Pray Tell has obtained the report prepared for bishops’ Conferences to make them aware of the problems in the 2010 Received Text. (Who leaked it to us, you want to know? All we’ll say is, it’s either someone from the U.S. or from abroad.) The Received Text is the final version of the English missal approved by the CDW and presented to Pope Benedict on April 28, 2010, with a festive luncheon for the Vox Clara commission, officials of the CDW, and the Pope.

The Report goes on for dozens of pages. Thirteen chapters with titles like “Change of Meaning from the Latin Original” and “Mistranslation of the Latin” and “Additions of an Element Not Found in Latin” and “Omission of an Element Found in the Latin” and “Introduction of a Theological Problem” and “Difficulty with English Grammar or Usage.” The chapters have subheadings, and under the subheadings are lists documenting each instance of the problem.

The scope of the debacle is simply mind-boggling. A small sampling:

  • In 7 instances quaesumus (“we pray”) has not been translated.
  • In 19 instances “we pray” has been added to a text, even though there is no corresponding Latin verb (quaesumus, rogamus, etc.) in the prayer.
  • In 7 instances Latin verbs that designate God’s agency are not accounted for in the translation, though they are translated in the text approved by the Conference.
  • There are at least 8 occurrences in which words of deprecation in the Latin text that tell of our dependence on God’s mercy, graciousness, goodness and his divine condescension are not reflected in the translation.

And on and on.

This raises many questions.

  • Who did the revision?
  • When?
  • Starting from which national Conferences’ version(s)?
  • With how much competence in Latin?
  • Or English?
  • Or knowledge of Liturgiam authenticam?
  • Who told them to do all this?
  • Who is responsible that it got approved?
  • Will those people lacking the competence to do their job be removed from positions of responsibility (promoveatur ut amoveatur), for the good of the Church’s liturgy going forward?

Thankfully, the final text of the English missal is undergoing further revision in Rome. We don’t yet know whether the revisions are minor touchups merely to prevent the worst howls of objection, or a fundamental reworking that gets to the heart of the problem and offers a truly excellent product to the English-speaking church.

As Bishop Dunn has shown in his careful canonical analysis, the Holy See does not have the authority to impose a liturgical text upon national Conferences, and Conferences are not bound to implement a text they did not approve. Will the Bishops and the Conferences rise to their responsibility? Will the Bishops and the Conferences ensure that the really-final final revision is acceptable before they implement it?

Granted, we’re not in German or Austria or Switzerland, where the Bishops recently withdrew a newly-translated liturgical book which Rome had approved, and where the Bishops are insisting that they decide how things are expressed in German. But still. Surely our Bishops care deeply about the sacred liturgy. Surely they want an excellent translation, faithful to the Latin and expressed in beautiful English, an enduring treasury of prayer which will contribute to a real spiritual renewal of their people. If nothing else, one would think that the Bishops don’t want the hassle of having to defend a defective text to their already skeptical priests and people, come Advent 2011.

I’m praying about all this, as I’m sure you are. Maybe it’s foolhardy, but I’m praying with the confident hope that good people will do the right thing. And that the full truth will come out, for the good of the Church.



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