How are the Germans and Italians preparing new, corrected translations.

Over at Chiesa, the gentlemanly Sandro Magister has posted about German and Italian bishops and the issue of new, corrected translation of the Missale Romanum.  However, the piece is not by Magister.  It is anonymous… signed “***”, which I think is rather shabby. In any event we should have a look at what there is. With my emphases and comments.

Vatican Diary / Not All Bishops Are of Good Will

The Italians are at the front of the line in disobeying Rome, [When it comes to a liturgical issue, I am not entirely surprised.] with regard to the translation of the words of consecration. The Germans and Austrians are bringing up the rear. And even in the translations of the Our Father and of the Gloria, there is disagreement

by *** [I think people should sign their names.]

VATICAN CITY, October 4, 2011 – At the present time, all of the parishes and churches of the United States are receiving the new English version of the Roman Missal, which will be used starting on the first Sunday of Advent, this November 27.  [1 month, 20 days!]

The variations with respect to the previous version are numerous, and hotly debated. But the change that has prompted the greatest dispute is certainly the one that concerns the words of the consecration of the wine, where it says in the Latin version: “Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei […] qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur.” The “pro multis” of this formula has generally been translated, in the vernacular translations of the postcouncil, as “for all”: [But not in all European language.  In German and Italian, yes.  Not in French.] a translation that not only does not respect the letter of the original Latin, which in turn is derived from the Gospel texts, but has also generated a subtle but lively theological debate. [I’ve written and posted about this many times here.]

In order to resolve this problem, in October of 2006 the presidents of the episcopal conferences all over the world were sent a letter, under the “guidance” of Benedict XVI, from the congregation for divine worship, headed at the time by Cardinal Francis Arinze. It asked that “pro multis” be translated as “for many.” This was done by the episcopates of Hungary (from “mindenkiért” to “sokakért) and of various countries in Latin America (from “por todos” to “por muchos”). The Spanish episcopate is preparing to do so, and the change has already been made, not without very lively discussions even among the bishops, by the episcopate of the United States (from “for all” to “for many”). As for the episcopates of Germany and Austria, they are showing strong resistance to the change from fur alle” to “fur viele.”  [What the writer is not telling you is that this move of Benedict XVI was more than “guidance”.  Only the Roman Pontiff has the authority to approve translations of sacramental forms (AAS 66 (1974) 98-99).  He directed the CDW to inform all bishops conferences about his will in this matter and the CDW urged the conferences to engage in catechesis. (cf. Protocol Number is 467/05/L).]

As for Italy, the issue was addressed by the bishops during the plenary assembly of the episcopal conference held in Assisi in November of 2010, during the examination of the material of the third Italian edition of the Roman Missal.

On that occasion, the Italian bishops showed tremendous reluctance to introduce “per molti.” During the sessions, in fact, it was insisted that the episcopal conferences of the individual regions were already “unanimous” in choosing the version “per tutti.” [And their suggestion was not shared by the Holy Father, who decided otherwise.] And when the bishops of all of Italy were called to vote on this specific point of the Missal, the result was the following: out of 187 voters, in addition to one blank ballot, there were 171 votes in favor of keeping “per tutti,” 4 for the introduction of the version “per la moltitudine” (taken from “pour la multitude,” used in the French Missal), [I love that “taken from the French Missal.   The Missale Romanum is in Latin.] and just 11 for the “per molti” requested by the Holy See in 2006.

At the same meeting, the Italian bishops also voted in favor of two changes to the Our Father and the Gloria.

For the Our Father, in a two-part vote, the bishops first rejected the idea of keeping the phrase “non ci indurre in tentazione [do not lead us into temptation]”; this phrase, in fact, received only 24 votes out of 84, fewer than the two others that were then voted on: “non abbandonarci alla tentazione [do not abandon us to temptation]” (87 votes) and “non abbandonarci nella tentazione [do not abandon us in temptation]” (62 votes). Of these two, the largest number of votes went to the first, with 111 against 68.

As for the Gloria, out of 187 voters, 151 approved the variation “Gloria a Dio nell’alto dei cieli e pace in terra agli uomini che egli ama [glory to God in the heights of heaven and peace on earth to the men whom he loves,” in the place of the phrase currently in use, “Gloria a Dio nell’alto dei cieli e pace in terra agli uomini di buona volontà [glory to God in the heights of heaven and peace on earth to men of good will,” which obtained 36 votes.  [This is the old problem of the subjective and objective genitive again.]

Regarding these same texts, the bishops of the United States preferred not to touch the Our Father, leaving unaltered the phrase “and lead us not into temptation,” linguistically more faithful to the Latin “et ne nos inducas in tentationem.

But with regard to the Gloria, they decided to change the words “and peace to his people on earth” to “and on earth peace to people of good will,” also in this case following literally the original Latin, “et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.”

The bottom line is that in most every in the new translations bishops worked up their texts with the help of ICEL and the Holy See, which has greater authority than conferences of bishops in these matters, adjusted them where they desired.  However the Pope alone gets to approve the translations of sacramental forms, and for obvious reasons.  This Pope knows something about the pro multis question and didn’t merely rely on advice from others.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    Was the blank ballot cast by an Italian bishop who was a community organizer as a young man, and whose only significant accomplishment was being chosen to be a bishop?

  2. joecct77 says:

    Tower of Babel

    I think the basketball purists call it “The Law of Unintended Consequences”. If someone had a time machine (SPOCK!) at the Vatican in the mid-late 60’s and the Council Fathers (and others) were shown what their good intentions had wrought, I wonder if maybe, MAYBE, they would have taken an deep breath and slowed down.

  3. BobP says:

    Calling the vulgar languages nice things like “mother tongue” or “vernacular” doesn’t change the fact that much was lost in totally abandoning the Latin. Fortunately it’s not too late to slowly bring it back, but the longer the wait, the more difficult it will be.

  4. robtbrown says:

    I applaud the new translation. On the other hand:

    A local pastor here last week noted that after November, the response will be “And with your spirit” rather than “And also with you”. Fine, but the same priest excises “sacrifice” from the Orate, Fratres (Pray that our gifts might be acceptable) and always lets lay people clear the chalice. I wonder whether that will change.

  5. catholicmidwest says:

    I have yet to hear “for many” instead of “for all.” It’s pretty deeply entrenched here. I’m hoping the new translations start to make a dent in this.

    Things like this simultaneously amuse and baffle me. People can’t seem to get past the street-level contemporary political view of these sayings from scripture. Rather, there really is a whole thoughtful discussion around phrases like this, which is not right-left ideological at its classical root, and it’s gone on for longer than anyone can remember.

    The real reason that “for many” is correct instead of “for all,” is that there is a very old, very Catholic traditional scriptural exegesis around “for many,” rather than for all, and the Holy See is simply pointing that out to us and saying we should use it because of that. And because, there is the literal translation of the Latin, which does actually say “for many,” not “for all.”

    We are not a religion where everyone automatically goes to heaven (nor have we ever been); everyone gets the offer of salvation in some form, but some people could (and probably do) refuse. Anyone who has ever read any scripture whatsoever ought to be able to recognize that fact by reading comprehension alone. But then, I have seriously wondered for years, exactly how much scripture the average Catholic knows anyway. My guess is that it’s pretty much none when you get right down to it.

    If we made it our business to do a better job of teaching people how to really think with the Church and with continuity about their religion, by arming them with classical language and thought patterns, we’d do everybody a great favor. We really need Catholic bible studies and idea workshops, not on political crapola but on logical categories and language for expressing faith correctly so that it doesn’t come out like ahistorical mush. Mush isn’t very useful for expressing the faith, expecting people to understand the faith or spreading the faith to those who are looking for it.

  6. Panterina says:

    Gosh, I sure hope the Italians don’t opt for per la moltitudine. Why mimick the French, when molti is closer to the Latin, not to mention only 2 syllables instead of 5? This can become a scapegoat in the hands of the “told-you-so” folks who resist the new translation.

    I’m also surprised at how many Italian bishops seem to be resisting the change. To be sure, the change “for all” -> “for many” requires some catechesis, but one would expect that the Bishops know their stuff.

  7. catholicmidwest says:

    There is an interesting train of thought here around the temporal modality involved in the teachings of scripture since the offer and the taking up of the offer involve a logical conditional since their form is “if this, then that” over time. [Some of the parables address this very thing.] Add that to a discussion of the inherent freedom of the human being made in the likeness of God, and the prospect (necessity?) of choice that results from that freedom, and it gets even more fascinating. And then add the a discussion of the various classical meanings of “cause,” and their meanings & consequences in this context and so on, and you have a book. No, you have a library of books: old & new. These discussions are as old as the faith, and the Church has, and has always had, something to say about them. This is because various aspects of them have come up over and over from the start through the reformation and right up until now. All of this (and more!) is what really stands behind this one little word.

    People need to know of the size & depth of this even if they can’t (or don’t want) to tackle these rather technical issues like a pro. It might keep them from saying naive things and giving the Church a cramp in the backside over something that really shouldn’t be an issue at this late date or in the pages of some secular newspaper. [Like a secular newspaper knows anything about any of this. Hah!]

  8. mpolo says:

    Here in Germany, we only got an official translation of the Institutio generalis a few months ago, and even that was stressed to be a “study edition” with no force of law. (Wouldn’t want people to start using a Psalm after the first reading, or actually using both readings on Sunday, or using a Gloria or Credo that actually corresponds to the official translations…)

    The translation of the Mass is mostly good, though. If we could get the Institutio to have force of law, things would be much better. The Pope prayed Eucharistic Prayer II in Latin in Berlin, but I don’t think he took the opportunity in Freiburg (where he used the Roman Canon in German) to introduce “für viele” either. I don’t know what he prayed in Erfurt.

  9. DetJohn says:

    Regardless of what language the Maronite mass is said in the consecration is always said in Aramic. This is done to avoid errors in translation.

    Regardless of what language the Roman mass is said in the consecration should always be in Latin. So why do we need a translation when in comes to the consecration?

  10. Phil_NL says:

    If I might make a suggestion to the Holy Father, I would propose that, starting from an appropriate deadline, say Advent 2012, and until the bishops come up with a satisfactory translation, they would be obliged to use the latin version exclusively, from Introitus to dismissal. Just strike the Italian and German missals completely.

    I wonder how many votes the fanciful translations would still get under those conditions…

  11. asperges says:

    One would have thought that the languages directly descended from Latin would have far less trouble than ours. “Pour la multitude” is a bit of Gallic genius, although why “agli uomini di buona volontà” is a problem in Italian escapes me. It seems as close to the Latin as one can get.

    Our translations are 100% improved, which wasn’t difficult to achieve, but “people” for “men” (of good will) in the Gloria and “Lamb … you who..” instead of just “who” sounds odd still, but looking at the above article, perhaps we got away lightly.

    Unlike the Latin texts, which survived more or less unscathed for over 1000 years, these modern language versions will need constant updating.

  12. Glen M says:

    At what point does disobedience become schismatic? The ‘for many’ vs ‘for all’ is a theological dispute – our doctrine and Scripture says Christ offered Himself for many. Protestants believe once saved always saved. Changing our Saviour’s words at the Consecration must have deep seated motivations.

  13. chonak says:

    Are there any international commissions comparable to ICEL for the major vernaculars other than English? With three countries using German and many countries using Spanish, such institutions could be helpful. But who would Italy need to collaborate with: Switzerland and maybe Malta?

  14. uptoncp says:

    chonak – Does San Marino have its own Conference of Bishop? (sic)

  15. CharlesG says:

    In answer to Chonak’s question, there are ICEL-equivalents for the German language and the French language. The Spanish speaking countries, however, couldn’t agree to set up one after the Council, as a result of which there are four separate Spanish translations that have been or are being revised in light of Liturgiam Authenticam, i.e., Colombia and Argentina (already approved), and Spain and Mexico (in process). There is, however, a single Order of Mass in Spanish, although the new Spanish missal translations already approved still have “Dios del Universo” in the Sanctus and lack “buena voluntad” in the Gloria, so it seems to me that the CDWDS has let the Spanish speakers off lightly as far as Liturgiam Authenticam and accuracy in translation from the Latin are concerned. The Portuguese and the Brazilians also could not agree on setting up an ICEL-equivalent, so they each have their own Portuguese missal translations.

  16. The phrase “those whom God loves” = theoretically might mean “those whom God favors because they are of good will”, but literally it means “everybody.” Meanwhile, “men of good will” or “people of good will” are the people who are (even if pagan or atheist) at least have a will toward goodness, which clearly does not mean “everybody”.

    So it looks like some of the Italians want to say, “peace on earth to everybody,” but the Latin and Greek resolutely only send the blessing of God’s peace beyond understanding to those who actually want it. People don’t realize that there’s a sort of happy fuzzy floofy imperialism here, which God apparently does not endorse. God loves everyone, but He does not force people’s wills to receive gifts that might affect their free will. Peace is only peace to those who long for it.

  17. TomG says:

    DetJohn: An absolutely super idea. That would certainly put an end to the problem.

  18. BobP says:

    Do we know for sure “multis” or whatever the Greek or Aramaic states means “many” in the English and that it’s the best translation? How about a “few” or “multitudes” or “some others” or “not quite all” or “a few others”? Or how about “for the many.” Maybe it’s a percentage of people, such as 20%? And why is it “for you and for many;” how about just “for many;” why the “for you” if Judas was also among the “you”? If Judas had been included in the “you” then wouldn’t “for all” make more sense taken in that context? Keep the consecration, in fact the whole canon, in Latin. Now everyone is going to be focused on getting the “right” translation instead of praying.

  19. I still rather wish it would be translated as “for the many”, which strikes me as an equally faithful translation of the Latin due to the lack of articles, but eh, Roma locuta est.

  20. Vincent Uher says:

    Once the horse is dead, dismount.

    The Aramaic text as found in the Maronite Liturgy should be imposed by the Holy Father upon us all. Enough of this episcopal mischief.

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