Two things I wouldn’t assume about the new translation

1. That a final text gets to the publishers in time for implementation to happen in Advent 2011 in the US – or any announced implementation date in any country, for that matter.

2. That they aren’t still making changes to the ‘final’ text, perhaps even the Order of Mass.


  1. 1. Point well-taken. Time is growing short.

    2. One can only hope for changes to some of the clunky and inconsistent stuff, but changes to the Order? Again, one can only hope, but would they make order changes in a local, vernacular edition without changes in the ‘orginal’ Latin edition for the whole Latin Rite? I don’t think so, but stranger things have happened.

    I’m hoping for, “O Lamb of God, WHO takes away the SIN of the world, ” for example, and “THE many,” but I’m not holding my breath.

      1. It’s a question of whether to gloss it to the biblical text of John 1:29, which is “hamartian,” and yes, “peccatum” in the Vulgate.

      2. Chris McC:

        Yes, that’s it; I knew there was something. In Handel’s Messiah, one hears: Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.

      3. +JMJ+

        Generally speaking, the translations from the Latin aren’t supposed to be glossing from other sources… the liturgical texts being a source in and of themselves, and all.

        Although… I would personally like to see the Latin text of the Ecce Agnus Dei amended to include nuptiarum (“to the marriage supper of the lamb”).

    1. I, too, would have welcomed “the many” as an appropriate translation of “pro multis”. But I’m not holding my breath, either.

  2. A pastor writing in The Tablet tells how baffled and disheartened his ordinary group of 20 faithful were when they actually heard the new translation, after receiving an encouraging introductory talk. The pastor foresees fireworks when this is put before the entire congregation. The amazing blindness of the people who are pushing this, including all the bishops who rubberstamped it, will be much commented on. How could they let this happen?

    1. Joe, I don’t believe they LET it happen, I believe they participated in and approved it, and (most) are leading their flocks into a prayerful embrace of it. Our bishop has four sessions planned around the diocese over the next few weeks, and I am most eager to see how this is all presented and accepted.

  3. “A pastor writing in The Tablet tells how baffled and disheartened his ordinary group of 20 faithful were when they actually heard the new translation, after receiving an encouraging introductory talk.”

    I do not believe for a moment that any random “ordinary group” of 20 faithful anywhere would have any such reaction. But in a large diverse parish like mine, it would be easy to select a group of 20 “faithful” to provide obligingly any predetermined reaction that is desired.

    Whereas the more likely reaction by a randomly selected group, to this new translation or to any other, might be some level of indifference. Although I have said I hope for a “new springtime of the liturgy” partially as a result of using an accurate and faithful translation, I am too realistic to expect this to come in the form of any sort of immediate reaction.

    But to this end (of a needed reform) it would surely be best to get it right. If this takes another year of tweaking by Vox Clara or CDW or whoever, then why not, after 40 years of using the worst English translation that anyone could now imagine.

    1. The “worst English translation that anyone could now imagine.” Wow, really? I guess in response I’ll just have to quote Kipp Dynamite: “Napoleon, like anyone can even know that.”

    2. Don’t believe for a moment… and … the worst English translation anyone could now imagine.

      Another post high on emotions and devoid of facts.

      Guess my faith is truly lacking since I’ve only prayed using the words of the 74 translation. Oh well.

  4. Wasn’t this asked at the FDLC conference to be kept confidential? I’m surprised that you would release this info on a blog.

    1. Wait, people were ordered to keep this confidential?

      Two thoughts:

      (1) It’s absolutely no secret that there are doubts we will see a finalized text in time for it to be published. Frankly, the publishers are screwed for the 2011-2012 liturgical year, no matter what happens. Also, even the most vocal defenders of the leaked text have been saying in the comments and on their own blogs that it’s still going to be and should be tweaked.

      (2) Is this really the sort of thing that parishes and communities who are preparing and trying to implement this WELL should be kept in the dark about? We have presentations and “practice assemblies” planned; we are awaiting the publication of Mass settings and catechetical materials; we are bracing for a possible (some might say inevitable) backlash. The mere thought that pastoral ministers on the ground should be deliberately kept in the dark about this is inconsiderate, insulting, and unconscionable.

      1. Amen to number 2! As someone in diocesan ministry planning workships and advising parish leaders on catechetical strategies for the implementation, it might be really good to know if we need to postpone some of this work!

        We have events scheduled, contracts signed in some cases, which really need the new texts finalized to do well. Our main training for leaders, Mystical Body Mystical Voice from the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein is in part based on being able to distribute a book to every participant with some of the new texts provided so leaders can conduct mystagogical reflection on them with the faithful prior to the implementation. Of course this book cannot be published yet…

        The delay at this point, with no communication, is a slap in the face to Catholics in every English -speaking country. it also gives fodder to people who want to see this whole process as something negative perpetrated by Rome upon us.

    2. I may have missed it, but I do not recall any speaker requesting that what they brought up at the FDLC meeitng be kept confidential… does anyone recall something different?

  5. Mr. Cosas: I have not examined the larger part of the 1998 translation, but those samples I’ve seen looked more accurate and more eloquent than the 1973 translation, and seemed to flow smoothly. Although it evidently was judged deficient in some respects, it did not look to me like the hasty half-baked job of 1973.

    Mr. Whelan: Yes, if you admitted that all you know or believe is what you’ve gotten from the 1973 translation, then I’d sadly have to agree that your knowledge and faith is undoubtedly lacking. Surely, an objective of the new corrected translation is to better communicate and sustain faith, as well as to promote more worthy worship.

    Mr. Podreharac: Perhaps you can favor us with a specific example of a serious translation of something else that you consider inferior in quality to the 1973 English translation of the MR.

    1. Perhaps you can favor us with a specific example of a serious translation of something else that you consider inferior in quality to the 1973 English translation of the MR.

      Well, the NAB would at least be a close second.

  6. At least the 1973 translation is in Engilsh. The new translation renders the Latin in a different language altogether. Liturgiaminauthenticamish? Latish? I don’t know the name for it, but it isn’t English.

  7. For those of us who are not there, just what is it that was supposed to be confidential at the FDLC meeting?

  8. “Well, the NAB would at least be a close second.”

    LOL. If only in this context might such a job on the Holy Scriptures be considered humorous. Hmm . . . I wonder whether this is the sort of English translation that some of those sequestered here at PrayTell might find acceptable.

  9. As I progressively pray the Liturgia Horarum daily (in Latin, of course), I occasionally compare its New Vulgate with various English translations. Most frequently, the Douay-Rheims is the most accurate translation in a literal sense (or would be if, indeed, it were a translation of the NV rather than an older Vulgate). When the NV disagrees with the D-R, it usually agrees with the RSV-CE. In the infrequent remaining cases, I find that the NV usually agrees (for psalms) with the likely “real meaning” as provided by Alter, The Book of Psalms.

  10. My findings are similar to CHE’s. In fact, that NV is as close as it is to D-R makes me wonder whether the NV revisers weren’t a bit too cautious in correcting the Latin according to the Hebrew and Greek. But that’s just a hunch and I haven’t explored it further.

    The RSV isn’t current with the best Biblical scholarship, something which of course the Catholic Church supports. Where the meaning in NRSV is a change from RSV, you can bet that the NRSV is following scholarly consensus. It is surprising how many things have been clarified, various difficult passages mostly in the OT, which contributed to the need for the NRSV.

    I think the quality of English in NRSV, though, is a step below RSV (although at least NRSV consistently elminates all thee’s and thou’s, which the RSV didn’t handle very well). So I have mixed feelings. I am surprised at how many people trumpet the RSV as the best Bible available – don’t they know how many translation inaccuracies are corrected in the NRSV?


    1. Well, the NRSV is certainly more accurate in certain ways, but in its effort to do too much (staunch advocate as I have been on behalf of inclusive language, it does not reflect fully settled usage yet from the top to bottom of the English-speaking world, and there’s a cost associated with moving ahead of fully settled usage), the musicality of the text suffers, and I think textual musicality is a part of accuracy – it may be a mark of the Spirit that God’s people have tended to to bond to translations with a relatively high degree of musicality.

      Translators who work with a narrower understanding of accuracy or who come from professional environments poisoned with anti-musical ways of communication, may tend to miss the mark in this regard.

  11. Fr. Ruff, I wonder whether you have compared the RSV, 2nd CE (2006). It’s title page says “This edition was revised according to Liturgiam Authenticam, 2002″. However, in very light usage of this 2e, I have noticed little change from the original RSV CE other than losing the thee’s and thou’s.

  12. No, I don’t know about RSV2-CE but I’d certainly like to. I wonder whether it really does conform or not to LA, that title page notwithstanding. But since I haven’t seen it, I won’t speculate. I welcome more info from you or anyone else!

  13. I do not like the NRSV — its inclusive language produces some absurdities and it constantly speaks of servants as “slaves”, which mkes the gospels oppressive reading.

    “I do not believe for a moment that any random “ordinary group” of 20 faithful anywhere would have any such reaction.”

    Well, read the priest’s letter — the top of the column in the most recent Tablet.

    Note, once again, that the entire English speaking Catholic population of South Africa had the same reaction.

    Houston, we gotta problem! But as always there are people who do not want to see the problem — be it in Chilean mines, or Iraq invasions, or Shuttle disasters — until it is too late.

  14. Since when is The Tablet considered to be a source for reliable news? I agree that it’s possible and actually pretty easy to get a “focus group” to give whatever outcome is wanted. If I were to use my choir as a “focus group”, I could confidently report that perhaps 9 out of 10 Catholics prefer the Mass to be said in Latin, and that an overwhelming majority prefer Gregorian Chant at Mass. Only a fool would accept a selected group of individuals as a source of polling data.

    That said, I agree with Fr. Ruff that it is unwise to assume that there is a final text yet. This is too important a project.

    1. Read The Tablet and you can find out lots of things about the Catholic Church in the U.S. that aren’t printed in U.S. Catholic periodicals/newspapers!!

  15. Jeffrey: “This is too important a project.”

    Indeed. Surely t’s fine to have a German translation for Germans, whether “corrected” or not. It’s ok to have seven different Spanish translations for different Spanish groups.

    But this is a single English translation for the world. And not merely English speakers, since many other language translations will be based on the English translation rather than the original Latin.

    And not just for now but for the future, if indeed English is destined to become “the new Latin” (pardon the phrase). In which case, the grammatical accuracy and doctrinal authenticity and fidelity of the translation may be even more important that its readability–however important this also is–by one person or another (a subjective perception, in any event).

    So, even though I have anxiously awaited a faithful translation of the Roman missal for the majority of my life, I hope another year or so is spent on it if this is necessary. Obviously, after exhaustive consideration of multiple drafts by national conferences, the final reconciliations can only be carried out in Rome (this being, after all, the Roman missal). Why should we complain about a year or so to get it right, after decades living with it done wrong?

    1. It would, of course, be possible to have two, English translations: one literal Babelfish translation for those who use English as a base text for translation rather than Latin, the other translation in decent, literary, elegant English for liturgical use. Unfortunately it’s the first of these two that we’re getting. And the reason for this is Liturgiam Authenticam, often described as possibly the most ignorant document ever produced by a Roman congregation.

      The reason people are complaining is because the so-called “final” text keeps changing — and more than once. The history of what has happened to the Order of Mass over the past few years is nothing less than disgraceful.

      1. We’re getting “babelfish” only if we accept your premise, something many have not done.

  16. Paul;

    And my guess is that it will change a few more times before all is said and done. The complaints are because people expect some kind of timetable to be in effect. This process is not unlike the process for every major change throughout church history, except that there is an unprecedented amount of input from a wide range of sources. A mere 150 or 200 years ago, there would have been no mention of this project until it was completed and finalized (and yes, I realize that there would not be a translation project at that time, but there were certainly other major undertakings. Why is it that people suddenly expect the Catholic Church to be some sort of democratic institution where equality, democracy, openness and justice reign? I know, I know…there was so much hope with Vatican II, but I mean really now….

  17. Jeffery Herbert makes a good point – the Vatican management has probably long been about as organized and efficient and on time as it is now. I see this difference now, though: because of rapid communication, everyone knows immediately what’s happening (or as much of it as leaks out). Also, as modern Western societies know only democracy because there aren’t any other functioning absolute monarchies except the Vatican, it becomes increasingly difficult for people to understand (or accept) the actions of the Vatican monarchy as the web makes them known.

    It will be interesting to see whether these newer forces ever bring about any changes in how the Vatican thinks it should organize itself and do business. The Holy See surely must be concerned that its various positions are not affirmed by so many Catholics or non-Catholics. Will this lead to structural or procedural changes to try to increase credibility or bring about more buy-in by Church members?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions, nor will I hazard any guesses or predictions. Of course no form of Church governance is perfect, and any change brings drawbacks and risks along with possible gains.


  18. “it also gives fodder to people who want to see this whole process as something negative perpetrated by Rome upon us.”

    Sorry, but Philip Endean and countless others do not “want to see” this; they simply “see” this; and they need not fodder to sustain the vision. It is as plain as a pikestaff.

  19. One does have to wonder why the necessity for an entire year of propaganda instruments (books, meetings, talks, pamphlets, etc.) in implementing some mere language changes [sic] in the Mass….how stupid do the hierarchy think we are??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *