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German liturgical translations face Vatican scrutiny

In the wake of Vatican pressure towards translations that conform more to Roman models in the English-speaking world, evidence suggests a similar overhaul is taking place in other languages.

Since 1997, the Vatican has pressed the agency responsible for liturgical translation into English, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) toward greater fidelity to the Latin originals of liturgical texts. ICEL had been allowing translators greater freedom to render Latin texts into more modern English.

The agency responsible for liturgical translation into German, known as the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Liturgischen Kommissionen im deutschen Sprachgebiet (IAG), is slated for a major reorganisation. News of the move followed a December meeting between Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, chair of the German bishops' liturgy committee, and the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship.

IAG, like ICEL, known for a "dynamic equivalence" approach, is housed at the Deutsches Liturgisches Institut in Trier. Member countries include Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, along with a handful of other German-speaking dioceses.

Vatican officials are said to be concerned about German translations in part because some Eastern European conferences use them as base texts for their own translations.

At the annual meeting of IAG in Augsburg, Germany, in January, Meisner informed the group that it will have to be revamped in light of the May 2001 Vatican document Liturgiam Authenticam, which promulgated translation principles reflecting the Roman approach. Meisner said that IAG must become a bishops' committee for translation that can function as a platform for cooperation in the German-speaking world.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, the news from Germany follows a Vatican letter asking French bishops to initiate re-translations in keeping with Liturgiam Authenticam.

National Catholic Reporter

Deutsches Liturgisches Institut
Vatican insists on greater control over language agency (National Catholic Reporter 13/12/02)
Retiring international English liturgy chief speaks out (12/8/02)
Vatican Commission bans inclusive language in liturgy (9/5/01)
Cardinal calls for truce over ICEL (27/6/00)
'Vox Clara' commission to monitor English translation (National Catholic Reporter 5/4/02)
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments | Liturgiam Authenticam (Text)

17 Feb 2003