Progress for Vatican review of English-language Mass translations

The "liturgy wars" are inching closer to a resolution with reports that the Vatican's review of English-language Mass translations are picking up speed ahead of the US bishops' vote on the texts this month.

Catholic News Service reports that the Vox Clara Committee, a body of English-speaking bishops appointed to advise the Vatican on translations established by International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), met last week and will meet again in July.

The July meeting is likely to focus on reviewing the Order of Mass translations adopted in May by the bishops' conferences in Australia and England and Wales. Bishops in the US will be asked to approve the translation during their June meeting in Los Angeles.

The Order of Mass contains the prayers recited every day at Mass, including prayers for the penitential rite, the Gloria and the creed and the four main eucharistic prayers; it does not include the Scripture readings or the prayers that are specific to a certain Sunday or feast day.

Liturgical translations must be approved by two-thirds of the members of a bishops' conference before they are sent to the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for final review.

The Vox Clara Committee, in addition to discussing translations that are in progress and making suggestions before the final drafts are presented to the bishops, assists the congregation in reviewing the versions approved by national bishops' conferences.

The committee, in a statement released on Thursday, said it expected to be able to complete its work of reviewing the English translations of all parts of the Mass by the end of 2007. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy prepares the translations.

However, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, who chairs the Vox Clara Committee, has warned that the battles over the translation may still not be over even with the US bishops' agreement to the texts.

"Experience has taught me that it's always dangerous to claim that [the battles will end]," he said. "Nevertheless, if it gets through, that represents a significant achievement."

"We have a big challenge to make the English [texts] powerful modern, appropriate and strong. We don't want to just achieve doctrinal fidelity but have clumsy English," said the Cardinal.

"We've got the doctrinal fidelity now. The ICEL translations are coming through beautifully on that score. But I think with some of them, a few of them, the quality is quite uneven."

Vatican review of English-language Mass translations picks up speed (Catholic News Service/Catholic Online 2/6/06)
John L. Allen: Cardinal Pell on translations (National Catholic Reporter 2/6/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

Vox Clara urges speedy completion of new Mass prayers translation (CathNews 11/7/05)
Vox Clara OKs born again ICEL translations body (CathNews 18/3/05)
Pell's key role in Vatican liturgy meeting (CathNews 29/3/05)
'Urgent' Catholic translation given priority over ecumenical texts (CathNews 19/11/04)
Pell in Rome for Vox Clara liturgy meeting (CathNews 8/11/04)
Pell says "liturgy wars" nearing end (CathNews 22/3/04)

Bishops to vote on new Order of Mass in English (Catholic News Service/Catholic Online 25/5/06)
Vatican prods US bishops on liturgical translations (Catholic World News 23/5/06)

5 Jun 2006