Exhoration’s translation error CORRECTED

I have written many times in the print version of WDTPRS, that you WDTPRSers make a difference.  The readers of the print version, made an impact on the preparation of the new translation of the Missal by writing the proper letters to the right people and through prayer.

Lately here on the blog I wrote about the bad translations official English version of the Holy Father’s post-Synodal Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis.   Some of you responded well and in a timely manner.  You made a difference.

One of the paragraphs I took special aim at was a par. 62, concerning Latin, which had some pretty bad errors, even when compared to the other vernacular versions.  Among other things I  wrote:

Moreover, the texts they are working with were those released at the time of the presentation of the document, even though the LATIN is itself revised before publication in is final official form in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.  But no one goes back to revise the vernacular versions in keeping with the changes in the Latin  Lot’s of people are misquoting documents because the vernacular docs themselves were never updated.

Now it seems that the official English version has been revised and corrected, at least in respect to par. 62.

The Latin: exceptis lectionibus, homilia et oratione fidelium, aequum est ut huiusmodi celebrationes fiant lingua Latina.

In Latin, the phrase aequum est means "it is reasonable, proper, right".  It can be rendered as "it is becoming", to use a somewhat archaic turn of phrase.

The OLD official English:  with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin.

The NEW official English:  with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, it is fitting that such liturgies be celebrated in Latin.

This blog led the public charge in this matter of the accuracy of the translation into English, but I can assure you that the problems were not missed here in Rome.  I had more than one conversation with "interested parties". 

The other language versions are being scrutinized now as well. 

Exivit a sacculo felis.*

Do not, however, rest even for a moment. 

Keep working. 

I have another entry where you may post what you think are problems.

ALERT: An exhortation TO ARMS!!

*Not to be confused with Exivit ab aedibus Elvis.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Stephen Morgan says:

    This is really good news. When the document came out and these errors became obvious, a friend of mine who works in a major doctrinal office in Rome said to me, “Don’t talk to me about bl**dy translators. You have no idea.” Thanks to you, Fr Z. I think we now do.

  2. surgeilluminare says:

    It is indeed right and fitting. Well done.

  3. Te_Deum says:

    This is very exciting to see, in light of history with vernacular versions.

    However, I am disappointed with one thought: Has the USCCB already gone to print with the originally released translation?

    If the vast majority of editions purchased contain these errors, it will be an uphill battle trying to correct people’s understandings. In time, it will happen, but for some – edition 1 is all they see. This is one advantage the “translators” have.

    However, it is just and right to provide the faithful with proper translations. Thanks to high visibility – enough to crash servers – to make the point.

  4. Janet says:

    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. (nothing about its use in ordinary parish masses).
    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.
    (please don’t give me the sour grapes award for this, Father! I’m normally a very cheerful optomistic person)

  5. Londiniensis says:

    Half-time score:
    Christians ONE – Lions NIL
    Congratulations, Father Z!

  6. Jordan Potter says:

    Te Deum said: “If the vast majority of editions purchased contain these errors, it will be an uphill battle trying to correct people’s understandings.”

    Actually most people will never see ANY version of the Apostolic Exhortation. Most people do not read, and even fewer read church documents, and of those who do read them, these days they usually read them on the internet. So I think it’s vitally important that the online versions are corrected, because those are the versions that will mostly be consulted in discussions and debates. Print versions will be brought into line, and all will be well.

    Anyway, this is an important moment in history: faithful lay Catholics, with the support of a good, solid priest, have in a remarkably short time effected a correction to a mistranslation in an important church document. That has never happened before. All those “empower the People of God” Vatican II folks should be pleased about this development, though of course most of them will be distraught about it since it has to do with the despised Latin language and Latin chant.

  7. Jon says:


    Have you been to the newstand this morning?


  8. Oratorian says:

    “Exivit ab aedibus Elvis.”

    I like the illustration on the right hand side. Yes, the cat is INDEED out of the bag; the plane has pulled away from the gate; Elvis has decidedly left the building and (as I said once before, and if we may metaphorically anticipate the Motu Proprio’s public announcement), his big white Cadillac is about to leave the gates of Graceland!!

  9. Londiniensis says:

    Mini-euphoria over. This glaring error has been corrected, perhaps others will be soon.

    And now for new questions. There is a prima facie system weakness that allows such “errors” to occur.

    What is the system for carrying out and checking translations? Will such procedures be stengthened or changed? Can the system be corrected?

    Are there liberal anglophone “moles” in the Secretariat of State who deliberately (or perhaps even unconsciously) edit documents “in the spirit of Vatican II” for the English-speaking regions of the Universal Church? Are identifiable individuals to blame? If so will they be replaced, or simply forgiven and moved around (horrible precedents here) until something even more grave occurs?

    Pity Cardinal Bertone. Sandro Magister had a jusifiable go at him in February. But the Secretariat of State is his responsibility and he has to sort out the systemic problem(s) in his department. He needs our prayers.


    Dear Father

    My name is Francisco Martínez, Spain. I am director of the Schola Gregoriana Nova Vita which sings the Mass at Virgen del Carmen Church of Benalmádena (Málaga, Cost of Sun).

    I have observed a possible error comparing the number 42 of the Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis in English versión, that includes the verb “employed” that it is not have included in Spanish version of the said document. The spanish version only includes “suitably esteemed”, and of course it makes quite difference.

    Also in number 62 of the spanish version includes a possible two errors:

    A) English version corrected use “it is fitting that such liturgies be celebrated in Latin. The spanish version says “sería bueno que dichas celebraciones fueran en latín”. The aforesaid spanish text lose strength and power because it might means “would be good that such liturgies are in Latin”.

    B) Also in the same number 62, the spanish version use the following expressión: “… las oraciones más conocidas de la tradición de la Iglesia y, eventualmente, cantar algunas partes en gregoriano”.
    In the other hand, English version says: “…of the Church´s tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung”

    The Spanish version use the word quoted by comas ” ,eventually,” which is not eqjuivalen of the English expresión used : ” if is possible” without comas. It makes different for the real understanding of the whole text.

    Finally, regarging Gregorian chant the two numbers are not conclude by the use of the aforesaid expressions creating confussion.

    Thanks for your time.

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