You all know about the minor victory for Truth obtained by the correction of an error in the official English version of Sacramentum caritatis. An error occurring in the English translation at the time of the public release of the document, was corrected on the Vatican website.
This is a good thing. But it raises other problems.
A participant, "Janet", in another blog entry (the Snoopy Dance entry) wrote the following in a comment (edited):
Will this correction in translation be brought to the attention of bishops in some official way, or was it just quietly changed to the correct wording? My diocese’s retired acting bishop has already written in our diocesan newspaper about the exhortation last week, and pointed out that latin “could be” used in “large international gatherings” for mass. … I’m guessing he’s not likely to take a second look at the thing and see the correction unless someone shoves it under his nose and points it out to him, and even then he won’t likely change what he’s already said.
Janet is no doubt correct. She also puts her finger on a verrrrrrry sore spot.
I have been harping on this stuff like Cassandra for years, but from another point of view. Consider the following.
Q: When revisions are made to the official version (almost always the Latin), who goes back to revise the vernacular versions?
A: Ummmmm…. nobody?
Welll… people like the Latin translation fanatic who writes for The Wanderer and has a blog.
Documents are not written any more in Latin. Documents are composed in some modern language, and eventually put into Italian and then all the translators are constrained to work from the Italian.
This created some pretty absurd situations in the production, for example, of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The language of composition of much of the CCC was French. Then it went into Italian. Then all the other languages version were made from the Italian: including the Latin, which is the official version.
In the first versions of the Latin, before much screaming allowed common sense to prevail, quotations from LATIN authors had as a matter of policy been translated into French AND/OR Italian, and then – I am NOT making this up – translated back into Latin. It would occur to most normal people that when it came to quoting a text of, say, a Spanish writer, when it came to the Spanish edition of the document you would simply lift the original text from the very best critical edition available. Right? When it came to preparing the LATIN edition of the text, and the citation was from, say, St. Augustine of Hippo, a normal person would look up Augustine’s Latin and then use that in the Latin edition. Right? But…. noooo…. And so there was a war to get that sorted out for the eventual publication of the Latin edition of the CCC. As far as the vernacular editions go… well… don’t ask me. The whole thing is a mystery.
This is all because the language of composition is no longer Latin, but Latin (just one translation among many) is eventually the OFFICIAL version.
For the centuries to come, if Pope write and promulgate something important, with rare exceptions (like Mit brennender Sorge) we will accept that he did it because there is a Latin text in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
Consider this: When the various language versions of Veritatis splendor were released in October (Latin was one of them, published in L’Osservatore Romano and in booklets), those modern language versions instantly were distributed as the basis for reprinting the document. Those are the texts everyone cites when thinking about Veritatis splendor. However, the official Latin version was published in the Acta of December, if my memory serves. I once compared the text from October and the text from December and started finding lots changes. I asked myself… who will go back to correct the modern language versions and bring them into harmony with the OFFICIAL text in the Acta? Nobody, obviously. And the result is that people might be citing something other than the official text when they cite Veritatis splendor.
Back to Janet’s question, which reveals a whole new situation:
Q: When revisions are made to the vernacular versions, who will go back to correct the vernacular versions.
A: …. "Shut up", he explained.
Today, I can spread news and opinion by the click of a few buttons. Information is disseminated nearly instantaneously. Fewer and fewer people are using paper versions.
If I can spread news and texts fast, I am nothing compared to what the Holy See can do.
The Holy See is the guardian of these texts. We depend on the Holy See for accuracy.
And yet we see changing texts.
So…. who is guarding the guards?
Do you remember the horrible, I mean unforgivable mess up with the text of the late Holy Father’s Ecclesia de Eucharistia in which there was a change to the words OF HOLY SCRIPTURE so as to make John Paul II appear as if he had made up his mind on the whole "pro multis" question? If you don’t know this stuff, read this.
I want to know what the Vicar of Christ said, not what some ideologically interested underling thinks the Holy Father ought to have said.
We all understand when a mistake is made: errare est humanum. But we are talking about teachings and laws of the Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ, the Supreme Pontiff. When it comes to something over the signature of PETER I want the best possible rendering, always understanding the limits of language and translation.
Folks, I am not nitpicking this translation stuff just for kicks. This is not amusing. It is not a matter of joy to find problems.
We want the Pope’s Magisterium, not the personal magisterium of Msgr. Joe Bagofdonuts who might have a different view of things.