Ratio translationis – leaked

And now someone has leaked the Ratio translationis – the guidebook called for in Liturgiam authenticam for each vernacular language into which the Latin liturgical books are to be translated.

I’m not sure why all these leaks are happening now – maybe the leaks of U.S. diplomatic cables are inspiring someone. In the Catholic Church there is so much anger over the translation process, it’s not surprising that someone wants to blow it open. Maybe the CDW can commiserate with the U.S. State Department.

And meanwhile, maybe someone can prepare for Pray Tell a study of how the Ratio translationis was or was not followed in the final edition of the missal? With charts, tables, that sort of thing. Any takers?


  1. It seems that many people are uploading documents. The UK missal was uploaded twice: there’s a message on wikispooks saying that the second upload had been canceled once the site managers realized that it was identical to a previously uploaded file. It looks as though those files come from at least half a dozen different people. One of them picked the user name “jamespmoroney”!

  2. The problem is that we are operating on speculations and assumptions. Do we really have a definitive answer as to whether or not there is a FINAL version of the revised Roman Missal?

    Until such time that someone who can authoritatively speak for the Holy See and give us a definitive answer, we really have nothing to go on, only speculations and theories. In the end, that really helps no one.

  3. Michelle, we do have a leaked draft set up as a final Missal and it differs dramatically and substantively from what was submitted by the Conferences. It is also riddled with grave defects throughout. It would be gravely irresponsible not to speak out during the time when it is possible to make a difference on behalf of a Missal with integrity. No one would bother saying anything if doing so were just idle chat or merely complaining about the inevitable.

  4. It warms my heart to see the unifying effect of the Received Text: Catholics from all across the liturgical/theological map are unified in denouncing its ugliness. It’s a little like that alternate-history books series in which the warring parties in WWII cease hostilities so that they can fight off invading space aliens. Perhaps this was the plan all along. It makes as much sense as anything else.

  5. My concern, though, is that in this day and age, manipulations of texts can (and, lamentably, do) happen. A very skilled person can take an adobe file and doctor it up. If one can falsify documents, like insurance cards and college transcripts, the revised Roman Missal would not be that difficult to doctor.

    Has anyone taken the time to contact the CDWDS to find out anything definitive? Speculation is one thing, but, unless we hear from someone in authority, even what is posted on WikiSpooks is suspect and hearsay.

    1. Why would someone possibly want to do that?
      The combination of resolve, knowledge, time, and lack of ethics required for that makes it all but impossible. It’s not a matter of changing a single credit card number, but of sprinkling changes in translation over hundreds and hundreds of pages, in a messy yet believable manner. Can you come up with a scenario where that might happen?

  6. Claire, just because you think something is not necessarily possible, that does not exclude its plausibility.

    No one has yet to answer my question about checking with authoritive sources to verify what has been posted. Just because something shows up on WikiSpooks, that does not necessariy mean that it’s legitimate.

    1. From what I’ve been able to ascertain in academe, these are the “real thing” and have been uploaded at no small risk to the parties involved — careers, livelihoods, reputations, offices within the hierarchy, and pensions are all at risk — hence the anonymity. But no manipulation: the CDW has done more than enough of that for everyone.

    2. As I said earlier:
      All the critiques in the leaked internal report match perfectly with all the problematic texts in the leaked “Moroney Missal.” Bishop Serratelli issued a statement in which he did NOT state that the internal report was a fraud, but rather that it was outdated because it was based on an earlier version of the final text. If the internal statement were a fake, wouldn’t he have said so categorically? Bishop Serratelli’s words are a clear authentication of the internal report, and therefore of the leaked missal.

  7. From the current issue of The Wanderer:

    “I suppose that if some CDW official saw that the CDW under Cardinal Prefects Arinze and now Canizares were moving with determination on the course mapped out by Papa Ratzinger, he/they might want to put a halt to the Congregation’s momentum by undermining its reputation in the world. How to do that? Engineer a substandard revision of what took many thousands of man-hours and scores of scholars and hundreds of bishops to come to grips with. Squander the Congregation’s moral capital. I hate to say it, but — in the manner of Sherlock Holmes — when the possible scenarios have been ruled out, then perhaps the impossible was the right answer all along.”

  8. In the interest of transperancy, then, who is the leak? If one is going to take the time to copy this book and then put it into a PDF format, then, maybe this Ecclesiastical “Deep Throat” should man-up and tell us who he really is and be honest about what version he uploaded. He should also be honest about his motives.

  9. Michelle, look at this interview from 6 months ago: http://www.praytellblog.com/index.php/2010/06/11/what-if-we-said-wait-6-months-later/

    PT: Did anything surprise you in the responses you received?

    MR: I think I was most surprised – and disappointed – at the number of people who signed the initiative anonymously. Many were priests and religious. It says something about the fear that is out there. How sad that priests would be so in fear of their bishops that they wouldn’t feel free to express themselves openly. I see this as quite a commentary on the current climate in our Church.

  10. The current “leaking” craze makes me uncomfortable. How would you like it if someone leaked documents which you authored and you had a reasonable assumption they were a draft for certain eyes only?

    Maybe I am just stuck in some outmoded mindset, but one of the things that makes me pause is that the same people who applaud leaks when they seem to advance a particular agenda will whine and cry foul when leaks hinder their agenda. Case in point: NYT trumpeting the current Wikileaks batch of secret docs, while decrying the leaks from the East Anglia’s Global Warming scandal, refusing to publish them because they were “illegally obtained.”

    Claire Mathieu makes a good point: if transparency is so great in the case of the leaked missal, why won’t the “What If We Just Said Wait” people sign their real names to the petition? How is it transparent to sign a petition for something you supposedly believe in if you do it anonymously?

    I see that the point “MR” makes in the quote Clarie cited is that “the current climate in our Church” makes it too risky for signers to reveal themselves, but I ask again, if transparency is so necessary for a healthy organization, why not lead by example? If you can’t sign on to the current leadership’s agenda, why not get out and try something else?

    I respect Jeffery Tucker immensely, but I fear he may not have thought through his argument that a “wiki” type document would be best for translation. But he could be right: I would like to see it tried, at least to see if it is workable.

    1. Ben and all,

      I admit that it makes me uncomfortable also – but perhaps for different reasons and to a different extent than you. I’ve been interested in the comments of editors at BBC and NYT about whether or not to quote from the leaked cables. They did, at least in many cases, because it’s newsworthy.

      Somewhat similarly, you will have noticed that we don’t post leaked documents at Pray Tell. But we do run the news story – it is a big story – that something has been leaked, and I tell readers what seems significant in the leak. In some cases the document was leaked to Pray Tell long before it went up at WikiSpooks – and I waited until someone else posted it there, and then reported on it. I don’t assume that the person who leaked it to me is the one who leaked it to WikiSpooks, since there are multiple copies of these things floating around.

      Ideally, in my opinion, we would have a more open process such as ICEL used before Liturgiam authenticam when they regularly published progress reports, or such as other denominations use. I would prefer that everything possible be made public. But now that Rome has changed our system to be more secretive, and now that the process has been so abused that it has outraged so many people around the globe, I suppose it’s inevitable that some people leak things. Not the most noble thing to do – but probably the only way that powerless or hurt people feel they are able to have any good effect within such a corrupt system and process.



      1. I spent half a lifetime working in multinational companies where secrecy and internal politics were common features.
        However such policies and procedures never worked very well. By the time a major organizational change was due to be rolled out, the rank and file had a pretty good knowledge of what was in store.
        The advent of email and the Web added a destructive creativity that accelerated the process of back-channel information transfer -“leaks” if you will.
        I really don’t see much difference between the results obtained by big Company policy and internal Church policy when it comes to keeping things under wraps – although I’m the first to admit I’m a total layperson, reading this blog with fascination.
        Perhaps there will be honesty and transparency at the parish level when the new translation is implemented. I hope so. Many people who post here give me that hope.

    2. I agree that it is a bit scary to think that anyone can post any information they have and have it be available publicly, with no way to trace it back to the original person who posted it.

      But in reality, if you look at the actual documents posted on Wikispooks, I think that it is easy to make the case that making them public serves the common good. It enables experts to point out flaws and suggest fixes, so as to give the CDW a chance to do those corrections before the text goes to the publishers and is used by hundreds of millions of people. It helps understand the process so that its imperfections can be remedied. It helps prevent future mistakes. In a way, isn’t it the institutional version of an examination of conscience?

      It is a testimony to how responsible these people are that they have only uploaded official documents that are useful for the church to see. No gossip, thank God! Instead, their actions could turn out to be a great service to the church.

  11. Claire, with all due respect, you are quoting an interview with a group of dissenters that is against the revised Roman Missal. Their credibility, in my opinion, is suspect. They seem to think that there is no problem with what we have now.

    Has anyone tried to contact the CDWDS, ICEL and the USCCB to get to the heart of the matter? Or, are we simply relying on what are rumors? Someone once said that a heresy is a truth gone wild. While these leaks may seem “true”, something tells me that they are not as reliable as we are led to believe they are.

    1. Michelle – just go and contact all those agencies and see whether they give you enough information to get to the heart of the matter! Then tell us, we’d all love to know.

      In my interview with Msgr. Moroney on this blog,
      he said he could not say anything about the work of Vox Clara in its final review (and proposing 10,000+ changes) because “The Vox Clara Committee operates under a promise of confidentiality which, I am sure you can understand in the light of our role advising the Holy See.”

      Bishop Serratelli said in his statement that the work of CDW was entirely ordinary and it drew on the suggestions from bishops’ conferences. That can’t be, since suggestions from conferences number in the dozens or hundreds, not the thousands. He said that we have a final text – but in fact it’s still being revised in Rome. He said that any changes are merely editorial – but the leaked final text shows textual changes from the Received Text.

      Maybe you could call Bishop Serratelli and point out these inconsistencies in his statement, and ask him what the complete and total truth really is. Then share it with us – we’d all like to know.

      In theological discourse, “dissent” is from defined doctrines, so I’m not sure why you apply the term to the WIFJSW signatories and Fr. Ryan. Surely it’s not a revealed doctrine of our Faith that the new missal is well translated! But even if they are dissenters (they’re not), that’s hardly a reason of accusing them of being dishonest. I’ve never heard Fr. Ryan or any of the others say there is nothing wrong with our current translation. Have you? Or did you make up that accusation?

      You’re making a valiant try, but you’re trying to defend the indefensible.


    2. Michelle, I signed the petition that asks that the Missal first be implemented in a subset of parishes during a trial period before being adopted everywhere.

    3. What’s the matter, dear? After all these years of thinking that the Roman trads would do the right thing, is it too overwhelming to admit that ambition and incompetence trump integrity and intelligence – even on the right?

      1. I wonder where you’ve gotten the impression that any “Roman trads” are involved in this. Unless your idea of a “Roman trad” is Msgr. Moroney, who’s about as “trad” as he is “Roman”.

        I myself know of precious few “trads” in Rome. And most “trads” I know have little interest in translations of the Novus Ordo.

        In any event, this stuff looks to me more like the work of probably low level staffers, possibly not native English speakers, trying unsuccessfully to incorporate random and even contradictory suggestions coming from random directions, with no sensible pattern, either conservative or progressive.

        Setting aside the hopefully ridiculous idea that this is an attempted sabotage job by disgruntled Vatican liberals. In which case, the leakers will have done everyone a favor by alerting us to the game in time for a fix.

  12. Again, we don’t know what alleged version of the translation was leaked out, or, if this is even a legitimate one. For all we know, the person who claims to be (Msgr.) James P. Moroney may not even be the good monsignor, himself.

    As for reasons for signing the petition, Claire, I do not think that there are any good ones. The folks who brought this pettition about have no real interest in the liturgy and seem to adhere to the alleged “Spirit of Vatican II” than what the documents of the Second Vatican Council (and any subsequent authoritative documents afterwards) actually say.

    1. Now Michelle, these are rather sweeping statements. No real interest in the liturgy? Not concerned with what documents actually say? Have you attended liturgy at the cathedral in Seattle? Are you familiar with any of the signatories of the petition?

      There was a post here on PrayTell many months ago listing some of the formidable people who signed this petition; if you knew any them, you wouldn’t say what you’ve said, because it can’t be supported. You may disagree with them, but its not legitimate to dismiss them as having no real interest in the liturgy or no care for authoritative documents.

      It puzzles me that you seem to think there are no grounds for a genuine dispute. The competences of the various layers of ecclesiastical authority has been in dispute, the ethics of the process has been in dispute, and the value and worth of the final product has been in dispute. All these disputes have been argued in light of and with ample reference to the liturgical documents.

    2. Michelle, you’re skating very close to the edge of our comments policy. We expect respect from all sides. If you disagree with others, fine. But to say that they have no real interest in the liturgy is slander. Please do not continue in this vein.

    3. Michelle: if the authority of the Church told you to do something immoral, would you do it? If the answer is yes, you are some sort of fanatic. If the answer is no, then you are sane, but you are also saying that any obligation not to dissent from hierarchical directive depends on a further judgment that the directive is a legitimate one.

  13. CHE: In any event, this stuff looks to me more like the work of probably low level staffers, possibly not native English speakers, trying unsuccessfully to incorporate random and even contradictory suggestions coming from random directions, with no sensible pattern, either conservative or progressive.

    I have heard it said that, while editorial inconsistencies may result from the work of staffers (there are precious few low-level ones, by the way — in fact precious few staffers at all, in fact), the errors, howlers, deviations from LA principles, etc, are down to Vox Clara consultants brought in to do the work, some of whom do not have sufficient expertise in Latin and who worked independently of each other on the segments parcelled out to them.

    No one is going to tell us whether this is true, of course.

    1. We don’t know for sure since they’re not forthcoming, but I’m pretty sure that all the Vox Clara people who did the final revision are native English speakers – three Americans and one Brit.

      1. Fr. Ruff, since you evidently know something and I know nothing about Vox Clara workings — my wondering whether they were native English speakers was based solely on the visible results of their work — can you suggest (or guess) what might have been the ostensible reasons (whether good ones or bad ones) that Vox Clara consultants might have been making apparently extensive revisions after the recognitio had been given.

      2. CHE – it’s a fair presumption from you; one would surely think that they’re not native speakers. For the life of me I can’t figure out how on earth this happened. So anything from me is pure speculation. 3 out of the 4 have reason to be mad at ICEL so maybe it was payback time?? I hate to impute that to anyone because it’s an awful motive, but I just don’t see many credible motivations or explanations for anything this bad. As I’ve said several times: this is the most bizarre thing I’ve seen in my life. Wish I could be more helpful.

  14. Some computer science researchers are currently working on automatic translation from English into English, that would transform a bland sentence to make it more poetic. (http://googleresearch.blogspot.com/2010/10/poetic-machine-translation.html)

    For example, they go from: “A police spokesman said three people had been arrested and the material was being examined.” to:
    “An officer stated that three were arrested
    and that the equipment is currently tested.”

    There was recently also an interesting discussion about automatically translating English to “better” English at http://rjlipton.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/can-we-translate-english-to-english/#comments

    Perhaps in some future, not too distant day, this entire discussion will be moot.

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