October 1, 2017


All organized religions are experiencing major changes. Some adapt to the culture and thrive, others are just surviving. I believe Pope Francis realizes that the Catholic church has to evolve as humanity evolves. He knows that our teaching and beliefs can be expressed in ways that make more sense to the people of our day. He also has come to the realization that the way the Church expresses itself may have to differ from one country to another. With that in mind, in early September Pope Francis stated that the National Bishops’ Conferences in each country should have a lot more input into the prayers of the liturgy.

So the Pope has decided that the Vatican will no longer “review” translations submitted by Bishops’ Conferences, but will “recognize” them. And rather than being called to “prepare and publish” the translations, the Bishops are to “approve and publish” them. Pope Francis made no announcement of immediate changes to the translations currently in use. The document issued on September 9, 2017 is called “Magnum Principium.”

In 1970, following the 2nd Vatican Council, the International Committee for English in the Liturgy (ICEL) attempted to translate the Latin in a contemporary style. The debate arose as to whether there should be a more literal word for word rendering of the latter. During the following years, translations that received the necessary approval of the Bishops’ Conferences, failed to receive official recognition from the Vatican. In 2001, the Vatican issued a document “Liturgical Authentication” that called for translations to reflect the Latin text “in the most exact manner.” Pope Francis notes that a faithful translation “cannot always be judged by individual words.” In proposing that “it is necessary to communicate to a given people using its own language all that the Church intended to communicate to other people through the Latin language.”

The recent controversial translation of the Mass text into English (Roman Missal) was carried out  under the watch of Vox Clara (Vatican Committee). It will be interesting to see how future translations develop in the light of “Magnum Principium.”

Much of this information can be found in the September 15th edition of the Pilot.

Enjoy life!
Fr. Ron Coyne


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