New Clarifications on Liturgical Translation from the CDWDS

Archbishop Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, has issued a decree with clarifications concerning liturgical translation.

The decree explains in detail how the process of translating liturgical texts is supposed to work, with respect to the shared responsibilities of bishops’ conferences and the Holy See. It is intended to provide more information concerning how the 2017 motu proprio of Pope Francis on liturgical translation, Magnum principium, will be put into practice.

The introduction shows the scope of this project of correction:

“Following the promulgation of Pope Francis’ Motu Proprio Magnum Principium, with which the norms of §§ 2 and 3 of can. 838 of the C.I.C. were changed, it is necessary that whatever is found to the contrary in the Institutiones generales and in the Prænotanda of the liturgical books, as well as in the Instructions, Declarations, and Notifications published by this Dicastery according to the old norms of §§ 2 and 3 of can. 838 of the C.I.C. 1983, be corrected.[1] This is especially true for the Institutio generalis Missalis Romani 2002 and 2008, for the Praenotanda of the second editions of the De Ordinatione Episcopi, presbyterorum et diaconorum, of the Ordo celebrandi Matrimonium and of the editions of the De Exorcismis and of the Martyrologium Romanum. It also applies in a particular way to the Instructions Varietates legitimæ and Liturgiam authenticam. It must also be taken into account that whatever is said in the Decrees of promulgation of the individual liturgical books whenever reference is made to the authority or juridical competence of the Episcopal Conferences and of this Dicastery regarding adaptations and translations of texts in vernacular languages must be interpreted according to the letter and mind of the new canon 838.[2]

In line with the aforementioned Motu Proprio, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has considered it its duty to interpret and, as far as necessary, clarify the liturgical laws that it has issued on this matter, so that it may “help the Episcopal Conferences to fulfil their task as well as working to promote ever more the liturgical life of the Latin Church”.”

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Archbishop Roche also responded to questions about this new decree in an interview with Vatican News. You can read that interview here


  1. 48. In the case of lacunae in the translation as well as the need for clarification of important texts (cf. above n. 25) and particular liturgical formulas, such as e.g. the prayers of ordination, dedication, consecration, exorcism formulas, the greetings of the priest and the responses of the faithful, acclamations inspired by Sacred Scripture and some particular terms to be understood within the faith of the Church,[51] the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments shall dialogue with the Episcopal Conference in order to develop a solution in light of their respective competencies.

    So the CDW will not just be a rubber stamp on the Bishop’s Conference’s proposed translation.

  2. I’m glad for this, but what are the odds of getting a sacramentary translation that is in idiomatic English any time in the forseeable future. The Vox Clara ousting of the real ICEL continues to yield nothing but confusion and frustration.

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