Open Letter: Gerald O’Collins Calls on Bishops to Make Use of 1998 Sacramentary

Prominent Australian Jesuit Gerald O’Collins has spoken up about the liturgical translation controversy as he calls on the English-speaking bishops to

pass on now to English-speaking Catholics the 1998 translation that you or your predecessors originally voted for only a few years ago.

In an open letter to the bishops O’Collins writes,

I yearn for a final blessing, a quick solution to our liturgical woes. The 1998 translation is there, waiting in the wings.

The “liturgical woes” are a reference to the 2010 English translation of the missal (previously called a sacramentary in the U.S.) that came into use in late 2011. This new translation has been heavily criticized by many liturgists, and has proven to be unpopular with priests.

O’Collins writes that the 2010 translation

regularly sounds like Latin texts transposed into English words rather than genuine English. Msgr. Ronald Knox, like many others before and after him, wanted translations that ‘read like a first-rate native thing.’ Who could say that of our present Missal?

O’Collins rhetorically asks,

What would Jesus say about the 2010 Missal? Would he approve of its clunky, Latinized English that aspires to a ‘sacral’ style which allegedly will ‘inspire’ worshippers?

Comparing the rejected 1998 translation to the one currently in use, O’Collins says of 1998:

Set it alongside the 2010 Missal and there should be no debate about the version to choose. …As an example of genuine English, it is incomparably better than that imposed on English-speaking Catholics in November 2011.

Work began on the earlier translation in 1981, and by 1998 it had been approved by all the English-speaking bishops’ conferences by wide margins, unanimously in many cases. It was widely praised by liturgists for its accuracy and beauty, and many looked forward to its implementation after approval by the Vatican.

But instead the Vatican issued the instruction Liturgiam authenticam [LA] in 2001 with entirely new translation guidelines and then rejected the 1998 translation. The Vatican micromanaged the creation of a new English translation done in a rather strict reading of LA. But when the English-speaking conferences approved this new translation, the Vatican bizarrely made over 10,000 changes to the translation it had overseen before giving it final approval. The result was Latinate English which is awkward and sometimes downright ugly. O’Collins says of it that it is

often unclear and sometimes verging on the unintelligible.

O’Collins taught at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome for three decades. In his open letter to the bishops he notes that he taught many of the bishops in Rome as seminarians or young priests, heard their confessions, and lectured and led retreats in their dioceses at their invitation.

O’Collins writes to the bishops,

Remembering the blessing of your long-standing presence in my life, I yearn for a final blessing, a quick solution to our liturgical woes.

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57 comments

  1. The whole rationale behind the ’98 was wrong. We cannot go back. Of course we have to go forward, and there can be no objection to revising the current translation, perhaps even taking into account the ’98. But let’s give ourselves time. This translation is intended to change us. We had 40 years of crap “translation”. It will take time learn what the prayers mean. Let’s learn. It’s like when you wear (correctly designed!) vestments for Mass: they teach you how to behave in the sanctuary.

    1. @Fr William R Young – comment #1:
      But two wrongs do not make a right. We would have had less than 30 years of the temporary translation, if we had gone forward with the one that was the result of nearly 20 years of careful study, rather than this current rush-job that is as problematic as the 1970 one.

      The fundamental problem is Liturgicam Authenticam and its implementation, which violated both principles of episcopal collegiality and of ecumenical commitments, to say nothing of its bad translation methods. It should never have been published, without major revision itself. The way the people working in ICEL were treated was simply unChristian, and that should matter more than any translation issues.

  2. Fr. O’Collins has never been a fan of the new translation, and has made that publically known since the start, attacking things like the All vs Many change.

    There is nothing new here.

  3. Fr. Young, To call any version of the Mass “crap” is horribly irresponsible and quite immature. You should hold the gift of your priesthood with more regard and speak accordingly. No vehicle through which Christ comes to us is “crap” regardless of your personal aesthetics.

    1. @Linda Daily – comment #3:

      What on Earth you all you guys doing regarding the current mass translation then, if not saying precisely the same thing in a slightly different way?

      Talk about the log in ones own eye.

      1. @Scott Smith – comment #25:
        You miss Linda’s point – the problem with the post and, ironically with MR10, is not what’s being said but how.

      2. @Gerard Flynn – comment #36:

        This thread substantiates it – Both sides are effective calling the translation they don’t like “crap”. Doing it in a very slightly less direct, and very slightly more passive aggressive manner, is no better.

        Calling a spade a bloody shovel, as we are wont to do down here in Australia, is no crime.

        And if a translation which is “verging on the unintelligible” (as indicated in the post) is not the very definition of one way of translation can be “crap”, I don’t know what is.

        And if you can’t indicate that in relation to the old translation, because it was the vehicle through which Christ comes to us, then you can’t indicate it in relation the current translation.

        In any case, this is all pretty silly. When we update the current translation, it will not be with one already nearly 20 years old. I don’t know what the half-life of an English translation is going to be in the future, but I would bet good money 20 years would be a material percentage of it (i.e. I think revising translations every 40 to 50 years will not be unusual, given the level of drift in English meanings we have seen over recent decades).

      3. @Scott Smith – comment #37:
        No translation is or will be perfect since we are not perfect. What’s wrong with the current translation is that it was imposed with a hostile spirit and leaves us with a generation of priests who believe that Christ won’t show up if a word is misplaced.

      4. @Linda Daily – comment #37:

        No translation is or will be perfect since we are not perfect.

        Agreed.

        What’s wrong with the current translation is that it was imposed with a hostile spirit

        I would feel the same way if the 1998 translation was now imposed, as it has many flaws of its own, and there is a similar ideological edge to the motivations of its supporters.

        Indeed, as I have argued before, if the original backers of the 1998 translation had addressed the theological concerns of Rome instead of trying to hold a gun to its head, we never would have got the purely language concerns we have now.

        There are, sadly, no innocents in this matter.

        leaves us with a generation of priests who believe that Christ won’t show up if a word is misplaced.

        Except none of them DO believe that do they, except in your caricature. They well know Christ can supply what (if anything) is missing in such cases.

      5. @Scott Smith – comment #38:
        Scott, your historical information is inaccurate, and spreading and repeating misinformation bogs down the discussion.

        ICEL was a mixed commission of bishops’ conferences and reported to them. The Vatican had a role, and a much bigger role than the Vatican should have according to Vatican 2, but the Vatican didn’t yet control and supervise the whole thing (totally against Vatican 2) as they do now. You can’t expect ICEL to have obeyed Liturgiam Authenticam 20 years before it was issued.

        ICEL’s work was approved by all the bishops’ conferences, oftentimes unanimously. They did what their bosses asked of them. And for the record, they did respond to and react to the Vatican’s concerns during the revision process.

        It was a small minority of bishops, almost entirely from the US, who loudly criticized ICEL in the 90s. They lost in all the conference votes. It was only later that the Vatican took over translation along the lines of these few bishop critics. You can hardly fault ICEL for not obeying these few bishops, just because your position is close to theirs, and accuse ICEL of not following, by anticipatory obedience, what Rome would be requiring 10 or 20 years later.

        awr

      6. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #39:

        I am not referring to obeying Liturgiam Authenticam 20 years before it was issued. Nor do I assert ICEL acted on its own without support from the English speaking Bishop conferences.

        I am talking about things like the push for vertical gender inclusive language (including by many Bishops), which Rome signalled as an issue long before 1998. However many of the English speaking Bishops thought they could bully Rome into accepting their preferred ideological outcomes, with the threat of the inevitable mess which would follow if Rome decided they had to revise it off their own bat.

        If they fixed their translation for these theological issues, Rome never would have blundered in on the purely language issues (which are the focus of much of the problems with the 2010 translation).

        Accordingly the inevitable mess is as much their fault as anyone. That might be just an opinion or interpretation of the history, but it is in no way “misinformation”.

        Oh, and VII makes clear Rome needs to approve translations. And trying to turn that provision into a dead letter is clearly not faithful to VII.

      7. @Scott Smith – comment #43:
        The misinformation is increasing. No one is disputing the Holy See’s right to approve translations. The problem arose when the dicastery in question decided to do it itself, thereby disenfranchising bishops’ conferences.

      8. @Gerard Flynn – comment #44:

        That is not misinformation – There are certainly people who argue Rome must merely rubber stamp these things.

        However I agree it would have been more consistent with SC if Rome just sent it back to the bishops’ conferences with more general instructions to fix it, rather than doing the detailed revisions outside of that process.

        But the levels of mutual trust by that stage were so low, that would have been an equally difficult way to go about it, and in all likelihood we still would not have a new translation if that way was adopted.

      9. @Scott Smith – comment #47:
        Actually, I was surprised to read in Piero Marini’s book, but then looked it up for myself and confirmed that according to Vatican II it is only bishops’ conferences that approve translations, and the role of Rome is to certify THAT it was all done canonically (e.g. they had Roman permission to translate these elements into vernacular, the vote was a canonical and legal one, etc.), NOT to approve whether the translation was good or bad or adequate or needed changing. I realize this remains a matter of controversy and it depends in part upon the technical meaning of terms like “confirm” and “recognize” etc.

        But given the above framework, I think it’s inaccurate (I’d say it’s “misinformation” but I don’t mean to escalate things) to say that bishops wanted to bully Rome into anything. That language implies that the bishops really work for Rome and it is really Rome that approves translations. The ecclesiology of Vatican II, in contrast, which Francis seems to want to revive, is that bishops act in their own right. By doing so they aren’t ‘bullying’ or ‘disobeying’ – they are acting as shepherds of their own people.

        awr

      10. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #49:

        “Competent territorial authorities,” and consequently their role in the translation process, are a bit harder than this to fit into the ecclesiology of VII since, not belonging to the constitution of the Church, bishops’ conferences may pragmatically evince or advance more fundamental principles of ecclesiology but shouldn’t be considered objects of that inquiry in its most proper sense. Take teaching, for instance: while the pope has magisterial authority over the whole Church, a bishop, as VII rightly reminds us, is not a papal deputy but a true head teacher of his local church in his own right. A bishops’ conference, on the other hand, has no magisterium other than the combined (if unanimous) voices of the bishops who compose it. I would propose that, for all the work it assigns to the bishops’ conferences, VII also acknowledges that the conferences possess no legislative authority in their own right (as would a bishop over his flock or the pope over the Church), and thus the Council considers their competence to adapt – or, here, translate – the liturgy to be a delegated participation in Roman legislative authority and accordingly more robustly dependent upon Roman confirmation than Abp. Marini’s understanding (as you’ve presented it). Where we would really see the rubber hit the road in testing these interpretations, though, is if a conference were unanimously to approve a translation or adaptation – according to SC this would still require confirmation, but in the spirit of the conciliar ecclesiology it would seem appropriate to let the matter stand on the force of those shepherds’ united decision in the interest of their dioceses. This is what would happen, after all, had the supreme legislator not reserved liturgical matters to himself.

      11. @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #49:
        I think it’s a bit difficult to simply point to SC 36.3–4 and say that the bishops had thought through the issues of how this would work practically. It’s not even clear that they had a sense that the entire liturgy would need to be translated. It’s no wonder that a recognitio was added to this process. One need only look at some of the documents that have come out of the USCCB over the past 30 years to see that sometimes a national group of bishops needs a wider lens.
        As for the meaning of “recognitio,” it’s at least clear enough that it means something more than a rubber stamp. In what I have read this term goes back to the reform of Pope Sixtus V, with the “recognitio” of liturgical texts where it seems to have largely meant “review” or a careful and detailed examination of the texts as to whether the norms are represented correctly in the texts. If they are not, the “recognitio” process can include substantial change to the texts in review.

      12. @Scott Smith – comment #36:
        There’s nothing passive about the opposition to the current text on the part of Gerald O’Collins and the rest of us who recognise and experience on a daily basis the many shortcomings of a flawed process and a flawed product. Read Maurice Taylor, Donald Trautman and Anthony Ruff, to mention but a few. You won’t find anything equivalent (dynamic or otherwise) there to the original posting above.

  4. As one who has taught high school English and Latin for years, I would give the new translation an F in English. I would read no further than the first run-on sentence or sentence fragment in my students’ papers before assigning them an “F” and returning the paper to be rewritten. My students knew this beforehand and quickly learned that this was unacceptable English. In Latin class, I insisted that the translations be in fluid, intelligible English. At best, the missal would have gotten a C in Latin class. Fr. Young suggests we learn from the missal. If he wishes to learn incorrect English grammar and sentence structure, he has a perfect model.

  5. Linda Daley+ 3
    The current mistranslation was a big mistake.
    Speaking bad English doesn’t help anyone to pray..
    That all of the English speaking conferences, composed of mostly very conservative bishops, approved the ’98 translation says something.

  6. Brian Culley :That all of the English speaking conferences, composed of mostly very conservative bishops, approved the ’98 translation says something.

    Those same bishops (more or less) approved the 2010 translation. Put those two facts together and that says something too—but more about the bishops than about either translation.

    1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #7:
      The conferences in 1998 were not under the kind of pressure they were in 2010. It could have been defeated in 1998 if enough bishops opposed it, because the pressure from Rome was not there to push it through… they were much more in the pattern of a free choice. Quite a different situation obtained in 2010. It had been made clear, over and over and over again that “Rome wants this.” The modest amendments they requested were all denied. The bishops were told by “important” cardinals that the translation would be imposed even if they voted against it. With that kind of pressure, what they did was understandable even if regrettable.

      1. @Fritz Bauerschmidt – comment #10:
        What principles? Not meant as a snide comment; your comment suggests to me that they had, as a group, liturgical principles which they abandoned. What are you referring to?

  7. I feel minded to print out a copy of the letter and send it to my own bishop (Diocese of Shrewsbury) and invite a response. Has anyone else considered doing this?

  8. It seems that the various conferences of bishops who acceded to the current English translation had not discovered the gift of “parrhesia”, the bold speaking even when they know others will disagree, to which Pope Francis urged the participants at the Synod last October. If they had done so in a united manner, I wonder how the CDW would have responded.

  9. ‘…there should be no debate about the version to choose.’

    He does his argument no favors with that overkill. The 1998 translation is hardly beyond debating, even when set next to the 2010.

    His position doesn’t seek compromise, but victory. As such, it’s really more in keeping with folks at the other end of the spectrum than it is with Pope Francis’ approach.

    O’Collins would have been wiser to propose something more modest: like allowing the collects from the 1998 translation to be optional alternatives. Leave the Ordo Missae alone for now, and target superceding Liturgicam Authenticam with new translation principles (not reverting to Comme le prevoit, which was also deficient) that prize euphonious prosody and the native genius of the vernacular over, and aim for revised Ordo in time for the 2025 or 2033 Jubilees.

  10. How long can one beat a dead horse for before it becomes embarrassing?

    I’m with Karl (#15) on this, though I suspect I’m coming from the other side of the discussion. For those who really don’t like the current English translation of the Missal, you’re not going to get anywhere with demands for the 1998 translation to replace it. That ship sailed 14 years ago thanks to Liturgiam authenticam. Either suggest better translations in line with LA, or suggest how LA can be improved.

    And can it be called an open letter if it’s behind The Tablet’s paywall? 🙂

  11. The tanslation problem, our liturgy is never a dead horse. Imposed the way it was will ensure that there will be an effort to help the dead horse up. I heard mostly political, snide comments to degrade the 1998 translation.

  12. “What would Jesus say about the 2010 missal?” Of all the things he criticised in worship, such as it was in His time, the use of a sacred language wasn’t one. Presumably then, Jesus would ask why we were bothering with translations at all and would suggest that, by the age of 13, the boys at least should be capable of chanting the readings in the appropriate liturgical language…
    The, presumably rhetorical, question does nothing to strengthen the argument in my view.

  13. The best way to improve Liturgiam Authenticam is to get rid of it entirely.

    Peter Jeffery, the formidably learned and liturgically conservative historian of liturgy and sacred music wrote this about it (emphasis mine):

    … the most worrisome thing about [Liturgiam Authenticam] is that what it lacks in factuality it makes up with naked aggression. It speaks words of power and control rather than cooperation and consultation, much less charity. …

    It is particularly embarrassing that all this muscular Christianity comes to us vested and mitred in the most ignorant statement on liturgy ever issued by a modern Vatican congregation. But in a millennium when a Pope can apologize to the Jews, it is not too much to hope that the Dicastery, too, will find the courage to lead by example, and practice what it preaches on the matter of accepting correction. …

    Liturgiam Authenticam should be summarily withdrawn, on the grounds that it was released prematurely, before proper consultation with a sufficient number of experts had been completed. Then only the hard part will remain: what to do about the issues and tensions that produced it.

    See his Translating Tradition (Pueblo, 2005) for detailed analyses supporting these points.

    1. @Jonathan Day – comment #21:
      Thanks, Jonathan, for bringing these facts to light (again). I’m familiar with Peter Jeffrey’s thesis on Liturgiam Authenticam – and with various works by Keith Pecklers arguing for inclusive language and a wholesome & balanced use of dynamic equivalent translations. I sense that the great multitude of “Sunday Catholics” (both laity & clergy) are unaware of the “story behind the story” of the 1973, the 1998, and the 2010 missals — or if they are informed, they’re not really concerned about Who makes What changes – and just go along because “Rome has spoken – and the case is closed.”

  14. The ICEL 1998 has the advantage of being “elevated language,” which the ICEL 1973 clearly was not, yet being easily understood, beautiful and profound in a way that the VC 2010 clearly is not. The God to whom the VC2010 is addressed is most likely a stranger to most speakers of the English language whereas the God of the ICEL 1998 is more accessible. To me, that is the most important difference.

    Not to mention the fact that in 1998 ICEL was an authentic mixed commission, not the eviscerated, ersatz ICEL that we have now and which handed on tainted product to VC for further adulteration.

    That being said, it’s technically not licit to use the ICEL 1998.

  15. The 1973 Missal clearly expressed the faith of the church. It’s prayers were easily accessible to God’s priestly people. Sorry, but only uncharitable liturgical snobs refer to it as dung. And I remember participating in the work of preparing a new translation over the span of nearly 18 years. The people of God were involved as well. The rejection of the universally approved 1998 Missal nearly 5 years after its submission was a violation of the practice of collegiality at its most egregious. LA was an absolute embarrassment except for those who were looking for a cudgel with which to whack the work of the English speaking bishops. The collects of 1998 are so superior to those found in the English RM3 that it borders on the ridiculous. I am so glad that they are still available. I’m amazed that there weren’t some who tried to eradicate every trace of this great work. Priests who are truly unhappy with RM3 should have courage and pray in words that build up the faith of the people. It would represent the kind of disobedience evidenced by Pope Francis when he washes the feet of women.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily – comment #31:
      Fr. Feehily,
      Courage is needed, especially in our priests. I know many good priests, otherwise healthy men, who are too afraid to do or say what they know in their hearts to be true. Instead they fly under the radar and shrivel away. I do hope the Pope’ s example will inspire and set them free. Without this balance, our seminaries will continue to attract more men who seem to confuse liturgy with incantation.

  16. Mark Coley : I feel minded to print out a copy of the letter and send it to my own bishop (Diocese of Shrewsbury) and invite a response. Has anyone else considered doing this?

    I’m in Shrewsbury, too, and rather wish you would – I’m not free to make such initiatives.

  17. A.J. Boyd : @Fr William R Young – comment #1: But two wrongs do not make a right. We would have had less than 30 years of the temporary translation, if we had gone forward with the one that was the result of nearly 20 years of careful study, rather than this current rush-job that is as problematic as the 1970 one. The fundamental problem is Liturgicam Authenticam and its implementation, which violated both principles of episcopal collegiality and of ecumenical commitments, to say nothing of its bad translation methods. It should never have been published, without major revision itself. The way the people working in ICEL were treated was simply unChristian, and that should matter more than any translation issues.

    Absolutely right!

  18. What a breath of fresh air! Gerald O’Collins has given voice to the many who feel the same but who are rarely listened to and are only told to desist from critical comment if they continue to argue the case in the public square. Those who have raised honest objections will continue to take the hit, but they will not go away, “graciously” or otherwise.

  19. James Dunne : “What would Jesus say about the 2010 missal?” Of all the things he criticised in worship, such as it was in His time, the use of a sacred language wasn’t one. Presumably then, Jesus would ask why we were bothering with translations at all and would suggest that, by the age of 13, the boys at least should be capable of chanting the readings in the appropriate liturgical language… The, presumably rhetorical, question does nothing to strengthen the argument in my view.

    You’re joking, of course.

  20. I like the fact that O’Collins references Msgr. Knox, one of my favorite authors. I think he can be extremely helpful here, particularly since he attempted, and was largely successful, in creating a translation of the Bible that was meant to be a truly “English” translation.

    In his book “On Englishing the Bible” (also known as “Trials of a Translator) he writes: “The translator, let me suggest in passing, must never be frightened of the word ‘paraphrase’; it is a bogey of the half-educated. As I have already tried to point out, it is almost impossible to translate a sentence without paraphrasing; it is a paraphrase when you translate ‘Comment vous portez-vous?’ by ‘How are you?’ But often enough it will be a single word that calls for paraphrase. When St. Paul describes people as “wise according to the flesh’, the translator is under an obligation to paraphrase. In English speech, you might be called fat according to the flesh, or thin according to the flesh, but not wise or foolish. The flesh here means natural, human standards of judging, and the translator has got to say so. ‘Wise according to the flesh’ is Hebrew in English dress; it is not English.”

    I think his insights may be helpful in this debate.

  21. @Timothy McCormick (#48): When St. Paul describes people as “wise according to the flesh’, the translator is under an obligation to paraphrase.

    As big a fan as I am of Ronald Knox, unfortunately I would disagree with him almost entirely here. I see no reason why the slightly odd (for English speakers) turn of phrase can’t be preserved in the translation, and then explained through (e.g.) the homily, or in the notes of a study Bible.

    Paraphrase is sometimes necessary, but not all paraphrases are created equal. The difference between a literal English translation of comment vous portez-vous and sophoi kata sarka (cf. 1 Cor. 1:26) is that the former is syntactic nonsense, but the latter is just odd. And I just don’t think that translations sounding odd is much of a problem at all.

    I suppose that if Msgr Knox’s essay title were posed as a question – i.e. ought the Bible to be ‘Englished’? – I’d personally answer in the negative, if the aim of “Englishing” is to have the biblical (or liturgical!) text sounding as if it had been originally been written in contemporary English. IMO, the primary place for dynamic equivalence is in talking about the text, not in the text itself.

  22. And for those playing at home, the relevant clause of SC is 36.3 (per the Vatican website translation)-

    These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, [the Bishop’s Conference] to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See.

    And the attempt to render that clause otise (as we would say in legal interpretation), that is without effect, is to fail at the first principles of interpreting a text of this kind.

    1. @Scott Smith – comment #51:

      Article 36, 3 of SC deals with the extent to which a conference intended to introduce the vernacular in the liturgy, not with the translation of texts. (By 1967, granting the request of numerous bishops’ conferences, Pope Paul VI allowed for all the liturgical rites, including the Mass and the Rites of Ordination, to be celebrated in the living languages. This, in effect, made 36, 3 otiose.)

      But we must go on to article 36, 4:”Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent, territorial ecclesiastical authority already mentioned [art. 22].” There is no reference to the Holy See in 36, 4. This decision was made by vote of the Council Fathers after full debate.

      It is incorrect to say that the conferences where English is spoken and their commission, ICEL,
      refused to enter into dialogue with the Roman authorities concerning the 1998 text. Just two examples.

      1. Bishop Maurice Taylor, chairman of ICEL, was rudely rebuffed by the then Cardinal Prefect of CDWDS when in 1997 he asked for a meeting between representatives of ICEL and the superiors of the dicastery. This refusal to dialogue with representatives of ICEL was continued over the five years that followed.

      2. When the presidents of the English-speaking conferences did succeed in October 2001 in getting a meeting with Cardinal Medina concerning the work of ICEL, particularly the Missal, they left the encounter in great dismay and disappointment. Honest dialogue with the Congregation had been impossible.

      1. @john robert francis – comment #54:

        Again, the drafting is not great, but it is clear you can’t cut it up neatly like that. Particularly as one could simply withdraw approval to use a living language if the translation was unacceptable.

        Also, many here point to the implementation of the Council by the Council Fathers (acting as post Council Bishops) as a sure guide to the Councilar acceptability of the liturgical changes, The same applies here – Rome always was asked to, and did, approved the translations.

        For your approach to be right, we would have to see the Council Fathers acting after the Council to implement translations without Roman approval. But it didn’t happen.

        As to your examples relation to relationship with Rome, that just proves my point at #47 – By that time mutual trust was gone.

  23. Scott Smith : And for those playing at home, the relevant clause of SC is 36.3 (per the Vatican website translation)- These norms being observed, it is for the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned in Art. 22, 2, [the Bishop’s Conference] to decide whether, and to what extent, the vernacular language is to be used; their decrees are to be approved, that is, confirmed, by the Apostolic See. And the attempt to render that clause otise (as we would say in legal interpretation), that is without effect, is to fail at the first principles of interpreting a text of this kind.

    It certainly is possible to read the English as Marini does, envisioning a system where Rome must approve the decisions. That is, Rome does not have the option of not approving, but acts to strengthen the territorial organization. This creates a situation where bishops and Popes work together so that the bishops decide.

    A similar concept exists in Lumen Gentium, where the Pope teaches infallibly and the faithful accept what he teaches. There it is quite clear that the teaching is not dependent on the assent of faithful, but the faithful must accept what the Pope teaches. If they reject the teaching, the Pope does not have to prepare another version.

    I suspect the passage means that Rome must either approve or disapprove, as you read it. I do not think it is obvious that it means that and not that Rome is obligated to accept the decisions of the bishops.

    1. @Jim McKay – comment #53:

      I accept the clauses need to be interpreted, particularly as the drafting is poor.

      But when we come to that task, as I say, first principles (give effect to what is said) makes the answer clear. Or at least, as you accept as well, the better view is as I indicate.

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