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Roman Missal Translation Highlights

1963- 2011

Sacrosanctum Concilium - December 4, 1963
The Second Vatican Council’s first document, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, called for the renewal of the liturgy and the reform of the liturgical books in order to promote deeper understanding of and fuller participation in the liturgy by all Catholics. It suggested use of the vernacular for some parts of the Mass, while reaffirming the use of Latin.

Sacram Liturgiam issued; the Consilium is formed - January 1964
Pope Paul VI issues Sacram Liturgiam, the first official implementation of the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, on January 25.  He also establishes the Consilium, a group of scholars, experts and bishops, to implement the liturgical reform.

ICEL Established - October 17, 1963 - April 1964
On October 17, 1963, during one of the sessions of the Second Vatican Council, the bishops of ten English-speaking countries (including the United States) agreed to form a mixed commission to aid in the work of liturgical reform. By April 1964, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is formally established with its mandate to prepare English translations of liturgical texts.

Comme le Prévoit - January 25, 1969
Guidelines for translators of the new Roman Missal are produced by the Consilium, the group of experts appointed to implement the Constitution on the Liturgy. Its principle of translation was “dynamic equivalency” (also called “free translation”), to convey the essential meaning of the original text in the idiom of a modern target language. Thus the words, phrases, style, etc., of the original text may be freely altered or omitted in the translation.

Missale Romanum Issued by Pope Paul VI - April 3, 1969
By the Apostolic Constitution Missale Romanum, Pope Paul approves the revised Missal.

US Bishops Approve ICEL Order of Mass - November 13, 1969
Within months after the promulgation of the Missale Romanum, the United States bishops approve the English translation of the Order of Mass prepared by ICEL.

New Order of Mass Mandated for Use - November 30, 1969
Introducing the new Order of Mass, Pope Paul VI said, “From now on the vernacular, not Latin, will be the principal language of the Mass”.

English Order of Mass Confirmed - January 5, 1970
Holy See grants recognitio to the English translation of the Order of Mass for the dioceses of the United States. When the text of the Order of Mass was completed, ICEL and the conferences of bishops began translating the other prayers of the Roman Missal.

Provisional Order of Mass Approved - June 1972
After consultation on a draft in 1971, in 1972 the US bishops approve and publish a provisional text containing prayers for Sundays and other feast days.

US Bishops Approve Sacramentary - November 12, 1973
The complete text of the Sacramentary (Roman Missal) translated by ICEL is approved by the US bishops. Recognitio from the Holy See is granted immediately.

US Sacramentary Published - February 4, 1974
Less than three months after the text is approved, the new books are published.

Missale Romanum Revised - March 27, 1975
The Missale Romanum, editio typica altera is promulgated by Pope Paul VI, only one year after the publication of the US Sacramentary. The revised Missal contained additional prayers and modifications of existing prayers and rubrics.

US Sacramentary Second Edition - March 1, 1985
A revised Sacramentary is published in the US, based on the 1975 edition of the Missale Romanum, including prayers for recently canonized saints.

Sacramentary Revision Begins - November 1987
ICEL begins a revised translation of the Missale Romanum, editio typica altera.

US Bishops’ Approval of Sacramentary - 1993-1998
The US bishops reviewed the revised Sacramentary prepared by ICEL — along with adaptations for the United States — in segments, beginning in November 1993 and ending in June 1997. The Holy See required many changes to the Pastoral Introduction to the Order of Mass, which the bishops approved in June 1998. The final text of the revised Sacramentary was sent to the Holy See for recognitio in June 1998.

New Roman Missal - April 10, 2000
The third “typical edition” of the Missale Romanum is announced during the Jubilee Year. The Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) was released in advance as an introduction to the revised Missal.

The US Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy released the Latin text of the GIRM, along with a study translation, on July 28, 2000.

However, the complete text of the Missale Romanum was not presented to Pope John Paul II until March 18, 2002.

Liturgiam authenticam - April 25, 2001
Liturgiam authenticam, the Fifth Instruction on the Right Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy, outlined principles of translation (and supplanted Comme le prévoit). Signed March 28, 2001, with Pope John Paul II’s effective date April 25, it was released May 7. The Instruction’s guiding principle for translation is “formal equivalency”, that is, translating “in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses”.

Vox Clara Committee Established - July 19, 2001
The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments organized the Vox Clara (“clear voice”) committee — bishops and consultants from English-speaking countries — to assist in the review and approval of the English translation of the Roman Missal. Since its initial meeting in Rome April 22-24, 2002, Vox Clara has met several times a year to review texts submitted to the Holy See for recognitio.

Sacramentary Formally Rejected - March 16, 2002
Although the revised Sacramentary had been considered moot following the appearance in 2000 of the new Missale Romanum, an explicit rejection was deemed necessary by the Holy See. The letter and accompanying observations from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments expressly critiqued the ICEL translation.

US Bishops Approve GIRM - November 2002
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), the basic outline and instructions for the celebration of Mass, including a number of adaptations for the dioceses of the United States, is approved by the US bishops’ conference.

Vatican Confirms GIRM’s US Adaptations - March 17, 2003
The new GIRM is put into effect in the United States. http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/roman-missal/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal/

ICEL Revised Statutes Approved - October 17, 2003
On its 40th anniversary, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is formally re-established by the Holy See in accordance with the principles of Liturgiam authenticam. ICEL’s statutes were revised to establish a formal relationship with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

ICEL Order of Mass Draft - February 18, 2004
ICEL presented its first draft of the first section of the Roman Missal, the Order of Mass, to English-speaking conferences for review and comments. Each section of the Missal would go through two drafts, the first of which (the green book) would undergo review and modification. The second draft (the gray book) would be presented for canonical vote by the conferences of bishops, then submitted to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for recognitio.

US Bishops Approve Order of Mass - June 15-17, 2006
After more than two years of review and consultation and three drafts, the English translation of the Order of Mass, along with adaptations for the dioceses of the United States, is approved by the US bishops at their Los Angeles meeting. Bishop Arthur Roche of Leeds, England, the president of ICEL, addresses the bishops.

Summer 2008. Corrected reprint of the Roman Missal (editio typica tertia emendata). Some minor corrections were needed; and Pope Benedict XVI incorporated additional prayers (e.g., dismissals, saints canonized since 2002), and included celebration of an extended Vigil for Pentecost. (Amendments appeared in Notitiae, July-August 2008.)

Order of Mass Receives Recognitio - June 23, 2008
The English translation of the Order of Mass receives recognitio from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, so that catechesis on the revised texts could begin and musical settings of the Mass texts could be prepared. It was not authorized for liturgical use.

US Bishops Approve Missal Texts - November 18, 2009
US bishops complete approval of the remaining segments of the ICEL translation of the Roman Missal. It is anticipated that the Holy See will grant recognitio within a few months. The bishops determined that a year will be required for catechesis and publication of new books. The US Committee on Divine Worship provided a special section on its web site with resources for study of the new Roman Missal, including the texts of the Order of Mass: www.usccb.org/romanmissal/.

Vatican Approves English Missal Translation - March 25, 2010
Recognitio [official approval] of the new translation was confirmed by a decree dated 25 March, 2010 (Prot. 269/10/L) and signed by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect, and Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, OP, Secretary to the Congregation. The definitive version was not released to the English-speaking conferences, as the new translation is undergoing final review.

USCCB states final Missal texts received, to be in use by Advent 2011  - August 20, 2010
Cardinal Francis George, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced that the new English texts of the Roman Missal, approved by the Vatican on June 23, have been received. His August 20 statement said,

“The third edition of the Roman Missal enters into use in the dioceses of the United States of America as of the First Sunday of Advent, November 27, 2011. From that date forward, no other edition of the Roman Missal may be used in the dioceses of the United States of America.

 “We can now move forward and continue with our important catechetical efforts as we prepare the text for publication.”  

August 2011 – The authorized translation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM), is accessible on the newly designed USCCB web site: usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/roman-missal/general-instruction-of-the-roman-missal/ The GIRM, in use since 2003 using an interim translation, was slightly revised in 2008.)

September 2011 – At their June 2011 meeting, the USCCB gave permission to bishops for advance introduction of musical settings of the new Missal translation, beginning in September. (The new translation of the Gloria would not otherwise be heard at Mass until Christmas.) This advance permission applies only to texts if they sung, not spoken.

November 27, 2011 - First Sunday of Advent - The English translation of the Roman Missal is mandated for use in the dioceses of the United States.

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