New Words for Worship Part 20:The Revised Missal Who and How

The Revised Missal: Who and How

A priest phoned yesterday to ask why the Liturgical Commission of the Brisbane Archdiocese had decided to use “he descended into hell” in the revised version of the Apostles’ Creed. When questioned, he explained that he thought we had done the translation work because “The Liturgical Commission, Brisbane” appears on the inside cover of the “New Order of Mass” booklet!

It is clear from enquiries such as this that there is still a degree of confusion and misunderstanding about the origins of the new edition of the Roman Missal which is currently being implemented in Australia.
Producing liturgical texts for all countries where English is used in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the Roman Rite is the responsibility of ICEL, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. The purpose of the Commission is to prepare English translations of each of the Latin liturgical books and any individual liturgical texts in accord with the directives of the Holy See.
Each of the 11 bishops conferences involved elects one bishop to represent it on ICEL. The Most Reverend Denis Hart, Archbishop of Melbourne, is currently Australia’s member bishop. The bishops of ICEL are assisted in their work by the professional staff of ICEL’s Secretariat, which is located in Washington, D.C. The Secretariat coordinates the work of specialists throughout the English-speaking world in the preparation of translations.
Editions of the Roman Missal are published first in Latin and this Latin “typical edition” is then translated into the various languages that are used in worship. This means that, though the language and local customs may be different across the world, the form of the Mass and the content of the prayers are the same. The Missal is therefore a sign of the unity of the Church
After the issuance of the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal in Latin in 2002, ICEL engaged in the preparation of an English translation for its conferences of bishops. As each section of the ICEL translation is completed and approved by the Bishops of the Commission, it is sent to the member conferences for their consideration. After comments are incorporated into the text it is re-issued for Canonical vote. The Commission completed this process in 2008.
The complete text is then submitted to Rome for recognitio, or approval for publication and use. This task is the responsibility of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Since 2002 the Vox Clara Committee, a body of English-speaking bishops chaired by Sydney’s Cardinal George Pell, has advised the Congregation on English translations and assisted in reviewing the versions approved by national bishops' conferences. In April 2010 recognitio was received for the ICEL text of the Missal.

ICEL itself is not a publisher of liturgical books and related materials in the usual sense. Rather, like individual authors, translators, or editors, it provides the content of such publications to publishing firms. The conferences of bishops are responsible for incorporating their national propers (texts for Australia Day, the Feast of Mary MacKillop, etc) and for making arrangements for printing, binding, distributing and introducing the missal.

The Catholic Truth Society based in London was chosen as the publisher of the Roman Missal in its new English translation for England, Wales, Scotland and Australia.


Elizabeth Harrington