Vox Clara advisor on new translations

Fr. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, monk of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon, advisor to Vox Clara, consultor to the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, told the Portland archdiocesan paper:

“Our current text fails to translate the riches of the original Latin. The decision to celebrate that liturgy in vernacular languages is an obvious good when the majority of the worshipping community no longer understands Latin well But when we think of this happening in many languages around the world, it is important for Catholic unity to strive to keep all the vernacular languages as close to the Latin original as possible. Otherwise, as the decades and generations pass, Catholics in English-speaking countries will have very different experiences of the faith than those in, say, Spanish or German or French or many other language groups.”


  1. One would think that “differences” contribute to the overall liturgical and spiritual experience, especially if there is cross fertilization between, “say, Spanish or German or French.” What about African, Asian, Latin American, or Eastern European?

    Fr Driscoll, perhaps unwittingly, underscores the single greatest flaw of the Liturgiam Authenticam mindset: the lack of catholicity and the stubborn unwillingness to admit riches outside the Latin language into the rendering of the Latin texts for the greater good of the Church.

    Honestly, these people need a serious adjustment in attitude.

    1. Todd, agreed, there are no liturgical riches in ANY language outside Latin if LA is to be applied correctly to the Roman Rite. How unCatholic .

    2. But this is mission drift. Introducing “riches outside of the Latin language” was not the goal of Vatican II’s extension of the vernacular. The clear goal of translating the mass was expressed at Vatican II in the following way:

      33. Although the sacred liturgy is above all things the worship of the divine Majesty, it likewise contains much instruction for the faithful. For in the liturgy God speaks to His people and Christ is still proclaiming His gospel. And the people reply to God both by song and prayer. Moreover, the prayers addressed to God by the priest who presides over the assembly in the person of Christ are said in the name of the entire holy people and of all present. And the visible signs used by the liturgy to signify invisible divine things have been chosen by Christ or the Church. Thus not only when things are read “which were written for our instruction” (Rom. 15:4), but also when the Church prays or sings or acts, the faith of those taking part is nourished and their minds are raised to God, so that they may offer Him their rational service and more abundantly receive His grace.

      1. Those who wrote SC did not know at the time what the final product would be in terms of the reform of the Mass. So their point of reference would have been the Tridentine Mass as they knew it and thus explained it as it was at the time that the document was written. At the time of the writing of the documents of Vatican II, I don’t think the Council Fathers envisioned a liturgy that would be entirely in the vernacular as later papal decrees would allow. So one must read SC through the lens of the Tridentine Mass and the open door to some of this Mass being in the vernacular.

      2. Revisionism, my friends, is apologetics in vain.

        Keep in mind the purpose of Vatican Ii wasn’t to introduce a new Tridentine calcification, but a Church more responsive to the Real Mission, namely Matthew 28:16-20. Mission drift is traditionalism–there’s no way to put it more politely.

        SC and other documents must be read, not for some museum’s eye view to the 60’s, but for what they do to further the mission of the Gospel today.

      3. Friend,
        It must be so nice not to have to argue based on any sort of cumbersome facts or unpopular truths. How liberating!

      4. Well, Ioannes, I have read the documents. And unlike you or Fr McDonald, I spend a lot of time blogging on them. The truth of it is, that both liberals and conservatives continue to discuss SC and the other documents. And that’s a good thing. The whole point is making the Gospel alive and communicating Christ for the present age, not for what people were thinking and doing in the sixties.

  2. when the majority of the worshipping community no longer understands Latin well

    The understatement of 2010! 😀 Fr Driscoll’s “majority” assumes a minority that does understand Latin well. Is this wishful thinking? I don’t think this minority exists in parishes. Surely “when the community, which does not understand Latin at all” would be a much more accurate reference to the English-speaking Church.

    1. Graham;

      Keep in mind what the good Father’s title suggests…”Fr. Jeremy Driscoll, OSB, monk of Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon”

      There are other types of worshipping communities than just parishes. I would think that there would likely be a minority of worshippers who know at least some Latin in a monastic community for instance, and that is, after all, the context in which Fr. Driscoll is likely to be speaking.

      On the other hand, I am part of my own parish, and I do have a pretty good grasp of Latin, so whereas the community as a whole might have very little working knowledge of Latin, it is not really entirely correct to say that there is NO knowledge of Latin anywhere. I know personally of quite a few in my own Diocese who could pretty easily make their way through a Latin Mass without a side-by-side Missal…

    2. +JMJ+

      It is a shame that communities are no longer able to sing or say their parts in Latin. And, before Todd responds, I’ll add that I believe that provision of SC was part of the full, conscious, and active participation called for by the Council.

  3. “Catholics in English-speaking countries will have very different experiences of the faith than those in, say, Spanish or German or French or many other language groups.” They already do and they already have, and that is a tribute to the ability of our faith to root and express itself in diverse cultures. Has the speaker ever celebrated liturgy in the Byzantine, Syrian or other rites that communicate with ours?

    I have seen over and over how, when official prayer is placed in a strait jacket and not permitted to develop, we find other ways to express our faith and we adhere with great fervor to those. As for Catholic unity, people who prayed the same Latin rite mass were quite willing to slaughter each other for God and Country.

  4. Fr. Driscoll’s comment may well justify a change from the current English version of the Mass, but it most certainly does NOT justify the translation that we are about to “welcome.”

  5. Uh, DUH! What on earth or in heaven would make any one think that the Mass in English is the same in all English-speaking places, or that it’s the same experience across languages? And why is it thought necessary, anyway? Hello? Are we not all created unique? Does that not make each worshiping community unique? Would not the experience be different [I won’t insist on ‘unique’ here, because we smooth out a lot of that just by gathering in groups and using similar words] from one place/group to the next? Did I miss something?

    In my parish of nearly 10K souls, I doubt we would find more than a couple dozen who could successfully navigate a Latin mass right now. Spread across the 10,000, it doesn’t seem terribly unfair to say that the community as a whole has no useful grasp of liturgical Latin.

  6. Looks like what many have long suspected might be right: Driscoll was one of the authors of Liturgiam Authenticam.

    1. The author of LA is supposed to have been Tony Ward, possibly aided and abetted by Cuthbert Johnson. I’m sure that Driscoll was in favour of Ward’s work in principle, but I don’t think he would have been party to such an ignorant document.

      1. Paul, this informed speculation is based on writing style, correct? Some have also speculated that the content fits the thought of Denis McManus. Some in the US were convinced he wrote it.

  7. Seems like the same old problem of being unable to distinguish unity from uniformity.
    The same faith does not require the same experience,
    nor does the same experience guarantee the same faith.

  8. The traditio is “the breaking of the bread” and opening the scriptures. These Roman-trained toadies are fixated on the letter of texts and the letter of the law. Even the best of them.

  9. Inculturation of the liturgy is an expression of the doctrine of the Incarnation. Refusal of inculturation, as we see in the ill-starred Liturgiam Authenticam, is refusal of the Incarnation. It is allied with the heresis of Docetism, Monophysitism, etc.

  10. “These Roman-trained toadies”

    This is acceptable?

    This blog began so well, I had such hopes for it.
    It seems again that civility is only demanded of those with certain points of view.

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