There is a must read article by Sandro Magister on the problems the Holy See is having in actually reporting what Pope Benedict is really saying. Here at WDTPRS we have dealt with this before.
He is a engaging snip from Magister to whet your appetite. My emphasis
This Is the Vatican. Communications Have Been Interrupted
Benedict XVI speaks to the world. But his words reach the general public with great difficulty – and sometimes not at all. Here’s what isn’t working in the communication system that should assist the pope
by Sandro Magister
ROMA, November 23, 2006 – Struggling newspaper that it is, with a market of a few hundred copies and a loss of 4.6 million euros in 2005, it passed almost unnoticed that “L’Osservatore Romano” didn’t show up on the newsstands in Rome on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 7.
The copies were printed (see photo). But at the last minute, the order came from the Vatican secretariat of state to toss them back into the pulper. Because they were wrong straight from the title placed on the front page. It was dedicated to an address by the pope to the Swiss bishops, which in reality was never delivered.
But a great many people realized what happened that day by consulting the Vatican’s online bulletin, which is visited by millions throughout the world.
At midday, there appeared on the Holy See’s website a speech presented as having been delivered, in French, by Benedict XVI. By mid-afternoon, the speech wasn’t there anymore. And that evening, a communiquÃƒÂ© (1) appeared stating that the text had not been read out loud, but was a draft going back to the beginning of 2005 and to the previous pope, and that Benedict XVI had made other remarks to the Swiss bishops, improvising in German. The transcript of the actual address would be released the following day.
This time the fault was not that of “L’Osservatore Romano,” nor of its director, Mario Agnes, nor of the Vatican press office, the last links in the chain. The disaster took place at higher levels, at the junction between the curia and the pope.
Okay…. if that doesn’t get your attention, I don’t know what will.
The other day in the context of our ongoing pro multis discussions, I mentioned the problem of the appearing, and vanishing, link to the Latin text of the encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia. The text problem with that encyclical was a nightmare and it is still confusing people.
Friends, the texts of Vatican and papal documents change.
Yes, they change. From the time of the first release of some document, even an encyclical, to its publication in the Acta Apostolica Sedis, changes are made. This was very common in the later years of Pope John Paul II. We have yet to see what will happen with the documents of Benedict XVI.
Furthermore, you might be noticing that the translations of papal addresses and other documents released by the Vatican are all over the place in respect to the original language of delivery or authorship. (Remember: Official texts appear in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis… but versions are released to the public in various languages long before the final versions appear in the Acta.) I think there mistranslations occuring and people are not noticing them.
Isn’t it true that under the hammering stream of new material we simply don’t have time to read and absorb things? And why should we have to double-check accuracy of documents from the Holy See?
For Pete’s Sake! (literally!)… the Holy See has access to very smart people who come from every corner of the globe and have the use of nearly every important language. What’s the deal?
Translation can be very tricky sometimes, but what a Pope says is, … let me go out on a limb here… important.
Just as an example, a friend alerted me to a question in the translation of the Pope’s speech to Swiss Bishops on 9 November.
Here is the German text:
"…zu den Konkretisationen schreiten, deren Grundlage uns immer noch der Dekalog anbietet, den wir mit Christus, mit der Kirche in dieser Zeit weiterlesen und neu lesen müssen."
Here is the Italian:
"…progredire anche verso le concretizzazioni, per le quali il fondamento ci è sempre offerto dal Decalogo che, con Cristo e con la Chiesa, dobbiamo leggere in questo tempo in modo progressivo e nuovo."
Here is the English:
"…we need to move forward towards ways of putting it into practice, whose foundation is always offered to us by the Decalogue, which we must interpret today with Christ and with the Church in a progressive and new way."
There is a real problem here. Taken out of context and not read in reference to the German original, this "progressive" could cause problems. German "weiterlesen" does not exclude English "progressive", but it really aims at a meaning of "progressive" in the sense of "continue to read and read anew". "Weiterlesen" here means not simply repeat what has been said before, but find something more always, as Benedict is forever emphasizing, through a "hermeneutic of continuity".
A couple different groups have serious problems with a "hermeneutic of continuity". "Liberal progressivists" break the hermeneutic of continuity by refusing to consider the past and "locked in amber traditionalists" refuse the possibility of future developments. Either one of those groups could lock onto a word like "progressive" and misunderstand what the Pope is saying. "Amber traditionalists" might point an accusing finger at Pope Benedict and say, "You see? This modernist ‘pope’ wants a progressive reading of Scripture!", while "progressivist liberals" would say, "You see? The Pope says we have to reinterpret Scripture for a modern world!" Sound like an exageration? I don’t think so.
We have to use great caution with every document coming now, friends.
- Read carefully.
- Check the original.
- Verify translations the Holy See provides.
- If something sounds strange, apply a hermeneutic of continuity.