What Could Follow upon Liturgiam Authenticam? How Could the English Missal Be Improved?

Pray Tell recently posted an interview with Swiss liturgist Martin Klöckener on the significance of the 27 new members named to the Congregation for Divine Worship by Pope Francis. Klöckener speculated that some of the Pope’s appointments could be connected to his desire to reexamine liturgical translations:

What this Congregation [for Divine Worship – ed.] would need, in my opinion, is more understanding of the scholarly field and more opening. This is apparent in the conflict about the liturgical books. Since 2001 the Vatican demands a retranslation of these books according to narrow prescriptions in the sense of greater literalness. This led to quarrels. Only the English Missal is completed. The German-language bishops’ conferences have put a stop to the process after the translations were completed. They held that such a literal translation of the liturgy would ultimately do damage to the life of faith. At the time it is an open question whether the CDW and the French-language bishops’ conferences can come to agreement around the French translation, where similar difficulties have come to light.

Perhaps this is also a reason why Bishop Charles Morerod from west Switzerland and the French bishop Bernard-Nicolas Aubertin were called to be members of the congregation. Aubertin is president of the French liturgy commission. The nomination of both of them could certainly stand in connection to the open question of the future of the new French translation of the missal. The pope would then be strengthening the role of the local churches in this process.

It seems likely that Pope Francis would be interested in reexamining the issue of  liturgical translation, given his interest in decentralization and greater respect for local and national churches.

Andrea Grillo, in “Evangelii Gaudium promotes authentic liturgy. A turning point toward a sixth Instruction on the Reform of the Liturgy?”, noted that the basis for a revisiting of Liturgiam Authenticam, the 2011Roman document on translation, is found in Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium. He concluded:

After a troubled fifteen-year reign, Liturgiam Authenticam has reached the end of its line. Not only have legitimate criticisms been raised from the start, from both doctrinal and pastoral points of view, but the facts have demonstrated it to be, throughout these years, both flawed in theory and virtually inapplicable in practice. And where the matter has been forced despite these problems, the result has been liturgical texts that are technically “correct” documents – that is, consistent with poorly conceived norms – but which lack, as a result, any relationship with living language, real life, and the lived faith of those for whose use the texts are intended. At the root of everything is not a philological problem, but a theological and anthropological one: a rigid tradition and the presumption that the experience of the liturgical subject is unimportant.

Pray Tell contributor Rita Ferrone has raised the question, “What Should A Sixth Instruction Contain?”, and Pray Tell readers gave many thoughtful suggestions for a successor document.

In “Liturgical Translation: The Road Ahead,” Rita Ferrone helpfully recounted the history of liturgical translation since Vatican II. She concluded,

Tension exists between the decentralized model of oversight for translations (described in Sacrosanctum Concilium), and the tightly controlled, centralized one (as imposed upon ICEL, and reinforced by Vox Clara). How will this tension be resolved? Pope Francis has encouraged bishops to take initiatives on behalf of their local churches, suggesting fresh openness to decentralization. Might the balance change for translations as well?

What follows is a piece I originally wrote two and a half years ago. I still stand by the suggestions I then made. I am at pains to find a solution that promotes peace and harmony, with no winners and losers but a Church that is built up. And since the liturgical texts I quote are from the upcoming Mass of the First Sunday of Advent, this seems like a good time to reprint this piece.

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A Unifying Solution for the Missal Situation

There is a solution to the Missal situation which is surprisingly easy, and the result would be, as we say in Minnesota, not half bad. It’s this: keep the revised Order of Mass of 2011 with its congregational parts, and plug in the priest’s parts from the 1998 translation.

That might sound like an odd hybrid, and there would be just a bit of inconsistency, but I think it would be workable. And to put it in crassly political terms, it could be a unifier because, when the dust had settled, there wouldn’t be clear winners and losers. Isn’t it high time we think about bringing reconciliation and unity to an area marked by so much rancor and division?

Quick review: 1974 Sacramentary is the previous translation, rather flat with its simple language. 1998 Sacramentary is the one experts worked on for some 17 years and all the bishops’ conferences of the English-speaking world approved, but Rome rejected. The 2011 Missal is in part the product of ICEL’s work in accord with the controversial 2001 Roman document Liturgiam authenticam, but much of 2011 is scarred by the 10,000+ changes which Rome (and its committee Vox Clara) made at the last minute.

1974: (Collect, I Advent)

All-powerful God, increase our strength of will
for doing good
that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming
and call us to his side in the kingdom of heaven.


Almighty God, strengthen the resolve
of your faithful people
to prepare for the coming of your Christ
by works of justice and mercy,
so that when we go forth to meet him
he may call us to sit at his right hand
and possess the kingdom of heaven.


Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God,
the resolve to run forth
to meet your Christ
with righteous deeds at his coming,
so that, gathered at his right hand,
they may be worthy
to possess the heavenly kingdom.

As you see, the 1998 presidential texts are quite formal and elevated, making them much closer to 2011 than 1974. Most everyone would agree that the English in 1998 is poetically better than 2011.

To explain the win/win of this proposal, I will use the handy terms, however inadequate, “traditionalist” and “progressive.” Though I’m sure there are people who hold all sorts of combinations of positions that don’t fit into these two categories, I’ll use the terms here to describe the people who liked 1998 (I’m calling them progressives) and those who defend 2011 (I’m calling them traditionalists). I know, I know, there are people of quite conservative sensitivities who support 1998, and some progressives who had this or that problem with 1998, but go with it for the sake of my argument.

The win/win is this: the progressives who like 1998 would shout a cry of joy to see its presidential texts come in, but the traditionalists who have felt obligated to defend 2011 would concede that they are getting most of what they wanted in terms of more formal and elevated language. 1998 is a far cry from the 1974 which they (and not only they) disliked. And the traditionalists are also getting much by way of accurate translation of the Latin, for 1998 is generally very accurate. And if they’re honest (and have been reading Pray Tell), traditionalists know that Vox Clara introduced inaccuracies into 2011 all over the place. And of course the traditionalists are getting the revised Order of Mass with “and with your spirit” and “under my roof” and all the rest.

This sounds like a simple cut and paste, 2011 plus 1998, but there would be some decisions to make and a few details to iron out. This is why it would probably take more like three years than one. (I’ve already worked it all out and will be waiting by in phone in case anyone in Rome or DC wishes to ring me up.) The 1998 prefaces already begin nicely with “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation,” which would preserve the lovely transition from the new congregational response “It is right and just.” But where 1998 leaves out some of the angels and powers at the end, it should be no problem to plug in the last bit from 2011 with a fairly seamless fit. I’d keep the new, more elaborate preface chant tone from 2011 and fit it to the 1998 preface texts, perhaps with some slight editing of the 2011 endings for normal English word order and good word accent distribution.

The heart of this proposal is the introduction into the 2011 Missal of four things from 1998: the Collect, Prayer over the Offerings, Preface, and Prayer after Communion. But there are nooks and crannies in the Roman Missal, various proper and particular texts in the course of the liturgical year. Solemn blessings, for example. These all would have to be dealt with, but it shouldn’t take that long.

One might want to adjust the 2011 Order of Mass here and there, e.g. by changing “consubstantial” to “of one substance” to throw a bone to the progressives, but I suspect most of them wouldn’t insist on this if it were the price to pay to be rid of the 2011 presidential texts. And I would settle for having just one collect option, the 1998 translation of the Latin collect, but the bishops might be feeling generous and re-approve the 3-year cycle of original collect texts they once approved many years ago which matches the readings in the 3-year lectionary. (Liturgiam authenticam allows for such original texts not based on Latin, by the way.)

Perhaps the 2011 Eucharistic Prayers would need to be smoothed out a bit, but their more formal tone could be preserved for the most part.

There might be some light editing of the 1998 presidential texts here and there, but I’m pretty optimistic it could be run through quickly. Maybe a word or phrase here or there in 1998 would have to be made more faithful to the Latin, but it would have to be without loss of the beautiful flow of the 1998 text. Some of the “inclusive language” of 1998 might need to be “un-inclusified” – and this might be advisable to appease the traditionalists and reassure them that their many and loud criticisms of the 1998 text were heard. I suspect progressives could accept some compromise on this front as long as 1998 is substantially preserved.

There is the issue of size and weight of the book. Though the Latin missal is a one-volume book, there is no reason, save extreme legalism of the pre-Francis curial variety, why a vernacular Missal can’t appear in two volumes, one for Sunday and one for everything else. Call it the “acolytes’ arms relief indult.”

If this thing took about 3 years to work out, it would mean that the 2011 Missal lasted about 5 to 6 years – which is still longer than some of those interim missals right after Vatican Two. There is precedent for the timeframe. And publishers like Liturgical Press wouldn’t mind at all a new press run! (They’re not paying me to make this proposal).

Pastorally, the transition to this new Missal would be quite painless. The people in the pews would hardly notice, since their texts aren’t changing. Priests would notice – and they’re the ones who dislike the new text and would be most happy to have better and more sensible and more beautiful English to proclaim. One would say as little as possible to the people – perhaps a brief notice that the new Missal has proven itself and the new texts have become known and accepted by people, and now some slight improvements are being made to the priest’s texts, without bringing up the whole sordid behind-the-scenes saga of what happened to ICEL under Cardinal Medina and all the rest. Or maybe one could get away with saying nothing at all to the people?

I’ve been around the block enough by now to know that when I make a grand proposal such as this, which is the high middle ground destined to unite everyone in perfect peace, with me as the hero who saved the day, the result rather is that I’m fired on from all sides.

I’m ready. Fire away.



  1. YES!
    But I disagree about us people in the pews not noticing, the more literate would rejoice at hearing good English, and the less literate would rejoice at hearing something not incomprehensible. Did anybody ever run this stuff through a Flesch-Kincaid check?

  2. This is, well, greedier, perhaps, than I think is likely to find real traction. I’d recommend narrowing the goal. Focus on the collects, and leave the Ordo largely alone but for true inaccuracies.

    Oh, and replacing LA.

    1. @Karl Liam Saur:
      Oh I’m open to compromise, and I’d welcome at least getting collects that were better and more accurate texts.
      Thanks for your thoughts, KLS, and this and all posts.

  3. Kudos to you, Fr. Anthony, for your grand proposal. As someone sitting in the pews, or more accurately, on the organ bench, I would certainly notice the revisions as you suggest, and welcome them. From your pen…

  4. Largely agreed. I’d leave the people’s parts alone. No bones about it.

    That said, reviving 1998 would require bishops as a whole to get on board with it. I’m not sure they’re ready. The best we could probably say is that if priests here and there started using it, there wouldn’t be much traction to persecute them over it.

  5. I’m open to the compromise. With more tolerance concerning legitimate options in Paul VI Missal (i.e. ad orientem and greater use of English propers) we can call it a liturgical truce. 😉 This might be a question for a different post. But, concerning English translation and the psalms, I’m keen on the 1963 Grail Psalter in current use as compared with the revised grail psalms; The revised version seeming more stilted; what would you suggest?

  6. I too disagree about us people in the pews not noticing; I would surely notice and very quickly.

    But why can we not have decent texts for the congregation too? The 1998 people’s texts are far superior to the 2011 ones (IMHO), and (for the sake of one word in the Gloria) I would prefer the 1973/75 version to either of the above.

    1. @Edward Morris:
      Another way out would be to use the 2010 text when the Gloria and Creed are not sung, and have another, or perhaps two versions that could be set to music. The Missal already allows 2 forms of the Creed.

      By the way, the “compromise” suggested above is some good, some bad for the cause of the greater good. I’d rather deep-six 1965, 1970, and 2010 as unacceptable.

  7. Father Anthony, I have much respect for your unending quest to improve liturgy. We, all of us, are the church. I know that you know that. Please reconsider what your second to last paragraph is saying about the responsibility of all of us to be aware of and knowledgeable about our liturgy. I continue to be very disappointed in our current translation, as well as in the manor in which it was carried out.

  8. I’d be cool with such a compromise. IMO, the best thing about the 2011 is the improved, and far richer, people’s parts. Also, people are finally used to them. The last time I attended the OF, I found myself the only person still looking at the laminated cards for the Gloria and Credo. I never felt that the ’98 translations of the presidential prayers were all that bad (certainly an improvement over ’73).

    I would not be opposed to a rule allowing for previously used translations of the ordinary when those parts are sung (Maybe this would encourage the singing of the Creed in more parishes, as the 1998/73 translations could only be used if sung). Of course, if you wanted to throw a bone to the traditionally minded, simply allow the Anglican texts to be used when sung as well 🙂

  9. Looking at the Latin text for the collect, I see what the 2011 translation is trying to do, but it’s clunky as all get out. I tried to imagine chanting it, and it was painful. I’d prefer translating the Latin to make it easier to sing. Something like this (with my own Anglican biases exposed):

    “Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God,” is formally close to the Latin text, dynamically easier to sing and understand, and at any rate a relatively common formula in collects. The rest can be smoothed out as needed, but that initial bit needs to be consonant and easy to understand. Cramming “tuis fidelibus” in there isn’t helpful at all. I wish I had my hands on Divine Worship to see how they handle it, but it wouldn’t surprise me if theirs just uses “Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness. . .” In any case, the folks who made DW might be a good resource, as they’re probably more sensitive to the aural quality of the collects.

  10. If we’re making suggestions, perhaps it’s time to regain a little of the Latin back universally, especially in those places where bishops conferences have struggled to balance demands (pro multis comes to mind). Proper texts retained in English, but Ordinary and Order largely or partially in Latin. But making a change like that or as suggested by the OP (not Dominican) would require more than just time to hash it out, but would require significant changes to publications and catechesis. Frankly, I think many dropped the ball on continuing catechesis of the Mass after the translation, so whatever happens, I would welcome opportunities to have more learn about what they and the priest/deacon/ministers are saying!

  11. The problem with Anthony’s solution is that it leaves us with “consubstantial” instead of “of one being” (the former England and Wales version, better than the former US version), and the infelicities in the Gloria.

    I think if you’re going to revise it, do the whole job properly, not go off at half-cock. 1998 is clearly a good starting point.

    This solution also does nothing about (and does not even mention) the other projects that have suffered from the dark hand of LA — the over-literal renditions in the Revised Grail Psalter, and therefore the psalmic antiphons in the Missal, and the sacramental rites that have appeared since LA. It also does not do anything about the colossal waste of time that the ICEL new Liturgy of the Hours project will prove to be when it finally appears. (I have lost count of the number of priests who have said to me “You’ll not find me using it to pray with!”)

    It is not Rome’s way to repudiate an instruction previously promulgated, in the same way that LA did not even mention Comme le Prévoit. Rather than repealing LA, another instruction will be required to supersede it. Or maybe Comme le Prévoit could simply be reissued.

    1. @Paul Inwood:
      Well, the problem with my compromise is that it’s a compromise. I.e., we don’t get 100% of what we want.

      But I agree about issuing a new instruction – just do it and ignore what went before, no need to repeal the previous one.


  12. Paul Inwood : Or maybe Comme le Prévoit could simply be reissued.

    It should at least be admitted that Comme le Prevoit had its own problems. The bishops didn’t seek a new translation for nothing. Perhaps we can look at the good things in LA and the things that were wanting in Cosme le Prevoit and come up with a tertia quid.

    1. @Steve Hartley:

      The bishops did not seek a new translation. They had already approved a major improvement in 1998. The current translation was imposed, not sought. I would disagree with you that there is anything at all in LA that could be described as good.

  13. I would object to the cost of buying a new missal and to the use of parish funds to buy new missals. I would also see the continual change as the work of Winston Smith (George Orwell 1984) in reflecting the current mood of any particular time.

  14. I am in agreement with Fr Anthony as usual. As far as the weight of the Sacramentary, I would have two volumnes: one for Ordinary Time and the other for the rest of the liturgical year.
    In addition, create a single “Presidential Book” for use at the presider chair containing opening/closing rites and prayers. We had it for the 1973 Sacramentary and it worked great!
    The 1998 edition has already been approved by the English speaking bishops. Why not just re submit it to Rome?

  15. As to the indults for the acolytes’ arms — I vote yes with an amendment. Balancing the missal this morning for the presider, with Advent on page 139 presider’s left and the remaining 1400 pages of the unwieldy volume on the right was a challenge. Collects in the center of the volume, please. Prefaces and Eucharistic prayers at the beginning.

  16. Keeping the clumsy language of “with your spirit”, “right and just”, “under my roof”, “consubstantial” and keeping the Eucharistic Prayers is the most corrupting form of “compromise.”

    “Pastorally, the transition to this new Missal would be quite painless. The people in the pews would hardly notice, since their texts aren’t changing.”

    Incredibly dismissive and patronizing.

    “One would say as little as possible to the people – perhaps a brief notice that the new Missal has proven itself.”

    Machiavellian clericalism?

    ” and the new texts have become known and accepted by people, and now some slight improvements are being made to the priest’s texts,”

    People are not fools.

    “Or maybe one could get away with saying nothing at all to the people?”

    Is this meant to be some subtle irony???

  17. The conferences of bishops should have full authority to approve liturgical translations, with appeals to the Holy See allowed only on points of doctrine.

    Why should English-speaking Catholics be told by Italian or Spanish-speaking prelates in Rome how to pray in their own language?

  18. “The conferences of bishops should have full authority to approve liturgical translations, with appeals to the Holy See allowed only on points of doctrine.”

    That is what they fought for, and got, at Vatican II, but the highhanded pontiffs under whom these liturgical disasters took place had nothing but contempt for Vatican II in practice.

  19. Would anyone aver an educated guess as to the number of priests in the English speaking world who are editing the propers on the fly to make them more intelligible? How about priests using at least some of the propers from the 1998 missal. Finally, how about priests still using at least at times the sacramentary. BTW, the first preface for Advent is a linguistic abomination when laid beside its more simple and direct sacramentary version. Big temptation.
    Let’s face it, Pray Tell friends, what happened in 2011 was not a blessing for the church. It is true that the people have adjusted to their revised parts, but the injustice to composers and publishers occasioned by those changes was great. People and priests need to be able to pray in our own language without some slavish conformity to centuries old Latin texts. I thought VII had given authority over text translations to bishops’ conferences for that very reason.

    1. @Fr. Jack Feehily:

      “but the injustice to composers and publishers occasioned by those changes was great.”

      I have had my issues with the translation that debuted 5 years ago, but that claim is way over the top. Way. No composers or publishers have any justice-based entitlement to have their musical settings for the Ordo *remain* a perpetual annuity.

      1. @Karl Liam Saur:
        Fr Jack has a point. In German dioceses if the text and the music are of a high quality they will be likely to remain a ‘perpetual annuity’ as a great many have done for centuries. The dates of composition of both are usually provided in diocesan hymnals and it makes for very informative perusing. The problem with a translation made according to the norms of Liturgiam authenticam is that no matter how good a setting is, if a text does not conform to the official form, it’s not permitted. If the German hymn books were to be limited in a smiliar way think of the treasure that would be thereby lost.

      2. @Karl Liam Saur:
        The pettiness of the translators is perhaps best illustrated in the Holy where the insistence on Lord of Hosts required new compositions. While publishers are not guaranteed a translation will never change, neither should they or composers be sent back to drawing boards to accommodate the whims of authoritarians telling us we need to pray in a latinate form of English.

      3. @Jack Feehily:
        Well, I for one was thrilled to have the terrible 1970 Gloria and Holy revised; not that I wouldn’t quibble with choices made, but those parts of the Ordo were temporary from the get-go. And I don’t lament too much that it shuffled the market dominance of certain compositions that had acquired a self-entitled Microsoft- or BankofAmerica-like dominance-by-inertia.

        I agree about Latinate syntax (and could go on about it in other contexts) and of course the terrible governance, but the Gloria and Holy are poor examples of that particular (Latinate) complaint.* The 1970 renditions were comparatively impoverished and needed to be replaced. One of the basic flaws of both sets of translation instructions we’ve had since the Council is a failure to engage with the difference of texts that are frequently encountered (and thus could bear a more complex register that can percolate over time) versus texts that are rarely encountered (where such a register can be more, well, twee); the idea that all texts must be as immediately comprehensible as each other is a silly as the opposite problem of turning liturgical English into a syntax map for Latin.

        * I recall complaints in certain quarters circa 2011 about pleonasms and how Latinate and un-English they are, to which my reaction was American conversational English is a mighty Mississippi of pleonasms – I won’t speak for other Englishes, of course. I would dread for Strunk & White to be the style guide for ritual texts; prayer is not journalism.

  20. I for one love the new translation, and find it to be a vast improvement on the bastardized ’70s translation. I admit to unfamiliarity with the 1998. If we will be forced to pray in our own language instead of the Church’s language, the least we could do is ensure that the actual sense and content of the prayer be retained, even if it is Latin dressed in English. That certainly makes my parallel missals more comprehensible.

    1. @Conor Cook:
      Hello? English is the Church’s language, for heaven’s sake, as are all the other vernaculars the Church admits into worship. Did you not know there was a recent ecumenical council that ruled on this point? Did you think only Latin is the Church’s liturgical language? This is a rather fundamental misunderstanding, and a serious one, given all the Church’s teachings, in document after document, about evangelization and inculturation and proclamation and so forth.

      Furthermore, it is not the case that vernacular is allowed in worship only as a translation of Latin liturgical texts. The Church officially and explicitly allows original texts in vernacular languages into worship – go look in Liturgiam authenticam where this is stated clearly.

      For me the only question on the table is 1998 vs. 2011. 1974 is so done, over, finished, that I don’t waste any time on it. I suppose there are a few souls defending it (and I’m open to any good insights from them), but I don’t hear much if any of that at Pray Tell..

      Going forward, I think, if in fact Pope Francis implements his vision for inculturated liturgy and decentralization, the interesting question will be whether we can move toward something more like 1998, whether that is a basis for revisions or simple a good model for a new version.


  21. I did overstate my position. Clearly vernacular is allowed, even encouraged (not nearly so enthusiastically by SC as some make it seem), but it is nevertheless true that Latin has been retained as the default/”official” language. I believe this to be for reasons of precision and universality. To introduce theological variants into a translation, or even simply differing analogies/metaphors, risks dividing the Church, creating pockets of not just language difference but actual belief difference. And Liturgiam Authenticam also makes clear that not just any language is available for vernacular translation.* There needs to be some consistency about it all, or we risk introducing error into our worship.

    I am curious about 1998 and it’s treatment of the references to Scripture that became clear in the 2011 edition.

    *LA also devotes its first major portion to selection of languages. Clearly English was not the focus of this first part. It seems reasonable to view the document from a non-Anglo-centric perspective.

      1. @Elisabeth Ahn:
        LA presents a balanced explanation of why that would be (nn.10-18). But most importantly, it is up to the bishops of a region to define which languages are to be employed for liturgical language. This is a good example of the inculturation and decentralization that Fr. Ruff spoke of above (with the requisite recognitio of the proposal by the Apostolic See, of course). It also, at least for me, snaps me out of my latent Eurocentricism to have the discussion of selecting languages, because so much of what I experience involves languages for which there is no question.

      2. @Elisabeth Ahn:
        Some languages don’t even have words for numbers larger than “2”. At least one about which I’ve read has no function for creating subordinate clauses. How would such a language be made suitable for a vernacular translation of any of the existing liturgical rites?

  22. “In German dioceses if the text and the music are of a high quality they will be likely to remain a ‘perpetual annuity’ as a great many have done for centuries. ”

    I seriously doubt that example pertaining in any meaningful way to settings of the English language Ordo in use before 2011, which was intended to be a temporary edition, not permanent.

  23. I tend to state my opinion in absolutes, and that is why I participate in these discussions here. I want to understand the multiplicity of views in liturgy, since worship of God is at the heart of who we are as Catholics.

    For instance, I want to say that we ought not be speaking of replacing a text that has only been in use five years, but we were left with the 1974 text for nearly four decades, so better to fix things quickly than let them sit.

    How does 1998 balance the application of “good” English grammar with the necessity of conveying accurately the Latin original? That is where I realize many feel 2011 skews to the latter excessively, perhaps in response to the extreme opposite of 1974.

  24. Joe O’Leary :Keeping the clumsy language of “with your spirit”, “right and just”, “under my roof”, “consubstantial” and keeping the Eucharistic Prayers is the most corrupting form of “compromise.”

    I really don’t understand what is clumsy about any of those phrases. They are scriptural and/or based upon long-standing customs of English translation.

  25. If the mangled English of the 2011 translation succeeded in “conveying accurately the Latin original”, there might be a marginal case for maintaining it. But it doesn’t, any more than the cod-Cockney that Dick Van Dyke spoke in the film version of Mary Poppins or Inspector Clouseau’s comic Franglais convey either English or French as any native speaker has ever used them.

    For someone who loves Latin, has studied it for years and continues to use it liturgically, week after week, the 2011 translation is torture. It mocks and mistranslates a noble tongue. Any version based on the transliteration principles of Lit Auth will do the same. So the first step needs to be a recantation of that extraordinarily goofy (Lat excordissima) instruction; once that is done we can look at hybrids based on 1998.

    A return to Comme Le Prévoit would be an excellent step, taking us back to the sound principle that it sets out:

    A liturgical text, inasmuch as it is a ritual sign, is a medium of spoken communication. It is, first of all, a sign perceived by the senses and used by men to communicate with each other. … it is not sufficient that a liturgical translation merely reproduce the expressions and ideas of the original text. Rather it must faithfully communicate to a given people, and in their own language, that which the Church by means of this given text originally intended to communicate to another people in another time.

    A faithful translation, therefore, cannot be judged on the basis of individual words: the total context of this specific act of communication must be kept in mind, as well as the literary form proper to the respective language.

  26. Consubstantial was always a bad translation of homoousios. The Greek term itself was a matter of interpretative differences among the orthodox fourth century Fathers, but “of one being” is a good modern English translation.

    “With your spirit” is not traditional in English and has all the wrong associations (soul body dualism, even ghosts); the Latin phrase itself is rather opaque.

    The cumbersome “under my roof” suggests the roof of the mouth, and we are told to remember the Centurion — quite irrelevantly (ironically exegetes now often suggest that the pais would have been his boyfriend).

    “Right and just” is simply horrible, because “just” in English, unlike “juste” in French, does not carry the connotations of Latin “iustum”–more “meey, right, fitting, appropriate” than a matter of justice. We do not translate “le mot juste” as “the just word” etc.

    1. @Joe O’Leary:
      “(ironically exegetes now often suggest that the pais would have been his boyfriend).”

      Well, there would be that nasty problem of enslavement and consent to engage. What would Sally Hemings say? (Of course, this realization may come appropriately to Americans given our very late sensitization to it as we glacially come to see our moonlight-and-magnolia plantations more as labor-torture camps.) What fun.

      The cognitive bias of people seeking to invoke the example of the Centurion in favor of a modern tolerant Jesus is at least curious. (Even worse in other situations – to be clear, not here – when it’s indirectly invoked to diminish the gravity of adult abuse of minors.)

      In any event, on the subject of translation, I think concerns about an equivocal misunderstanding of “under my roof” (or “hosts” or “spirit” are overblown – heaven knows many contemporary-penned texts have to be defended against charges of equivocal misunderstanding (even heretical) in turn, so this is a sword that cuts both ways and can readily damage those who choose to wield it too enthusiastically.

      There are good reasons to critique the 2011 translation. Those phrases are among the very weakest reasons. Triage battles with much greater prudence.

  27. Why is it that there is such a disparity of views, in this particular case regarding the nature of translation? For me, reading through LA, I am thoroughly convinced that it is the correct way to translate. That is, we are praying all together the same (Latin – but striving after heavenly realities) prayers, integrally, but through the various vernacular modes. But those supporters of CLP, which I have not read closely, believe strongly in the necessity of dynamic equivalence, conveying the truths of faith in the expressions of each vernacular.* I realize those are simplifications, but perhaps that points out their similarities.

    Clearly, despite the huge difference of philosophy, CLP and LA both have strong supporters, ones who see the other as faulty. I’d ask straight out, “Why is this?”, but I bet that is not so easily answered.

    It’s part of the whole question about how best to enact and respond to Vatican II. I can assure those of you here that there are many who truly welcome the reforms suggested by Vatican II, when taken on their own, despite their reservations about the implementation thereof. I know that there is equal love of Vatican II by those who either love the changes made in the wake of the council or even who think they didn’t go far enough.

    It all seems to come down to the liturgy, esp. the Mass, being the “Source and Summit” of the Faith. If it is the “Source,” than it must be rendered in as clear and inclusive a manner as possible; if it is the “Summit,” than it must be as thorough, elevated, and unified as possible (I admit there are better descriptors that I thought of and forgot). But it is both. Perhaps the constant arguments (between conservators and progressors) ensure that the wobbly chariot stays on the path, rather than pitching over either side.

    *Most languages can support ranges within the equivalence spectrum before breaking down, I submit.

    1. @Conor Cook:
      Regarding translations for liturgy, we are not talking a realm where reason and the Enlightenment hold supreme. Liturgy is primarily an art, and good art–the best art–demands a multivalence, and an ability to interact on deeper levels than just literalism.

      A catechism will report a religious fact. A liturgy will, ideally, convey a sense of worship beyond the mere words. “Source” implies a gravity that words alone cannot hope to convey. Art operates on many levels. This is why 1970/75 and 2010 are a poverty for Catholics. It’s not just about responding to a Council. What inspires people to respond to Christ? That’s the enacting that I want to be a part of.

  28. Conor, the problems with Liturgiam Authenticam have nothing whatsoever to do with “conservators” or “progressors”, or those who prefer “formal equivalence” over “dynamic equivalence”. Nor do they have much to do with preferences for the 2011 vs. 1998 vs. 1974 translations. Nor is it difficult to identify the deep flaws in LA, flaws that will make it extremely tough for any translation that hews closely to its rules to accurately convey the sense of the Latin.

    No matter what prior commitments you bring to the table, it is very, very easy to see exactly where LA is faulty: it displays ignorance on multiple fronts: historical, philological, governance, etc. It was imposed on the Church in a brutal manner.

    All this has been thoroughly documented by many writers, some here on Pray Tell. The most comprehensive analysis of LA is in Peter Jeffery’s Translating Tradition (Pueblo, 2005). It has been extensively cited in this blog; search “Peter Jeffery” and you’ll find several references. Jeffery, by the way, is liturgically very “conservative”; he has long been an advocate of wider use of the Tridentine Mass. The concerns about LA that he has identified are philological, not ideological.

    I suppose someone could say, “What does a professor of liturgical history know about these things? Who needs experts? I know what I like and I like what I know.” That approach has certainly prevailed in some settings around the world. I hope it won’t do so here.

    By the way, you note that you haven’t read all of Comme Le Prévoit. I highly recommend it to you. It’s only 7 pages long, and not a challenging read at all. As you’ll see, it’s about a lot more than “dynamic equivalence” – a term that it never uses.

  29. These points bring out two things I meant to address. First, that the “Source and Summit” are indeed deeper than translations. Second, that I was sure there were discussion about Liturgiam Authenticam on this blog already and was wondering where to find them. Thank you.

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