Via Media

Do go read the transcript of the US bishops’ discussion on the liturgy translation from June. It’s quite interesting.

There was some confusion at the beginning as to what was being discussed and voted on, and after the "consubstantial" discussion – (with Cardinal George, Archbishop DiNardo, Archbishop Lipscomb, Bishop Vigneron and Archbishop Meyers rising in support of Archbishop Hughes’ amendment for the technical term – the final vote was 109/no – 81/yes. ) – Bishop Finn had this rather dry-sounding yet penetrating question:

I’m relatively new to the conference so I was just curious, if in most cases it is the practice that we would receive these booklets of amendments accepted and rejected a few moments before we are asked to go through them; to vote in favor. It creates a difficulty to give them any serious consideration one way or the other. Just a question.

What a thoughtful process…

(If anyone can illuminate what the discussion about "anxiety" and "distress" refers to, I’d be grateful.)

Finally, from Cardinal George:

There is in our debates always on liturgy, a shadow from the past. And that necessarily affects all of us. But the texts that we have now everyone admits —including old ICEL as well as new ICEL and the Holy See — are not adequate expressions of the Faith.

Quite deliberately — and it’s documented — there was an attempt to delete sacrificial language; the theology of grace and merit was excised when it could have been included. So we have inadequate texts right now. And beyond that they’re also the translation of the first edition of the Pauline Missal after the Council.

We have to use the third edition of the Pauline Missal, and that’s the translation that we’re doing now. In between we had the translation of the second edition. And that was a very fine piece of work. Particularly, we were involved in this through the guidance of Archbishop Pilarczyk, who had my job on ICEL although he was also chair. He also had Bishop Roche’s job. He did a very fine job and all of us have reason to be grateful to him and to the ICEL of those days.

What sunk the second edition, I think, and certainly what elicited a lot of criticism, was the changes in the people’s part in the second edition, which deleted personal pronouns for God, and therefore used vertical inclusive language, not just horizontal language. That, among a few other things — and I know that’s a controversial statement — nonetheless, there was enough controversy around it, that the Holy See just refused to accept any ICEL text.

In the context of what Bishop Fiorenza said you have to break the impasse, do what you have to do.

Well, the Holy See broke the impasse, and many people suffered in that. They reorganized the mixed commission, ICEL, and they gave us new rules of translation, Liturgiam authenticam. The reorganization is, of course, always debatable. That’s a constitutional issue. But I do believe, and I say that as a bishop, that Liturgiam authenticam is a really superior understanding of how to translate.

And while any particular translation can be disputed, nonetheless, what it has given us, I believe, is a language that is a good vehicle for the expression of our Catholic Faith in prayer. And in the end, its not only comprehensibility and its not only fidelity, it is the Faith itself and the language of faith that we’re talking about here. I think these changes are not just something that we have to put up with, but rather they’re a definite change for the better. I think they are balanced. I think you can dispute one or the other item, and we’ll continue to have these debates as we go through — especially into the Collects, which aren’t as well translated at this point.

Thanks to the Adoremus Bulletin for making this available.

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