Roman Missal Translation in English

Hi CA,

Looking for confirmation on this.

I read that the new Roman Missal translation more closely conforms to the Latin and that the translations of the Latin in Spanish, French, Germain made in 1970 already conformed to the Latin.

In other words, the English version in a sense is more in line with Latin NOW as these other vernacular translations that were done in 1970.

Is this true?



Yes it’s true. You can see the new translation here.

Thank you.

Yes, I have read the document. I justed wanted to be sure I wasn’t miss stating the fact that the rest of the world was already following more closely the Latin translation.

Sounds like a formal equivalence versus dynamic equivalence issue among others.

Thanks again.

I enjoy the Spanish Mass occasionally precisely because that translation is so closed to the original Latin, and it is refreshing to remember what that wording actually is.

My question is and has always been–the St. Andrew or St. Joseph missals we all had in Catholic school in the 50s and 60s had already been translated fully into English, there it was, Latin on one side, English on the other, and we had already been instructed in the meaning and depth of the Mass prayers. Why on God’s green earth was it found necessary to re-translate at all? and what was the rationale for a translation so far removed from the Latin? Why one week in the late 60s were we responding “and with your spirit” and the next week “and also with you.”

As I recall from - way back when - at the time teh Pauline mass (OF) was issued, many of the changes in the prayers were intended to “simplify” certain aspects that were either repetative or pehaps seen as too “Wordy”. (I have no specific examples except maybe the change in the mea mulpa’s in the confitior)
The problems with the English translation seems to have come about due to the bishop’s somewhat misguided attempt to make the tranalation more “presentable”, more “understandable”, and “flow better” in the modern english.

I’m looking forward to the new translation.


Yes indeed.

I wonder what took them so long.

And sadly, what we wound up getting was a particular group’s interpretation of what they thought the text said than the actual translation. I just wish that the new translations could come sooner. We have already had them online for the better part of two years.

And sadly, what we wound up getting was a particular group’s interpretation of what they thought the text said than the actual translation.

Or, really, we got a particular group’s interpretation of what they wish the text had said.

For the most part… but there are some other translations which need revising, especially those translations that based themselves on the English translation rather than the Latin original! :eek:

For the most part. :wink: The new translation is not strictly literal; it is generally one of “formal equivalence”, although there is some interpretation involved.

I’ve been hearing a lot about it, but I still don’t know much about it. What exactly is the new translation? What parts of Mass will it change? And why has it been requested? What’s the background to it?

Thank you for the help,

First off, here is a link to a really nice and clear description of the changes in the missal from the website for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

There has been a decade-long history of controversy over the English translation of the missal. The Vatican viewed the translation as having certain errors in translation from the Latin original. The U.S. Bishops argued that the Vatican’s rejection of the English translation was problematic from a procedural perspective and introduced language into the liturgy that itself was problematic. One prominent critic was Bishop Donald Trautman, head of the U.S. Bishops committee on the liturgy.

I’m sure others will be happy to chime in and provide their perspectives from the side of the Vatican and the critics. I note that a big part of the controversy was the judgment that the Vatican had taken from the English-speaking bishops a responsibility that was given them by Vatican II – a power grab, in effect.

The new translations are a huge blessing. I do not consider it a power-grab. In 2001, ICEL submitted to the CDWDS a draft of the ordination rite. Cardinal Medina, prefect of the CDWDS at the time, found some deficiencies with the text. This led him to examine all of the other ICEL texts (you know, where there is smoke, there is a huge blaze). In this case, it was an inferno. The CDWDS, under the direction of Pope John Paul II, promulgated Liturgiam Authenticam and also set up the Vox Clara committee and charged it to, if memory serves, assist in all translations matters relevent to the English language. This committee is headed by George Cardinal Pell of Australia.

Bishop Trautmann was, at one point, the chair of the Bishops Committee on Liturgy, but, not during this go-around. The chair of the Bishops Committee on Worship is Bishop Serratelli, who will soon be succeeded (if that has not happened already) by Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

The current translations are pretty much a group’s idea of what the text should say, rather than what they are to say. This is the danger of dynamic equivalence. No other language group has had this problem, as they are all faithful to the Latin text. The English translation, up until now, is the only deficient one.

I’ve got a book on the subjecct (see my signature); you might find it very helpful.

Long story short…

The current English version of the Mass is a translation from the Latin text, but it is inadequate in many areas. The new translation will be more faithful to the Latin, better represent and transmit the Catholic faith, make the Scripture in the Mass stand out more, and help restore a sense of the sacred and mysterious to the liturgy.

So why didn’t they like it in Africa, where supposedly the faith has been flourishing?

Yes, the new translations will be a huge blessing, and not solely because they’ll bring the English in accord with the spirit of the Latin. When I used to go to mass in Mexico (or rarely to a Spanish Mass in the U.S.), I’d hear “V/ El Señor esté con ustedes,” “R/ Y con tu espíritu” (“The Lord be with you / And with your spirit”), and I’d think, Haha, what funny foreigners! What a quaint way of saying “And also with you”! Imagine my surprise down the road when I learned that it was only the English-speakers who’d been forced into such a funny way of saying the Mass. The improved translations should do a fair bit to improve cross-cultural understanding and a sense of disparate cultures united through the spirit of the Mass into a universal Church.

First of all, it was introduced too early in South Africa, not the whole continent of Africa. I don’t know if South Africa has shared in the flourishing-of-faith of the rest of the continent.

In South Africa, the new translation of the Order of Mass was introduced early, without any catechesis or explanation preceding it. Of course people reacted poorly: things changed all of the sudden and they were not prepared for the changes.

As English wasn’t my first language, I’m quite aware of translation problems and how much you can deceive those who don’t speak your language. There’s more than literal translations. There are lots of idioms (“raining cats and dogs” “kick the bucket” etc.) and ideosyncrasies inherent in every language and even within that same-language various cultures exist. I’ve read some of the subtitles in movies and I’ve seen dramas turned to comedies because of the way things were translated. So the Church has to take extra care to stick to the Latin, not only in literacy, but also in thought and theology.

Do you know approximately what percentage of American/European English-speaking Catholics today are aware of the upcoming changes in the translations? Would you say more than 20%? Just asking.

I have nothing on which to base an estimate, but let me say this:

Every Bishop in the English-speaking world knows there is a new translation coming.

This means that every priest in the English-speaking world should be aware.

This means that every Catholic in the English-speaking world who regularly attends Mass could be aware, if parish priests would mention this either in the bulletin or by making an announcement, or even by working it into their homilies somehow.

Most Catholics in the English-speaking world who read online Catholic newspapers (whether liberal or conservative or somewhere in between) could be aware, because most of these publications have mentioned it, if they were paying any attention to the USCCB meeting back in November.

But what percentage is this? I have no idea. Lay people can’t be expected to find out about these things on their own – and I say that as a lay person, with no intent of being rude or insulting by it. Clergy have the duty and obligation to inform the lay faithful about such things, since catechesis will need to come from them.

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