27 March 2015, The Tablet

English missal translation 'needs overhaul'

Priests from Ireland and two bishops have become the latest to call for changes to the English translation of the Mass.

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in Ireland has called for a review of the current English missal and for priests to be allowed to use the 1998 translation as a temporary solution.

They were responding to a posting on The Tablet blog by Bishop Emeritus Donald Trautman of Erie, the former Chairman of the United States bishops’ conference Committee on the Liturgy, who described the current Missal, introduced in November 2011, as a failure that “does not communicate in the living language of the worshipping assembly.”

He also says that the 1998 translation, approved by English-speaking bishops but rejected by the Vatican, should replace the current version, backing a call made in a letter to The Tablet made by the respected Jesuit theologian Fr Gerald O’Collins.

Fr Sean McDonagh, writing on the ACP website, said the group had pointed out to the Irish bishops before the translation appeared that it did not communicate with ordinary people.

Also this week, the retired Bishop of Palmerston North, New Zealand, writes in a letter for The Tablet that there should be an overhaul of the English missal that critics say is clunky, awkward and a too literal translation of the Latin original.

Bishop Peter J Cullinane said, however, this would be pointless unless the current guidelines behind liturgical translations are changed. These were set out by the 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam and said translations must convey the "integral manner" of the original Latin "even while being verbally or syntactically different from it."  

Last week Archbishop Arthur Roche, the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said the option to use the 1998 translation was not possible as the Roman Liturgy should express the unity of the Church.

The 2011 translation was overseen by the International Commission for English in the Liturgy (Icel) of which Archbishop Roche was chairman. That body was set up by the Second Vatican Council but Bishop Cullinane points out that that Liturgiam Authenticam put Icel more directly under the control of the Holy See. 

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