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CURRENT ISSUE:  August 4, 2008
VOL. 46, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA
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Vatican approves new
translation for parts of Mass
 
CNS graphic/Emily Thompson

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Vatican has given its approval to a new English-language translation of the main constant parts of the Mass, but Catholics in the pew are unlikely to see any of the approved changes at Masses for awhile to allow for catechesis on the reasons for the revisions.

The approved text, sent to the Vatican for “recognitio,” or confirmation, after a June 2006 vote by the U.S. bishops in Los Angeles, involves translation of the penitential rite, Gloria, creed, Eucharistic prayers, Eucharistic acclamations, Our Father and other prayers and responses used daily.

“In terms of the people’s part, it’s not gong to require too much adjustment,” said Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship. “It’s a refinement of the language, a clearer theological language.

“Not much of the people’s part is changed, and I think once or twice after they use it, they will hardly notice the change,” he said.

While the changes have been approved, Bishop Serratelli said it will be awhile before they become part of regular worship at Mass.

“I’m hoping for two years,” he said. “I’m an optimist.”

The lead time is needed to allow musicians to work with the text and to prepare music for various liturgical settings and seasons and to allow for the necessary catechesis explaining the reasons for the revisions to parishioners, the bishop explained.

Among the changes approved by Rome is a different translation of the Gloria; the structure of the prayer will have changes from the current text. The other most significant changes are listed in the chart at right.

In 2001 the Vatican issued new rules requiring liturgical translations to follow the original Latin more strictly and completely — a more literal translation approach called formal equivalence. The resulting new translation adheres far more closely to the normative Latin text issued by the Vatican.

Two other sections of the Roman Missal have come before the bishops. In November 2007 they approved a revision of all the Sunday and weekday Lectionary readings for Lent, but at their June meeting in Orlando, Fla., and in subsequent mail balloting they rejected a 700-page translation of the proper prayers for Sundays and feast days during the liturgical year.

The rejected section is to come before the full body of bishops again at their November general assembly in Baltimore, along with two other sections totaling about 500 pages.

When the bishops approved the first section in June 2006, Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., called it “a truly important moment in liturgy in the United States.” He said at that time that he did not expect the new Order of Mass to be implemented in the United States until the entire new Roman Missal in English had been approved by the bishops and confirmed by the Vatican.

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