Real Story of the Revised Translation Part II

Real Story of the Revised Translation Part II

Concerns about the new instructions for translating liturgical texts enshrined in Liturgiam Authenticam were not limited to the fact that it in effect changed the rules in the middle of the game. The genesis of this document was questionable, to say the least. It was supposedly produced by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, but members of that Congregation had not been informed that the document was forthcoming, let alone consulted in its production. Pope John Paul II had mandated the preparation of the document and approved and confirmed the final version.
There was, understandably, widespread negative reaction to Liturgiam Authenticam, not just from so-called ‘liberals’. Chant scholar and self-described liturgical conservative Peter Jeffery described it as “the most ignorant statement on liturgy ever issued by a modern Vatican congregation. (It) should be summarily withdrawn, on the grounds that it was released prematurely, before proper consultation with a sufficient number of experts had been completed”.
Liturgiam Authenticam requires every word in the Latin text to be replicated in the vernacular, the vocabulary, syntax, punctuation and capitalisation patterns found in the Latin to be reproduced as much as possible, and translations to employ what it called a “sacral vernacular” that is different from ordinary speech.
It also gives this direction:
“Great caution is to be taken to avoid a wording or style that the Catholic faithful would confuse with the manner of speech of non-Catholic ecclesial communities or of other religions, so that such a factor will not cause them confusion or discomfort.”
There are several matters causing the Catholic faithful confusion and discomfort at present, but I seriously doubt that worshipping with words used by some other Christians is amongst them!

The distinguished Filipino liturgical scholar and former chair of ICEL’s Translations and Revisions Sub-committee, Ansgar Chupungco, described the principle of formal equivalence required by Liturgiam Authenticam as deficient, because texts must have beauty and aesthetic form, not just doctrinal fidelity and linguistic accuracy, to be memorable.

He explained that, in its earlier work at revising the Missal, ICEL had been attentive to the properties of formal spoken English and as a result had produced texts that matched the beauty and nobility of the original Latin - texts subsequently assigned to the dust bin!

But the convoluted story of the revised Missal did not end with the new ICEL translation which was completed in 2008 and approved by all the bishops conferences. In January 2010 Vox Clara announced that it had made undisclosed changes to the ICEL texts. Several months later a report appeared detailing evidence of extensive alterations – allegedly as many as 10 000 – that had been made to the English Missal in violation of the Vatican’s own translation rules and six months after Pope Benedict XVI had received, with much fanfare, the approved, “final” version of the Missal.

Apart from causing great inconvenience to publishers and composers, these changes have generated much disquiet. This one example demonstrates why - “to proclaim you yet more gloriously” has become “to laud you yet more gloriously”. The word “laud” is not part of even formal modern speech, and how will “laud” be understood aurally?

Elizabeth Harrington