Roman Missal Crisis: Timeline

Many Catholics are only now waking up to the fact that the language of the Mass will be very different come the end of November 2011. A new translation of the Roman Missal—the book of prayers used for the Mass—will soon be put into use in all Catholic Churches in the United States. Some who have read the new prayers are happy about the changes. Others are gravely concerned. In recent months, priests in Ireland, Australia, the United States and elsewhere have voiced objections, saying this translation is not what the Church needs—and that it will be divisive.

How did we get to this moment? What follows is a timeline on translation changes, to help you understand how we got to where we are today.

1963

The Second Vatican Council opens the door to using the vernacular in the Catholic liturgy. The use of “the mother tongue” is part of the mandate of the Council to adapt the liturgy to modern times.

Bishops’ conferences from around the English-speaking world prepare to translate texts of the Mass into spoken English. They establish an organization called ICEL, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.

The Second Vatican Council entrusted to bishops and conferences of bishops the task of overseeing translations into their native languages. The Vatican would then review the translations and grant them approval.

1973

The first complete translation of the Mass texts (the Missal) prepared by ICEL is granted approval from Rome and put into service for English-speaking Catholics around the globe. The 1973 translation is clear and simple. The bishops had requested a translation that would be easily understandable. This was their primary goal.

The translators who produced the 1973 translations were guided in their work by a Vatican document called Comme le prévoit, published in 1969. The theory of translation followed in Comme le prévoit is called “dynamic equivalence.” Dynamic equivalence is a standard theory of translation. It is often used for poetic and literary writing and spoken texts. The goal of dynamic equivalence is to convey the overall sense and meaning of the text in idiomatic English.

1998

Following a lengthy process of consultation and retranslation, ICEL completed a new translation of the Roman Missal in 1997, as part of its regular work. In 1998, all the conferences of English-speaking bishops from around the world vote to approve the text.

The bishops wanted a new translation that would be richer and more beautiful. They also wanted it to hew more closely to the Latin, without sacrificing clarity or intelligibility in English. The 1998 translation fulfilled these criteria.

When this translation was sent to Rome, however, it was not approved. The authorities in the Vatican decided that dynamic equivalence was no longer acceptable. Furthermore, they decided it was unacceptable to have an agency that was not directly under their control preparing translations in the first place. (ICEL reported to the bishops of the eleven conferences of Catholic bishops who founded it.) Rome now wanted control of the process.

The 1998 translation was shelved. ICEL was reorganized so that it would answer directly to Rome and not to the conferences of bishops. New personnel were appointed and a new constitution for ICEL was written. Another translation was started from scratch.

2001

The Vatican issues the instruction Liturgiam authenticam, unveiling a new set of principles to be used in translations from this time forward. The theory of translation used in Liturgiam authenticam is called “formal equivalence.” Every Latin word must be accounted for in all future translations of liturgical texts into the vernacular.

Liturgiam authenticam also directs that the vocabulary, syntax, punctuation, and capitalization patterns found in the Latin original must be reproduced as much as possible in the vernacular languages. These rules apply not only to English translations, but to all other languages as well. The rules aim at creating a new language used only in church, a “sacral language” different from ordinary speech.

An extraordinary outpouring of criticism arises in response to this instruction.

2002

A new committee is formed to advise the Vatican on the approval of translations into English. It is called Vox Clara. It is made up of bishops chosen by the Vatican. It reports to the Curia.

2008

After much discussion and over numerous objections, a new translation prepared by the new ICEL following the new norms laid down in Liturgiam authenticam is approved by the English-speaking bishops’ conferences. Critics call this translation clumsy, wooden, difficult to proclaim, and likely to create confusion and misunderstandings. Supporters praise the translation for its “elevated register” and fidelity to Latin. The text is sent to Rome for approval.

2010

Vox Clara introduces an estimated 10,000 changes into the text approved in 2008. Sources close to ICEL say that the changes impair the text and display no consistent pattern. Critics of the 2008 translation find nothing in this rewrite to ease their concerns.

The altered text is returned to the bishops for implementation. This text is scheduled to be introduced in the United States on the weekend of November 26–27, 2011.

* * *

Related stories on Pray Tell:

And for all the developments in the Missal story over the past year, with a complete set of links to our coverage, see Missal Translation Directory

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40 comments

  1. It is important to note that the 1998 Sacramentary was rejected in 2002, exactly one year after the issuance of Liturgiam authenticam. There was a four-year interval between the bishops’ conferences’ canonical approvals and Rome’s rejection of those canonical decisions. No coincidence here.

    As well, ICEL was re-organized in August/September 2002, not 1998. Work towards the 2008/2010 Missal was begun soon after.

    To describe the approach followed in the 1998 Sacramentary as “dynamic equivalence” is far too facile. Some texts in that fifteen-year effort are formally equivalent; others, dynamically equivalent; the vast majority, a mixture of both. The aim was always to foster a true conversation between the original and receiving languages. Absent the allowance for such an exchange, the decision of the Council Fathers in favor of the vernacular is rendered simply a nonsense. Translation is after all an art, not a science, PACE Liturgiam authenticam. English too has its own high and noble claims. “And God looked out on all that he had made, and indeed it was very good.”

    The account of the history of the Mass prayers in English as prepared by ICEL from 1973 (actually, 1965) to 2011 in today’s New York Times is, I submit, disappointingly shallow.

  2. I’m not sure you’ve heard the point of view of a category of persons here, namely the French people (I’m French). I’ve been leaving in England for a few years now and I say the prayers and answers in English at mass, current English, that’s fine. But I am VERY excited with the new translation which is so close to the Latin and consequently so close to the French language. Instead of “and also with you” I will now say “and with your spirit” which is the same as “et avec votre esprit” or “et cum spiritu tuo”.
    Besides it might be an opportunity to (re)discover the texts in Latin and engage your parishes into more Latin at mass. Why not after all? Why fighting over a translation in English language when we could all reconcile around a Latin meal?
    Crisis?… Naaah!
    Jacques PERRIERE

    1. “Why fighting over a translation in English language”

      Simply, Jacques, because Vox Clara has disobeyed the Holy See’s relevant instructions (Liturgiam authenticam and the Ratio translationis) on how the missal was to be translated.

      Supporters of the new translation, therefore, support disobedience (not to mention arrogance and incompetence).

      1. No, because VC is an instrument of the Holy Father. It operates under his authority. The Supreme Pontiff, and he, alone, has the authority to command and rule the Church, without the approval or assent of anyone, bishops included – see paragraph 25 of Lumen Gentium.

        Disobedience will come from those priests who refuse to use the new translation when the old one is abrogated.

      2. Matthew Long,
        I think your ecclesiology is a bit weak. The issue is far, far more complicated than the absolute-monarchy model you seem to propose. I encourage you to read up on “collegiality” as an important theme at Vatican II. And on the history of ecclesiological changes and developments across history. And Sacrosanctum concilium 36.3 and 22.2 which clearly state that territorial bodies of bishops approve translations.
        awr

      3. Wait until someone who doesn’t have his eye on a promotion dares to show the Holy Father what VC did “under his authority” – mistranslations, violations of translation directives, English so bad in places as to invite ridicule. That will be an interesting episode!

      4. Sacrosanctum concilium 36.3 and 22.2 may be as nuanced in practice as certain other points from the same document, e.g. SC 36.1 or 54. In other words, I’ve been told that I must read the whole document to glean its full meaning, pointed, even highly specific directives from SC cannot be interpreted as written. I cannot fathom why 36.3 should be applied any any more literally than 36.1.

    2. How does one reconcile around a banquet where most don’t understand the language used? It is a mere form, then, exactly what SC was trying to get away from.

      What is nice for the Latin languages is not so nice for the Germanic or Semitic, or African …

    3. “So close to the Latin and consequently so close to the French language” — you are unwittingly giving the French language a bad name.

      Why not compare the beautiful current French translation (which the Vatican wants to hatchet) with the ghastly new English translation on the scores of (1) linguistic felicity; (2) correct translation of the Latin.

  3. While the history presented here is useful, the language in which it is presented is not.

    This is not a crisis. Sad to say, but “less than perfect” translations do not constitute a crisis. As a Church we’ve been through crises before, and the New Roman Missal translation isn’t even in the same county, let alone the same ballpark, as some of those.

    Indeed, if anything approaches a crisis it is the response by critics who are making far more of the issue than need be.

    When I heard a presenter decry the new translation because it elevated the position of the priest over the people, I literally laughed at her examples.

    – At the consecration the priest holds a “chalice” whilst we mere mortals take only a “cup”.
    – “Pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours” clearly cites the priest’s sacrifice as more important
    – Or, best of all, “Have mercy on us, O Lord” “For we have sinned against you” gives the lesson that the priest does not sin!

    Good heavens. If our congregants are that stupid then indeed we DO have a crisis.

    Let’s just call it “the history of the New Roman Missal translation” and get on with our lives. Those who are so adamant about its errors can better spend their time working on Roman Missal IV and stop agitating the life of the Church.

    1. By refusing to grant reception to a translation which they consider detrimental to the life of the church, those people who point out the flaws of the new missal may be, as you seem to think, agitating the life of the church.

      If that is so, it is the type of agitation which the church needs. Why are not many more people protesting? is the real question. All of the protests in Libya and the rest of the Arab world are taking place, not by the least educated in the respective societies involved, but by those who are sufficiently well educated to have the confidence to make ligitimate expectations of those in positions of leadership. When their expectations become thwarted, they are right to protest.

      The exercise of the sensus fidelium on the part of the people of God has never been more urgently required than now.

      1. If that is so, it is the type of agitation which the church needs. Why are not many more people protesting?

        Maybe they’re not protesting because they don’t think its the type of agitation that the Church needs.

      2. “Sad to say, but “less than perfect” translations do not constitute a crisis. As a Church we’ve been through crises before, and the New Roman Missal translation isn’t even in the same county, let alone the same ballpark, as some of those.”

        Well, there are silent hemorrhages, whose effect is apparent only years after the event. Perhaps this, rather than visible crisis, is what is in store for us. But of course the Church has great experience of denying the existence of crises. “It’s not as if we’re in crisis” (Abp Timothy Dolan).

        “Indeed, if anything approaches a crisis it is the response by critics who are making far more of the issue than need be” — oh, a crisis of “dissent” — you think THAT’s a crisi — well, if so you ain’t seen nothing yet (since the vast majority of Catholics and even of priests are still unaware of what awaits them in November).

    2. To even suggest anyone should be working on Missal IV
      is to think we have a problem now, which we most certainly do. So,why wait and spend millions more to correct Missal III years from now when it could be done before this coming Advent?

  4. Rita;

    36. 1. Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.
    2. But since the use of the mother tongue, whether in the Mass, the administration of the sacraments, or other parts of the liturgy, frequently may be of great advantage to the people, the limits of its employment
    may be extended.
    This will apply in the first place to the readings and directives, and to some of the prayers and chants

    Is this the mandate you were referring to? I find it encouraging to hear you suggest that such statements in SC… ( Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority/ Nevertheless steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or
    to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them
    .) rise to the level of a mandate. Still, it might be important to point out that had this particular part of SC been observed, there would be no current “crisis” as you call it since most of the texts in question would have remained in Latin, and it would be primarily the translation of the Lectionary in question. An important point to make, I would think, given that you are appealing to SC as the foundation for the translation process. It may also be useful to quote the very first of the “General Norms” set forth in SC:

    1. Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop.

    The authority to regulate translations is rightfully that of the Holy See. It is then granted to Bishops by law. I think the word “solely” in the first part sums it up in an important way… the role of the Holy See is not simply to approve them after review as you are claiming. Further, your claim in the “1998” section that “Rome now wanted control of the process” is misleading at best. Rome always HAD control of the process… the committee (ICEL) did it’s job and “Rome” (The Holy See) exercised it’s authority to reject the translation. Like it or not, the Holy See does have that authority.

  5. The following language seems misleading and tendentious:

    “Furthermore, they decided it was unacceptable to have an agency that was not directly under their control preparing translations in the first place. (ICEL reported to the bishops of the eleven conferences of Catholic bishops who founded it.) Rome now wanted control of the process…ICEL was reorganized so that it would answer directly to Rome and not to the conferences of bishops.”

    One of the reasons for the reforms at ICEL was precisely to put the bishops back in charge of the operations of ICEL, rather than the bishops’ meekly allowing ideologically driven liturgical “experts” at ICEL to lead them by the nose. The reformed ICEL is still very much a commission of bishops and under the supervision of the various bishops’ conferences. It is of course true that the constitution and general policy directions have been set by the Holy See, and there is a bit more involvement by the Holy See in personnel selection, etc., but that is still consistent with the general regulatory role of the Holy See in liturgical matters as set forth in Sacrosanctum Concilium. It is incorrect to say that the bishops do not now have the major role in ICEL and in liturgical translation, as envisioned by Sacrosanctum Concilium.

    1. I guess I see this differently.

      I don’t understand why the “experts” (and why are they the bad guys?) were supposedly running everything before – everything was approved by bishops before they sent it to Rome. The bishops of ICEL had full supervision over all the levels in the translation structure.

      It’s simply not true that the current setup is closer to SC. Read 22.2 and 36.3 closely – the bishops submit to Rome their request that something be in vernacular, Rome approves the request, and then bishops have approval of the texts. This interpretation has been shown to be true by European scholars who have read all the discussions (in Latin) from the council minutes.

      Now the bishops have less supervision than before, really. The finally text is clearly the work of the CDW and Vox Clara. The bishops simply accepted what Rome forced on them. Rome is now directing the bishops, and taking over the bishops’ role of approving texts, much more than the “experts” ever did before.

      There are very serious issues of collegiality here. The new setup clearly moves away from the collegiality called for at Vatican II.

      awr

    2. “I don’t understand why the “experts” (and why are they the bad guys?) were supposedly running everything before …”

      I agree to a point but I don’t see why this would be difficult for anyone who reads this blog to understand. Consider Fr. A. Ward and the criticism directed his way by some regular participants here. The criticism toward him and other “experts” has been heated here.

      “everything was approved by bishops before they sent it to Rome”

      And we know that happened with the new RM too.

      If we want to discuss the bishops accepting something Rome forced on them we should discuss the 1970 RM itself, not the new translation.

      1. AWR: “I don’t understand why the “experts” (and why are they the bad guys?) were supposedly running everything before …”
        DK: I agree to a point but I don’t see why this would be difficult for anyone who reads this blog to understand. Consider Fr. A. Ward and the criticism directed his way by some regular participants here. The criticism toward him and other “experts” has been heated here.
        AWR: The criticism of our final text concerns what was done by someone in officialdom, not someone in the academy. I wouldn’t speak of “expert,” especially given the quality of the final product. I think “incompetent bureaucrat(s)” is more accurate. There is the important issue of abuse of authority, and I don’t see how that issue could apply to anything the “experts” allegedly did up until 1998.

        AWR: “everything was approved by bishops before they sent it to Rome”
        DK: And we know that happened with the new RM too.
        AWR: Exactly. The bishops had final say for what got submitted in both cases, not ICEL. Ergo, it’s not accurate to speak of “experts” having undue control.

        DK: If we want to discuss the bishops accepting something Rome forced on them we should discuss the 1970 RM itself, not the new translation.
        AWR: We’ve been down this path many, many times. I’m surprised you keep repeating this trope, which is pure fantasy. There was some critique of the OM at the Synod of Bishops, with the majority of bishops still accepting. When the reformed Latin missal came out, the bishops accepted it and for the most part implemented it (in its vernacular version) enthusiastically. If you wish to claim that the bishops felt it was forced on them, or that it wasn’t what they had in mind at Vatican II (and I mean them, not your version of what they had in mind), I wish you’d provide evidence.

        awr

      2. Fr. Anthony,

        The ICEL controversies of the 1970s are well documented and as you’ve stated, have been discussed. I don’t believe it is a trope, however. You begin by suggesting that it is pure fantasy to suggest that the 1970 RM was “forced” on the Church and end by admitting that there was “some critique” and perhaps a little less than enthusiastic implementation. The Agatha Christie indult came somewhat quickly as did, historically speaking, the Ecclesia Dei indult and (again from the long purview of history) SP. The entire diocese of Campos in Brazil did not receive the new missal, we saw the rise of religious congregations like the SSPX (and similar groups), monasteries that kept to the EF, and the negative reaction to the still existing ICEL translation is well documented. And for the bishops – we know what the bishops thought from the 1967 Synod, something you mentioned. The endorsement there was anything but enthusiastic. I don’t recall all bishops’ conferences vetting the addition of or deletion of individual ceremonies and texts when producing the 1970 rite. The bishops in 1967 did complain a bit about the forthcoming rite and saw the offertory prayers reinserted into the liturgy along with some other modifications but these were done by “experts” without further feedback from the body of the bishops and published. I guess it was handled by curia and committee.
        Your comment about “experts” given in #20 appears to suggest that one’s personal agreement or disagreement with the alleged “expert” is what determines his status as an “expert” – I guess that is a point of view.

  6. Jeffrey, authority is not in dispute. Some might quibble that what we see here is a “lording-it-over” authoritarianism the Lord himself criticized.

    Others can speak for themselves, but my complaint is with incompetence. When people are unable to perform duties, they should be able to work out their problems under supervision. If that fails, they should be replaced. If there is repeated failure by many successors, then it might be that the system itself is flawed and requires rebuilding.

    The Roman Curia is not a divinely-instituted body. As a human construction, it may or may not serve the needs of the Church. (It would certainly appear it often seems to serve itself.) As such, it should be subject to discernment. That discernment might lead to significant reform.

    Rather than speak of “authority” it might serve us Catholics better to engage another quality: responsibility. The Gospel witness of Christ was clearly more oriented to what was entrusted to Christian leaders. Responsibility is an adult concept, something that implies service beyond feudalism, shared commitment across many areas of expertise, and principles a bit alien to the Hermeneutic of Subtraction.

    1. Sure it is. Gerard Flynn keeps writing comments about whether the missal translation will be received by the people, casting that as the final standard for legitimacy. I guarantee that’s not everyone’s standard.

      1. You might be right.

        But so might the National Director of Liturgy in one of the ;larger English speaking countries who thinks the new translation will last only a few years.

        And so might Gerard Flynn.

  7. John Kelleher :
    When I heard a presenter decry the new translation because it elevated the position of the priest over the people, I literally laughed at her examples.
    Good heavens. If our congregants are that stupid then indeed we DO have a crisis.

    It is not the individual translations which are the point. The entire translation and the method by which it is being imposed is an exercise in building an image and reducing the status of others. It is the cumulative effect of sacral language, male dominated God images, legislative authority exercised in the absence of expert authority, division of clerical language from the entirety of the faithful, reservation of who may go where and touch what, which, taken together over time, seek to create a clericalized sense of prayer narrowed to worship rather than the full range of communal prayer and the building up of the community of the God.

    While it is possible to laugh at any number of picky comments, It is not funny at all to look at the overall pattern of using clerical/sacral language instead of the vernacular which was endorsed by SC.

    We need the English equivalent of the Koine Greek of the NT or the vulgar Latin of St. Jerome, not the periodic sentences and elevated language of artistic classicists. We need texts composed for ordinary people to remember easily, not to study to find meaning. Trent’s Latin is a place we have been stuck, not a good place to make our objective.

    However, I do agree that crisis is overkill for this situation.

    1. Tom: We need the English equivalent of the Koine Greek of the NT or the vulgar Latin of St. Jerome, not the periodic sentences and elevated language of artistic classicists. We need texts composed for ordinary people to remember easily, not to study to find meaning. Trent’s Latin is a place we have been stuck, not a good place to make our objective.

      The Greek and Latin of late antiquity and the early medieval period were living languages capable of diverse semantic and syntactic registers. Right now I’m translating a portion of the 9th century CE Byzantine Matins of St. Catherine of Sinai (Sinaiticus graecus 864). The Greek, though syntactically simple and somewhat repetitive, employs a great semantic depth. Certain sentences, when read from either an Attic-leaning or Hellenistic-leaning perspective, yield quite different meanings. An interpreter’s role is not necessarily the imposition of one meaning but the presentation of multiple possibilities.

      A significant amount of debate here at Pray Tell involves arguments for a “correct” interpretation of Latin text. A translation of the Vulgate or the Mass often yields multiple interpretations of roughly equivalent plausibility. These diverse textual facets are simultaneously present when a liturgy is celebrated in the antique sacral language. The difficulty and hardship behind vernacular translations of antique language resides in the necessity to pick one interpretation to the exclusion of other equally plausible choices.

      There has never been an antique text which presents only one semantic or syntactic possibility to an interpreter.

      1. Yes, Jordan, you’re right. But sometimes it’s not as esoteric a question as a text yielding “multiple interpretations of equivalent plausibility”.

        Sometimes it’s a question of an accurate translation in beautiful English:
        It is truly right and just,
        our duty and our salvation,
        at all times to praise you, O Lord,
        but [on this night / on this day / in this season] above all
        to proclaim you yet more gloriously,
        since Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. (2008)

        And lousy English:
        It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,
        at all times to acclaim you, O Lord,
        but (on this night / on this day / in this time) above all
        to laud you yet more gloriously,
        when Christ our Passover has been sacrificed. (Vox Clara)

        Beautiful English, accurate translation:
        Therefore, overflowing with Paschal joy,
        the whole world exults with your praises;
        the heavenly powers also and the angelic hosts
        sing together the hymn of your glory
        and acclaim without end: (2008)

        Lousy English and inaccurate too:
        Therefore, overcome with paschal joy,
        every land, every people exults in your praise
        and even the heavenly Powers, with the angelic hosts,
        sing together the unending hymn of your glory, as they acclaim: (Vox Clara)

        Beautiful English, accurate translation:
        For you have established for the well-being of your children
        a special season to renew and purify their minds,
        so that, freed from all inordinate desires (inordinatis affectibus),
        they may so use the things of this passing world
        as to hold more firmly to the things of eternity. (2008)

        Lousy English, inaccurate too:
        For you have given your children a sacred time
        for the renewing and purifying of their hearts,
        that, freed from disordered affections (!),
        they may so deal (!) with the things of this passing world
        as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure (1).

        You get the idea . . .

      2. I find myself wondering where you think we might disagree on this matter. I could have written most of your points, but not your present experiences, myself.

        I was trying to distinguish the virtues of simpler forms in any language for liturgy from the overly elaborate clericalist/sacral Latin of the Trent Missal and those who want to go further and import the idiosyncrasies of that language into another culture, another language family.

      3. Michael, I’ve read quite a few of your analyses of the forthcoming translations. You most often beat me to the punch on syntactic points. Thank you for the thought-provoking posts.

        Even so, I’m convinced that debates over the translation of relative clauses and subjunctive constructions must eventually end without resolution. The beauty of the Roman rite resides in its typical Latin texts. I am convinced that no vernacular translation will ever capture the Latin textual “play”. Even the strongest desire for vernacular liturgy cannot overcome the inability of modern vernaculars to transmit Latin textual meaning without a degree of banality and distortion.

        The endless translation debates demonstrate that perhaps the solution to the translation crisis is non-translation. The relentless drive to expose every nuance of Latin prayer through the inherently unstable vernacular medium has dragged the Mass into an ideological stalemate.

        Perhaps priests might consider saying the Canon (or another EP) in Latin on occasion. The “translation wars” have demonstrated that an insistence on the translation of every liturgical text shreds una voce dicentes into a thousand contradictory shouted positions. The rediscovery of a single voice for the Roman rite might be through prayer in our sacral language.

      4. Jordan: “Even the strongest desire for vernacular liturgy cannot overcome the inability of modern vernaculars to transmit Latin textual meaning without a degree of banality and distortion.”

        Isn’t it time then for the vernaculars to develop their own forms, free of Latin syntactic restrictions, so that the beauty of these languages can shine on their own in the liturgy?

        Does the church have the nerve and the imagination?

      5. Re: Graham Wilson on April 13, 2011 – 12:28 am

        I agree, Graham. The 1998 Sacramentary gestured towards the creation of an English language liturgy partially independent of the Latin language tradition. Perhaps the development of an entirely English liturgy should be reconsidered. The development of a liturgy composed entirely in English would satisfy the desires of many Pray Tell respondents.

        I would certainly hope that no priest would ever be forced to celebrate an “Anglophone Rite”. The promulgation of an entirely English-language liturgy should be accompanied by an apostolic constitution (not a motu proprio) which protects the universal celebration of the Roman Rite without restriction. Should the promulgation of a native English liturgy take place, any religious or secular Latin priest would be able to celebrate both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Roman liturgical forms at any time and in any place without recourse to indult. Any anglophone liturgy must be unconditionally optional.

        I would also hope that an anglophone liturgy would include at least the optional use of Roman Rite eucharistic prayers in translation. Some continuity should exist between the OF in translation and any independent vernacular liturgical composition.

        Perhaps this is the least acrimonious settlement available to almost any English-speaking Catholic.

      6. The beauty of the Roman rite resides in its typical Latin texts. I am convinced that no vernacular translation will ever capture the Latin textual “play”.

        Yet English too is beautiful. Poetry in the English language can be magnificent. Why can’t prayers in English be beautiful, in their own way, using the unique features of the English language? It’s an impoverishment to deprive the English-speaking people of that means of prayer.

        The more I read this blog, the more I think LA is wrong.

      7. Re: again: #31 by Graham Wilson on April 13, 2011 – 12:28 am

        My last post was inappropriately polemical.

        I agree that inculturation, even to the point of a “natively” composed English rite for Mass, is possible even if I would probably not choose to worship at this rite. if a team of anglophone authors could create an orthodox liturgy largely without recourse to Latin paradigms, then perhaps this is an avenue worth pursuing. Of course, I have no say beyond conjecture. Roma locuta.

        Claire: I agree that the English language is a more than suitable medium for prayer. As already discussed, Thomas Cranmer’s Prayer Book is a testament to the power of liturgical English. Many of the 1998 propers strike a nice balance between contemporary and “traditional” English language registers. Perhaps a liturgy composed in English might reflect this shelved translation.

        My insistence that the Roman Rite in either form remain the standard liturgy derives from a concern that a native English-language eucharistic liturgy might distance Catholics from the liturgy of the diocese of Rome. Inculturated liturgies have a place as complements to typical worship (i.e. Latin liturgy and translations). I hope that a form of the Roman liturgy would prosper beside an inculturated and novel English-language liturgy.

  8. Todd;

    I only focused on authority as an issue because Rita, in her article, seems to imply if not outright claim that the Holy See “overstepped” its authority concerning the translation. I would suggest, all interpretations and academic ponderings of SC notwithstanding, that it’s not really possible for the Holy See to overstep its authority since said authority, while not “absolute” in the sense of being able to do whatever it pleases, is certainly absolute in the sense that it is both able to approve AND set the standards for what is approved, with additional proviso that it may alter, revise or completely redo any part or all of a translated text.

    What is done with such authority may be the subject of debate, but it seems to be fashionable in some circles to pretend that such authority was somehow done away with and replaced by collegiality. The reality is that collegiality is exercised only with the consent of the Holy See and at the pleasure of the Holy Father. Collegiality is a provision that was “given” from and by the greater authority of the Pope. It is a bit naiive to not conclude that it can be taken away

    1. Jeffrey, with all due respect, I don’t think the history of SC 22 and 36 bears out your interpretation. The discussion, and the commentaries written by those who drafted SC, show pretty clearly that authority of bishops (as territorial body and as worldwide college) is NOT simply delegated to them by the Pope; it is theirs by divine right.

      This means that the Holy See has chosen to reinterpet Vatican II, almost certainly contrary to what SC says and what the fathers had in mind when they approved SC.

      For now it must suffice for me to put the claim out there. In coming days (provided that Holy Week music prep doesn’t pull me away from it 🙂 ), I hope to provide documentation for all this.

      awr

  9. Caution: you might want to correct this statement:

    The use of “the mother tongue” is part of the mandate of the Council to adapt the liturgy to modern times.

    Actually, the Council merely said that Bishops (for the first time) have the authority to allow parts of the Mass to be in the vernacular.

  10. Another part of the Council mandate is to let all the resources of modern art find a place in the liturgy. We are still far from that.

    I think the practice of composing collects, secrets and postcommunions suited to the individual congregation is an excellent one. It is a symptom of life and creativity, qualities so direly lacking in most liturgies.

  11. There’s no intrinsic objection to the composition of new material in the 2010 translation. Benedict XVI has composed one of the new options for the dismissal. Which makes a nonsense of the decision to eliminate “Christ has died…” on the grounds that it was a new composition after Vatican II.

    Perhaps we can now speak of the Roman Dismissal III.

  12. Matthew Long :
    VC is an instrument of the Holy Father. It operates under his authority.

    So did, and, in a spooky way, does, the Inquisition – which will no doubt also receive your full and wholehearted support – until it catches up with you.

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