Friday, April 18, 2008

The Question of Vernacular Readings in the Usus Antiquior: An Answer?

An NLM reader wrote a letter to the Ecclesia Dei Commission asking for clarification upon the matter of whether Summorum Pontificum envisioned the introduction of an option to proclaim the readings strictly in an approved vernacular translation of the lectionary as found in the 1962 Missal, or whether the Latin readings were still required.

Here were the reader's questions:

Article 6 of the document [Summorum Pontificum] states, “In Masses celebrated in the presence of the people in accordance with the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, the readings may be given in the vernacular, using editions recognized by the Apostolic See.”

1) Does this Article permit the vernacular readings to be proclaimed in the context of the liturgy itself, or does it refer to the custom of some communities to “informally” proclaim the readings in the vernacular after being previously read in the context of the liturgy in Latin?

On May 1st, 1964 the Vatican gave the approval of a text of the 1962 Roman Missal of Bl. John XXIII with a Latin Ordinary and an English Proper, for use in the United States of America. This edition of the Roman Missal was published in 1964 by The Catholic Book Publishing Company.

2) Is it permissible to use this edition Missal for the licit celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite with the English speaking faithful?

3) Is it permissible to use, at least, the English translation of the scripture in the context of the liturgy?

The response can be found in the letter below. The readers name and such have been blackened for privacy.

While present practice has ranged from proclaiming the readings in Latin followed by the vernacular, or only in Latin, the option apparently now exists to proclaim them directly in the vernacular without the Latin texts being proclaimed. This is an option of course and not a requirement.

This has been the interpretation the NLM has offered since the beginning, but it has deferred to the possibility of other interpretations given some questions about the Latin text and has always waited upon the clarifications from the competent authority, and most particularly, the still-awaited formal clarifications from the Ecclesia Dei commission.

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