaries should be teaching is Spanish. Very soon, some states of America will be predominantly Spanish-speaking. And lots of these Spanish speakers are alienated from the Roman Church in which they were baptized south of the border. Lots of them are being  evangelized by Pentecostal and other Protestant Churches.

But I am sure that many of them would like to find a Catholic Church that accepts the fact that they are divorced and remarried, or that they are gay, or that they are not 100% against abortion or contraception; or that they do not  believe every word of the Bible. And here is the Episcopal Church, which fits every one of these criteria. But, sadly, the Mass and everything else is usually in English.

I wish I spoke Spanish fluently. If I did, I would advertise a Spanish Mass every Sunday or Saturday evening in St Clement’s. I  could, of course, read a Mass in Spanish, but it needs to be  more authentic than that. I could do it in Italian, French, or German, but that is not much needed in Center City, Philadelphia.

What is needed, all over America, is Episcopal priests who speak Spanish comfortably and can celebrate the Sacraments in that language. All our pious language about making the poor and needy our first priority could be translated into action with this simple  remedy – MAKE EPISCOPAL PRIESTS SPEAK SPANISH!

Now, that is not going to bring in the Kingdom overnight, but it will get rid of the idiotic Greek, Hebrew and Latin that our priests remember for about three months after leaving seminary.

6 Responses leave one →
  1. Dr Jeff Ezell permalink
    April 14, 2013

    In addition, of course, one needs to employ some culturally appropriate hymnody and congregational setting(s) of the ordinary of the Mass. There certainly are a fair number of Episcopal and Lutheran parishes that offer Spanish language Masses. The thing is, they usually employ a native Spanish-speaking curate to provide those services. You’re more likely to get a bilingual, native Spanish speaking priest to pastor a church with both English and Spanish language services, than to get a bilingual native English speaker to do the same: a rather unfortunate comment on the Anglo-American ethos, I’m afraid.

  2. tannerjd permalink
    April 14, 2013

    That was functionally the case in both the dioceses in which I lived in California, and not at the expense of Greek and Hebrew!

  3. Stacey permalink
    April 14, 2013

    I think Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori would agree with you- she speaks Spanish fluently!

  4. Stephen permalink
    April 19, 2013

    Shouldn’t future priets know at least a schmattering of Latin? especially if they wind up serving in parishes such as St Clement’s where the principle parts of Holy Mass are often chanted in that ancient Roman tongue.

  5. Al Holland permalink
    July 12, 2013

    I have to agree with both Gordon and with Jeff. I was Rector of a small Anglo congregation in a non Anglo environment in Phoenix. We discovered that we had four bilingual congregants, all of who were willing to participate in evangelizing in Spanish. I was trained to preside in Spanish while the others did the teaching and preaching. Over the course of four years we went from a hundred people on a typical Sunday to three hundred and fifty. The Sunday school grew from 10 to 90 on any given Sunday. In my last year I baptized sixty children and adults. We opened ourselves to becoming a multicultural congregation which entailed, among other things, introducing images of the Blessed Mother, the saints and Our Lord that were brown, conducting the parish business in English and Spanish, and introducing Mexican & Latin American customs to our parochial life while holding on to our English heritage as well. It was exciting for all concerned as we learned about each other without judgment.

  6. August 26, 2013

    Tyrrell hopes to eventually work himself out of his Sunday circuit. His goal with the Spanish-language Mass, which he figures he’s just about reached, is to build up the communities at the three churches to the point where they can afford to support a full-time Spanish-speaking priest.

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