Did you know that when the ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy – a Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops Conferences) published their own translation in 1998 they had a translation that was readable, coherent, and dare I say it, actually sensitive to inclusive language for the human community: they had removed the “MEN” the Nicene Creed to read, “For us and for our salvation.”  I didn’t know that, and therefore I owe the American Bishops who worked on that translation an apology. Sorry!

Imagine – there was a joint commission of national conferences of bishops. That in itself was momentous. But apparently Rome didn’t like these Bishops Conferences acting as if they had any authority on the matter of liturgy.

The issue was and is Rome after all.

From The National Catholic Reporter

Benedictine Fr. Anthony Ruff wrote: The forthcoming missal is but a part of a larger pattern of top-down impositions by a central authority that does not consider itself accountable to the larger church. When I think of how secretive the translation process was, how little consultation was done with priests or laity, how the Holy See allowed a small group to hijack the translation at the final stage, how unsatisfactory the final text is, how this text was imposed on national conferences of bishops in violation of their legitimate episcopal authority, how much deception and mischief have marked this process — and then when I think of Our Lord’s teachings on service and love and unity … I weep.

The English translation that we have used since 1973 was a rush job done in the first burst of enthusiasm after the Second Vatican Council. The English-speaking bishops asked for a new translation, a richer translation to better capture the beauty of these prayers. ICEL completed a translation in 1998 and all the English-language bishops’ conferences of the world approved it. But the Roman Curia did not.

The Vatican issued new translation guidelines, Liturgiam authenticam, in 2001, reorganized ICEL to report not to the English-speaking bishops but to the Curia, and appointed a committee, Vox Clara, to advise it on the approval of English translations. All this was done ostensibly to ensure the authenticity of the translation, but it was clear from the beginning that a clerical, imperial ideology was being imposed on the translation. The poetry of language and beauty of prayers were secondary concerns.”

The editors at NCR suggest that, 

If we become bitter and arrested in anger, then we will be losers. The Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” It is all that we are and what we strive to be. All prayer, but especially the Eucharist, is for deepening our commitment to ourselves and to God. The “source and summit” line comes from Lumen Gentium, “Light to the Nations,” the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Later, that same document reminds us that we “in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God.” We are, the document says, “the new people of God.”

No words of any language can ever fully express this mystery. That is some consolation. Until we have better words, we can make do with this faulty translation.

I’m not sure I agree with them, though. I’m not sure that we should “make do.”  If National Bishops Conferences have given in to the Curia does that mean that we all should? And if we don’t, what will our actions look like? Alternative Eucharistic gatherings, with or without ordained clergy?  Should we return to house masses? Is this the time to let go of the Curia and move on in our faithfulness to Jesus instead of Rome?

I don’t know where this is going with me. But my discomfort with parish liturgy is growing exponentially as these “new” translations  make me feel even more unempowered and controlled and that has never been a good feeling.

From an ecumenical liturgy site:

Liturgy: Worship that works – spirituality that connects


Most Roman Catholics appear not to be aware that in 1998 there was an excellent new English translation of the Roman Missal. The first translation had been released in 1973. In in the mid 1980s translation work began again. It was to be more accurate. There was international cooperation among bishops, scholars, liturgists, Latinists, and other experts. It received the approval of all the English-speaking conferences of the world; in ten of the eleven conferences, its approval was unanimous or near-unanimous.

First, there was no response from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship. In the next decade, when a response was received, it was rejected, and work began anew.

These are the parts of the complete 1998 translation.

Volume 1A, Volume 1B, Volume 2AVolume 2B