An inter-confessional Bible gets Pope’s approval [updated]

Today, Pope Francis, in an address to the United Bible Societies, praised the production of a joint translation of the scriptures which was presented to him in Italian. He first remarked that such an inter-confessional translation was produced in Argentina and did a lot of good for the missions.

Concerning ecumenical collaboration on biblical translations, he had this to say:

The preparation of an inter-confessional version is a particularly significant effort, if one thinks how much the debates on Scripture influenced the divisions, especially in the West.

You can read the whole thing here.

Will the views expressed by Pope Francis influence future ecumenical collaboration on the translation of liturgical texts?

What do you think?

Update: A reader has pointed out to me that Pope John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical Ut Unum Sint praised interfaith Biblical translations and the Common Lectionary in articles 44 and 45:

44. Significant progress in ecumenical cooperation has also been made in another area, that of the Word of God. I am thinking above all of the importance for the different language groups of ecumenical translations of the Bible. Following the promulgation by the Second Vatican Council of the Constitution Dei Verbum, the Catholic Church could not fail to welcome this development.75These translations, prepared by experts, generally offer a solid basis for the prayer and pastoral activity of all Christ’s followers. Anyone who recalls how heavily debates about Scripture influenced divisions, especially in the West, can appreciate the significant step forward which these common translations represent.

45. Corresponding to the liturgical renewal carried out by the Catholic Church, certain other Ecclesial Communities have made efforts to renew their worship. Some, on the basis of a recommendation expressed at the ecumenical level,76 have abandoned the custom of celebrating their liturgy of the Lord’s Supper only infrequently and have opted for a celebration each Sunday. Again, when the cycles of liturgical readings used by the various Christian Communities in the West are compared, they appear to be essentially the same. Still on the ecumenical level,77 very special prominence has been given to the liturgy and liturgical signs (images, icons, vestments, light, incense, gestures). Moreover, in schools of theology where future ministers are trained, courses in the history and significance of the liturgy are beginning to be part of the curriculum in response to a newly discovered need.

These are signs of convergence which regard various aspects of the sacramental life. Certainly, due to disagreements in matters of faith, it is not yet possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic Liturgy. And yet we do have a burning desire to join in celebrating the one Eucharist of the Lord, and this desire itself is already a common prayer of praise, a single supplication. Together we speak to the Father and increasingly we do so “with one heart”. At times it seems that we are closer to being able finally to seal this “real although not yet full” communion. A century ago who could even have imagined such a thing?

Liturgiam authenticam, as we know, precipitated a Catholic retreat from ecumenical cooperation in preparing texts for worship. Does Liturgiam authenticam represent a temporary setback, or a lasting change in direction? When one compares the words of Pope Francis above with the affirmations of Ut Unum Sint, it would seem to belong to the category of “temporary setback.”

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3 comments

  1. Thanks for posting this, Rita. It’s remarkable that he points to trust in each other and confidence in the Word of God as key attributes in developing shared translations.

    Also, the Holy Father seems pretty excited about the language being “true language, proper, but close to the people.” “They understood!” Perhaps that’s not exactly to the point of ecumenical liturgical texts, but it is also notable in ongoing translation discussions (understatement?). Who knows if these words will impact future translation work in our own Church or as we relate with other Christians?

  2. Okay to share Biblical translations with other confessions, but heaven forbid that the RCC share translations of liturgical texts. Wouldn’t want to sound like Protestants, after all. 🙂

  3. I use what is most accurate, Catholic approval or not. For now that’s the NRSV, which should be the source for the lectionary. Inclusive language is a nonstarter. Inclusive language is simply the evolution of the English language (Englishes?) in our day.

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