Translations are the plague of the modern Church. We know that several documents have been delayed because of translation problems. Some have been amended. Many people study and quote documents without knowing what the really say because of the discontinuity between the original and the translation, and then when they emerge in the Acta Apostolica Sedis between Latin and … everything else.
Now Joseph Card. Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong says mistakes have been made in Chinese translations of two recently released documents, the Pope’s Letter to Catholics in China and the Explanatory Note accompanying the letter.
The Hong Kong Catholic Diocese released the Cardina’s statement on July 3, The Cardinal’s own Chinese version of the papal letter is available at: http://www.ucanews.com/
The English version of Cardinal Zen’s release follows (my emphases):
Some mistakes in the Chinese translation of the Pope’s letter and in the "explanatory notes"
(1) From a cursory reading of the Pope’s letter some serious mistake has been found: in the last second section of paragraph 7 (Chinese translation) after the words "In not a few particular instances, however" the following words are missing "indeed almost always"
(2) In the "explanatory notes" (A) last fourth paragraph, last section, instead of the original "some sectors of the Catholic community were disorientated by the legitimizing of numerous Bishops who had been illicitly consecrated" the Chinese version reads: "disorientated by the numerous illicit ordinations of bishops.
(3) In the explanatory notes, which do not constitute part of the Pope’s letter and which bear no signature of the author, some expression is found which is at considerable variance from what is said in the Pope’s letter and is very inappropriate:
About the Bishops who, many years ago, accepted illicit ordination, the Pope’s letter says (section 11 of paragraph 8): "other pastors, however, under the pressure of particular circumstances, have consented …" This is a neutral expression which avoids judgment. But the "explanatory notes" say (section 6 of A): "others, who were especially concerned with the good of the faithful and with an eye to the future, have consented … "
Such expression, praising the bishops who accepted the illicit ordination, puts the others, who refused to surrender to pressure, in a very bad light, as if they neglected the good of the faithful and were short sighted!? I dare to protest in the name of the latter.
Cardinal Joseph ZEN