New Zealand Bishops Committed to Exploring Alternative Missal Translation

A statement released from the New Zealand conference of Catholic bishops on October 26 voiced support and thanks for Pope Francis’s guidance on liturgical translations, offered in his motu proprio, Magnum principium, which they describe as a “bold directive.”

They also expressed the desire to “explore prudently and patiently the possibility of an alternative translation of the Roman Missal and the review of other liturgical texts” along with the other English speaking conferences.

The full statement (see below) is signed by the president, Bishop Patrick Dunn, and secretary, Bishop Charles Drennan, of the conference, as well as Cardinal Archbishop John Dew, who serves as an adviser to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome, and others.

During our recent meeting in Wellington, we discussed Magnum Principium (the great principle), Pope Francis’ September 2017 edict concerning the translations of liturgical texts. The Holy Father has shifted the responsibility of liturgical translations from a Vatican department back to national Conferences of Bishops. Thus he has reaffirmed the teaching of the Second Vatican Council which states that it is local groupings of bishops who oversee then approve translations into the language of the land, before seeking final acceptance of this work by the Holy See.

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC) gratefully welcomes this directive from Pope Francis. We appreciate the bold step he has taken to ensure translations of liturgical texts are of the highest standard.

Pope Francis has stated that three principles should guide the work of liturgical translation: fidelity to the original text; fidelity to the particular language into which it is being translated; and, a commitment to the intelligibility of the text. Therefore respect for a language’s own syntax, structure, and turns of phrase are to be upheld.

Like many priests and parishioners, we share in the frustration concerning some aspects of the current translation of the Roman Missal and we reiterate our desire for beauty, comprehensibility and participation in and through the sacred liturgy.

We will be working in collaboration with English speaking Bishops’ Conferences around the world, as we seek to explore prudently and patiently the possibility of an alternative translation of the Roman Missal and the review of other liturgical texts.

✠ Patrick Dunn, Bishop of Auckland and NZCBC President

✠ Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North and NZCBC Secretary

✠ John Dew, Cardinal Archbishop of Wellington

✠ Steve Lowe, Bishop of Hamilton

Rev Michael Dooley, Vicar General, Diocese of Dunedin

Rev Rick Loughnan, Diocesan Administrator, Diocese of Christchurch

The New Zealand Conference of Catholic Bishops was an early supporter of Pope Francis’s initiative in undertaking a review of Liturgiam authenticam.




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18 responses to “New Zealand Bishops Committed to Exploring Alternative Missal Translation”

  1. Robert Addington Avatar
    Robert Addington

    Good for the Kiwis. Let’s hope the other English-speaking conferences of bishops follow their lead.

  2. Anthony Hawkins Avatar
    Anthony Hawkins

    Bravo! 1998 translations of the Collect, ‘Super oblata’ and ‘Post communionem’, please, ASAP. As options, since these texts are only needed by the celebrant that should be easy to achieve.

  3. Devin Rice Avatar
    Devin Rice

    I am not opposed to the use of texts from the 1998 missal but I think there would need to be some editing done. One example is fixing the prayers that avoid using masculine pronouns for God and feminine pronouns for the Church.

  4. Ben Kalafut Avatar
    Ben Kalafut

    Bishops Dunn and Drennan and possibly others have gone on record in the past objecting to the latinate grammar and inkhorn words in the 2011 translation.

    One hopes that this is indeed what is animating the proposal for a change, that the 1998 Sacramentary is not under consideration, and that care will be taken that ideologically-driven opportunists not use the occasion to impose on the faithful the grossly deficient Confiteor, Gloria, or Credo from the 1998 Ordinary of the Mass.

    1. Anthony Hawkins Avatar
      Anthony Hawkins

      I can agree about the Confiteor, etc.
      And anyway I would advocate not changing the peoples words yet again, apart from anything else we need several years of stability. And that includes, for me, NOT changing ‘and with your spirit’.

      1. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        On the contrary, changing the people’s words is required urgently. They have still not really bedded in, after the 40+ years of the previous texts. People still have to make a conscious effort to get them right, and in fact often get them wrong. I would say stop this misery immediately.

        Furthermore, every day that passes with “and with your spirit”, “consubstantial”, “O God, almighty Father” and much else increases the leakage from the Church of those who see it as irrelevant to their lives. People have voted with their feet and continue to do so. We need to stem this as soon as possible.

        And picking up on Michael Slusser’s post below, anyone who has been to an Anglican Eucharist in the past few years will know that the tragic divergence of texts between Roman Catholics and other major denominations who formerly used the same texts has been nothing short of an ecumenical disaster. It needs to be reversed as a matter of urgency.

  5. Michael Slusser Avatar
    Michael Slusser

    To me, the most urgent change is to revert back to the Nicene Creed text in the Sacramentary. It was briefly the ecumenical creed of the English-speaking churches, since it was taken up for use by many Protestant bodies. We were confessing one faith! In the same words! . . . Until 2010 when the Catholics decided to use a different text. Sad!

    1. Ben Kalafut Avatar
      Ben Kalafut

      Praying the same creed with Protestants (even if they do not share our faith) is a laudable goal.

      But even before the 2011 revision, it was not happening. ELLC adopted the Episcopalians’ changes to the Credo, rendering it “For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human”.

      Even not considering the change, there’s a bit of trouble with “for us and our salvation”. Is “us” those in the congregation, those reciting the Credo, those of the same Church or denomination, or all mankind?

      The change is a shock: “became truly human” is stilted, artificial English compared to “became man”, and “for us men and for our salvation” was used continuously since the 1662 Book of Common Prayer and thus has such deep roots in the English language that it is difficult to believe that “men” it was sincerely misunderstood in any real-life setting.

      Unity with fellow Catholics in the same use of the same rite must be considered, and probably takes precedence over unity with Protestants who do not share our faith and who introduce changes like “for us and our salvation” in service of worldly agendas. The 2011 change brought the English translation of the Creed, already divergent due to the change from “I” to “we” closer to the norm. Adopting the ELLC text would have had the opposite effect. The divergence is unfortunate but the Church could not have served both ends at the same time.

      Then again, perhaps uniformity is overrated. Our Catholic brothers in the Ordinariate have “begotten of his Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God” in their version of the Credo yet they and we are certainly confessing one faith!

      1. Paul Inwood Avatar
        Paul Inwood

        The 2011 change brought the English translation of the Creed, already divergent due to the change from “I” to “we” closer to the norm.

        On the contrary, the ELLC translation was closer to the norm than what we have now. “We believe” is what the original Greek said; “I believe” is much later, dating from the period the Latin Creed first came into the Mass as a refugee from the RCIA — i.e. as a personal profession of faith by a neophyte, rather than a communal profession of faith by all. When ICET, ELLC’s predecessor, decided to go with the earlier Greek version, this was a conscious decision for authenticity, not a divergence.

        It’s important that we get our facts right when debating this sort of thing.

      2. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

        But liturgically the Easter Churches use (and, I believe, have always used) the first person singular (Πιστεύω) for the creed. The fathers of the Council of Nicaea used the first person plural (Πιστεύομεν) because it was a collective act of teaching rather than a profession of faith. So the use of the first person plural for the creed in a liturgical setting is an innovation–perhaps not one without precedent, but certainly a departure from an extremely widespread norm.

      3. John Kohanski Avatar
        John Kohanski

        I am responding to Fr. Deacon Fritz’ comment. The use of the first person singular for the Creed in the Divine Liturgy is not without precedent as much of the liturgical hymnography (especially at Mattins and Vespers) uses first person singular. And the prayer before Holy Communion: “O Lord, I believe and profess…accept me this day as communicant of your mystical supper…I will not speak of your mysteries to your enemies nor will I betray you with a kiss as did Judas” Even though the whole congregation prays this prayer together, it still uses “I” and “me.”

      4. Ben Kalafut Avatar
        Ben Kalafut

        Thanks for the clarifications, especially Prof. Bauerschmidt for the note about Eastern liturgical use.

        It is not the original Greek (neither the creed resulting from the Council of Constantinople nor the liturgical use) that is the norm for us, but instead the Roman Missal. This is perhaps the key difference or incompatibility between the Church and other participants in ELLC/CCT. To commit too strongly to using common texts in our Mass would change the rite itself, so that maybe even in the same parish the OF prayed in English is not the same as in Latin, Spanish, or whatever other language is in use. And as noted above there is a real semiotic difference between “I” and “We” in ritual, not just a difference in grammatical number. Translation isn’t a place to correct (in one language only!) a supposed deficiency of the Roman Rite. If we really ought to be praying a Credimus and not a Credo it isn’t up to a smoky-backroom translators’ committee (let alone one dominated by Protestants) to make the decision.

        However tempting it may be (for us scandalized pewsitters) to say that the switch from I to we in the 1973 Credo is just another example of Fr. McManus imposing his personal agenda for change above and beyond what was called for by the larger Church, Comme le prevoit seems to have predicted, allowed, and even encouraged divergence of the Roman Rite in different languages. Change grammatical number in the Credo, strip out Memorial Acclamation A and add two original compositions in its place, remove the threefold Mea culpa: all of that is par for the course. And it gave some flexibility to use common texts that is missing now that the Church has corrected course and the faithful are simply and faithfully to have the Roman Rite in both Latin and their own language.

  6. Fr. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Fr. Jack Feehily

    The GIRM makes it clear that the Nicene or Apostle’s Creed may be chosen for Sunday Mass. We use the Apostles’ Creed with the exception of Easter and Christmas. No one has complained or even asked about the Nicene Creed.

    1. Fritz Bauerschmidt Avatar

      That’s a bit of a shame, since the Nicene Creed is an ecumenical creed, while the Apostles’ Creed is a local Western Creed.

  7. Fr. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Fr. Jack Feehily

    The apostles’ creed contains the elements by which catechumens profess their faith, and all the baptized renew the promises of baptism at Easter. I would go back to the Nicene Creed this Sunday if we could use the older text.

    1. Michael Slusser Avatar
      Michael Slusser

      “. . . if we could us the older text”: That’s my point. The older text was graciously adopted for use by many English-speaking non-Catholic churches. Then, despite our vaunted prioritization of ecumenism as a factor in decision-making, we’ve gone off on our own with a translation that no one else uses.

      1. John Kohanski Avatar
        John Kohanski

        The Gloria now in use in the Roman Missal is very close to the Gloria from the US BCP Rite I (translated by Cranmer) that is used on Sundays in my parish when we sing a congregational Mass setting. Interestingly enough, for our Rite II “Modern” language Mass we never use the Gloria which is the same as old Gloria from the former Sacramentary. A hymn of praise replaces it.

        As to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed, neither the Rite I or the Rite II version from the US BCP is the same as the old RC version in the former Sacramentary. The shibboleth that all denominations that (even) say the Nicene creed in their worship services used the same version till the Roman Catholics stopped is a fallacy. The Orthodox Churches never used it. Even the Eastern Catholic Churches in the USA who are in communion with Rome have different versions. So who uses it? Lutherans? Some Methodists? Beyond those two denominations I can’t think of one that says the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed weekly.

  8. William H. Slavick Avatar
    William H. Slavick

    Deo grati, NZ! The Brits cop out, claiming that past translations cannot be adopted. Predictably, the opportunity did not make the agenda od the recent US bishops annual meeting!

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