The closure of an multinational group set up to select a new Bible translation for use during Mass in the English-speaking Church was described this week as an “opportunity lost”.
The International Commission for the Preparation of an English Language Lectionary sought to replace the Jerusalem Bible lectionary with one based on the English Standard Version (ESV). But it is understood to have failed because the Holy See, the ESV copyright holders, and the various bishops’ conferences failed to agree on the texts, and it eventually shut down in March.
Hugh Somerville-Knapman OSB, a monk of Douai Abbey, said that the Holy See “pragmatically washed its hands of the project” and localised initiatives were pursued instead in the wake of widespread criticism of the revised English Missal.
“This is a pity as the Jerusalem Bible makes some shocking theological and exegetical decisions, and is far too banal for liturgical proclamation,” he said. “The beauty of the ESV project was that it would have been a bold ecumenical venture with a group of Protestants with whom we do not normally have a close ecumenical relationship. This is another opportunity lost.” The decision follows a protracted row over the inclusive language used in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV).
Plans to base a new lectionary on the NRSV were eventually dropped when its copyright holders rejected the modifications required by the Vatican.
The Liturgy Office was not available for comment at the time of going to press.