'Real difficulties' remain with draft missal

The US bishops' Committee on the Liturgy (bcl) has said that there are "real difficulties with the translation" of the most recent English draft of the Ordo Missae (Order of Mass), following the rejection of nearly half of its proposed changes to the original text by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

The Tablet reports that BCL Chairman Bishop Donald Trautman (pictured) of Erie, Pennsylvania, sent all the US bishops a copy of the newest English translation of the Ordo a month ago and invited them to make line-by-line suggestions to improve it.

In a letter accompanying the text, Bishop Trautman said the BCL was "convinced that the translation of the Order of Mass is one of the most important matters to have ever come before" the bishops' conference. He said the revised text was "much improved over the first draft" (which was completed in early 2004) but he expressed concern that there were still "problematic passages phrases [that] were seen as infelicitous to English spoken in the United States". He also said there were questions about "the intelligibility of some words".

This latest text retains many of the transliterations from the Latin that were present in the earlier draft, reflecting the strict guidelines laid down by the Vatican in its 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam ("The Authentic Liturgy"). Substantial word and syntax changes in the Gloria, the Sanctus, and in the various Eucharistic Prayers have been retained in the latest translation of the Order of Mass and it is unclear how much power the bishops' conferences will have in altering the final draft, which is expected to be completed early next year.

The Tablet says that one translation that seems destined to remain, despite widespread objection by a great number of liturgists and bishops, is the people's response to "the Lord be with you". English-speaking Catholics have always responded, "and also with you". However the latest small group of bishops overseeing ICEL's translations are insisting on changing that to, "and with your spirit", in order to identically mirror the Latin "et cum spiritu tuo".

ICEL, which has translated all the liturgical texts into English in the past 40 years, was reorganised after the Vatican created the 12-member Vox Clara Commission in 2001. The new group has exerted pressure over ICEL to ensure a more literal translation of English texts for worship.

The translation of the new Roman Missal (issued in Latin in 2000), of which the Order of the Mass is the major element, is the first major task of the reformed ICEL. Bishop Roche said the committee is still working on the other prayers that constitute the 1300-page book used to guide the celebration of Mass. No deadline has been fixed for the completion of the entire Missal, but it is anticipated that it will be at least another two years before the finalised text is ready to be implemented in English-speaking dioceses around the world.

'Real difficulties' remain with draft missal (The Tablet 6/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
US Conference of Catholic Bishops - Committee on the Liturgy
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Vox Clara urges speedy completion of new Mass prayers translation (CathNews 11/7/05)
Liturgical documents to be published in UK (CathNews 6/4/05)
Vox Clara OKs born again ICEL translations body (CathNews 18/3/05)
'Urgent' Catholic translation given priority over ecumenical texts (CathNews 19/11/04)
Pell's key role in Vatican liturgy meeting (CathNews 29/3/05)
Commission says new Missal translation "off to good start" (CathNews 9/12/03)
Vatican prevails on the English Missal translation (CathNews 3/11/03)
Retiring international English liturgy chief speaks out (12/8/02)

9 Aug 2005