Pray Tell ran a translation a bit ago of a piece by Andrea Grillo on the need for a new instruction on translation. Grillo is nothing if not tenacious on this topic – he has posted eight installments so far in what has become a series of strongly-worded statements on liturgical translation.
In the most recent installment, Grillo reports on an impasse between the German bishops and the Vatican. Here’s my translation of part of the last piece – I don’t claim to be an expert in Italian, so I welcome improvements and corrections to my text. It would only be appropriate to get it right, given the topic! Emphasis in the original.
“Impasse” between German Conference and the Congregation for Worship
Last November, the German bishops presented to the Congregation for Divine Worship a very serious situation: with the current criteria and guidelines for judgment on translations – which relate primarily to the new edition of the Roman Missal – it is not possible to proceed further. If the imposed criteria are observed, it will produce incomprehensible translations. If you want to make the text more comprehensible, you must violate the established criteria. This is how a state of embarrassment and contradiction is brought about, such that the outcome cannot be anything other than total paralysis. The story has it that the German bishops have openly told the prefect, Cardinal Sarah, of their determination not to submit any more texts for the ‘recognitio’ as long as the criteria of judgment are governed by Liturgiam authenticam.
Clearly this is a very important position. It signals an underlying problem which cannot be dealt with seriously without taking up head-on the issue of a new Instruction which would profoundly alter the manner of translating and evaluating translations.
If is true that the Cardinal Prefect responded by proposing to the bishops, at the conclusion of the meeting, “a heartfelt meditation on the importance of obedience in the Church,” it must be recognized that the question is not at all that of obedience, but rather that of the impracticability of norms which you cannot obey without causing embarrassment and greater harm.