Prayer of Absolution- Copyrighted?

Is the English translation of the Prayer of Absolution copyrighted?

I suspect that you’re asking a question that goes beyond the way that you’ve phrased it here. :wink:

Perhaps you might provide a bit more clarity about what you’re really asking?

However, to your question on its face: there are books of rites, in which the prayer of absolution is present, and those books are copyrighted by their authors. If someone should use passage(s) from those books in ways that violate copyright law (e.g., violations of fair use), then the holders of the copyright would have the right to pursue various avenues of legal recourse.

Does that answer your question?

I don’t think so. I suggest asking a preist.

The Roman prayer of absolution is present in it’s entirety on Wikipedia. If it is copyrighted, I assume it would only be so to protect the correct form of the text (ie no alterations). :slight_smile:

No. But, like a Bach composition that is far too old to be under copyright, versions of it printed by music companies are. That is: you can use the notes and notation, but can’t recopy and resell the pages they are on. You can put the prayer on your website, but not an image of the book you got it from.

Scripture translations are under copyright for the most part, because they are translations.

In fact the text is copyright by the translating agency, for example, ICEL holds the copyright on the English translation of the Roman Rite. This includes the prayer of absolution, which has only existed in English since 1970. Similarly, even the Latin prayers were revised after Vatican II and they are by no means too old to copyright. Reuse of them on the Internet is merely a question of fair use. I don’t doubt that Wikipedia publishing the prayer of absolution verbatim is still considered a minor quotation for educational purposes and a protected, acceptable use of the text.

As you can see from this list, the Rite of Penance is one of the books published by ICEL. The Latin is copyright by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

I don’t know what the OP’s real question is; if he revealed his motives for asking his question we might be able to help him better. But the short answer is that yes, the prayer is copyright, but it can often fall under the fair use doctrine.

I don’t think that’s verifiable but in any case, anyone can translate something, so the simple fact of putting it somewhere in English isn’t in violation of copyright. But I also agree we don’t know what OP’s issue is.

Look at another example: translations of the Bible. Why do you think different modern translations use such vastly different language for the same thing? Because all the good translations are already copyrighted. If a translation is already copyrighted, then you cannot use the same wording in a new work: you must perform a “clean room translation” which is work without reference to the existing translations, and you must come up with different wording that can be copyrighted without accusation of plagiarism. The same is true for translations of the Roman Missal. ICEL did all the heavy lifting in translating this out of Latin, and it is copyrighted by them; anyone translating the text to the same words is going to have problems with infringement.

There’s not enough information provided by the OP to answer the question. Copyright simply means “right to copy.” My New American Bible has a copyright notice. But again, I don’t know why the OP needs this information.


Yes, I’m quite sure the english prayer is copyrighted by ICEL.

Would you have to list a source for it, if you put the Prayer of Absolution in work of fiction (in which a character goes to Confession?)

I would expect so. I wouldn’t do such a thing without calling and getting permission first. It’s often given but not always. If you plan to sell a work of fiction that can get more complicated.

Good authors always obtain permission for quoting from other works, including song lyrics. Although I don’t like Stephen King’s writing, I was pleasantly surprised to see all the permission notices at the front of his books. The same with photos. Each photo should have an attribution: “Courtesy of the Smithsonian photo archive.” “Courtesy of the Roger Smith family” or a permission notice, “Reproduced with the permission of the Eisenhower Library.” “Photo copyright of the New York Times, reprinted with permission.”


Often the permission to use text and pictures comes with the condition that those attributions are included.

Anyone mind if I resurrect the thread? Thank you.

Excuse my insolence, but it definitely sounds as though you or someone you know had an actual experience with requesting permission. On what grounds can ICEL deny it? I plan to inquire and have already studied their website inside out, but a piece of advice from someone, who has actually been there, would be a tremendous help. I am worried that I’ll choose the wrong wording or overlook some obvious-for-others-obscure-for-me detail, and thus ruin the thing that matters the most in my life. Please.

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