09 March 2015, The Tablet

Jesuit academic urges Church to drop ‘clunky’ Missal

Gerald O’Collins, one of the Church’s top theologians and biblical scholars, has issued a stinging critique of the “clunky and Latinised” 2011 translation of the Missal.

Fr O’Collins SJ, who was a professor at the Gregorian University in Rome for 33 years and who holds eight doctorates in theology, made his comments in a letter sent to The Tablet entitled “An open letter to English-speaking bishops”.

In his letter he urged Catholics to act quickly to rescue Anglophone Catholics’ participation in Mass by taking up the “incomparably better” translation prepared in 1998 by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

That translation was approved by bishops’ conferences but rejected by Rome.

The alternative translation devised by the Vatican, which came into use in November 2011, “sounds like Latin texts transposed into English words rather than genuine English”, he complained.

He acknowledged that the language of the Missal had aimed at a sacral style but said it fell far short of Jesus’ own “simple and direct” way of addressing God in the Our Father.

He went on: “What would Jesus say about the 2010 Missal? Would he approve of its clunky, Latinised English that aspires to a ‘sacral’ style which allegedly will ‘inspire’ worshippers?”

He concluded: “I yearn for a final blessing, a quick solution to our liturgical woes. The 1998 translation is there, waiting in the wings. Please pass on now to English-speaking Catholics the 1998 translation that you or your predecessors originally voted for only a few years ago.”

Read the letter in full

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