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Progress on the New Translation

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jun 21, 2006

At their annual June meeting last week, the U.S. Bishops overwhelmingly voted to approve the new translation of the Roman Missal. The vote was 173-29, which is something of a landslide in favor of this first step toward authentic reform of the reform.

I commented on the translation earlier this month in my column Welcoming a New Translation, This Time. By way of follow-up, the two features of episcopal approval which remain to be analyzed are the more than 60 amendments to the text adopted by the bishops before the vote, and the series of American adaptations approved by an even more overwhelming vote of 184 to 8.

First, the adaptations: These are a series of additional prayers and instructions not contained in the Missal text as proposed by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). Many of these include alternative introductions to and varying forms of the penitential rite, alternative introductions to the Our Father, varying forms of the dismissal, different memorial acclamations, and the like. The fact that none of the adaptations raised any objections suggests that most of them are carry-overs from the previous missal.

Second, the amendments: These become part of the translation itself, where there may be more cause for concern, especially since such amendments may mean that the liturgy will not be linguistically consistent even among all English-speaking peoples. It is difficult at the present time to get complete information about this. Again, however, the amendment and approval process went very quickly, so it is possible that there is little cause for alarm.

All of these changes were recommended by the USCCB's Liturgy Committee and must be approved by Rome, which has taken the position that it will approve nothing inconsistent with its current translation instructions as enunciated in Liturgiam authenticam. The organization to watch for a detailed and sound analysis, though it is not available yet, is Adoremus, which publishes an excellent newsletter to which you may also wish to subscribe.

Finally, it now seems unlikely that any part of the new translation will be implemented in the United States until the entire Roman Missal is completed, including all the propers, which is expected to take another two years.

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