Online Edition – June 2006
Vol. XII, No. 4
Cardinal Arinze to US Bishops on Translation
Following is the text of a letter sent by Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to Bishop William Skylstad, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, following a meeting of Conference leaders with the Congregation in April. In the letter, Cardinal Arinze stresses that translations of liturgical texts must conform to Liturgiam authenticam, the Holy See’s 2001 Instruction on translation. The letter was sent to all bishops in advance of their June meeting in Los Angeles, where they are scheduled to vote on a translation of the Order of Mass in the new Missale Romanum.
Congregatio De Cultu Divino
Et Disciplina Sacramentorum
Prot. n. 499/06/L
Rome, 2 May 2006
With reference to the conversation between yourself, the Vice President and General Secretary of the Conference of Bishops of which you are President, together with me and other Superiors and Officials when you kindly visited our Congregation on April 27, 2006, I wish to recall the following:
The Instruction Liturgiam authenticam is the latest document of the Holy See which guides translations from the original-language liturgical texts into the various modern languages in the Latin Church. Both this Congregation and the Bishops’ Conferences are bound to follow its directives. This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is therefore not competent to grant the recognitio for translations that do not conform to the directives of Liturgiam authenticam. If, however, there are difficulties regarding the translation of a particular part of a text, then this Congregation is always open to dialogue in view of some mutually agreeable solution, still keeping in mind, however, that Liturgiam authenticam remains the guiding norm.
The attention of your Bishops’ Conference was also recalled to the fact that Liturgiam authenticam was issued at the directive of the Holy Father at the time, Pope John Paul II, to guide new translations as well as the revision of all translations done in the last forty years, to bring them into greater fidelity to the original-language official liturgical texts. For this reason it is not acceptable to maintain that people have become accustomed to a certain translation for the past thirty or forty years, and therefore that it is pastorally advisable to make no changes. Where there are good and strong reasons for a change, as has been determined by this Dicastery in regard to the entire translation of the Missale Romanum as well as other important texts, then the revised text should make the needed changes. The attitudes of Bishops and Priests will certainly influence the acceptance of the texts by the lay faithful as well.
Requesting Your Excellency to share these reflections with the Bishops of your Conference I assure you of the continued collaboration of this Congregation and express my religious esteem,
Devotedly yours in Christ,
+Francis Card. Arinze
The Most Reverend William Skylstad
Bishop of Spokane
President of the Conference of Bishops of the United States of America
Related Story: Bishops to Vote on Mass Translation ICEL Texts for Order of Mass, Amendments, Adaptations to be Considered at June Meeting — by Helen Hull Hitchcock, AB May 2006, Vol. XII, No. 3