USCCB Meeting: Charging Ahead with More Translations in the Style of the New Missal

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is meeting in Baltimore November 11-14, 2013. There are five liturgical items are up for a vote.

Two items concern new English translations of liturgical texts:

  • Retranslated Order of Confirmation in accord with Liturgiam authenticam.
  • Final translation of the marriage rite, done by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) from the 1991 Latin edition which was never translated into English.

The newly-translated Roman Missal according to Liturgiam authenticam came into use in Advent, 2011, to mixed reviews. With the above decisions, the U.S. bishops would continue the approach of that book to the rites of confirmation and marriage. If the bishops approve these translations, they would be sent to Rome for final approval.

The bishops are also voting on marriage adaptations:

  • Four adaptions to the marriage rite: alternatives forms of vows, the option to move the Nuptial Blessing from after the Our Father into the Rite itself, the option of using a litany of the saints, and the option of using the Spanish adaptations of giving coins and the Blessing and Placing of the Lazo/Veil over the couple during the nuptial blessing.

Two business items concern Spanish-language texts in the U.S.:

  • Using the Spanish-language Misal Romano from Mexico as the base text for the U.S. Spanish-language missal.
  • U.S adaptations and proper text for the Misal Romano. (E.g. Spanish-language translation of the prayer texts for saints such as Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos and others.)


  1. Maybe this time the new translations will be rejected by Rome and we can return to a more understandable and user friendly translation!

  2. I have heard through the grapevine that the US bishops have chosen NOT to translate Chapter III of the 1991 Latin text “Order of celebrating matrimony in the presence of a lay officiant.” This chapter includes a MAJOR development in the euchology of marriage (as are the reformed Nuptial Blessings in the 1991 editio typica alter) as it includes an “oratio benedictionis nuptialis” (prayer of nuptial blessing) spoken by the lay officiant with acclamations by the assembly. I would very much like to find out if what I heard is true, and if a bishops’ conference can ignore translating an entire chapter of an editio typica, while demanding the remaining translations conform to the prescriptions of LA.

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #3:

      If they can translate astare coram te as “be in your presence,” and then claim to be following LA, they can do pretty much whatever the heck they feel like.

      I’ve been using the opening prayers and nuptial blessings from the new Missal translation at weddings for almost two years now and I’ve got to say that they really are not that bad (though I only ever use Option C for the nuptial blessing).

    2. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #3:

      Two questions, mostly from curiosity:

      Are the Nuptial Blessings in the 1991 editio typica alter the same as the Nuptial Blessings that made their way into the 2002 editio typica tertia of the Missal (and thus into our current translation)?

      Also (as a way of assuming the best of intentions of the Bishops), is it possible that it was deemed necessary to expedite the translation of the first two chapters for the US, and translate the third chapter at a later time, since lay presiding at a marriage is a rarity in the US?

    3. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #3:

      Fr. Michael,

      What you heard through the grapevine is NOT true. My bishop has handed onto me to review the Gray Book and it does contain Chapter III: The Order of Celebrating Marriage in the Presence of an Assisting Layperson.

  3. Just to correct an error in the announcement, which I see originated for the USCCB website. The 1990 Order of Celebrating Marriage was translated into English. I have 1996 copy of a Green Book for it. It was translated in the style of the 1998 Sacramentary.

  4. Re: Matthew Morelli’s question at #6: Yes, what appears as the Nuptial Blessing in Formulary A in the Ritual Mass for the Celebration of Marriage in the Roman Missal 2011 corresponds to OCM1991 #74, Nuptial Blessing B to OCM1991 #242 and Nuptial Blessing C to OCM1991 #244. Since these texts (along with the other texts for these Formularies) were translated according to the prescriptions of Liturgiam Authenticam for inclusion in the RM 2011, I’m fairly sure that they will appear in the translation of the OCM 1991 that way lest there be conflicts between the ritual book and the RM 2011. [BTW, I use the convention of referring to these text by publication dates rather than promulgation dates, thus I believe Mr. BeBeau’s “1990 Order of Celebrating Marriage” and my “OCM 1991” refer to the same Latin text.]

    Actually I presume that if the USA bishops have chosen not to have a translation of the chapter on the Order of Marriage witnessed by a lay officiant in the USA official ritual book it would be because this rite would rarely be used in the USA (although I suspect places like Alaska may find it useful). My question is rather if they are free to do such a thing when even rather extensive adaptations like the USA versions of the RCIA and the Order of Christian Funerals still translated aspects of the rite found in the editio typica that were not in common use in the USA. I do not accuse them of bad intentions, I’m just curious about how much of the original Latin editio typica may be OMITTED by a local territorial bishops’ conference. (The two examples I gave above give us a sense of how much might be ADDED to an editio typica with the Holy See’s approval, at least at one stage in the post-Vatican II liturgical renewal.)

    1. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #7:

      Thank you for your very thorough answer to my question. The note about Alaska is a good one… all too often I forget about our brothers and sisters who are still truly “on the frontier” there.

      Another question if you would be willing to oblige: Would you mind giving a little elaboration for the development of Roman Rite euchology you have referred to?

    2. @Fr. Jan Michael Joncas – comment #7:
      Michael, we have been in contact with the past. I have sent you some things to the email address that you used then that you would probably find interesting. If you need to get in contact with me, I believe that Anthony has my contact information.

  5. Thanks to Mr. Reatini for his information. I’m delighted to hear that the entire text of the editio typica is being translated, especially since the Nuptial Blessing in the Order for Celebrating Marriage in the presence of a lay officiant offers an interesting development in Roman Rite euchology.

  6. I am currently reading Archbishop Piero Marini’s book, “A Challenging Reform: Realizing the Vision of the Liturgical Renewal.” Marini discusses the study groups that were formed to work on the revision of the liturgical books, as mandated by Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy in 1963.

    Marini states: “These study groups considered the texts from the following perspectives: theological, biblical, juridical, historical, stylistic, musical, artistic, and pastoral.” (pp. 43-44)

    Perhaps our contemporary liturgical texts should be considered from those same perspectives.

  7. Re: Mr. Morelli’s request @ #10: I have treated the new euchology appearing in OCM 1991 primarily in two long articles: “Solemnizing the Mystery of Wedded Love: Nuptial Blessings in the Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium 1991.” Worship 70/3 (May 1996) 210-237; and
    “For Better or For Worse: Revising the Roman Rite Order of Celebrating Matrimony.” In Traditions and Transitions. Ed. Eleanor Bernstein and Martin F. Connell. Chicago, IL: Liturgy Training Publications, 1998. Pp. 197-243. I hope you would find my elaborations there useful.

    Re: Mr Reatini and BeBeau @ ##9 and 12: First of all, thanks to Mr. BeBeau for the materials he provided which will be of great use to me. Second, since both of you have clearly had the opportunity to study and critique the proposed translations would you be available off blog for comments in case the media seek experts on the topic?

    Finally, if any Pray Tell reader would be available to respond to media requests to comment on the proposed translations, could you let me know off blog @

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