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Cardinal Pell recalls problems of liturgical translations after Vatican II

February 21, 2014

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano, Australian Cardinal George Pell reflects on difficulties with liturgical translations in the years following Vatican II.

Citing Pope Paul VI (who in turn was using the words of Pius XI), the cardinal observes that the liturgy is “the most important organ of the ordinary magisterium of the Church.” So proper translations of the liturgical texts are critically important, and should be carefully framed in appropriate language.

Unfortunately, Cardinal Pell remarks, Vatican II did not provide guidance on translating the liturgy into the vernacular. The one Vatican document on that subject, Comme le Prévoit, was not entirely authoritative and gave only general guidelines. In English translations, the cardinal recalls, translations for years followed the principle of “dynamic equivalence,” and in practice ‘the translation was not always equivalent and even less frequently dynamic.”


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