A serious problem in Sacramentum caritatis 23

ALERT: I adjusted MY translation of the Latin, below (on 10 April 2006):

Those who read this blog, or any Catholic blog for that matter, now know that there are serious translation problems scattered throughout the Holy Father’s post-Synodal Exhortation entitled Sacramentum caritatis.  We dealt with one at length, focusing on the inaccurate translation of aequum est.  The error was eventually corrected on the Holy See’s website.

The nature of the translation problems provoke even those who are not cynical to wonder if there were not some ideological reasons for the inaccuracies, rather than just haste or lack of skill.

I want to turn our attention now to a serious problem in paragraph 23.

Par. 23 deals with the priest who acts in persona Christi in the Eucharistic liturgy.  This is a central point for Benedict because the priest is a manifestation, in a personal way, of the High Priest Jesus Christ who is the true Actor in the liturgical action (actio).  Because the liturgy is always first and foremost Christ’s and not our personal possession, even the alter Christus the priest, acting in persona Christi, must not hijack the liturgy and impose his own person on it.  By his fidelity to the Rite, to the rubrics, the priest gets himself "out of the way", as it were, so that Christ is more apparently the true Actor. 

Leaving aside the bulk of par. 23, I ask you to consider the following:


Quod peculiari modo in humilitate exprimitur quacum sacerdos actionem ducit liturgicam, in oboedientia erga ritum, cui corde et mente respondet, omnia vitans quae speciem praebere possunt alicuius propriae importunae actionis.


Ciò si esprime particolarmente nell’umiltà con la quale il sacerdote guida l’azione liturgica, in obbedienza al rito, corrispondendovi con il cuore e la mente, evitando tutto ciò che possa dare la sensazione di un proprio inopportuno protagonismo.


This is seen particularly in his humility in leading the liturgical assembly, in obedience to the rite, uniting himself to it in mind and heart, and avoiding anything that might give the impression of an inordinate emphasis on his own personality.


Which is expressed in a special way in the type of humility with which the priest leads the liturgical action, in obedience in respect to the rite, with which he complies in heart and mind, avoiding all things which could present the appearance of it being his own actio, which would be inappropriate.

The concept actio is critical for understanding what His Holiness is expressing in the Exhortation. 

The English version entirely erases the concept actio. 

The Latin speaks of the priest “leading the liturgical actio” but the English changes the concept to “liturgical assembly”.  

The actio is not the “assembly”…. except perhaps in the most bizarre views of progressivists. 

The English emphasizes the priest’s “personality”.  The Latin obliges the priest not to impose anything of his own on the actio of Mass in such a way that he turns the actio into his own personal actio rather than that of Christ in His Church.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Correct, because the combination of the phrases “leading the liturgical assembly,” and “avoiding anything that might give the impression of an inordinate emphasis on his own personality,” instead of the more proper phrases, leaves open the entire issue.

    It avoids giving due emphasis on the liturgical action as it is meant to be performed according to the rubrics of the Roman Missal, ie the actio. This is in contrast to the actual text of the document.

    One could try to insert all kinds of abuses under this guise. It’s a genuine translation-fueled loophole.

    The “liturgical assembly,” (in V2 parlance the much ballyhooed “community”) does not write the rubrics. Even the priest being blushingly modest about his accomplishments as a liturgowrecker while the “liturgical assembly” runs amok could be blessed off on this one if one had the sort of conscience that runs to these things. And, as we’ve seen, many do.

  2. carolinapublican says:

    I am by no means a linguist, but I know a bit of Italian. I just can’t see there any possible way to get “emphasis on his own personality” from that Italian original. (and I believe the Italian is the original) No way, period.

    The “liturgical assembly” line caught my eye on my first skim-through of the document the morning it came out. I noted it, because I thought it made the mass sound like a high school play.

    Father, This is scary stuff. But it does leave me to wonder exactly what His Holiness is like when he gets “hot” (IF he does, that is). And then to wonder just what it would be like to be brought before him as the object of said wrath. Wow.

  3. swmichigancatholic says:

    What flashed through my head when I read the comparisons was a video I saw of a Mass in California, where the priest was completely masked, albeit in a Barney suit, while the congregation had more-or-less a liturgy party. It was linked on some sites last fall.

  4. rudi says:

    Is such a inapproximate translation the result of incompetence or design?

  5. AM says:

    FWIW, the Polish version (here a “slavish” translation is quite appropriate :-)) has

    “This is expressed most especially in that humility with which the priest leads the liturgy, in obedience to the rite, doing its service with heart and mind, avoiding everything that can come across as inappropriately putting himself first.” Leads the liturgy, not the assembly. Lead as in be at the head, guide, conduct. Service to, not service of (I.e. not serving out something, but giving service to something). “Can give the impression” following the Latin which is not conditional but rather emphatic “avoiding everything which can give the impression”.

    The Polish version doesn’t exhibit the particular confusion of “leading the actio” with “leading the assembly” (!), but doesn’t distinguish the liturgy “itself” from the “liturgical action” in persona Christi. I guess that’s not really a problem, is it? However, the Latin, Italian, French, and German have all preserved a word for “action”, and the Polish doesn’t. (The German uses a good German word Handlung, instead of Aktion – further evidence that the Holy Father wrote it in his native language.)

    Father Zuhlsdorf, according to L&S “actio” sometimes has a legal connotation, just like it does in English (and like Handlung does, too). Is this relevant to the meaning of the term “actio liturgica” ?

  6. swmichigancatholic says:

    If it were sheer incompetence, I believe we would see that the “mistakes” wouldn’t always run in the same direction. True ignorance dictates that the deviations would be more random in nature.

  7. swmichigancatholic says:

    There also seems to be a significant “dumbing down” effect in the English documents. English *can* be used in a precise way. Why do we not see this?

  8. Henry Edwards says:

    Is such a inapproximate translation the result of incompetence or design?

    I would say that the person who did this is a practiced expert rather than an incompetent at what he does.

  9. Cerimoniere says:

    “Actio” can have a very similar legal meaning to that which it has in English, when we speak of a “cause of action” or “commencing an action” against someone, i.e. a law suit.

    However, here I think it refers to the action of Christ in the Mass, in other words what He actually DOES. The Mass is not primarily something said, but an action taken by Christ. The primary meaning of the “liturgical action,” therefore, is surely the re-presentation by the Lord of the sacrifice of Calvary. This is why it is so important that it does not seem to be the personal action of the priest, because it is Christ who is the true celebrant of each Mass, accomplishing His action through His priest.

  10. AM says:

    What view should we take when the Latin text is evidently in error?

  11. Andrew says:

    Here’s the Spanish:

    Esto se expresa particularmente en la humildad con la que el sacerdote dirige la acción litúrgica, obedeciendo y correspondiendo con el corazón y la mente al rito, evitando todo lo que pueda dar precisamente la sensación de un protagonismo suyo inoportuno.

    My rough translation:

    “This expresses itself particularly in the humility with which the priest directs the liturgical action, obeying and corresponding with his heart and mind to the rite, avoiding all that can give precisely the sensation of his own inappropriate character (protagonist).

  12. Augustinus says:

    Whoever is responsible for these wholly inaccurate and agenda-driven ‘translations’ is not working alone. They are doing it with the connivance and co-operation of other, more senior people. And those people will have their power bases primarily in the UK and US, I would guess.

    I’m sure the Holy Father will be less than happy that he is being thwarted. As to how this is brought to the attention of those who can do something to rectify the position, I would bow to the wisdom for Fr Z.

    Clearly some notice has been taken in respect of para 62; let’s hope more changes will be made to the rest of the document. Is it too unrealistic to expect a wholesale re-translation? Whatever happens, publishing houses like the Catholic Truth Society here in the UK will already have used the original document to get their printed versions out. Nothing practical can be done about those now.

    In the long run, what is needed is a change of translators (and of those responsible for them) for English-language versions of magisterial documents.

  13. Peter Moscatelli says:

    I would also point at the internal logic of the phrase, using “agit” once, and “actio” twice in the fragment, and how it has been translated:


    “Haud dubie minister ordinatus « AGIT etiam totius Ecclesiae nomine, cum Deo orationem praesentat Ecclesiae et maxime cum eucharisticum offert Sacrificium ».(73) Necesse est hanc ob rem ut sacerdotes conscii sint numquam totum eorum ministerium se ipsos suosque opiniones primo in loco ponere, sed Iesum Christum. Contradicit sacerdotali idoneitati quisque conatus se ipsos ponendi veluti ACTIONIS liturgicae primos auctores. Sacerdos est plus quam umquam servus et continuo debet causam recipere ut signum sit quod, veluti docile instrumentum in Christi manibus, ad Eum remittit. Quod peculiari modo in humilitate exprimitur quacum sacerdos ACTIONEM ducit liturgicam, in oboedientia erga ritum, cui corde et mente respondet, omnia vitans quae speciem praebere possunt alicuius propriae importunae actionis.”

    Here the Italian:

    “Certamente il ministro ordinato « AGISCE anche a nome di tutta la Chiesa allorché presenta a Dio la preghiera della Chiesa e soprattutto quando offre il sacrificio eucaristico ».(73) È necessario, pertanto, che i sacerdoti abbiano coscienza che tutto il loro ministero non deve mai mettere in primo piano loro stessi o le loro opinioni, ma Gesù Cristo. Contraddice l’identità sacerdotale ogni tentativo di porre se stessi come protagonisti dell’AZIONE liturgica. Il sacerdote è più che mai servo e deve impegnarsi continuamente ad essere segno che, come strumento docile nelle mani di Cristo, rimanda a Lui. Ciò si esprime particolarmente nell’umiltà con la quale il sacerdote guida l’AZIONE liturgica, in obbedienza al rito, corrispondendovi con il cuore e la mente, evitando tutto ciò che possa dare la sensazione di un proprio inopportuno protagonismo”.

    This structure (agit-actio-actio) is is identically rendered in French, Spanish and Portuguese, while the Polish version retains the structure, even if changing the wording (undoubtedly, the ordained minister also ACTS … center of the liturgical CELEBRATION … LEADS the liturgy …)

    Niewątpliwie wyświęcony kapłan „działa także w imieniu całego Kościoła, gdy zanosi do Boga modlitwę Kościoła, a zwłaszcza, gdy składa Ofiarę eucharystyczną”[73]. Dlatego konieczne jest, by kapłani mieli świadomość, że cała ich posługa nigdy nie powinna wysuwać na pierwszy plan ich samych lub ich opinii, ale Chrystusa. Każda próba stawiania siebie w centrum celebracji liturgicznej sprzeciwia się tożsamości kapłańskiej. Kapłan przede wszystkim jest sługą i winien ciągle starać się być znakiem, który jako posłuszne narzędzie w rękach Chrystusa, odsyła do Niego. Wyraża się to szczególnie w pokorze, z jaką kapłan przewodzi liturgii, w posłuszeństwie wobec obrzędu, służąc mu sercem i umysłem, unikając wszystkiego, co może sprawiać wrażenie niestosownego stawiania siebie na pierwszym miejscu.

    To compare with the English version, where the translator all of a sudden forgets about preceding agit and action and puts in an assembly …

    “Certainly the ordained minister also ACTS “in the name of the whole Church, when presenting to God the prayer of the Church, and above all when offering the eucharistic sacrifice.” (73) As a result, priests should be conscious of the fact that in their ministry they must never put themselves or their personal opinions in first place, but Jesus Christ. Any attempt to make themselves the centre of the liturgical ACTION contradicts their very identity as priests. The priest is above all a servant of others, and he must continually work at being a sign pointing to Christ, a docile instrument in the Lord’s hands. This is seen particularly in his humility in leading the liturgical ASSEMBLY, in obedience to the rite, uniting himself to it in mind and heart, and avoiding anything that might give the impression of an inordinate emphasis on his own personality.”

    This is not translation, it’s interpretation of a text by the translator.

    Peter Moscatelli

  14. There are some very good observations here. Some of the comments are actually very helpful. Peter’s is very good. Thanks for taking the time. Thanks to Andrew for the Spanish. Am helped with Polish. Very constructive deconstruction.

    I will close the comments for tonight and reopen them tomorrow.

  15. Craigmaddie says:

    From the German translation:

    Darum müssen die Priester sich bewußt sein, daß ihr gesamter Dienst niemals sie selbst oder ihre Meinung in den Mittelpunkt setzen darf, sondern Jesus Christus. Jeder Versuch, sich selbst zum Protagonisten der liturgischen Handlung zu machen, widerspricht dem Wesen des Priestertums. Der Priester ist in erster Linie Diener und muß sich ständig darum bemühen, ein Zeichen zu sein, das als gefügiges Werkzeug in Christi Händen auf ihn verweist. Das kommt besonders in der Demut zum Ausdruck, mit der er in treuer Befolgung des Ritus die liturgische Handlung führt, ihr im Herzen und im Geist entspricht und alles vermeidet, was den Eindruck einer unangebrachten Geltungssucht erwecken könnte.

    My translation:

    For this reason priests must be aware that they must never make themselves or their opinions the central point of their service, but, rather, Jesus Christ. Every attempt to make oneself the protagonist of the liturgical action is in contradiction to the nature of priesthood. The priest is firstly a servant and must constantly strive to be a sign, which as a willing instrument in the hands of Christ, points to Him. This is expressed particularly through the humility with which he, faithfully following the ritual, leads the liturgical action, corresponds to it in heart and spirit, and avoids anything which could cause the impression of an inappropriate desire to be the centre of attention.

  16. Kevin says:

    Being a classicist by profession, I am always amazed at the English translation of Vatican documents, of which Sacramentum Caritatis is a perfect example. It is less of a translation than a near total rewrite on the same(or similar!)topic. The side by side table that Father Z has above shows this clearly. Honestly, I can’t figure out from where the translator is getting this stuff. It reminds me of the “alternative” collects in our current English Sacramentary: on the same topic as the official Latin (sort of), but by no means a translation. I guess I’m from the old school of translation – be as literal as the English idiom permits, as I tell my students.

  17. Craigmaddie says:

    I wonder if, as part of the hermeneutic of continuity, we should start looking at the documents of Vatican II itself? It might be interesting to see how faithful the translation of those documents were.

    Father Z, have you considered perhaps writing a book on translation issues and the importance of faithful translations? Very few people are indeed aware of the ideological issues which inform the words that we hear every Sunday at church.

  18. Charles R. Williams says:

    An adjective can have descriptive force or differentiating force. For example when I speak of my beautiful wife, beautiful is descriptive and not differentiating, since I have only one wife.

    Often in English this distinction is unclear unless the adjective is in a subordinate clause. This is the case with the last phrase in your literal translation:

    “the appearance of some unsuitable actio of his own.”

    I think a more precise translation would be “the appearance of some actio of his own, which would be unsuitable” rather than “the appearance of some actio of his own that is unsuitable.” I think that the sequence “importunae actionis” makes importunae descriptive and not differentiating.

  19. rudi says:

    The gossip in Rome used to be that the most senior English Monsignor in the Secretariate of State always “filtered” complaints about the English bishops and “manipulated” documents from Rome to the English speaking world
    But this gossip, so Fr Z delete it if feel it is inappropriate.

  20. Deborah says:

    Thanks for looking into this further Father Zuhlsdorf. The reason I looked into this for your previous post for translation problems was at first because I just could’t imagine that the Holy Father would say “leading the liturgical assembly.” In reading it over the first time it gave me the impression that the priest is merely an MC.

    Father, I have at least one more error that I found which again brings out this same ideology in my opinion – although not as serious as this one. Is there somewhere I should post it or send it to you?

  21. Jordan Potter says:

    Should we start a betting pool on how long it will take for the English version of SC 23 to be corrected on the Vatican website?


  22. And a PS of Jordan, once SC 23 is corrected, how many more problems are there just in SC?

  23. Mark says:

    Father, echoing Chris, would it be possible for you to list all errors you know of? For example, I know you pointed out one before (that has now been corrected on the Vatican website), but I can’t find it to check my paper copy.

    Also, are you getting an RSS feed back?

  24. Paul, South Midlands says:

    I rather fear that Fr Z may have brought to light what seems to me to be a scandal that goes rather deeper than this document. It is also noteworthy that if we had not had:

    (a) The second vatican council exhorting the laity to take a more active part in the church under the guidance of the clergy,

    (b) The internet providing the medium for (a) to occur,

    none of this would have been brought to light.

    In the light of this, examination of English Translation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council would indeed seem worthy and urgent. However, given the monumental size of this task, examination of a few choice parts of those V2 documents relating to the liturgy would possibly give an indication as to whether an examination of the rest would be fruitful.

  25. Michael says:

    I would say that the person who did this is a practiced expert rather than an incompetent at what he does.

    Whoever is responsible for these wholly inaccurate and agenda-driven ‘translations’ is not working alone. They are doing it with the connivance and co-operation of other, more senior people.

    As Jerry Seinfeld used to say, “Who are these people?”. Does anyone know? This is looking like deliberate sabotage of the Holy Father’s work and one would think that rooting the translator(s) out would be a high priority for someone. Surely there is a parish in Siberia somewhere that needs staffing…assuming the miscreant is ordained.

  26. Brian Day says:

    Whoa! Deja Vu.

    I thought I was caught in a time warp until I realized that Father re-posted an earlier entry. It’s funny to see a post dated 9 April, with comments starting on 2 April. Keep this up and we’ll be back in 1969 before you know it. :)

  27. Henry Edwards says:

    In the light of this, examination of English Translation of the documents of the Second Vatican Council would indeed seem worthy and urgent.

    Indeed. For instance, Father Z has dealt in a number of articles and posts with the term actuosa participatio as used in the Council’s constitution on the sacred liturgy, which of course was written in Latin.

    Of course, the meaning of words is determined by accepted usage. At the time of Vatican II, actuosa participatio had an established meaning in over a half century of liturgical discussion dating back at least to Pope Pius X, who wrote in 1903 of “actual (interior) participation”, the engaging of the mind, heart and will in “praying the Mass” with the priest.

    But in English it became “active (exterior) participation”, meaning doing things, singing and making vocal responses, making gestures, assuming ministerial roles, etc.

    This is a case where an apparently (and deliberately?) incorrect translation of a single word in a single Council document has arguable changed the nature of worship of the whole Church.

  28. Paul, South Midlands, UK says:

    Scary – a quick look on Google shows active in latin is activa – not actuosa.

    A secular online translation engine ( http://www.translation-guide.com/free_online_translators.php?from=English&to=Latin) translates “actuosa participatio” as “to spend time participatio”[sic]

    Ie: we are all called to spend time participating in the liturgy. Imagine the Catholic Church calling for people to go to Mass more often, what a shock!!!

    Well, either the traditionalist liberation front is going round nobbling secular translation websites or someone has translated a document which quite understandably calls on us to spend time partaking in the liturgy into something which calls for the laity to hijack the liturgy.

    It is now becoming obvious to me why so much of the heirarchy was determined to stamp out the use of latin in the novus ordo and the learning of latin by laity and seminarians. If only a tiny tiny few know how to speak latin with any confidence then no one can challenge their translations, the only people left who can speak Latin are elderly and their criticisms can be fobbed off as bitter and twisted old fogeys and malcontents who are irrelevant to the young (who of course cannot speak latin). Such a shame someone invented the computer……

  29. Paul, South Midlands, UK says:

    As an aside it reminds me of when I first attended the old rite. I remember reading the english translation of the Canon and thinking why could they not have even left the 1st eucharistic prayer unchanged in the novus ordo.

    It was only sometime later when attending a novus ordo Latin mass that the penny dropped. The Novus ordo Canon in latin was identical to that in the tridentine mass. Only the translation had so radically changed. I felt rather like the victim of a scam feels when he finds out he has been had.

  30. Craigmaddie says:

    I felt rather like the victim of a scam feels when he finds out he has been had.

    This is not an unfamilar feeling to me. It’s all the more disturbing when one reflects that it has been the bishops – the shepherds of the flock – who have been responsible for so much of this. Fr McAfee’s mention of the bishop who said that he would treat any priest who wanted to offer the TLM the same way he would treat a paedophile priest has really struck home with me. I think I need to re-read Michael O’Brien’s Father Elijah: An Apocalypse for some comfort…

  31. Maureen says:

    I am happy to report, the Parish I belong to, has two assigned Priests, hard working good shepards. The two of them are different as night and day, but when they are on the Altar they are the same, you can’t tell the difference. In fact, they are not the same person after Mass as on the Altar. I definately see Christ in them on the Altar and no longer my Priests.

  32. ThomasMore1535 says:

    I think that these problems in translations show just how opposed many in the Vatican are to tradition, and how this must make the Holy Father’s job even more difficult.

    I think that also illustrates how we cannot become impatient with him, when he does not act as quickly as some of us may like. When his own translators are deliberately mistranslating key documents on the liturgy, it is clear that he has to be very careful in how he makes his decisions. We have to keep on praying for him that these forces will not overcome him.

  33. Dan Hunter says:

    I think the Motu Proprio has been released already but has been mistranslated into something that looks like a VOTF manifesto

  34. Deacon Chris says:

    It seems to me that the English reflects the Italian fairly well. Since the English translation
    is from the Italian and not the Latin, perhaps the question has more to do with how the Latin
    version is the way it is.

  35. Deacon Chris: It seems to me that the English reflects the Italian fairly well.

    Nope. The English simply does not render even the Italian well. The English is just wrong.

    First, the biggest mistake is there is no way that Italian azione translates to English “assembly”. Also, there is a discrepancy between “un proprio inopportuno protagonismo” and “emphasis on his own personality”.

    Second, what you suggest does not explain why the other language versions get it right.

    Third, while the language of composition has its importance, once a document is promulgated, the Latin is the text of reference.

  36. Peter Moscatelli says:

    I would say that to translate “evitando tutto ciò che possa dare la sensazione di un proprio inopportuno protagonismo” with “avoiding anything that might give the impression of an inordinate emphasis on his own personality” (if Italian was translated into English) could be considered as a correct translation, but one that is weaker than the original.
    A person is affected by “protagonismo” when showing off abilities, qualities, skills (pretended or real); in everyday use the word has a rather negative connotation.
    The Italian version could therefore be translated as “avoiding anything that might give the impression of an action [of his own] that puts an inordinate emphasis on his personality”.
    The word “proprio” is somewhat intrigueing: I think the official translation has it in “his own [personality]”, but I see it rather go together with “protagonismo” (un proprio … protagonismo); this could underline that the improper way of acting that shall be avoided is such action that, originating from the priest, puts himself, disordinately, at the center of the action.
    This did perhaps not make the issue any clearer, sorry if I contributed to more confusion …

  37. JPG says:

    It is fine well and good to point this out on a blog, but might I suggest perhaps if you are able to point this out to someone in authority? This almost sounds lile work worthy of Trautman.( the mistranslation that is). It is 7:30 am 4/10/2007 or 10/ 04 /2007 and I am late for work but reading this is enough to make my blood boil. On a more positive not I am reading The
    Heresy of Formlessness by Martin Mosebach. The first two chapters have cut me to the quick , often expressing that which I have felt.
    And who is minding the store with regards to the translators?

  38. Peter: No, “proprio … protagonismo” does not say the same thing as “emphasis on his own personality”. There are two very different issues. The Latin and, to an extent, the Italian, focus on what is called in Latin rhetorical language the aptum, that which is suitable, appropriate, inhering to the very sense of the liturgical action. That is not what the English is saying. As one very well-prepared Italian colleague wrote to me: “Somehow, the Italian “protagonismo” – while still not exact – does reinforce the concept of the importance of ACTIO as opposed to a personal and merely human and “democratic” approach to the ars celebrandi.”

    The mistake the translator, and I think you, have fallen into here is to think in terms of the priest’s personality and not about the sense of the liturgical actio.

  39. Peter Moscatelli says:

    Fr Zuhlsdorf, it is correct that “protagonismo” puts the stress on the action, and this action is such action that puts the priest “and not Christ” at the center of attention, in opposition to a correct “ars celebrandi” .
    What strikes me is the word “proprio”; it is obvious that the person suffering from protagonismo is the one acting, so “proprio” would actually be redundant, if not for the purpose to further underline that “action, coming from the priest himself, that underlines his own personality [and not the liturgical action], shall be avoided”: a further invitation by the Pope to priests, that they get out of the way and let it be seen that they act in persona Christi.
    By the way, I just heard on Italian radio that the release of the Motu Proprio and of the letter to the faithful in China is “imminente”.

  40. Fr Martin Fox says:


    This is very helpful, thank you.

    Just today the shipment of 50 copies of this letter I ordered from the USCCB arrived; no doubt, they reflect the initial English translation. I intend to distribute these, at such time in the next few weeks when I am able to put together a series of talks on the Mass, working primarily from this letter. So, of course, I shall have to correct these matters, and I am grateful for you giving me such good information.

    I can’t expect more, but I look forward to any more that is forthcoming.

  41. prof. Basto says:



    You wrote “Benedict” (“…for Benedict…”)
    when you should have written “Pope Benedict”.

    I know it wasn´t intentional.

  42. prof. Basto says:

    We must stop doubting which language is the original. Someone wrote that he
    believes that the Italian is the original. THAT IS NOT THE CASE. THE DOCUMENT
    VERSION IS THE LATIN ONE. When the Holy See publishes documents having another
    language as the original one, the title reflects that (e.g. Il rapido svullippo).

  43. o.h. says:

    Dear Father,

    I have a question about the translation of Sacramentum Caritatis that I hope you can help with. I’m a homeschooling mom learning Latin together with my oldest daughter, and am curious about a sentence occurring near the end of section 27.

    The Latin says “Familia–ecclesia domestica–ambitus est primarius vitae Ecclesiae, praesertim ob necessarium munus filius christiana disciplina educandi.” The English translation is “The family–the domestic Church–is a primary sphere of the Church’s life, especially because of its decisive role in the Christian education of children.”

    First, I was wondering about choosing the article “a” instead of “the” for “primary sphere.” Many of us Catholic parents, especially homeschoolers, are all too familiar with the dodge “Sure canon law says parents are the *primary* educators of their children in the faith, but it doesn’t say the *only* educators”–and immediately “not only” swallows up “primary” as we are told precisely what we must do and not do, even in our homes, if we hope to have our children receive the sacraments. It makes me wary of having more than one “primary sphere”–I would have thought that an impossibility.

    Second, I am curious about translating “ob necessarium munus” as “decisive role.” My dictionary gives me something more like “because of its essential/necessary function/duty.” I understand about my essential duty in educating my children in the faith within the sphere of the family, but I’m not at all sure what a “decisive role” in their education is.

    Finally, my feeble Latin is struggling with the last few words. “Christiana disciplina” I assume is ablative? (Macrons are my crutch.) I get “raising children (by? in?) Christian education.” Help….

    -Latin novice

  44. Deacon Chris says:

    Ah…the issue of language. We all know the Latin is the
    only text that really matters. The problem (at least as
    a priest who is highly placed in the English speaking
    section of the secretariat of state explained to me) is that
    the translation into English is almost always done not from
    Latin, but from Italian.

    If this is the case, we still don’t know why some of the
    English translations don’t accord to the Italian. Of course,
    the huge problem is that very few priests, even priests who
    work in the Vatican know Latin particularly well (Although I
    don’t work in the Vatican and am not yet a priest, I also plead
    guilty to having poor comprehension of Latin).

    As long as this situation continues, there will continue to be
    translation problems.

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