Another New Translation

Through Catholic news sources like the Jesuit-run America Magazine, there are reports that Pope Francis has decided to create a mixed commission to study Liturgicam Authenticam, the decree that called for all translations of liturgical texts to use the principle of formal equivalence. Formal equivalence differs from dynamic equivalence, which seeks to communicate more of the meaning of the text, rather than a direct translation or transliteration. Dynamic equivalence was the principle of translation used for liturgical texts for many years immediately following the Second Vatican Council.

This mixed commission, consisting of bishops from all over the world, under the leadership of Archbishop Arthur Roche, the undersecretary for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, will meet soon. No other members of the commission have yet been publically named.

In essence, for the English-speaking world, this would mean looking at the document that guided the translators of the Roman Missal that is currently in use, released in 2011, as well as many other recently translated liturgical rituals and the Liturgy of the Hours. It needs to be understood that this does not mean that the current Roman Missal will be abrogated and that we would return to the use of the Sacramentary that was in use from 1970 to 2011. We still will be responding “And with your Spirit” for many more years.

And that’s a good thing, no matter what side of the argument one falls on in this discussion. The People of God deserve stability in the Sacred Liturgy. After all the effort and planning that it took to implement in parishes the new Roman Missal, it would be counter-productive to quickly change it back. Liturgy should be ritual and ritual should be consistent and comforting.

Now that we finally seem to have the responses down, both as priests and people, to change again would seem fickle and irresponsible. This is not even taking into account the money needed to buy new “new” missals and the resources needed to retrain the priests and people.

This commission has not even met and we really don’t know the scope of their mandate, but one thing is clear: we in the English-speaking world followed what we were asked to do, and, for the most part, the transition was fine. To have another translation so soon is just not needed.

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