At the beginning of the sad and confusing controversy that has surrounded the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, with its objectively ambiguous statements that have pitted bishops’ conference against conference, diocese against diocese, parish against parish, family against family, I suggested that, since the true, official version of documents is to be found in the Acta Apostolica Sedis, the Exhortation could be tidied up and made clear. Latin, along with being the Church’s official language, is great for clarity.
Edit the document and fix it for the official Latin version, I opined. BAMMO! Controversy concluded, the Four Cardinals get their answers to their dubia, some of the chaos subsides, things settle down.
Alas… or rather Heu!
I see now that Amoris laetitia is finally out in the Acta in the April 2016 issue (no no… they’re not behind at all… no no, who says it’s the age of modern communications?).
“But Father! But Father!”, some of you eager church-shredding beavers are barking, “What about the wonderful ‘Footnote 351’, the most wonderfulest footnote ehvur in the history of all pastóreal footnotes? We love ‘Footnote 351’ because it undermines the mean institutional ‘church’ and sings a new faith community into being born of the spirit of THE Council which YOU HATE!”
Yes, the Latin version has the infamous Footnote 351:
351 Quibusdam in casibus esse etiam potest subsidium Sacramentorum. Quapropter, « sacerdotibus memoramus confessionale esse non debere aulam tormenti, sed locum Dominicae misericordiae » (Adhort. Ap. Evangelii gaudium [24 Novembris 2013], 44: AAS 105 , 1038). Dicimus pariter Eucharistiam « non esse praemium perfectorum, sed debilium munificum remedium et alimoniam » (ibid., 47: 1039).
What the vernacular unofficial (English) version said:
Alas, the LATIN was not the original language of composition… a fact which in the history of facts was never more obvious.
How many problems could be avoided were Latin still the language of composition? Now, de facto, the official version in the Acta is a translation. But, de iure, with its promulgation it is now the official version to which all other versions must adhere.
Every vernacular version is now out of date.
This is a problem for scholarship, of course. The problem is that virtually everyone now refers to the vernacular versions that were issued at the time of the press conferences for documents. Months later the LATIN is issued in the AAS and THAT becomes the official version! Who goes back and double checks to see if there were changes? If the Latin provides a different nuance?
QUAERITUR: Was His Holiness the Pope waiting for the definitive Latin to be promulgated in the AAS before making his response to the Four Cardinals of the Five Dubia?
If I were still in Rome and around the Press Office, I’d ask that question of the Papal Spokesman.