HK corrects Vatican over China letter translation

The Hong Kong diocese has issued a new translation of Pope Benedict's letter because the Vatican's translation "contains mistakes and is hard to understand", according to Taiwan and Hong Kong bishops.

UCA News reports that the revised text, which contains 20,086 characters including footnotes, was published in the 15 July issue of Kung Kao Po, the diocesan Chinese weekly.

In addition, 30,000 booklets of the revised text in traditional Chinese characters and another 30,000 in simplified characters were printed for free distribution.

The Vatican officially issued the papal letter in late June in the original Italian and in English, French, and traditional and simplified Chinese translations. The Chinese versions had 19,763 characters each.

According to Kung Kao Po, the revision used the "Vatican's official Chinese text as the blueprint" and the Italian and English texts.

According to Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong, the original Chinese text contains many mistakes.

The revision is to "help those (Chinese) who don't know foreign languages understand the letter's original intentions," he explained to UCA News in mid-July.

The 76-year-old prelate presided over sessions at three parishes in July to explain the papal letter's content and context, and to answer questions.

During one session at St Patrick's Church, he told 300 people that he had earlier written to the Holy See volunteering to bring experts to Rome "to assist in proofreading the official Chinese version," since "working on an Italian-Chinese translation is not easy."

However, he got "no reply" and received the Chinese text only four days prior to its official publication.

In early July, Cardinal Zen issued a statement pointing out three major errors in the official Chinese text and in the accompanying Explanatory Note. The cardinal later spent a week revising the Chinese translation with experts.

One of them, Anthony Lam Sui-ki, senior researcher of Hong Kong diocese's Holy Spirit Study Centre, told UCA News that the revised text is clearer, more coherent and conceptually more accurate.

The Hong Kong diocese will also send copies to the Chinese government via the central government's Liaison Office here, Cardinal Zen told UCA News.

A mainland bishop told UCA News the Vatican's Chinese translation is acceptable for mainland Catholics who are familiar with Church terminology. However, some government officials told him they have difficulty understanding its "unusual" sentence structure and words.

"Such a translation could undermine the Catholic Church's image," added the bishop, who requested anonymity.

Hong Kong Diocese Issues Revised Chinese Version Of Papal Letter (UCA News, 3/9/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Beijing diocese (Catholic Hierarchy)
Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (Wikipedia)
Roman Catholicism in China (Wikipedia)

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6 Aug 2007