USCCB Bishops Committe on Divine Worship: new translation timetable

It is of critical importance for the whole Church that we have a good English translation of the 2002 Missale Romanum.

In the February Origins, the official publication of the USCCB, there is news from the Bishops Committee on Divine Worship.  There is a projected time table for the completion of various stages relating to the new translation of the 2002 Missale Romanum.

Frankly, I find the time table to be overly deliberate.  This is too important a matter to be fooling around with for so long.

Here is some accompanying text with my emphases and comments:

Translation Timetable of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia

In November 2007, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) presented the “Green Book” translation of the Appendices of the Roman Missal, which represents the final section of the draft translation of
the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to the Bishops of the member conferences. At that time, ICEL shared its plan to complete its work in the process of translation by sending the remaining “Gray Books” to the Bishops by the end of 2008. With those dates in mind, the Secretariat of Divine Worship [probably of the USCCB’s BCDW and not the CDWDS in Rome] proposed a tentative schedule for the U.S. Bishops’ approval of the translation of the Roman Missal. The Committee on Divine Worship discussed and approved this tentative timeline at its meeting on January 30, 2008. The proposed dates for votes by the USCCB are subject to the approval of the Administrative Committee, which makes the final decisions about the agenda for the plenary meetings of the Bishops. Once the Committee on Divine Worship decides to propose a particular text for canonical vote by the bishops, it must adhere to Conference deadlines for the submission of material to the Administrative Committee. The shaded areas are all tentative and are subject to change based on ICEL’s completion of material as well as the workload of both the Committee on Divine Worship and the full body of Bishops.

Once each section of the Missal has been approved by two-thirds of the Latin Rite members of the USCCB in a canonical vote, it must be submitted to the Holy See for confirmation by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. To date, only the Order of Mass I has been submitted; we still await its confirmation.

I know that the CDWDS is reviewing the work.  When I was in Rome in February, I was told at the Congregation what was going on.   The word "consubstantial" came up alot.

By "coincidence" the newsletter mentions this too.

One should not be surprised, therefore, to find as a final translation “And with your spirit.” Nor would it be surprising to find after the words “what I have failed to do” of the Confiteor, an insertion: “Through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault.”

With reference to the profession of faith, LA no. 65 states:

By means of the Creed (Symbolum) or Profession of Faith, the whole gathered People of God respond to the word of God proclaimed in the Sacred Scriptures and expounded in the homily, recalling and confessing the great mysteries of the faith by means of a formula approved for liturgical use. The Creed is to be translated according to the precise wording that the tradition of the Latin Church has bestowed upon it, including the use of the first person singular by which is clearly made manifest that “the confession of faith is handed down in the Creed, as it were, as coming from the person of the whole Church, united by means of Faith.” In addition, the expression carnis resurrectionem is to be translated literally wherever the Apostles’ Creed is prescribed or may be used in the Liturgy.

The translation of the Ordo Missæ approved by the Latin Church members of the USCCB, at its June 15, 2006 plenary meeting, has the opening words “I believe.” In addition, at three points in the Creed, the Bishops recommended that the action of the gathered assembly be clarified by the restatement of these opening words:

· “And in one Lord Jesus Christ” becomes “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ”;
· “And in the Holy Spirit” becomes “I believe in the Holy Spirit”; and
· “And one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church” becomes “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic

The bishops also addressed the translation of consubstanialem. Since 1970, this important theological term has been rendered in the United States of America as “one in being.” The bishops voted to retain this translation, instead of adopting the ICEL rendering of “consubstantial.” [That was one of the last shots from when Bp. Trautman was head of the Committee.  This isn’t going to fly in Rome.] Finally, the rendering of “He suffered death and was buried” was changed to “He suffered, died, and was buried.” With reference to the expression carnis resurrectionem, the Bishops approved the translation “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead.”

It is to be kept in mind, however, that all of these texts have been submitted to Rome for recognitio. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will also have to take into consideration the translations that have been submitted by other Conferences of Bishops.  Number 87 of LA indicates, “It is recommended that there be a single translation of the liturgical books for each vernacular language.”

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  1. Flabellum says:

    This seems like deliberate obstructionism – presumably in the vain hope they can string it out till a new liberal Pope lets them get away with what they really want. Some hopes. Can the CDWS apply a well-judged right boot?

  2. woodyjones says:

    Read, sit, stall and delay.

  3. David says:

    How much of this is about good translation and how much of this is about politics? Or, is the perceived quality of translation linked completely to politics?

    I guess I don’t understand how the work could be that onerous.

  4. John says:

    I’m very disappointed by the dumbing down of “He suffered death and was buried” to “He suffered, died and was buried.” Do they not know what is lost by this change? The Lord God, who condescended Himself to become man, SUFFERED (submitted Himself to bear) death for our salvation. Yes, Christ endured pain and suffering in the Passion, but He also offered up His exalted self as the Lamb. Rather than dumbing the phrase down, how about teaching people what SUFFER, a word borrowed from Latin, also means?

  5. J Basil Damukaitis says:

    I don’t mind them dragging their feet on this. The USCCB is changing members slowly, and that bodes VERY well for the future. Think of all the new bishops being appointed and their ecclesiology!

  6. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I think we do need to pray seriously not only for Pope Benedict and our bishops, but also that God will raise up a worthy successor of St. Peter once He has called Benedict home. The next Supreme Pontiff can “make it or break it”.

  7. Then, after the back and forth with Rome, lets look for, say, about, 2012 or 2013 at the earliest. I guess people are trying to outlast Benedict. However, Benedict will live, I hope, for many, many years.

    Also, the longer they sit on this, the more quickly the TLM will take off.

    And anyway, don’t think Benedict is happy with hyper-incompetence when it comes to translation problems. He’s made his disappointment with his own Secretariat of State known quite ferociously, however gentlemanly, a number of times.

    I’m hoping he’ll just take it all away from the bishops and give it all to, oh, I don’t know, a certain priest, who could just be made the next Archbishop Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

  8. schoolman says:

    Perhaps Rome should insist that OF masses be in Latin until the conferences can produce suitable translations?

  9. TJM says:

    Yawn. I tired of this debate a long time ago and I now attend Latin language Masses only (EF and OF) and my financial support followed. I encourage
    those of you who can to please do the same. Nothing gets the message across quite like money. Tom

  10. Geoffrey says:

    This “time-table” is so far off from what ICEL actually told me! I am curious if other English-speaking bishop’s conferences have time-tables?

  11. Jim says:

    There’s this brilliant scene playing in the recesses of my mind…that Vox Clara was actually formed to create their own excellent English translation just in case the bishops dragged their feet or tried to prevent an accurate and worthy translation from being presented to the faithful in a timely manner. One look at that timeline and BXVI nods to VC and says, “your translation is approved, crank up the presses.”

  12. Student of Patristics says:

    Is “consubstantial” now a problematic term because it recalls consubstantiation? The relationship between Christ and the blessed sacrament denoted by “consubstantiation” is of course entirely different than the relationship between the Father and the Son denoted by “consubstantial,” itself a somewhat misleading translation of “homoousios.” Certainly no “consubstantiation” problem existed when the Nicene creed was being translated into Latin, but I wonder if now, when using modern languages, the term is unnecessarily misleading. What do you think?

    So far as anyone knows, is the translation “of one essence,” closer to the Greek, being considered?

  13. Boko says:

    My heart goes out to those who do not have access to the EF. That said, let our bishops and their bureaucrats have fun rearranging those deck chairs. Even when they get the translations right, there’s still the little matter of the intrinsic poverty of the Latin editio typica. But, it’s something to keep them occupied while the rest of us enjoy the resurgence of the EF.

  14. Boko: I believe your position, as expressed in the comment just above, is … well… a little lacking in foresight, or strategic thinking.

    The Novus Ordo is here to stay for a long time yet. When the translations for the Novus Ordo are better… everyone will benefit, including those who want to attend the TLM exclusively.

    First, when Novus Ordo will be strengthened by better translations, all those people who attend it will have the chance finally to absorb more of what the Church desires to give.  Sure we can argue that the Latin texts themselves are somewhat lacking because of the way they were redacted.  However, the new translation will be vastly better.  There is no denying that.   So, everybody wins.

    Second, given a little more nourishment, I suspect many people attending the Novus Ordo will begin to realize that there is a great deal more to the Church’s liturgy than they previously suspected.  They will be interested in more.  Get my drift.

    So, I think you should avoid the disparaging comments about the new translation.  Be realistic and smart about this.

  15. Cole M says:

    As much as I want an improved translation right now, like I want guitars and drums out now and goofy and ugly liturgical “inovations” out now, it just won’t happen. Thirty to forty years of being dragged in the other direction by the misguided ideas of the “spirit of Vatican II” generation can’t be reversed instantly. In some ways, it might be better that this is a gradual process. It will help prevent those of us who support a return to a liturgy more in line with the intent of Holy Mother Church from doing something hasty that will alienate people. All of these confusing novelties were essentially sicced on the Church and created the current divide. It would be counterproductive to do the same in reverse, even if it is in support of better liturgical norms and practices. Starting from the grassroots, as His Holiness has done through Summorum Pontificum, is the way to make a return to authentic liturgy an organic process that comes from the people as much as it does the hierarchy. This way, the divisions can be healed and appreciation for a more theologically healthy liturgy can take hold in the hearts of the faithful. In the meantime, it’s a matter of prayer and showing charity, even towards people like Bp. Trautman, etc. That’s the hardest part, and one I could definitely do better at.

  16. Boko says:

    Re: “avoid the disparaging comments about the new translation”

    I do think the fact that a good translation of lame texts is cause for rejoicing shows just how low we’ve sunk, but my main beef is with the translators, not the translation. And certainly not with all the translators. The one translator I’ve met is a great priest. But I am disgusted with the apparachiks who have delayed this for so long and who continue to play ideological games with the liturgy. I rejoice that there is an alternative to the OF. Further, I wonder if there is something endemic to the OF such that it will always be characterized by bureacratic manipulation. And by “wonder if” I of course mean “think that”.

  17. Boko: But I am disgusted with the apparachiks who have delayed this for so long and who continue to play ideological games with the liturgy.

    Me too, friend.

  18. TerryC says:

    I also don’t mind them taking their time. The last thing we need is a bad translation which will need to be addressed in another twenty years.
    Also, as many of the comments here circumspectly allude to catechisis is so bad among the faithful at lodge (and even so many priests) that time will be needed once a translation is completed to explain the changes to the faithful. Certainly the bishop conferences and the Vatican can simply mandate the translation go into effect on a certain date, but it will be much better for the faithful if the whys and wherefores of the translation are explained to them. The precise meaning of “consubstantial” and why it was important to use that term for example. Etc.

  19. Tim H says:

    As a professional translator, I can definitively say that this is no way to do a translation. Odds Bodkins! If Jerome, or Cyryl and Methodius had to have their translations formulated and approved by committee like this, Russians would still be praying the Greek today, and blue-book copies of the Vulgate would still be circulating around Rome.

  20. Chironomo says:

    This timetable is exactly that which I had heard of nearly two months ago from a friend/ member of the FDLC working on the catechetical program that will accompany the release of the new translations. His comment was that the release date would be Advent 2011 with the catechetical program being implemented a year ahead of that on Advent 2010. This seems right in line with that.

  21. Father Z:

    Okay, since we have to keep waiting, how about this: can you and others who have the ear of folks in Rome suggest that we be allowed to start using the Order of Mass, once it’s final?

    I.e., my understanding was the bishops wanted to wait till everything was finished, but wouldn’t gradual introduction have advantages? Is this something Rome would be willing to call for? Would this be worthwhile?

  22. Ttony says:

    They’re hoping the Pope will die first, aren’t they!

  23. NC says:

    Methinks a conclave type gathering fro all the bishops who need to authorise this long overdue translation of the Missal from the beginning of December – with EF daily Holy Masses (training provided if necessary), no outside contact, hard beds, hard chairs, little heating (or only switched on as a reward for work well done) and bread and water diet is in order for this one.

    Should result in process from ICEL grey book publication in November to vote on grey book for ALL outstanding sections in time for Christmas 2008!

  24. Peggy says:

    It seems to me that the process of individual countries’ bishops’ conferences developing English translations and sending them all up to Rome for comparing and compiling into one “best” English translation for all is backwards and inefficient. It may be democratic, but it seems to be a cause of the delay.

    Rather, the Latin and English experts/translators at the Vatican should have sent out to English speaking conferences one translation which they agree is accurate to the Latin. [Ditto for other languages as feasible.] The national bishops’ conferences, rather than the Vatican, should indicate exceptions to this one translation. It minimizes work by the Vatican which currently must examine many translations of the Mass for each language. This method most importantly would have ensured a more widely accepted single “best” translation as well as puts the time tables in the hands of the Vatican. Individual countries can’t manipulate the schedule as the Vatican can set the deadlines for input and final acceptance. Also it minimizes the political games with language alluded to by commenters above.

    Perhaps Fr Z you can explain why this less efficient route has been taken.

    Thanks so much for your informative blog.

  25. The proposed new translations are a disaster, as Bishop Trautman and many others, including qualified Latinists and translators, have pointed out. The Roman Canon, which is one of the rare texts in the current English translation that is readable and prayable without too much difficulty is made into a total hash in the proposed literalistic translation. I know that this critical view is dismissed by those who believe that men like Bishop Trautman are motivated by ideology rather than pastoral insight. Believe me, when this new translation hits the pews, there will b yet another decline in mass attendance. In Ireland the Anglican churches have hit the hightest level of membership since 1930 (before our subtle ethnic cleansing of protestants took hold). Who are the new members? They are refugees from Catholic parishes. The new translations will not stanch this flow, nor will the TLM.

  26. The Motu Proprio has already set off what promises to be a long-simmering civil war within the Church.

    The new translations will have a similar effect.


  27. Maynardus says:

    Kudos to “Spirit of Vatican II” for the devilishy ingenious parodies of sixties-style “liberal Catholicism” posted on his blog – my sides are splitting! Well done, sir.

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