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Saturday, 14 March 2009

ICEL and 'liturgical anger'

In South Africa, from the end of November last year, Mass was celebrated using the new ICEL translations despite the fact that they had not been authorised for use. The CDW has now ordered the Bishops' Conference to end the practice until the translations are fully approved for use.

The Southern Cross, a national Catholic weekly, has run many letters, blog posts and articles critical of the new translations. The popular line seems to be that they are a betrayal of Vatican II. Bishop Dowling agrees with the 'liturgical anger' and the view that there should not in any case be a standard text.
To me there is no cogent reason why the language which the People of God in any place use to express their faith and spirituality, and to celebrate the Eucharist, the sacraments and so on has to conform to a Latin text. People ask why — and rightly so. I am concerned that this latest decision from the Vatican may be interpreted as another example of what is perceived to be a systematic and well-managed dismantling of the vision, theology and ecclesiology of Vatican II during the past years.
I suppose we can expect similar reaction here and in the USA when the translations are brought into use. If a closer fidelity to the actual texts of the Missal brings about protest and anger, it shows that something has gone deeply and badly wrong with the celebration of Mass in the ordinary form.

Equally worrying is the widespread and continuing misinterpretation of Vatican II whereby even the attempt to have an accurate translation of the Roman Missal is seen as a dismantling of its "vision".

It seems that Pope Benedict has been exactly right both to insist on applying a hermeneutic of continuity to that Council, and to pursue a gradual but determined path of liturgical reform.
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