Friday, December 23, 2005

Bishops Discuss Mass Translations

This month's edition of the Adoremus Bulletin has "a transcript of the US bishops’ discussion on the latest draft translation of the Order of Mass. This discussion took place on Monday afternoon, November 14, 2005, during the USCCB meeting held in Washington."

It was nice to see Cardinal George call the sudden conservativism of some to the fore; speaking of the changing of the text of the Roman missal and those who have suggested it shouldn't be because of pastoral considerations:

"Liturgiam authenticam says if the text is inadequate you should change it anyway, even if you might have to deal with a pastoral problem. On the other hand, those who were quite willing to say even every generation should have a new translation -- because language is living, so keep it changing -- are now saying: Well, because the people have the habit of saying it this way, don’t disturb them and don’t change them. Both those are rather weighty arguments. There’s an irony inasmuch as positions seem to have shifted."

The document is very revealing and potentially shows forth some of the ideological positions that may be present on the part of the BCL (Bishops Committee on the Liturgy). Fortunately, we see some bishops calling this to task, and asking why certain recommendations for the status quo (ie. the previous ICEL translation) are put forward when only an extreme minority of the bishops saw this as any concern.

Bishop Vigneron claimed: "There are thirteen occasions when our Committee is recommending to ICEL keeping the 1970 texts when no one wrote to the Committee to say there was a problem with that text. And I find that very problematic."

Likewise, there are some intriguing discussions about Liturgiam Authenticam and its role in all this.

Cardinal George again calls this attitude:

"The principle that the people’s parts should not be disturbed presupposes that you have an adequate translation. In the case of a number of people’s parts right now the translation is not adequate. It isn’t always doctrinally wrong, but that isn’t the only criterion, that isn’t the major criterion in Liturgiam authenticam, as such.

The other two points I would like to make is that when we approved the translation of the second edition, which has never been received [approved] by the Holy See and therefore is not official, we did change the people’s parts. And this concern wasn’t so evident at that time."

Another Bishop, unidentified, said:

"I think the fact that we’re going to have these texts for a long period of time, as you indicated, makes me less receptive to the argument that it would be upsetting for people who have gotten used to these texts over the last 30 or 35 years.

Thirty-five years ago we changed texts that had been in use for four hundred years. Now, that upset many people, but we did that for strong reasons. And I think we shouldn’t say: “Well, we’re not going to do it now because that will upset people”. If we have defective translations, or translations that could be improved, I think we should do that now. Sort of bite the bullet. Get it done, and get it done right. And so we can live with that for a long period of time."

[NOTE: on this point, while I agree with the logic of the good bishop as far as the situation now stands, I think here is where we really need to bring home the concept of the organic development of the liturgy. Here is where the reform of the reform really has its work cut out for it. We need to bring back a sense of the rupture which occurred in the revision of the Roman missal after 1965, and which itself is therefore problematic and needs to substantially reformed -- perhaps a la the 1965 Roman Missal.]

Archbishop Chaput noted in defense of changes to the text: "I’d like to propose that changing the texts is a great moment for re-education of all of us in liturgy. To actually read the texts, rather than to recite them out of rote memory can be a very good re-educational process for all of us in the Church. So I certainly favor having correct texts, even if it means changing them. So that would be my position. But I think it can help us come to a deeper understanding of what we say when we pray together at the liturgy. And it isn’t always a bad thing. And I think that we should do it once and for all, rather than piece by piece. So I don’t think the suggestions that have been made by ICEL for significant change would hurt the Church, but would help the Church."

To read the complete text, and I highly recommend this, click here.

[Text is copyright Adoremus Bulletin (St Louis: Adoremus, 2005):]

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