Tuesday, June 06, 2006

CNS STORY: Vatican review of English-language Mass translations picks up speed

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican's review of English-language Mass translations is picking up speed as bishops' conferences approve liturgical books.

The Vox Clara Committee, a body of English-speaking bishops appointed to advise the Vatican on translations, met May 29-June 1 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 of Australia and of England and Wales. Bishops in the United States will be asked to approve the translation during their June 15-17 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 June 1 statement, 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.

The initial ICEL draft, called a "green book," is sent to English-speaking bishops and members of Vox Clara for comment. The final ICEL draft, called a "gray book," is sent to all members of English-speaking bishops' conferences for final action, which may include amendments and changes specific to their country.

The text approved by a bishops' conference and sent to Rome is known as a "white book."

Cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the congregation, reiterated to Vox Clara members his "unwavering intention to assure the implementation of the (2001 congregation) instruction, 'Liturgiam Authenticam,'" which called for strict translation of texts from the original Latin.

The document also called for specific changes in the English Mass translations, including the people's response "And with your spirit," to the priest's proclamation, "The Lord be with you."

Many bishops had expressed caution over changing texts recited by the faithful during Mass, but Cardinal Arinze said fidelity to the original Latin text must be given precedence over preserving texts in use since the Second Vatican Council.

While waiting until July to begin work on the Australian, U.S. and British white books of the Order of Mass, members of Vox Clara used their May 29-June 1 meeting to examine the green book of the "Proper of Seasons," the book of prayers specific for each Sunday and movable feast day.

The Vox Clara statement said members found the proposed translations to be "accurate and doctrinally complete," although they did offer some suggestions for changes.

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