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New Words for Worship Part 6: Information and Misinformation
New Words for Worship Part 6
We have probably all encountered someone who considers themselves an expert on education simply because they once went to school! Unfortunately, there are also those who set themselves up as experts on liturgy in general, and the new translation in particular, because they go to Mass! Efforts at explaining the background and content of the new English translation of the Roman Missal are not helped by ill-informed public comments from such people.
I can assure readers that, whatever The Australian claims to the contrary, nobody in Australia has seen or has in their possession the final version of the revised Sacramentary.
On 8th June, Archbishop Mark Coleridge, chair of the Roman Missal Editorial Committee, said: “In Australia we don't yet have the final approved version to send to the publishers. Nor have the local additions and adaptations been approved yet.”
Rev Peter Williams, Executive Secretary of the Bishops Commission for Liturgy, added the following day: “Whilst a recognitio was granted for the Missal on 25 March 2010, no one in the English speaking world has a completed text yet. Until we receive a response from the Congregation with a covering letter and a Protocol number we are simply relying on press releases from Vox Clara.”
Recently I expressed concern that the Catholic Church will soon have new texts for key parts of the Mass that differ from those used by other denominations. The response from one correspondent, arguing that the Catholic Church is not obliged to “slavishly follow their particular liturgical forms”, is ignorant and insensitive. Our ecumenical partners are justified in lamenting the fact that Roman Catholic versions of the Gloria, Creed and Holy Holy are now different from theirs because these Churches generously adopted Roman translations in the revisions of their own liturgical books.
Catholics who attend the worship of another denomination are often agreeably surprised by the extent to which they are able to participate in the liturgy because many of the texts are the same as those they pray at Mass. The use of common texts by different churches communicates symbolically the unity we share through our common baptism and is capable of leading churches into closer theological agreement.
The translation of the Our Father in the new Missal will be the same as that currently in use. The Australian Catholic version already differs from that used by most other denominations in Australia and the Catholic Church in New Zealand, all of whom adopted the ecumenical text produced by the International Consultation on English Texts many years ago.
Disputes over translation are unfortunately not a new issue for the church. In the fourth century, before he had even finished his work of translating the Bible into the language of the common people so that they could access the riches to be found in scripture, Saint Jerome came under strong attack from conservative critics. He responded: “If I translate word by word, it sounds absurd; if I am forced to change something in the interest of style, I seem to have stopped being a translator.”
Nothing much has changed in 1700 years!