Lost in Translation

Yesterday, in commenting on another thread, Msgr. Bruce Harbert, former executive secretary of ICEL, called our attention to some discrepancies between the text of the Missal used by Msgr. James Moroney in catechetical materials, and the text which is posted on the US Bishops’ website.

Msgr. Harbert notes that

A good deal has been made on this blog of the involvement of Mgr James Moroney with the 2011 Vox Clara text, but the situation isn’t as simple as some people seem to imagine. If you look at http://www.romanmissal.us/ you will find interviews with several Vox Clara members, and Mgr Moroney reciting new versions of the Eucharistic Prayers. But the text he utters differs in several places from that given on the USCCB website at http://www.usccb.org/romanmissal/order-of-mass.pdf.

I have spotted seven such discrepancies in Eucharistic Prayer 2 alone. Which is the approved text? . . . These aren’t just slips of the tongue. For instance, in the opening paragraph of Eucharistic Prayer 3, where the printed text reads “pure”, Mgr M says “perfect”.

Perhaps it is necessary to distinguish two versions, 2011a and 2011b.


  1. I note with Msgr. Harbert that the video of the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I) similarly has a number of significant departures — not simply missed words but whole phrases — from the USCCB text.

  2. Does the text on the USCCB website conform to what the publishers have been sent and are presumably printing (or at least composing and typesetting) right now? Could the publishers be forced to pulp their print runs if they’ve been given the wrong texts? The translation mess seems to be moving from tragedy to farce.

  3. The USCCG website had a text at one time that made Mary the mother of Joseph her spouse. I do not know for how many months that text was on their site. NO ONE NOTICED, until I alerted Bp Trautman; the howler was corrected the next day. Note that the bishops at their November 2008 meeting rubber stamped texts that they had not carefully studied. The fact that they had not studied them was apparent from the fact that only FIVE of the 300 or so bishops had passed in written comments.

      1. so that on the First Sunday of Advent we can enjoy the changing of the Latin’s (and 2008’s) “temporal/eternal” contrast (Prayer over the Offerings) to 2010’s “here below/eternal”?

        Or during 2010’s Postcommunion Prayer (still just the FIRST Sunday of Advent!) ask that “as we walk amid passing things,” God may “teach us by them to love the things of heaven”? the exact opposite of what the Latin (and its faithful translation of 2008) says?


      2. Hmmm. It raises the question, if the USCCB is this sloppy, shouldn’t a bishop’s imprimatur and the certification “nihil obstat” also be treated with all the seriousness consumers are inclined to give the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”?

  4. As we have spoken about in Providence, the only right way to treat this new text is through loose leaf binders, making the numerous corrections to follow simply a matter of replacing pages in the binder. To drop anything like $500 on this train wreak is absurd.

    I note above an advertisement offering this new missal at 30% off….soon to be 80% off as worried faces look at the store rooms full of them, while the clergy stick their “chapel editions” in the extreme bottom drawers in the sacristy and “pull out ole faithful” as something at least they can understand and proclaim to get the job done.

    There is going to be mass hysteria, as this Titanic hits the iceberg on Christ the King and all desperately try to keep the ship afloat into Advent 1, but like the ship, the water pumps buy you minutes and not salvation. The outcome is preordained as the SS Moroney is last seen taking on water and sliding under the Atlantic during the darkness of night.

    1. I can just picture Cardinal Pell clinging to the side of a lifeboat from the SSMoroney, struggling to get into the boat as he’s weighed down by his cappa magna. Another image comes to mind, Captain Bligh being rowed ashore at Pitcairn Island with Admiral Ratzinger grinning as he peers down at him from the popedeck.

      1. Dunstan, you are confused. It was women and
        children first! Cardinal Pell would be expected to
        properly go down with the ship with the illustrious
        captain, Msgr Moroney still in the wheel house at the wheel, rolling marbles back and forth in his fingers
        (Opps! That’s another [appropriate though] movie)
        However, I can understand your confusion given the
        cappa magna and all. With the festive pill box and from the back, who can tell?

        In the end, with options limited, the stern rising out of the ocean, all the clergy will jump off and make a go
        for it, hoping, pleading, praying for a rescue, but seeing only endless frigid waters coming from out of the Tiber, they will lose heart and surrender to “Ole faithful” for comfort in those waning hours, with the orchestra playing to the last Juravit Dominus interspersed with Ecce Sacerdos as the waves hit the deck.

        The blame, haste and stupidity then as now, as always, rests at the top as the SS Moroney slips under the waves. The unsinkable liturgy having sunk with great loss of lives (clerical and lay).

  5. Which entity sponsors “http://www.romanmissal.us”? I see links to the New Liturgical Movement on the home page and links to the Liturgical Institute on internal pages. Why is there no “who we are” ?

  6. Please note that Monsignor Harbert is not the “former head of ICEL” as he never had the head job there.

    Bruce was “Executive Director of the Secretariat” but the head job, in Bruce’s time there, and since, has belonged to Bishop Roche, the Chairman of ICEL.

    There are many who would say that the head job really belongs to Monsignor Moroney, who seems to be calling all the shots now, but at least on paper, until the statutes are revised again, the head job is still Bishop Roche’s.

  7. I note with interest, having just suffered through a Eucharistic Prayer with Msgr Moroney, that he is reading it out of a loose leaf binder. No big red book for this captain of the sinking ship.

    Aside from being grateful that I am not one of his parishioners, I ask no special treatment for the clergy here in Providence, just treat them as the good Msgr is treated, as is seen on the UTube presentation: give them loose leaf binders so the Mass can be updated weekly, until that day when the local clergy finally retire “ole faithful.”

      1. Um . . . Fritz, there ARE LOTS OF big red books – everyone who went to the big Vox Clara Lunch With The Pope last year got one (except the Pope, who got a white one) – and they’ve all been using them in a quite public fashion: Archbishop Di Noia, for instance, took his home to the States for his summer vacation last year and used it all over the place (despite the fact that the texts he was using remain unapporved even now).

        Yes, they’re slightly different from the big red books which Janet and her confreres in Providence will end up with, but they’re big red (and white) books just the same!

  8. Now that misprints etc seem to be part of the new text can somebody tell me if this is one in Eucharistic Praye 1, or if not what is meant? Who is offering the sacrifice?

    85. Commemoration of the Living.
    Remember, Lord, your servants N. and N.

    and all gathered here,
    whose faith and devotion are known to you.
    For them, we offer you this sacrifice of praise
    or they offer it for themselves
    and all who are dear to them:
    for the redemption of their souls,
    in hope of health and well-being,
    and paying their homage to you,
    the eternal God, living and true.

    1. That’s an accurate translation of the Latin. It’s been that way in the Canon for centuries and centuries. Probably the “or” was once a rubric and the priest was supposed to pick which of the two connected phrases was to be applied. I’m not sure anyone knows for certain. In any event, it’s not an error in the translating that is confusing you.

  9. Thanks to john francis robert for underlining this discrepancy. For those of us who are slow learners, can you provide some clarifications:

    – Msgr. Bruce Harbert – was the ICEL director; but he stepped down recently, correct? Replaced by Moroney?
    – Echo Bill Logan’s questions above….which version went to the publishing houses?
    – can someone enlighten on the differences between the two links/websites….isn’t one of these an Opus Dei or LC publishing entity?
    – why isn’t the USCCB more involved? (I know, stupid questions?)

      1. Publishers of an forthcoming edition of the Roman Missal that looks alot like LTP’s “regal edition” (who the hell came up with that description?), and Vox Clara’s instructional booklet, AND Monsignor Moroney’s DVD. Kind of a cozy set up.

        And the March Columbia magazine from the Knights of Columbus says THEY helped fund Vox Clara!

        Wow! Everybody of a very certain persuasion’s getting into the act huh?

      2. Jeremy #22:

        LTP’s “regal edition” is not their own… they are selling Midwest Tholeogical Forum’s (=Opus Dei’s) edition.

        That’s why everything is looking so much alike….

      1. Obedient cheerleaders, I’d say.

        “Ours is not to question why. Ours is but to do (pay up) and die.”

    1. The English and Welsh hierarchy (of which he is a part of) has been very quiet with regard to the implementation of the new translation.

    2. Because he does not want to die in Leeds, and the pallium he craves won’t be his if he does what Alan Griffiths and Anthony Ruff have done: telling the truth about the new translation.

  10. Publisher friends (three DIFFERENT publishers) tell me that MOUNTAINS of “errata” are flying back and forth between them and ICEL and the BCDW. But, as one of them said to me, “If only we were allowed to send in the grammatical errors we’ve picked up!” (Actually, someone did. No response. And no correction. Surprise).

    Cheerleaders for 2010, versions a, b and c, cheer on! This is going to be interesting to watch. One insider, who actually worked on the translation, has said that, “We’ll know in eighteen months (i.e., a liturgical year and a half) whether this translation is going to stand or whether it’s back to the drawing board.”

    But again, WHOSE drawing board? Is ICEL going to bother going through the charade of preparing a translation of the Missal or any other liturgical book, knowing that at the end of the process the anonymous (and apparently unskilled) revisers of Vox Clara will simply “have at it” with hatchet and pick-axe and swiftly receive the recognitio?

    1. Last month the bishops were sent PDFs of the entire Missal… for their “personal use” … I can only assume that these were the same files sent to publishers… so if errata continue to fly, it seems that these were out of date even before they were sent…. For what it is worth, the version of EPII currently on the USCCB website matches the version sent to the bishops.A very quick scan of the Proper of Time for Advent and Christmas (now posted on the USCCB site) reveals the same.

      1. So, following up on both posts by john francis robert – why is Moroney using a different version? And if Ward has had “significant” input….are there disagreements,etc. between Moroney and Ward? Guessing that Pell and Ward are together on this. Will Moroney be the next to fall?

      2. I suspect the only story here is that Moroney was using a less-than-final version because the final version kept changing so much. Maybe his version was the latest at the time the recording was made. Or maybe he was careless with details (typical for him) and grabbed the wrong draft for the recording session.


  11. Here is an account of a meeting held on Monday, February 28, between the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland and representatives of the Irish R.C. Bishops’ conference, where members of the association expressed their serious concerns about the new translation:


  12. Has anyone considered that maybe Vox Clara wasn’t the group responsible for all the changes between 2008 and 2010? My sources tell me to look to Fr. Anthony Ward. Does anyone know enough about the workings of the CDW to verify this?

    1. Fr Zuhlsdorf (What Does the Prayer Really Say), who has since decided (apparently) to post only what he is calling the “corrected translation,” was at first posting BOTH 2008 and 2010 (I wonder if various bloggers were told by the BCDW to “cool it” in their criticisms, or else!).

      In his very first reactions to the 2010 changes, he seemed clearly annoyed, realising no doubt (since he is an excellent Latinist) that some inferior hand had meddled with the 2008 version. In one very interesting quip, he said, regarding the Vox Clara advisors’ anonymity, “perhaps it is to WARD off criticism.” And he both capitalised and italicised “WARD,” which many of us took (quite rightly, a friend of his confirmed for me) as Fr. Z’s inside-joke way of pointing to whom HE thought the culprit to be.

      Add to all that an ambitious executive secretary who appears to know precious little Latin and even less English grammar . . . and you’ve got “the perfect storm,” as they say.

  13. Are these two from Google the same?
    If not, what is the background of the CDWDS Anthony Ward?

    Father Anthony Ward Appointed Undersecretary of Congregation
    Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Fr. Anthony Ward S.M., capo ufficio of the Congregation for Divine
    Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as under-secretary of the same congregation. The
    appointment was made public on March 15, 2007. Cardinal Francis Arinze serves as Prefect of the
    Congregation, while Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith serves as Secretary.
    Fr. Anthony Ward
    Ordained by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1973. Ran the seminary at Armada, Michigan for the Society until early 1977, then departed for Colorado Springs.

    Servants of the Holy Family Chapel
    8025 Maverick Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80908
    Fr. Anthony Ward, (719) 495-3933,

  14. Does anyone have contacts among the liturgical publishers? When LTP did the gospel book/lectionaries when I was an editor there, we were making changes at the very last minute, about four weeks before the on sale date. If the pubs aren’t even allowed to sell copies before Oct, I suspect that there will be changes coming in from all over, including BCDW before it’s all over with. We won’t know what the approved translation is until we get our “regal” editions.

  15. In response to Mattie Long’s comment of 7.06am today, the Commemoration of the Living in the Roman Canon is hard to translate because of an addition widely attributed to Alcuin (died 804). Originally the prayer read:

    . . . who offer you this sacrifice of praise
    for themselves and all who are dear to them:
    for the redemption of their souls,
    in hope of health and well-being,
    and paying their homage to you,
    the eternal God, living and true.

    The addition made it read (literally translated):

    . . . for whom we offer you,
    or who (themselves) offer you,
    this sacrifice of praise
    for themselves and all who are dear to them . . .

    The text means that all present join in offering the one sacrifice. The purpose of the addition seems to have been to distinguish the role of those in the sanctuary from that of those outside.

    1. Msgr.,

      Mazza says that the vel was originally rubrical, indicating alternatives to be use depending on whether or not the offerers named were present. Do have any opinion as to whether that might be the case?

      1. This was my understanding too, Fritz, thus making an exact translation needlessly puzzling and productive of misunderstandings.

      2. It’s by no means a new analysis and it makes a lot of sense. But I do not know if there are any traces of a Roman Canon text without this vel clause.

  16. From this month’s Columbia, magazine of the Knights of Columbus:
    “The Vox Clara Committee, consisting of bishops from throughout the English-speaking world, was formed to advise the congregation regarding the English translation. This committee, with financial support from the Knights of Columbus, worked to correct and improve the translations of the prayers we use at Mass.”

    Cardinal Justin Rigali, “A New Translation,” Columbia 91.3 (March 2011), 8-11, here 10.

    1. Thanks, Bill

      Interesting to see and hear the reputed author of Liturgiam Authenticam – the “fifth instruction”.

      A summary of what he says:

      1. English is important because it is a world language. It therefore determines what the language of the official prayer of the church should be.

      2. The 1973 translation didn’t satisfy those involved in pastoral work on the ground, many bishops and a large section of the laity.

      3. The new translation is a result of a very wide process of consultation and is designed to create a taste for prayer and serve as an instruction in relationships with God and people.

      4. The voice of the Council (Vat.II) is heard in the new translation and will be heard more clearly in the way the texts are pronounced and sung.

      5. The language in the new translation is really the language of the bible and uses the idiom of the Fathers of the Church. In experiencing the translation, we will be propelled back to the first centuries of Christianity.

  17. Thank you for the reply; #41 by Mgr Bruce Harbert on March 2, 2011 – 11:42 am

    Sadly it shows all that is not well with this new missal. The sample I used from the new version of Eucharistic Prayer 1 is not readily understandable. The translation, because it is attempting to be literal, is at best cumbersome and confusing. The meaning, as kindly explained, is lost in the new text. There are many such examples. I would very respectfully urge a reappraisal of this whole project.

  18. Bill,

    Just a bit on the tedious side, no? Perhaps he does better as a celebrant. So one hopes. A chief architect of LA and PUBLIC prayer in English as well.

    1. You are being overly generous – “tedious side”. I decided to skip any comments because his interview reminded me of endless, mind-numbing philosophy classes in college taught by priests who, for the life of me, never seemed to show one iota of energy, passion, or even enthusiasm for what was supposed to be the core of their ministry? In one theologate, had a scripture prof who would preach for 45 minutes at a daily eucharist – his first name was warren and his nickname was “boren (as in boring) warren”….could never figure out why the chapel was so empty on the days he celebrated.

      Agreed – let’s hope he brings a whole other set of gifts, skills as a presider; if not, he is a prime candidate of my “elephant in the living room” – it’s not the translation; it’s the presider who no one can hear or understand. So, really, this translation really won’t change things; just make it even more difficult for those presiders who are lost in PUBLIC PRAYER.

  19. The Gelasian Sacramentary lacks the addition to the Memento of the Living in the Roman Canon – not the ‘vel’- clause exactly, but the words ‘pro quibus tibi offerimus vel’.
    Mazza’s suggestion is interesting, but it is difficult to see how a celebrant could choose, or feel obliged, to say ‘qui tibi offerunt’ on its own once the addition had found its way into the text, since that would remove a reference to the celebrant, the one person who must always be present.

    1. Well, whether Mazza’s interpretation is correct or not, it doesn’t explain why such a historical and theological confusion should be introduced to our Eucharistic praying in the here and now. Granted many such historical idiosyncrasies appear in liturgical prayer, theology and the like; but is a division made between those inside and outside of the sanctuary something we really want to reflect in our prayer in light of patristic and contemporary liturgical theology? I think not. Another farce…

    2. Bruce, surely just because he ‘must always be present’ doesn’t necessarily mean he must also refer specifically to himself – he’s also ‘one of them’ (usually in more than one sense) . . . after all, he’ll also be saying ‘for many’ when he means ‘for all’ – dangerous literalism such as you’re here proposing might have us all returning to ‘stand in your presence’ (rather than ‘be in your presence’ to which you’ve changed it, though at the behest of a prelate even greater than yourself).

      1. Actually it is probably in better and more classical liturgical taste that he not refer to himself (gee! a subjunctive). The we-ism of our prayers has become a drag — I sometimes begin the prayer after the Our Father by saying “Deliver your people, Lord, from every evil” but this runs into trouble with “peace in our day”. I must check to see if “qui tibi offerunt” clashes with the general 1st person plural character of the Canon in the same way.

  20. Surprise! It is the “offerimus” that clashes with an otherwise 3rd person prayer: “Memento, Domine, famulorum, famularumque tuarum et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio, PRO QUIBUS TIBI OFFERIMUS VEL qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis pro se, suisque omnibus: pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis, et incolumitatis suae tibique reddunt vota sua aeterno Deo, vivo et vero.”

      1. Last time I looked, the New York Times wasn’t a (large, and getting larger) man claiming to be a “traditionalist” Catholic priest, obedient to NO bishop, and with a voracious apetite for the expenditure of (other people’s) cash.

    1. Sam, I don’t know too many priests who have an amazon wishlist published on the Internet.

      Or who put up pictures of a $400 reprinted Benziger Missal and then say: “Bottom line: I want one.” expecting the devout laity to fork one over.

      The question isn’t how the publishing business works, it’s how the clerical racket works.

      But I think you knew that already.

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