ROMAN MISSAL TRANSLATIONS PROBLEMS—RESISTANCE TO CONSULTATION
More than seven years ago an AUSCP Work Group contacted the Roman Office of Cardinal Sarah (head of the Congregation for Divine Worship). In a letter delivered using official diplomatic channels we articulated problems priests are having with Roman Missal translation. A response came from the secretary of Cardinal Sarah, Archbishop Roche. He referred to the Roman Missal English translation as “the new Latin.” The dicastery was aware that when it came to translating into the vernacular, many world languages bishops were translating primarily from English translations into their native tongue. Therefore, the dicastery chose to standardize a common English translation as well as “latin-izing” the diction and grammar used. This has caused priests and people to hear awkward and sometimes incomprehensible liturgical texts.
While priests and bishops struggle with long conditional clauses and at times words that communicate awkwardly or mystify, there has been no effort at consultation or reevaluation of the Roman Missal. Both the Roman dicastery and the USCCB bishop’s committee on Divine Worship remain firm in maintaining the status quo.
Two things are cause for hope and may cause the AUSCP Work Group to reactivate.
- Pope Francis’ issue of Magnum Principium which reiterated the responsibility of each national conference of bishops having the primary responsibility for translating liturgical texts into the language of the people.
- Cardinal Sarah who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship is turning 75 years and is due to retire. There is hope that a new head of the Congregation will understand the difficulties generated by the translation method and return the challenge of liturgical text translation to the national conferences who, with their priests, are ordained to preach the gospel in a way that people can understand.
Kevin Clinton—AUSCP Chair Emeritus