Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The New English Translation: Disaster?

This is my response to Mr. Paul Collins' article "Another Looming Roman Disaster - This time with the liturgy." Mr. Collins is the head of the Australian group Catholics for Ministry. The CfM group is interested in, among other things:
  1. The development of two models of priesthood: a) celibate and b) married, with specific canonical norms for each state.
  2. The development of a female priesthood with two modalities: a) celibate and b) married with specific norms for each state.
  3. The reintegration of married men who still have a vocation into service in the Church.
  4. Review the problem of Christians in second marriages and their participation in the Eucharist.
The second half of his article deals with particular problems he sees in the new English translation of the Mass. Rather than fisk it in the style of Father Z, I'll make comments after each paragraph.
A foretaste of what might happen pastorally [when the new translation is introduced to parishes] was provided when, in a misunderstanding, some South African parishes started using the new text in late-November 2008. It was met with widespread rejection by Mass-going Catholics. Thomas Reese, SJ of Woodstock Theological Center in Washington, DC said 'I think the Church has been very lucky the South Africans jumped the gun because it's showing the Vatican there is going to be a worldwide problem when these new translations are put into effect. Once again the Vatican isn't listening to the critics, and we're going to have another major embarrassment … when these translations … are forced on people in the pews.' One of the major shocks experienced by the South Africans was the shift from a more conversational style of English to a sacral, more formal form of address.
The article does not address how the "imposing" of the new translation is any different from the "imposing" of the older translation in the late 1960's. The article also fails to address the 1965 Missal, which is much closer to the new translation than the present one. (A comparison of the Latin text, 1965 translation, 1969 translation, and 2010 translation is a matter for a whole other post!)

Why should it be a "major shock" to use "a sacral, more formal" style of speech at Mass, when we are speaking to God and to the priestly ministers of His Son? Could it be that the present translation is a bit too lax? Why else would people be shocked when we use Scriptural and traditional adjectives in describing the Holy Trinity?
Taking the text as provided by the USCCB I will highlight some of the major changes. There are many annoying minor word changes that affect the celebrant rather than the people, but here I will highlight the major ones that impinge on the whole congregation as we work through each part of the Mass.

Catholics will be pulled up short right at the beginning of Mass if the priest uses the greeting 'The Lord be with you', because the new response is 'And with your spirit' replacing 'And also with you'. Of course this is a literal translation of Et cum spiritu tuo but it is meaningless in modern English. Since this greeting recurs several times throughout Mass people are going to be constantly struggling with 'And with your spirit'.
Mr. Collins never says why such a translation will cause Catholics to be "pulled up short." Perhaps that's an Australian idiom that isn't present in American English (and thus not suitable for use in a universal liturgical translation)? The fact that the translation is "literal" seems to be cause for disdain, but there is no explanation given for why, unless you consider that he considers it to be "meaningless in modern English." This seems to be a cop-out to me. Why is the phrase meaningless? Perhaps it is just that Mr. Collins does not know the meaning. Here is what the August 2005 USCCB newsletter had to say on the matter:
The expression et cum spiritu tuo is only addressed to an ordained minister. Some scholars have suggested that spiritu refers to the gift of the spirit he received at ordination. In their response, the people assure the priest of the same divine assistance of God’s spirit and, more specifically, help for the priest to use the charismatic gifts given to him in ordination and in so doing to fulfill his prophetic function in the Church. (Vol. XLI, question 7)
We are addressing the priest in a way that emphasizes his spirit (the spirit he received at his ordination) but contains his whole person.
Immediately flowing this is the Penitential Rite (which ICEL now calls the 'Penitential Act' because the Latin uses the word actus). The text of the 'I confess' will change with the insertion of the word 'greatly' for it to read 'I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned …'. In case that was not enough emphasis on sinfulness, ICEL have added 'through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault' to the text. This kind of overly dramatic repetition is inappropriate, even embarrassing in contemporary English. It may work in an operatic, romance kind of language; it doesn't in more phlegmatic, matter-of-fact forms of speech used by ordinary English speakers. The other optional penitential formulas have been changed, again with a strong emphasis on sinfulness.
How ludicrous of the ICEL to translate the word actus as "act" rather than as "rite"! How silly, actually, of the ICEL to get it wrong the first time; there's a perfectly good word for "rite" in Latin — ritus — and the Missal doesn't use it here.

When Mr. Collins speaks of "insertions" and "additions," it must be kept in mind that the underlying Latin text has not changed: this is simply the English translation coming more in line with the Latin.

He has three issues: 1) the use of the word "greatly" (translating the Latin nimis), 2) the repetition of "through my fault" (translating the Latin mea culpa), and 3) the use of the word "grievous" (translating the Latin maxima). He finds it "dramatic ... inappropriate, and even embarrassing." Well, the Mass is dramatic; sin is dramatic; our whole life is a great cosmic drama. Maybe modern (English-speaking) man has no time to waste on such pitiful repetitions, being so accustomed to "phlegmatic [and] matter-of-fact forms of speech." (Now, I had to look up the word "phlegmatic" because I am not familiar with it; it means "having or suggesting a calm, sluggish temperament; unemotional.") If English-speakers are accustomed to calm, sluggish, and unemotional attitudes when worshiping the Most High God, then perhaps they need to be woken up by such words as "greatly sinned" and "grievous fault" and by beating their breasts thrice!

If the new translation is too much for our modern English sentiments, I still contest that the present translation fails miserably to adequately express the urgency and severity of the Latin prayer: "I have sinned through my own fault." Neither nimis nor maxima is considered in the present translation. (Indeed, the blatant omission of words or entire concepts is a fault found throughout the present translation: the phrase Ecclesiae sanctae suae is currently "his Church" instead of "his holy Church" in the "May the Lord accept..." prayer.)

I will return to his issue with repetitions later.

As for the other two forms of the Penitential Act, Form B (which is rarely used) was absolutely butchered in the present translation. A comparison is essential:
Miserére nostri, Dómine. / Quia peccávimus tibi.
Osténde nobis, Dómine, misericórdiam tuam. / Et salutáre tuum da nobis.

Current Translation
Lord, we have sinned against you: Lord, have mercy. / Lord, have mercy.
Lord, show us your mercy and love. / And grant us your salvation.

New Translation
Have mercy on us, O Lord. / For we have sinned against you. (Baruch 3:2)
Show us, O Lord, your mercy. / And grant us your salvation. (Psalm 85:7)
The present translation completes botches the first part, swapping the words of the priest and the congregation and doubling the "Lord, have mercy." (Yes, the old translation introduced a repetition not found in the Latin!) I dare say that single instance of "Lord, have mercy" has led many a priest to assume that Form B "includes" the Kyrie, which it does not.
The Gloria has undergone a considerable rewrite. ... There is real modesty about [the current translation]. It has a directness and an economy of words. It follows the rhythms of contemporary speech without awkward word juxtapositions. In [the new translation] the kinds of problems we are going to see with the rest of the text become apparent. You have the feeling that the word order has been changed just for the sake of it: 'and on earth peace to people of good will'. There is no apparent reason why this has been changed except to follow the order of the words in Latin (et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis). 'God' is no longer simply God but becomes 'O God'; 'only son of the Father' now becomes 'only begotten son', a meaningless theological gloss for most faithful Catholics. Repetitions are introduced: 'you take away the sins of the world' (twice). The whole of [the new translation] has a kind of 'designer baroque' feel about it as Austen Ivereigh calls it.
Mr. Collins mentions "awkward word juxtapositions" but provides no examples. He praises the current translation for its "directness" and "economy of words," by which he means, again, the blatant dropping out of words, concepts, and even whole sentences! By "directness" he means we "cut to the chase" with God: no need for pleasantries or admission of who we are compared to Who He is. And why say something twice when you can say it once? Why use five verbs (with different meanings) when you can use three, omitting the verb "to bless"?

The changing of word order is a red herring. The question should be: why did the old translation change the word order, which the new translation is restoring?

The use of the phrase "O God" or "O Lord" is usually more elegant than simply "God" or "Lord". I would be willing to bet that in the NAB and the RSV-CE (and other decent English translations of the Bible), that the vocative "O God" or "O Lord" is used far more often than simply "God" or "Lord" when addressing Him. It's got Biblical precedent, which should stand for something in a liturgy which is already saturated with Scripture!

Mr. Collins' complaint about "only begotten son" being a "meaningless theological gloss" makes me wonder if he considers the Church's teaching on God the Son being "begotten, not made" (as our present translation of the Creed says) important. Apparently not: it's "meaningless," reduced to a mere "gloss" in a hymn of glory to God. Mr. Collins will say more about the word "begotten" later. Compare the Latin and the translations yourself:
qui tollis peccáta mundi, miserére nobis;
qui tollis peccáta mundi, súscipe deprecatiónem nostram.
Qui sedes ad déxteram Patris, miserére nobis.

Current Translation
you take away the sin of the world: have mercy on us;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father: receive our prayer.

New Translation
you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us;
you take away the sins of the world, receive our prayer;
you are seated at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
Three clauses in the Latin — two clauses in the current text — three clauses in the new text. Which is the odd man out? Which needs to explain itself? The new translation faithfully follows the Latin (and the Greek as well).

The repetitions he claims are introduced are merely being "restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers," since they are "elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history." (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy 50)
The same kinds of problems are even more apparent and exaggerated in the Creed.

Many commentators have pointed to the fact that in [the new translation] we no longer believe as a community, but as individuals. Sure credo means 'I believe' but we are not at the Eucharist as individuals. For the sake of a pedantic translation of the Latin we have sacrificed the essentially communal nature of worship. Again Jesus is no longer just 'only son of God' but 'only begotten son'. And just in case you missed it a couple of lines later Jesus is 'begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father'. Again these are theological niceties with no real significance for worshippers. The aim is clearly to express a kind of 'high' Christology, but to what purpose? Apparently the CDW's answer is to get people to go and ask 'Father' what the terms mean. It is more likely that they will simple see this as arcane language of no significance to them or their lives. People may have anathematized and even killed each other over these terms in the fourth and fifth centuries. In the twenty-first they will simple shrug their shoulders and might even walk away. Jesus is no longer simply 'incarnate from [sic, he means "born of"] the Virgin Mary', but now 'by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary'. Again this is a mere pedantic precision, meaningful only to theologians. Again, the English is contorted simply to fit into an arcane theology which has little meaning to most Catholics.
Mr. Collins has made several errors in his analysis of the Creed. If he has a copy of the Catechism handy, he can read:
"I believe" (Apostles' Creed) is the faith of the Church professed personally by each believer, principally during Baptism. ... "I believe" is also the Church, our mother, responding to God by faith... (Catechism 167)
If we look at Liturgiam Authenticam which is behind the new translation efforts, we find this handy paragraph:
The Creed is to be translated according to the precise wording that the tradition of the Latin Church has bestowed upon it, including the use of the first person singular, by which is clearly made manifest that “the confession of faith is handed down in the Creed, as it were, as coming from the person of the whole Church, united by means of the Faith.” (Liturgiam Authenticam 65)
Mr. Collins and the "many commentators" are simply wrong on the Credo-"I believe" issue. We have not "sacrificed the essentially communal nature of worship" but rather we have emphasized the essentially unitarian nature of the Church's worship: the Church is one and her faith is one.

We use the word "begotten" in the Creed already; we call Jesus "eternally begotten of the Father" and "begotten, not made." Mr. Collins takes no offense at its use there! So why is he up in arms about its use in the Gloria and elsewhere in the Creed? I detect a duplicitous tendency in his critique of the new translation, a bias against anything "new" (oddly enough)! If Catholics don't know what "begotten" means now, they need to learn it; and if Catholics know what "one in being" means (properly), then they should have a pretty good idea of what "consubstantial" means!

Here is an excerpt from the 2002 letter to English-speaking Bishops from the CDWDS regarding the translation of unigentius as "only" rather than "only-begotten":
The word unigenitus is often translated simply as "only", so that Jesus is called the "only Son" of God. The distinction between the terms "only" and "only-begotten" is often crucial in the liturgical prayers, which unfold within a Trinitarian dynamism precisely by virtue of our own adoptive sonship. (IV, H)
Does that make sense to you?

Mr. Collins calls this theologically accurate language mere "niceties with no real significance" to the average Catholic. Could it be that the average Catholic just doesn't care about Who God is, who the Father is, who the Son is, who the Holy Spirit is? That sounds like a problem to me! Can you imagine a Jew today saying "Who cares that 'the Lord our God is one Lord?'" He says this language supports "a kind of 'high' Christology," but doesn't know why it does so. Perhaps to make sure Catholics know Who God is! Perhaps to restore a sense of reverence and awe — by which I mean, of course, "fear of the Lord" — to the Mass and to their daily lives.

Mr. Collins, along with the 21st century, shrugs his shoulders at our Fathers in the faith who defended orthodox Catholicism during the early centuries of the Church. Can you imagine a person acting in a similar manner towards the independence of the United States or slavery? He seems to believe that the clear and orthodox explication of the faith is of little or no interest to today's Catholic... I wonder what he thinks of catechesis of any sort. Perhaps he believes that modern man is too enlightened for these mere quibbles of darkened man's past?

His true colors come out when he calls the theology of the Church — no longer just her language — "arcane." Nevermind that saying Jesus was "born of the Virgin Mary and became man" can be twisted to mean that he was not "man" until he was born, thus vindicating all those supporters of abortion (Catholic and otherwise) who claim that the fetus is not a human. No, the very idea that Jesus was, by the Holy Spirit, incarnate of the Virgin Mary is arcane, Mr. Collins says! (And any Catholic who doesn't understand the word "incarnate" has probably never heard of the "incarnation" which is the founding mystery of the whole Christian faith!)

Either modern man is above such mysteries (that is, he has no need for them), or modern man is too stupid to bother learning them and believing them with faith. There is no need for the Church's theology to be considered "arcane." Indeed, Bl. Pope John XXIII convoked the Second Vatican Council to assist modern man in hearing and understanding (to the best of his ability) the wonderful mysteries of our salvation which God has revealed to His Church. Sometimes, that means re-wording something for greater clarity (without sacrificing its substance and meaning)... sometimes, that means simply educating the people to know what the words which the Church uses mean! Mr. Collins thinks that such mysteries of our faith have little or no meaning to modern man. Could that be because Jesus himself has little or no meaning to modern man? Perhaps because all modern man cares about is catch-phrases and buzzwords like "social justice" and "global warming"?
When we come to the Eucharistic Prayer, again there are changes made simply for the sake of change. At the beginning of the Preface when the celebrant says 'Let us give thanks to the Lord our God' the congregation now replies 'It is right and just', when in the old formula we said something that actually made sense conversationally: 'It is right to give him thanks and praise'. In the Sanctus the Lord is no longer 'God of power and might', but 'Lord God of hosts', whatever 'hosts' might mean for those not trained in the rhetoric of biblical warfare?
Where once he praised the "economy of words" of the old translation, now Mr. Collins praises its verbosity. The Latin in the preface is Dignum et iustum est; very simply put, "It is right and just." Considering the priest has just invited us to "give thanks to the Lord our God," it should be clear that the subject of "it is right and just" is "giving thanks." Does the current translation expand that for us because we're too stupid to know otherwise? Is this a symptom of speaking English?

In the Sanctus, the Latin is Dominus Deus Sabaoth, and sabaoth is straight from the Hebrew. ("Lord God of hosts" is a common Old Testament title for God.) This is a blend of Isaiah 6:3 and Revelation 4:8. The "rhetoric of biblical warfare" aside, perhaps modern man needs to become more familiar with Scripture in general if the phrase "Lord God of hosts" is meaningless to him!
In the actual Eucharistic Prayers there are a whole series of changes with which priests are going to have to deal. However, the most contentious change is in the actual words of the consecration of the wine. The old formula was: 'This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and ever-lasting covenant; it will be shed for you and for all'. This expresses the clear, constant and unequivocal teaching of the Catholic Church that Christ died for all, that his death had a universal impact. But this is changed in the new translation to 'For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many'. The reason given is that this is a more accurate translation of the Latin pro multis. That is correct linguistically, but it is incorrect theologically.
The rest of the sentence is important here. The blood is being poured out "for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins." Yes, Christ died for all. Yes, he shed his blood for all. But not all will have their sins forgiven, sadly.
Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie Pensylvannia discusses this in some detail in an article in The Tablet (3 February 2007). Trautman quotes a commissioned piece in the official periodical of the CDW, Notitiae (May 1970, pp 138-140) by the expert exegete and linguist, Max Zerwick, SJ, where the Jesuit clearly states: 'According to exegetes, the Aramaic word which in Latin is translated pro multis means pro omnibus. The multitude for whom Christ died is unbounded, which is the same as saying Christ died for us all.' Zerwick then goes on to quote Saint Augustine in support of his position. This leads Trautman to challenge the CDW and Benedict XVI to explain what the translation means and he asks them to justify why they have allowed what is essentially a distortion of a central tenet of Catholic belief: the universal salvation brought about by Christ. As he says '"Many" does not mean everyone. On a pastoral level we must have from the Vatican a better rationale for this major change than what has been given … We need a pastoral approach. How many people in the pews will hear a universal inclusive meaning in "for many"?' This is a vivid example of the result of the literal approach taken by the CDW: essentially they end up with a translation that is at best misleading, at worst, effectively heretical.
First, I will point out that the Scriptures say "for many" in Matthew 26:28 and Mark 14:24, in the Greek (peri pollon) and the Latin (pro multis) and nearly every English translation I can find.

Second, I will direct you to the answer given by the CDWDS and by the USCCB in 2006.

The CDWDS describes the translation "for all" as an "interpretive translation." (n. 1) "It is a dogma of faith that Christ died on the Cross for all men and women (cf. John 11:52; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; Titus 2:11; 1 John 2:2)." (n. 2) The Gospels use "for many" instead of "for all," the Roman Rite has always used pro multis and never pro omnibus, the other Rites use a proper translation of "for many," and "for all" is an explanation that is proper to catechesis, not the liturgy. (cf. n. 3) Perhaps the best part of their response is n. 3e, which says:
The expression “for many,” while remaining open to the inclusion of each human person, is reflective also of the fact that this salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one’s own willing or participation; rather, the believer is invited to accept in faith the gift that is being offered and to receive the supernatural life that is given to those who participate in this mystery, living it out in their lives as well so as to be numbered among the “many” to whom the text refers.
The USCCB reply recapitulates the CDWDS response in the form of six questions with answers.
When we get to the Our Father the simple, straight-forward words 'Let us pray with confidence to the Father in the words our Savior gave us' become the pompous 'At the Savior's command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say'. At the Communion it is no longer sufficient to say 'Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed'. Now ICEL wants us to say: 'Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed'. Again one is faced with the question of the purpose of this. Sure, it refers back to the centurion who asks Jesus in the gospel to cure his servant, but why is this complexity introduced which obscures the meaning?
Mr. Collins does not state what is "pompous" about the new translation that is not "pompous" about the old text (which was not at all a translation of the Latin). If "we dare to say" the words "Our Father," are we not saying them "with confidence"? See 2 Corinthians 3:12 and Ephesians 3:12; see Catechism 2777 and 2793.

The Latin text used for our response before Communion is almost a direct quotation from Matthew 8:8. Why it was interpreted rather than translated is unknown to me. Again, if Catholics were familiar with Scripture, there would be no "complexity" and no obscured meaning.
Bishop Trautman gives voice to the kinds of questions that occur to anyone who has read the new ICEL translation: '... The texts include new words … such as "consubstantial to the Father" and "incarnate of the Virgin Mary", while words in the various new Collects include "sullied", "unfeigned", "ineffable", "gibbet", "wrought", "thwart". Do these texts communicate in the living language of the worshipping assembly?' These are the real pastoral questions we have to ask.
While "consubstantial" might be a newish word to Catholics, I doubt there are any genuine neologisms ("new words") in the new English translation. Again, "incarnate" is not new. Every Catholic should know (and care!) about the Incarnation. As for the other words, I know them all, as does my wife... yes, we have a college education, but are all Catholics expected to be stupid and unteachable? Will there be no context clues for them to understand these words? (Who doesn't know what "wrought" and "thwart" mean?) And again... what's to prevent those Catholics who don't already know these words from learning? Should worship be so simple, so lowest-common-denominator?

My book, Praying the Mass: The Prayers of the People, addresses most of these concerns (except the one about the Eucharistic Prayer and the one about the introduction to the Our Father — those will be in the second volume). I have half a mind to send Mr. Collins a copy free of charge when it's finally published.
My own view is that this exercise will be a disaster, the last nail in the coffin of the credibility of the leadership of the Church. The history shows that this whole process has been ideologically driven by a tiny, unrepresentative minority who are insensitive to the real pastoral needs of the Catholic community and who, at heart, reject the Second Vatican Council. Worse, they don't care about what happens, they are not interested in how many more people are driven out of the Church by the pomposity of what is essentially mid-Victorian English rather than some type of 'sacred' language.
In his article (not fully reproduced here), he went through a sort of "character assassination" (which he decries in the article!) for each of the prefects of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. But he didn't show that they were opposed to the Second Vatican Council. Their sympathy toward the 1962 Missal notwithstanding, he did not show what exactly they oppose about the Council; presumably, he means they oppose his interpretation of the Council, or more accurately, his idea of the Council's "spirit."

One final word about repetitions and structure in general: such things are not just characteristics of the Latin text or the Latin liturgy, they are characteristics of the whole Roman Rite and even further back, our Jewish heritage. Read the Old Testament lately? There's plenty of repetitious text, some of it more poetic than others to be sure. It's part of our heritage, and it deserves to be made manifest no matter what language we use.

Now, to provide some Conciliar and post-Conciliar support for my claims in this lengthy response.

Vatican II's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy did not describe the means or principles of the translation from Latin into the vernacular, so fine-tuning those principles and making the translation more accurate can not be construed as rejecting Vatican II. I will only be making references to documents which do mention the quality, principles, and integrity of the translation. (It should be made clear that the final and necessary authority for approving a translation rests with the Holy See.)

From the Consilium's Inter Oecumenici (1964):
The basis of the translations is the Latin liturgical text. The version of the biblical passages should conform to the same Latin liturgical text. This does not, however, take away the right to revise that version, should it seem advisable, on the basis of the original text or of some clearer version. The liturgical commission ... is to have special responsibility for the preparation of translations of liturgical texts, with the institute of pastoral liturgy providing as much assistance as possible. But where there is no such commission, two or three bishops are to share responsibility for the translating; they are to choose experts, including the laity, in Scripture, liturgy, the biblical languages, Latin, the vernacular, and music. Sound translation of a liturgical text into the language of a people has to answer many requirements simultaneously. (n. 40)
From Pope Paul VI's address to translators of liturgical texts (1965), found in Documents on the Liturgy as document #113 (numbers in {braces} are DOL paragraph numbers):
St. Jerome, easily the ablest in this art, experienced the magnitude of this task: "If I translate word by word, it sounds absurd; if I am forced to change something in the word order or style, I seem to have stopped being a translator." (Interpret. Chron. Euseb. Pamph., Praef.: PL 27, 35) {786}

The vernacular now taking its place in the liturgy ought to be within the grasp of all, even children and the uneducated. But, as you well know, the language should always be worthy of the noble realities it signifies, set apart from the everyday speech of the street and the marketplace, so that it will affect the spirit and enkindle the heart with love of God. ... With acumen and tireless devotion let the intent of all your efforts be that the liturgical community can be clothed in a spotless and gracefule vesture of speech and "find a beautiful mantle for the realities within." (Ibid.: PL 27, 36) For pastoral reasons, the beauty and richness of Latin, wihich the Latin Church used for centuries for prayers, petitions, and thanksgiving to God, have been partially lost. Nevertheless your wise and diligent efforts should make a similar clarity of language and dignity of expression shine forth in the vernacular translations of liturgical texts. {787}

... liturgical texts, approved by competant authority and confirmed by the Holy See, are as such to be held in all reverence. No one has the right to change, shorten, amplify, or omit them to suit himself. {790}
From Pope Paul VI's address to participants in an international congress on the study of Latin (1966), found in Documents on the Liturgy as document #116. This excerpt is a challenge, admittedly:
Since by their nature words express thoughts, it is not right to make language more important than the mind's understanding, especially when it comes to divine worship and conversation with God. Rather, no matter what the language, it must be made to serve the thoughts of the mind and the affections of the heart, whether spoken by sacred ministers or by the people calling on God's name and praising him. The words of St. Augustine are as clear in the meaning as they are telling in their support on this point: "I would rather be reproved by the grammarians than not be understood by the people." (Enarr. in Ps. 138: PL 37, 1796) "In Latin 'Jesus' is Christus salvator. It is not the grammarian's question about the Latin style that matters, but the Christian's question about the truth." (Serm. 299: PL 38, 1371) {815}
But Pope Paul VI by no means implied that the language is to fall short of describing in adequate and accurate terms that Christian truth which must be believed, even if not fully understood. There is also no reason why understanding cannot be advanced so as to allow for a higher caliber of language.

From the Consilium's Aussitot apres (1967) on the translation of the Roman Canon, found in Documents on the Liturgy as document #118:
The [translation] is to render faithfully the text of the Roman Canon, without variations, omissions, or insertions which would make it different from the Latin text. {821}
From Pope Paul VI's address to Latinists, found in Documents on the Liturgy as document #121:
Today in the presence of this assembly of men of great wisdom, we desire to repeat: the study of Latin must still be cultivated in our times and above all in seminaries and houses for the religious formation of the young. In no way is it permissible to ignore this language if there is to be any genuine attempt to create keen minds in the young, to train them in humane letters, to probe and reflect on the words of the Fathers, and above all to prepare them to share fully in the ancient treasures of the liturgy. Without the knowledge of Latin something is altogether missing from a higher, fully rounded education — and in particular with regard to theology and liturgy. The people of our times expect such an education of their priests and the Fathers of Vatican Council II repeatedly endorsed it, in the Decree Optatam totius on priestly formation, in the Constitution on the Liturgy (art. 16), and in other conciliar norms. {835}

We want to say something very plainly to those whose shallow minds or unthinking passion for the new lead them to the idea that the Latin language must be totally spurned by the Latin Church. To them we say that it is absolutely clear that Latin must be held in high honor and especially for the excellent and serious reasons that we have mentioned. On the other hand, we also address those who, out of an empty aestheticism that goes too far in seeking to preserve what is old or out of a prejudice against anything new, have bitterly denounced the changes recently introduced. To them we say that we must clearly never forget that Latin must be subordinate to the pastoral ministry and is not an end in itself. Any defense, thereofre, of the rights this language has acquired in the Church must avoid at all costs impeding or constricting the renewal of pastoral service mandated by the Council. In this matter, too, the highest law must be the well-being of souls. {836}
Then there is the important Consilium instruction Comme le prevoit (1969) which provided the norms for translation during the years following Vatican II. This document has been superceded by Liturgiam Authenticam. Here are some choice excerpts from the English version, some of which I find hard to swallow (such as n. 12):
... it is not sufficient that a liturgical translation merely reproduce the expressions and ideas of the original text. Rather it must faithfully communicate to a given people, and in their own language, that which the Church by means of this given text originally intended to communicate to another people in another time. A faithful translation, therefore, cannot be judged on the basis of individual words: the total context of this specific act of communication must be kept in mind, as well as the literary form proper to the respective language. (n. 6)

The translator must always keep in mind that the “unit of meaning” is not the individual word but the whole passage. The translator must therefore be careful that the translation is not so analytical that it exaggerates the importance of particular phrases while it obscures or weakens the meaning of the whole. Thus, in Latin, the piling up of ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilem may increase the sense of invocation. In other tongues, a succession of adjectives may actually weaken the force of the prayer. The same is true of beatissima Virgo or beata et gloriosa or the routine addition of sanctus or beatus to a saint’s name, or the too casual use of superlatives. Understatement in English is sometimes the most effective means of emphasis. (n. 12)

The language chosen should be that in “common” usage, that is, suited to the greater number of the faithful who speak it in everyday use, even “children and persons of small education” (Paul VI). However, the language should not be “common” in the bad sense, but “worthy of expressing the highest realities” (ibid.). Moreover, the correct biblical or Christian meaning of certain words and ideas will always need explanation and instruction. Nevertheless no special literary training should be required of the people; liturgical texts should normally be intelligible to all, even the less educated. For example, “temptation” as a translation of tentatio in the Lord’s prayer is inaccurate and can only be misleading to people who are not biblical scholars. (n. 15)

Similarly in English there is no exact equivalent for mysterium. In English, “mystery” means something which cannot be readily explained or else a type of drama or fiction. Nor can the word “venerabilis” (as in sanctas et venerabiles manus) be translated as “venerable,” which nowadays means “elderly.” (n. 18) [note: venerabiles is translated as "venerable" in the new English translation]

The prayer of the church is always the prayer of some actual community, assembled here and now. It is not sufficient that a formula handed down from some other time or region be translated verbatim, even if accurately, for liturgical use. The formula translated must become the genuine prayer of the congregation and in it each of its members should be able to find and express himself or herself. (n. 20)

It is to be noted that if any particular kind of quality is regarded as essential to a literary genre (for example, intelligibility of prayers when said aloud), this may take precedence over another quality less significant for communication (for example, verbal fidelity). (n. 29)

Biblical translation in the Roman liturgy ought to conform “with the Latin liturgical text”. In no way should there be a paraphrasing of the biblical text, even if it is difficult to understand. Nor should words or explanatory phrases be inserted. All this is the task of catechesis and the homily. (n. 31)

The prayers (Opening Prayer, Prayer over the Gifts, Prayer after Communion, and Prayer over the People) from the ancient Roman tradition are succint and abstract. In translation they may need to be rendered somewhat more freely while conserving the original ideas. This can be done by moderately amplifying them, or, if necessary, paraphrasing expressions in order to concretize them for the celebration and the needs of today. In every case pompous and superfluous language should be avoided. (n. 34)
From the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship's Liturgicae Instaurationes (1970):
There is special reason to keep the Order of Mass intact. Under no consideration, not even the pretext of singing the Mass, may the official translations of its formularies be altered. (n. 3)

In this matter it is advisable to proceed without haste, enlisting the help not only of theologians and liturgists, but of people of learning and letters. Then the translations will be documents of tested beauty; their grace, balance, elegance, and richness of style and language will endow them with the promise of lasting use; they will match the requirements of the inner richness of their content. (n. 11)
From Pope John Paul II's Vicesimus Quintus Annus (1988):
The Bishops' Conferences have had the weighty responsibility of preparing the translations of the liturgical books. Immediate need occasionally led to the use of provisional translations, approved ad interim. But now the time has come to reflect upon a certain difficulties that have subsequently emerged, to remedy certain defects or inaccuracies, to complete partial translations, to compose or approve chants to be used in the Liturgy, to ensure respect for the texts approved and lastly to publish liturgical books in a form that both testifies to the stability achieved and is worthy of the mysteries being celebrated. (n. 20)
I should point out that in that same document, the Pope said: "Much still remains to be done to help priests and the faithful to grasp the meaning of the liturgical texts, to develop the dignity and beauty of celebrations and the places where they are held, and to promote, as the Fathers did, a 'mystagogic catechesis' of the sacraments." (n. 21)

From Pope John Paul II's address to the Bishops of the United States on the occasion of their ad limina visit (1993):
You are presently involved in a revision of some liturgical texts, and this has been on the agenda of the recent Plenary Meeting of your Conference. One of your responsibilities in this regard, as stewards of the grace of the supreme priesthood, is to make available exact and appropriate translations of the official liturgical books so that, following the required review and confirmation by the Holy See, they may be an instrument and guarantee of a genuine sharing in the mystery of Christ and the Church: lex orandi, lex credendi.

The arduous task of translation must guard the full doctrinal integrity and, according to the genius of each language, the beauty of the original texts. When so many people are thirsting for the Living God — whose majesty and mercy are at the heart of liturgical prayer — the Church must respond with a language of praise and worship which fosters respect and gratitude for God's greatness, compassion and power. When the faithful gather to celebrate the work of our Redemption, the language of their prayer — free from doctrinal ambiguity and ideological influence — should foster the dignity and beauty of the celebration itself, while faithfully expressing the Church's faith and unity.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments' Varietates Legitimae (1994):
The first significant measure of inculturation is the translation of liturgical books into the language of the people. The completion of translations and their revision, where necessary, should be effected according to the directives given by the Holy See on this subject. Different literary genres are to be respected, and the content of the texts of the Latin typical edition is to be preserved; at the same time the translations must be understandable to participants (cf. above No. 39), suitable for proclamation and singing, with appropriate responses and acclamations by the assembly.

All peoples, even the most primitive, have a religious language which is suitable for expressing prayer, but liturgical language has its own special characteristics: It is deeply impregnated by the Bible; certain words in current Latin use (memoria, sacramentum) took on a new meaning in the Christian faith. Certain Christian expressions can be transmitted from one language to another, as has happened in the past, for example in the case of ecclesia, evangelium, baptisma, eucharistia. (n. 53)
The whole of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's Norms for the Translation of Biblical Texts for Use in the Liturgy (1997); most notably:
The first principle with respect to biblical texts is that of fidelity, maximum possible fidelity to the words of the text. Biblical translations should be faithful to the original language and to the internal truth of the inspired text, in such a way as to respect the language used by the human author in order to be understood by his intended reader. Every concept in the original text should be translated in its context. (n. 2)

The translation of Scripture should faithfully reflect the Word of God in the original human languages. It must be listened to in its time-conditioned, at times even inelegant, mode of human expression without "correction" or "improvement" in service of modern sensitivities. ... If explanations are deemed to be pastorally necessary or appropriate, they should be given in editorial notes, commentaries, homilies, etc. (n. 3)

Translation should strive to preserve the connotations as well as the denotations of words or expressions in the original and thus not preclude possible layers of meaning. ... Thus, the word man in English should as a rule translate adam and anthropos, since there is no one synonym which effectively conveys the play between the individual, the collectivity and the unity of the human family so important, for example, to expression of Christian doctrine and anthropology. (n. 6)
The whole of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments' Liturgiam Authenticam (2001), of course!

The whole of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments' Letter to English-Speaking Bishops (2002), which you should read carefully.

That's all for now. This took me six hours (most of this evening!) to write. I hope it is helpful to you.

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