Sunday, May 26, 2013


Skewed but not right, left and very, very wrong and biased!

As most of us know from our government and those who are liberals in the Church, they'll do anything, anything, to promote their biases and keep things skewed their way and when they get burned, they resort to slash and burn tactics. Typical, I'm afraid, especially of intellectuals who are perhaps the most "clerical" of all people inside and outside to the Church. Academics see themselves as a privileged minority in the world because of their so-called superior knowledge and ability to grade and critique their students.

Well, a few weeks ago our Bishop's Office sent a survey from those who are at Praytell, Collegeville, MI's Benedictines who are ultra liberal and run a Catholic university that is moving in the direction of post-Catholicism, St. John University.

The poll was just for priests (clericalism, ain't it?) As we know, Praytell makes fun of the new, wonderful English translation of the Mass and derides in the most negative ways by name calling, those other academics who assisted in the new translation. This crowd of critics are like pit bulls, they just won't let go and get on with Pope Francis' agenda which opposes intellectuals who know nothing of beauty and are ideologues and self-referential.

Well, it turns out as I wrote on the Praytell blog, that the poll was biased and not only that I knew my responses would be in the minority simply because of the name on the survey, Collegeville and the Benedictines there. They stacked the deck in other words and even an amateur like me could figure that out!



Hamden, Conn., May 25, 2013 / 04:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A survey of U.S. priests' attitudes towards the new English translation of the Roman Missal showing “widespread skepticism” may be inaccurate because of its methods, according to a polling expert.

On May 21, St. John's School of Theology, located in Collegeville, Minn., released its survey results saying that the majority of priests in America dislike the new Missal.

Of the some 1,500 priests who responded to the survey, 39 percent like the new text, and 59 percent dislike it, according to the Collegeville survey.

“All 178 Roman Catholic Latin rite dioceses in the U.S. were invited to take part in this study; 32 dioceses the period February 21 – May 6, 2013, priests in participating dioceses were invited to participate in the online survey via an email to all priests on the diocesan distribution list,” according to the survey's executive summary.

Peter Brown, who is assistant director of Quinnipiac University's Polling Institute, discussed polling procedures with CNA May 23. “Random sampling is the key to getting accurate poll results,” he said.

Since only a few dioceses chose to participate in the survey – just under 18 percent – and only some priests in those dioceses chose to respond, survey respondents were “self-selecting.”

“They participated not randomly, but because they were the ones that chose to respond,” Brown explained. “Self-selected samples are not generally thought of....they don't produce a random sample.”

Since polls rely on a small number of people to represent the attitudes or beliefs of a larger population, “you have to be absolutely sure that the random group is a random group.”

The Collegeville survey, Brown said, “might not meet those criteria” since its participants were self-selecting.

“It's very difficult to know exactly” in this particular case, he added, though he had noted that self-selecting samples are generally not random.

The survey's project manager, Chase Becker, is a graduate student in liturgical studies at St. John's School of Theology, and holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy. No ostensible polling experts were involved, and the survey's professional consultant was an associate professor of psychology at the institution.

The poll also had no indication of its margin of error.

The survey's results were welcomed by vocal critics of the new translation, such as Bishop Donald W. Trautman, Erie's bishop emeritus. He said the texts of the new Missal are “unintelligible and non-proclaimable” and have “lengthy sentences.”

And Bishop Robert H. Brom of San Diego complained that opening prayers in the newly translated Missal are “especially difficult” and said the Missal has “strange vocabulary.”

Meanwhile, Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the group responsible for preparing the new Missal, noted that “the 1,536 priests who responded may represent less than 3.7 percent of priests in the US...a significant fact in determining just how representative this consultation can be considered.”

Jeffrey Tucker, director of publications at the Church Music Association of America, noted that the survey “lacks demographic data,” failing to break down priests' response by their age and other factors.

“I suspect a generational split is at work here. It shouldn't really be surprising that some priests of an older generation are annoyed,” he wrote May 21 at The Chant CafĂ© website. “They came (to) terms with one way, received vast amounts of catechesis along these lines, and developed a more casual liturgical style to go with it, and now they are told to do it another way.”

The new translation of the Missal, which has been in use since Nov. 27, 2011, is more faithful to the Latin original than was the translation in use since the 1970s.

In accord with a 2001 document on the implementation of Vatican II, the new translation is meant to be closer not only to the sense of the original Latin, but its structure as well, and is less informal than the 1970s translation.

A poll conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate surveyed American Catholics, not only priests, about their perception of the new Missal last September. That poll showed that Catholics in the pews have overwhelmingly been positive about the new translation.

Seventy percent of those polled agreed that “the new translation of the Mass is a good thing.” And those who attend Mass at least weekly were even stronger in their approval, at 80 percent. The poll had a margin of err of plus or minus three percentage points.

MY FINAL COMMENT: The Collegeville survey is self-referential and clericalism at its worst! The poll conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate polled not just priests, but more importantly, the laity, and fund that 80% of this sample found the new and wonderful translation of the Mass as positive, an overwhelming positive attitude toward this wonderful new translation in English!

So who are you going to think is right, a biased group of priests who are into clericalism or a survey of unbiased priests and laity that uses scientific means to take the survey? I report, you decide!


Marc said...

If they don't like the translation, let them use Latin.

Carol H. said...

Marc, Hear! Hear!!

Anonymous said...

The self-proclaimed "we just present the facts, Jack" PrayTell will surely post this follow-up to their trumpeting of the glorious "boy the Vatican really messed this one up!" survey in coming days, no? I think in the interests of academic honesty, that's only fair.

The intellectual pretzels that commenters there are bending themselves into are astounding. Despite the numerous valid critiques raised, many defenders - Ms. Ferrone most eloquent among the - simply say the survey couldn't have been improved, and thus its results must be taken at face value.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - By your definition, every poll is "self-selected." Every poll is based on the responses of "the ones that chose to respond." That does not invalidate the results.

Suggesting that a poll "just for priests" is "clerical" is absurd. The poll-taker wanted to know what PRIESTS thought of the new translation. If you wanted to know what PRIESTS thought of, say, the use of incense at mass, would you send your poll-takers to third graders? No, you would not.

A glaring bias can be found in Jeffrey Tucker's comments: "It shouldn't really be surprising that some priests of an older generation are annoyed" said he. Why the bias against "older generation" priests. The bias is in his pseudo-analysis.

I would expect a statistically significant difference between the results of a population-wide survery and a survey that polled only a sub-set of the Catholic population. I suspect that if you polled ALL Americans about the quality of health care, your results would be very different from, say, a poll of what only neurosurgeons think about health care.

Yes, you are most assuredly an amateur.

James Ignatius McAuley said...

Father Mike,

Your comments are no better than Father McDonalds, and just as amateurish in response.

My wife, who is trained in statistics, conducted them and analyzed them for the Department of Agriculture, told me it was a poor test for failing to identify the margin of error, breaking down demographics (age, region of the nation, diocese, whether in a religious order or not, etc.) Critically ,it also was not a true sample and this is where the self serving comes in - if you conduct a poll that allows the respondent to choose whether or not to respond, then it is self selected and the margin of error must reflect that.

You are correct that a survey that took the Latin Catholic population at large as opposed to the clergy would likely have different results. However, any reliable survey of the clergy would have to be properly conducted, which this one was not. Nobody who truly understands how to statistical sampling would rely on this survey - it comes across like the surveys created by companies to promote and endorse their product.

And, does all this vitriol over the translation (no it is not perfect) really help bring souls to Christ? In any event, all I can say is that the practical reason no new translation is being immediately offered is (a) the cost of printing new books and (b) the further confusion it would raise. At some point, corrected versions may be supplied -- probably around the time the new LOTH comes out.

Fathers - some religious orders have revised their propers over the years and they show the full potential of the LOTH. I am working on putting together an optional supplement comprised of selected propers from religious orders. It will take at least two years, but we have such wonderful things in it, such as the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus from the Redemptorists, the Conversion of Augustine from the Augustinians, the Precious Blood (still on July 1) from the Precious Blood fathers, and so on.

Happy Trinity Sunday to you all!

Pater Ignotus said...

JIMc - Sorry, if a poll is intended to measure the opinions of PRIESTS, then those who are to be polled mu st . . . (wait for it) . . . PRIESTS. There's nothing amateurish in this notion.

Every poll I am aware of allows people to choose to respond or not. This is nothing out of the ordinary, sinister, or clerical.

And, a poll's demographics (age, years ordained, lace-wearing, fluent in Spanish, etc) should be recorded/reported ONLY if the intention of the poll-taker is to break down the results according to various groups within the poll sample. If the intention of the poll-taker is to report the results without regard to the break-down of the responders, then there is no reason to record/report such.

If the margin of error was not determined, let it be done and rfeported. And, yes, polls have to be worded carefully so as to have the least influence on the results possible. If you can show that this was a "push poll," then do so.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI, the CNS story stands in stark contrast to your grasping at straws to support a very tenuous belief that the wonderful new and exceptionally brilliant English translation of the Mass is somehow less than perfect!

Anonymous 2 said...

I am not addressing the merits of the New Mass Translation in this comment, just trying to shed a little light on polling.

Please bear in mind that what I know or understand about statistics can be written on a postage stamp (with room to spare). Moreover, I have a lot of sympathy for the sentiment popularized by Mark Twain in the matter of statistics (and that was even before Dick Morris and the 2012 presidential election =)).

That said, I note that, although it does not indicate a margin of error, the St. John’s survey claims that “While this study measures only the views of priests who chose to respond to the personal invitation, the methodology of the study and the relatively high response rate increase the likelihood that this study gives a representative reading of priests' views.” I leave it to those more expert that I am to evaluate this claim.

I also offer this article from Our Sunday Visitor on the relative reliability of polls:

The article contains the statement:

“Large-scale polling by nationally recognized operations such as Gallup and Washington Post are usually excellently conducted and have few statistical concerns,” Stephen F. Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America, said. “Polls by Pew and CARA are also superb. These polls are designed with all the right safeguards for sampling and are generally of a size to make them very reliable.”

Again, I leave it to those with more of a head for numbers to make of this article what they will.

Gene said...

I rarely take polls seriously...they are too easily manipulated and can be structured and sampled to produce nearly any result you desire. However, I do know that Alexander Graham Bellinski was the first telephone Pole.

Pater Ignotus said...

Good Father - In at least six conversations with me you have stated that the new translation is less than perfect.

If you wanted to conduct a poll of PRIESTS to find out what PRIESTS think of the new translation, who would you poll? I suspect you'd poll PRIESTS, no?

And can you cite one poll - just one - where those who responded did not agree to respond?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

PI, I don't know if you are grasping at straws or eating sour grapes with those at PT. just accept the most perfect new translation this side of heaven and you will be happy not sad.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: That’s really bad. Moreover, you might want to double Czech the point -- I couldn't find it in Wikipedia.

Henry said...

From a qualified statistical viewpoint, I could cite reasons why this poll likely is not sufficiently reliable to be worth the time to discuss its results.

However, I see little reason to deny the likelihood that numerous priests of a certain age may dislike the new translation. After all, so many priests of that same generation were malformed as priests. As I would suspect of any priest of any age who claimed to prefer the old translation to the new one. Whatever the stylistic imperfections of the newer one. Indeed, most of the critical comments by these priests seem based largely on differences in ecclesiology and theology rather than actual translation issues. Even if one can point to particular instances in which the theologically more faithful new translation could be smoother.

Pater Ignotus said...

Henry - And I think that is what many of us hope for - a better translation that does not attempt to duplicate in English the syntax of Latin.

Gene said...

Anon 2, I would have Czeched the point, but I was so Hungary I went to eat Turkey...but, I slipped in Greece and ended up breaking China... ( that!)

Gene said...

Yes, Ignotus, but Henry is focusing on the theological correctness of the new translation. You seem to be in it for the aesthetics (although we know you are really in it for the humanism).

Pater Ignotus said...

Gene - I am in it for both and do not believe they are mutually exclusive. Theological correctness is not tied irrevocably to the use of Latin syntax in English translations.

Anonymous 2 said...

Oman, Gene. Faroenuff. By Georgia, I concede defeat, I Canadoit. There’s Norway. I’ve Benin these types of contests before and know that if I tried I would Rue the mania involved and the States I would get in. It makes me shiver and I am positively Chile at the prospect. I feel like a Laos for giving up, of course, and some may think it's Nepalling but it’s okay -- Iran a good race. Tuvalu.

Gene said...

Anon 2, I don't Bolivia! This Congo on all night; we'll have to stop somewhere, Denmark our place and try Samoa in the morning.

Anonymous 2 said...

I agree, it’s time Togo. That was fun, though.