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Liturgiam authenticam

Liturgiam authenticam

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Adoremus, Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy




(Sacrosanctum Concilium, art. 36)

Liturgiam authenticam


ROME – May 7, 2001








1. The Second Vatican Council strongly desired to preserve with care the authentic Liturgy, which flows forth from the Church’s living and most ancient spiritual tradition, and to adapt it with pastoral wisdom to the genius of the various peoples so that the faithful might find in their full, conscious, and active participation in the sacred actions especially the celebration of the Sacraments an abundant source of graces and a means for their own continual formation in the Christian mystery.1

2. Thereupon there began, under the care of the Supreme Pontiffs, the great work of renewal of the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, a work which included their translation2 into vernacular languages, with the purpose of bringing about in the most diligent way that renewal of the sacred Liturgy which was one of the foremost intentions of the Council.

3. The liturgical renewal thus far has seen positive results, achieved through the labor and the skill of many, but in particular of the Bishops, to whose care and zeal this great and difficult charge is entrusted. Even so, the greatest prudence and attention is required in the preparation of liturgical books marked by sound doctrine, which are exact in wording, free from all ideological influence, and otherwise endowed with those qualities by which the sacred mysteries of salvation and the indefectible faith of the Church are efficaciously transmitted by means of human language to prayer, and worthy worship is offered to God the Most High.3

4. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in its deliberations and decrees assigned a singular importance to the liturgical rites, the ecclesiastical traditions, and the discipline of Christian life proper to those particular Churches, especially of the East, which are distinguished by their venerable antiquity, manifesting in various ways the tradition received through the Fathers from the Apostles.4

The Council asked that the traditions of each of these particular Churches be preserved whole and intact. For this reason, even while calling for the revision of the various Rites in accordance with sound tradition, the Council set forth the principle that only those changes were to be introduced which would foster their specific organic development.5

Clearly, the same vigilance is required for the safeguarding and the authentic development of the liturgical rites, the ecclesiastical traditions, and the discipline of the Latin Church, and in particular, of the Roman Rite. The same care must be brought also to the translation of the liturgical texts into vernacular languages. This is especially true as regards the Roman Missal, which will thus continue to be maintained as an outstanding sign and instrument of the integrity and unity of the Roman Rite.6

5. Indeed, it may be affirmed that the Roman Rite is itself a precious example and an instrument of true inculturation. For the Roman Rite is marked by a signal capacity for assimilating into itself spoken and sung texts, gestures and rites derived from the customs and the genius of diverse nations and particular Churches both Eastern and Western into a harmonious unity that transcends the boundaries of any single region.7

This characteristic is particularly evident in its orations, which exhibit a capacity to transcend the limits of their original situation so as to become the prayers of Christians in any time or place. In preparing all translations of the liturgical books, the greatest care is to be taken to maintain the identity and unitary expression of the Roman Rite,8 not as a sort of historical monument, but rather as a manifestation of the theological realities of ecclesial communion and unity.9

The work of inculturation, of which the translation into vernacular languages is a part, is not therefore to be considered an avenue for the creation of new varieties or families of rites; on the contrary, it should be recognized that any adaptations introduced out of cultural or pastoral necessity thereby become part of the Roman Rite, and are to be inserted into it in a harmonious way.10

6. Ever since the promulgation of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the work of the translation of the liturgical texts into vernacular languages, as promoted by the Apostolic See, has involved the publication of norms and the communication to the Bishops of advice on the matter. Nevertheless, it has been noted that translations of liturgical texts in various localities stand in need of improvement through correction or through a new draft.11

The omissions or errors which affect certain existing vernacular translations especially in the case of certain languages have impeded the progress of the inculturation that actually should have taken place. Consequently, the Church has been prevented from laying the foundation for a fuller, healthier and more authentic renewal.

7. For these reasons, it now seems necessary to set forth anew, and in light of the maturing of experience, the principles of translation to be followed in future translations whether they be entirely new undertakings or emendations of texts already in use and to specify more clearly certain norms that have already been published, taking into account a number of questions and circumstances that have arisen in our own day. In order to take full advantage of the experience gained since the Council, it seems useful to express these norms from time to time in terms of tendencies that have been evident in past translations, but which are to be avoided in future ones. In fact, it seems necessary to consider anew the true notion of liturgical translation in order that the translations of the Sacred Liturgy into the vernacular languages may stand secure as the authentic voice of the Church of God.12

This Instruction therefore envisions and seeks to prepare for a new era of liturgical renewal, which is consonant with the qualities and the traditions of the particular Churches, but which safeguards also the faith and the unity of the whole Church of God.

8. The norms set forth in this Instruction are to be substituted for all norms previously published on the matter, with the exception of the Instruction Varietates legitimae, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on 25 January 1994, in conjunction with which the norms in this present Instruction are to be understood.13

The norms contained in this Instruction are to be considered applicable to the translation of texts intended for liturgical use in the Roman Rite and, mutatis mutandis, in the other duly recognized Rites of the Latin Church.

9. When it may be deemed appropriate by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, a text will be prepared after consultation with Bishops, called a "ratio translationis", to be set forth by the authority of the same Dicastery, in which the principles of translation found in this Instruction will be applied in closer detail to a given language. This document may be composed of various elements as the situation may require, such as, for example, a list of vernacular words to be equated with their Latin counterparts, the setting forth of principles applicable specifically to a given language, and so forth.


10. To be considered first of all is the choice of the languages that it will be permissible to put into use in liturgical celebrations. It is appropriate that there be elaborated in each territory a pastoral plan that takes account of the spoken languages there in use, with a distinction being made between languages which the people spontaneously speak and those which, not being used for natural communication in pastoral activity, merely remain the object of cultural interest. In considering and drafting such a plan, due caution should be exercised lest the faithful be fragmented into small groups by means of the selection of vernacular languages to be introduced into liturgical use, with the consequent danger of fomenting civil discord, to the detriment of the unity of peoples as well as of the unity of the particular Churches and the Church universal.

11. In this plan, a clear distinction is to be made also between those languages, on the one hand, that are used universally in the territory for pastoral communication, and those, on the other hand, that are to be used in the Sacred Liturgy. In drawing up the plan, it will be necessary to take account also of the question of the resources necessary for supporting the use of a given language, such as the number of priests, deacons and lay collaborators capable of using the language, in addition to the number of experts and those trained for and capable of preparing translations of all of the liturgical books of the Roman Rite in accord with the principles enunciated here. Also to be considered are the financial and technical resources necessary for preparing translations and printing books truly worthy of liturgical use.

12. Within the liturgical sphere, moreover, a distinction necessarily arises between languages and dialects. In particular, dialects that do not support common academic and cultural formation cannot be taken into full liturgical use, since they lack that stability and breadth that would be required for their being liturgical languages on a broader scale. In any event, the number of individual liturgical languages is not to be increased too greatly.14

This latter is necessary so that a certain unity of language may be fostered within the boundaries of one and the same nation.

13. Moreover, the fact that a language is not introduced into full liturgical use does not mean that it is thereby altogether excluded from the Liturgy. It may be used, at least occasionally, in the Prayer of the Faithful, in the sung texts, in the invitations or instructions given to the people, or in parts of the homily, especially if the language is proper to some of Christ’s faithful who are in attendance. Nevertheless, it is always possible to use either the Latin language or another language that is widely used in that country, even if perhaps it may not be the language of all or even of a majority of the Christian faithful taking part, provided that discord among the faithful be avoided.

14. Since the introduction of languages into liturgical use by the Church may actually affect the development of the language itself and may even be determinative in its regard, care is to be taken to promote those languages which even while perhaps lacking a long literary tradition seem capable of being employed by a greater number of persons. It is necessary to avoid any fragmentation of dialects, especially at the moment when a given dialect may be passing from spoken to written form. Instead, care should be taken to foster and to develop forms of speech that are common to human communities.

15. It will be the responsibility of the Conference of Bishops to determine which of the prevailing languages are to be introduced into full or partial liturgical use in its territory. Their decisions require the recognitio of the Apostolic See before the work of translation is undertaken in any way.15

Before giving its decision on this matter, the Conference of Bishops should not omit to seek the written opinion of experts and other collaborators in the work; these opinions, together with the other acts, are to be sent in written form to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in addition to the relatio mentioned below, in art. n. 16.

16. As regards the decision of the Conference of Bishops for the introduction of a vernacular language into liturgical use, the following are to be observed (cf. n. 79):16

a) For the legitimate passage of decrees, a two-thirds vote by secret ballot is required on the part of those in the Conference of Bishops who have the right to cast a deliberative vote;

b) All of the acts to be examined by the Apostolic See, prepared in duplicate, signed by the President and Secretary of the Conference and duly affixed with its seal, are to be sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In these acts are to be contained the following:

  • i) the names of the Bishops, or of those equivalent to them in law, who were present at the meeting,
  • ii) a report of the proceedings, which should contain the outcome of the votes pertaining to the individual decrees, including the number of those in favor, the number opposed, and the number abstaining;
  • iii) a clear exposition of the individual parts of the Liturgy into which the decision has been made to introduce the vernacular language;

c) In the relatio is to be included a clear explanation of the language involved, as well as the reasons for which the proposal has been made to introduce it into liturgical use.

17. As for the use of "artificial" languages, proposed from time to time, the approval of texts as well as the granting of permission for their use in liturgical celebrations is strictly reserved to the Holy See. This faculty will be granted only for particular circumstances and for the pastoral good of the faithful, after consultation with the Bishops principally involved.17

18. In celebrations for speakers of a foreign language, such as visitors, migrants, pilgrims, etc., it is permissible, with the consent of the diocesan Bishop, to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy in a vernacular language known to these people, using a liturgical book already approved by the competent authority with the subsequent recognitio of the Apostolic See.18

If such celebrations recur with some frequency, the diocesan Bishop is to send a brief report to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, describing the circumstances, the number of participants, and the editions used.


1. General principles applicable to all translation

19. The words of the Sacred Scriptures, as well as the other words spoken in liturgical celebrations, especially in the celebration of the Sacraments, are not intended primarily to be a sort of mirror of the interior dispositions of the faithful; rather, they express truths that transcend the limits of time and space. Indeed, by means of these words God speaks continually with the Spouse of his beloved Son, the Holy Spirit leads the Christian faithful into all truth and causes the word of Christ to dwell abundantly within them, and the Church perpetuates and transmits all that she herself is and all that she believes, even as she offers the prayers of all the faithful to God, through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.19

20. The Latin liturgical texts of the Roman Rite, while drawing on centuries of ecclesial experience in transmitting the faith of the Church received from the Fathers, are themselves the fruit of the liturgical renewal, just recently brought forth. In order that such a rich patrimony may be preserved and passed on through the centuries, it is to be kept in mind from the beginning that the translation of the liturgical texts of the Roman Liturgy is not so much a work of creative innovation as it is of rendering the original texts faithfully and accurately into the vernacular language. While it is permissible to arrange the wording, the syntax and the style in such a way as to prepare a flowing vernacular text suitable to the rhythm of popular prayer, the original text, insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet.20

21. Especially in the translations intended for peoples recently brought to the Christian Faith, fidelity and exactness with respect to the original texts may themselves sometimes require that words already in current usage be employed in new ways, that new words or expressions be coined, that terms in the original text be transliterated or adapted to the pronunciation of the vernacular language,21 or that figures of speech be used which convey in an integral manner the content of the Latin expression even while being verbally or syntactically different from it. Such measures, especially those of greater moment, are to be submitted to the discussion of all the Bishops involved before being inserted into the definitive draft. In particular, caution should be exercised in introducing words drawn from non-Christian religions.22

22. Adaptations of the texts according to articles 37-40 of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium are to be considered on the basis of true cultural or pastoral necessity, and should not be proposed out of a mere desire for novelty or variety, nor as a way of supplementing or changing the theological content of the editiones typicae; rather, they are to be governed by the norms and procedures contained in the above-mentioned Instruction Varietates legitimae.23

Accordingly, translations into vernacular languages that are sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments for the recognitio are to contain, in addition to the translation itself and any adaptations foreseen explicitly in the editiones typicae, only adaptations or modifications for which prior written consent has been obtained from the same Dicastery.

23. In the translation of texts of ecclesiastical composition, while it is useful with the assistance of historical and other scientific tools to consult a source that may have been discovered for the same text, nevertheless it is always the text of the Latin editio typica itself that is to be translated.

Whenever the biblical or liturgical text preserves words taken from other ancient languages (as, for example, the words Alleluia and Amen, the Aramaic words contained in the New Testament, the Greek words drawn from the Trisagion which are recited in the Improperia of Good Friday, and the Kyrie eleison of the Order of Mass, as well as many proper names) consideration should be given to preserving the same words in the new vernacular translation, at least as one option among others. Indeed, a careful respect for the original text will sometimes require that this be done.

24. Furthermore, it is not permissible that the translations be produced from other translations already made into other languages; rather, the new translations must be made directly from the original texts, namely the Latin, as regards the texts of ecclesiastical composition, or the Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek, as the case may be, as regards the texts of Sacred Scripture. 24

Furthermore, in the preparation of these translations for liturgical use, the Nova Vulgata Editio, promulgated by the Apostolic See, is normally to be consulted as an auxiliary tool, in a manner described elsewhere in this Instruction, in order to maintain the tradition of interpretation that is proper to the Latin Liturgy.

25. So that the content of the original texts may be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any special intellectual formation, the translations should be characterized by a kind of language which is easily understandable, yet which at the same time preserves these texts’ dignity, beauty, and doctrinal precision.25

By means of words of praise and adoration that foster reverence and gratitude in the face of God’s majesty, his power, his mercy and his transcendent nature, the translations will respond to the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people of our own time, while contributing also to the dignity and beauty of the liturgical celebration itself.26

26. The liturgical texts’ character as a very powerful instrument for instilling in the lives of the Christian faithful the elements of faith and Christian morality,27 is to be maintained in the translations with the utmost solicitude. The translation, furthermore, must always be in accord with sound doctrine.

27. Even if expressions should be avoided which hinder comprehension because of their excessively unusual or awkward nature, the liturgical texts should be considered as the voice of the Church at prayer, rather than of only particular congregations or individuals; thus, they should be free of an overly servile adherence to prevailing modes of expression. If indeed, in the liturgical texts, words or expressions are sometimes employed which differ somewhat from usual and everyday speech, it is often enough by virtue of this very fact that the texts become truly memorable and capable of expressing heavenly realities. Indeed, it will be seen that the observance of the principles set forth in this Instruction will contribute to the gradual development, in each vernacular, of a sacred style that will come to be recognized as proper to liturgical language. Thus it may happen that a certain manner of speech which has come to be considered somewhat obsolete in daily usage may continue to be maintained in the liturgical context. In translating biblical passages where seemingly inelegant words or expressions are used, a hasty tendency to sanitize this characteristic is likewise to be avoided. These principles, in fact, should free the Liturgy from the necessity of frequent revisions when modes of expression may have passed out of popular usage.

28. The Sacred Liturgy engages not only man’s intellect, but the whole person, who is the "subject" of full and conscious participation in the liturgical celebration. Translators should therefore allow the signs and images of the texts, as well as the ritual actions, to speak for themselves; they should not attempt to render too explicit that which is implicit in the original texts. For the same reason, the addition of explanatory texts not contained in the editio typica is to be prudently avoided. Consideration should also be given to including in the vernacular editions at least some texts in the Latin language, especially those from the priceless treasury of Gregorian chant, which the Church recognizes as proper to the Roman Liturgy, and which, all other things being equal, is to be given pride of place in liturgical celebrations.28

Such chant, indeed, has a great power to lift the human spirit to heavenly realities.

29. It is the task of the homily and of catechesis to set forth the meaning of the liturgical texts,29 illuminating with precision the Church’s understanding regarding the members of particular Churches or ecclesial communities separated from full communion with the Catholic Church and those of Jewish communities, as well as adherents of other religions and likewise, her understanding of the dignity and equality of all men.30

Similarly, it is the task of catechists or of the homilist to transmit that right interpretation of the texts that excludes any prejudice or unjust discrimination on the basis of persons, gender, social condition, race or other criteria, which has no foundation at all in the texts of the Sacred Liturgy. Although considerations such as these may sometimes help one in choosing among various translations of a certain expression, they are not to be considered reasons for altering either a biblical text or a liturgical text that has been duly promulgated.

30. In many languages there exist nouns and pronouns denoting both genders, masculine and feminine, together in a single term. The insistence that such a usage should be changed is not necessarily to be regarded as the effect or the manifestation of an authentic development of the language as such. Even if it may be necessary by means of catechesis to ensure that such words continue to be understood in the "inclusive" sense just described, it may not be possible to employ different words in the translations themselves without detriment to the precise intended meaning of the text, the correlation of its various words or expressions, or its aesthetic qualities. When the original text, for example, employs a single term in expressing the interplay between the individual and the universality and unity of the human family or community (such as the Hebrew word ‘adam, the Greek anthropos, or the Latin homo), this property of the language of the original text should be maintained in the translation. Just as has occurred at other times in history, the Church herself must freely decide upon the system of language that will serve her doctrinal mission most effectively, and should not be subject to externally imposed linguistic norms that are detrimental to that mission.

31. In particular: to be avoided is the systematic resort to imprudent solutions such as a mechanical substitution of words, the transition from the singular to the plural, the splitting of a unitary collective term into masculine and feminine parts, or the introduction of impersonal or abstract words, all of which may impede the communication of the true and integral sense of a word or an expression in the original text. Such measures introduce theological and anthropological problems into the translation. Some particular norms are the following:

a) In referring to almighty God or the individual persons of the Most Holy Trinity, the truth of tradition as well as the established gender usage of each respective language are to be maintained.

b) Particular care is to be taken to ensure that the fixed expression "Son of Man" be rendered faithfully and exactly. The great Christological and typological significance of this expression requires that there should also be employed throughout the translation a rule of language that will ensure that the fixed expression remain comprehensible in the context of the whole translation.

c) The term "fathers", found in many biblical passages and liturgical texts of ecclesiastical composition, is to be rendered by the corresponding masculine word into vernacular languages insofar as it may be seen to refer to the Patriarchs or the kings of the chosen people in the Old Testament, or to the Fathers of the Church.

d) Insofar as possible in a given vernacular language, the use of the feminine pronoun, rather than the neuter, is to be maintained in referring to the Church.

e) Words which express consanguinity or other important types of relationship, such as "brother", "sister", etc., which are clearly masculine or feminine by virtue of the context, are to be maintained as such in the translation.

f) The grammatical gender of angels, demons, and pagan gods or goddesses, according to the original texts, is to be maintained in the vernacular language insofar as possible.

g) In all these matters it will be necessary to remain attentive to the principles set forth above, in nn. 27 and 29.

32. The translation should not restrict the full sense of the original text within narrower limits. To be avoided on this account are expressions characteristic of commercial publicity, political or ideological programs, passing fashions, and those which are subject to regional variations or ambiguities in meaning. Academic style manuals or similar works, since they sometimes give way to such tendencies, are not to be considered standards for liturgical translation. On the other hand, works that are commonly considered "classics" in a given vernacular language may prove useful in providing a suitable standard for its vocabulary and usage.

33. The use of capitalization in the liturgical texts of the Latin editiones typicae as well as in the liturgical translation of the Sacred Scriptures, for honorific or otherwise theologically significant reasons, is to be retained in the vernacular language at least insofar as the structure of a given language permits.

2. Other norms pertaining to the translation of the Sacred Scriptures and the preparation of Lectionaries

34. It is preferable that a version of the Sacred Scriptures be prepared in accordance with the principles of sound exegesis and of high literary quality, but also with a view to the particular exigencies of liturgical use as regards style, the selection of words, and the selection from among different possible interpretations.

35. Wherever no such version of the Sacred Scriptures exists in a given language, it will be necessary to use a previously prepared version, while modifying the translation wherever appropriate so that it may be suitable for use in the liturgical context according to the principles set forth in this Instruction.

36. In order that the faithful may be able to commit to memory at least the more important texts of the Sacred Scriptures and be formed by them even in their private prayer, it is of the greatest importance that the translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for liturgical use be characterized by a certain uniformity and stability, such that in every territory there should exist only one approved translation, which will be employed in all parts of the various liturgical books. This stability is especially to be desired in the translation of the Sacred Books of more frequent use, such as the Psalter, which is the fundamental prayer book of the Christian people.31

The Conferences of Bishops are strongly encouraged to provide for the commissioning and publication in their territories of an integral translation of the Sacred Scriptures intended for the private study and reading of the faithful, which corresponds in every part to the text that is used in the Sacred Liturgy.

37. If the biblical translation from which the Lectionary is composed exhibits readings that differ from those set forth in the Latin liturgical text, it should be borne in mind that the Nova Vulgata Editio is the point of reference as regards the delineation of the canonical text.32

Thus, in the translation of the deuterocanonical books and wherever else there may exist varying manuscript traditions, the liturgical translation must be prepared in accordance with the same manuscript tradition that the Nova Vulgata has followed. If a previously prepared translation reflects a choice that departs from that which is found in the Nova Vulgata Editio as regards the underlying textual tradition, the order of verses, or similar factors, the discrepancy needs to be remedied in the preparation of any Lectionary so that conformity with the Latin liturgical text may be maintained. In preparing new translations, it would be helpful, though not obligatory, that the numbering of the verses also follow that of the same text as closely as possible.

38. It is often permissible that a variant reading of a verse be used, on the basis of critical editions and upon the recommendation of experts. However, this is not permissible in the case of a liturgical text where such a choice would affect those elements of the passage that are pertinent to its liturgical context, or whenever the principles found elsewhere in this Instruction would otherwise be neglected. For passages where a critical consensus is lacking, particular attention should be given to the choices reflected in the approved Latin text.33

39. The delineation of the biblical pericopai is to conform entirely to the Ordo lectionum Missae or to the other approved and confirmed liturgical texts, as the case may be.

40. With due regard for the requirements of sound exegesis, all care is to be taken to ensure that the words of the biblical passages commonly used in catechesis and in popular devotional prayers be maintained. On the other hand, great caution is to be taken to avoid a wording or style that the Catholic faithful would confuse with the manner of speech of non-Catholic ecclesial communities or of other religions, so that such a factor will not cause them confusion or discomfort.

41. The effort should be made to ensure that the translations be conformed to that understanding of biblical passages which has been handed down by liturgical use and by the tradition of the Fathers of the Church, especially as regards very important texts such as the Psalms and the readings used for the principal celebrations of the liturgical year; in these cases the greatest care is to be taken so that the translation express the traditional Christological, typological and spiritual sense, and manifest the unity and the inter-relatedness of the two Testaments.34

For this reason:

a) it is advantageous to be guided by the Nova Vulgata wherever there is a need to choose, from among various possibilities [of translation], that one which is most suited for expressing the manner in which a text has traditionally been read and received within the Latin liturgical tradition;

b) for the same purpose, other ancient versions of the Sacred Scriptures should also be consulted, such as the Greek version of the Old Testament commonly known as the "Septuagint", which has been used by the Christian faithful from the earliest days of the Church;35

c) in accordance with immemorial tradition, which indeed is already evident in the above-mentioned "Septuagint" version, the name of almighty God expressed by the Hebrew tetragrammaton (YHWH) and rendered in Latin by the word Dominus, is to be rendered into any given vernacular by a word equivalent in meaning.

Finally, translators are strongly encouraged to pay close attention to the history of interpretation that may be drawn from citations of biblical texts in the writings of the Fathers of the Church, and also from those biblical images more frequently found in Christian art and hymnody.

42. While caution is advisable lest the historical context of the biblical passages be obscured, the translator should also bear in mind that the word of God proclaimed in the Liturgy is not simply an historical document. For the biblical text treats not only of the great persons and events of the Old and New Testaments, but also of the mysteries of salvation, and thus refers to the faithful of the present age and to their lives. While always maintaining due regard for the norm of fidelity to the original text, one should strive, whenever there is a choice to be made between different ways of translating a term, to make those choices that will enable the hearer to recognize himself and the dimensions of his own life as vividly as possible in the persons and events found in the text.

43. Modes of speech by which heavenly realities and actions are depicted in human form, or designated by means of limited, concrete terminology as happens quite frequently in biblical language (i.e., anthropomorphisms) often maintain their full force only if translated somewhat literally, as in the case of words in the Nova Vulgata Editio such as ambulare, brachium, digitus, manus, or vultus [Dei], as well as caro, cornu, os, semen, and visitare. Thus it is best that such terms not be explained or interpreted by more abstract or general vernacular expressions. As regards certain terms, such as those translated in the Nova Vulgata as anima and spiritus, the principles mentioned in above nn. 40-41 should be observed. Therefore, one should avoid replacing these terms by a personal pronoun or a more abstract term, except when this is strictly necessary in a given case. It should be borne in mind that a literal translation of terms which may initially sound odd in a vernacular language may for this very reason provoke inquisitiveness in the hearer and provide an occasion for catechesis.

44. In order for a translation to be more easily proclaimed, it is necessary that any expression be avoided which is confusing or ambiguous when heard, such that the hearer would fail to grasp its meaning.

45. Apart from that which is set forth in the Ordo lectionum Missae, the following norms are to be observed in the preparation of a Lectionary of biblical readings in a vernacular language:

a) Passages of Sacred Scripture contained in the Praenotanda of the Ordo lectionum Missae are to conform completely to the translation of the same passages as they occur within the Lectionary.

b) Likewise the titles, expressing the theme of the readings and placed at the head of them, are to retain the wording of the readings themselves, wherever such a correspondence exists in the Ordo lectionum Missae.

c) Finally, the words prescribed by the Ordo lectionum Missae for the beginning of the reading, called the incipits, are to follow as closely as possible the wording of the vernacular biblical version from which the readings are generally taken, refraining from following other translations. As regards those parts of the incipits that are not part of the biblical text itself, these are to be translated exactly from the Latin when preparing Lectionaries, unless the Conference of Bishops shall have sought and obtained the prior consent of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments authorizing a different procedure for introducing the readings.

3. Norms concerning the translation of other liturgical texts

46. The norms set forth above, and those regarding Sacred Scripture, should be applied, mutatis mutandis, in like manner to the texts of ecclesiastical composition.

47. While the translation must transmit the perennial treasury of orations by means of language understandable in the cultural context for which it is intended, it should also be guided by the conviction that liturgical prayer not only is formed by the genius of a culture, but itself contributes to the development of that culture. Consequently it should cause no surprise that such language differs somewhat from ordinary speech. Liturgical translation that takes due account of the authority and integral content of the original texts will facilitate the development of a sacral vernacular, characterized by a vocabulary, syntax and grammar that are proper to divine worship, even though it is not to be excluded that it may exercise an influence even on everyday speech, as has occurred in the languages of peoples evangelized long ago.

48. The texts for the principal celebrations occurring throughout the liturgical year should be offered to the faithful in a translation that is easily committed to memory, so as to render them usable in private prayers as well.

A. Vocabulary

49. Characteristic of the orations of the Roman liturgical tradition as well as of the other Catholic Rites is a coherent system of words and patterns of speech, consecrated by the books of Sacred Scripture and by ecclesial tradition, especially the writings of the Fathers of the Church. For this reason the manner of translating the liturgical books should foster a correspondence between the biblical text itself and the liturgical texts of ecclesiastical composition which contain biblical words or allusions.36

In the translation of such texts, the translator would best be guided by the manner of expression that is characteristic of the version of the Sacred Scriptures approved for liturgical use in the territories for which the translation is being prepared. At the same time, care should be taken to avoid weighting down the text by clumsily over-elaborating the more delicate biblical allusions.

50. Since the liturgical books of the Roman Rite contain many fundamental words of the theological and spiritual tradition of the Roman Church, every effort must be made to preserve this system of vocabulary rather than substituting other words that are alien to the liturgical and catechetical usage of the people of God in a given cultural and ecclesial context. For this reason, the following principles in particular are to be observed:

a) In translating words of greater theological significance, an appropriate degree of coordination should be sought between the liturgical text and the authoritative vernacular translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, provided that such a translation exists or is being prepared, whether in the language in question or in a very closely related language;

b) Whenever it would be inappropriate to use the same vocabulary or the same expression in the liturgical text as in the Catechism, the translator should be solicitous to render fully the doctrinal and theological meaning of the terms and of the text itself;

c) One should maintain the vocabulary that has gradually developed in a given vernacular language to distinguish the individual liturgical ministers, vessels, furnishings, and vesture from similar persons or things pertaining to everyday life and usage; words that lack such a sacral character are not to be used instead;

d) In translating important words, due constancy is to be observed throughout the various parts of the Liturgy, with due regard for n. 53 below.

51. On the other hand, a variety of vocabulary in the original text should give rise, insofar as possible, to a corresponding variety in the translations. The translation may be weakened and made trite, for example, by the use of a single vernacular term for rendering differing Latin terms such as satiari, sumere, vegetari, and pasci, on the one hand, or the nouns caritas and dilectio on the other, or the words anima, animus, cor, mens, and spiritus, to give some examples. Similarly, a deficiency in translating the varying forms of addressing God, such as Domine, Deus, Omnipotens aeterne Deus, Pater, and so forth, as well as the various words expressing supplication, may render the translation monotonous and obscure the rich and beautiful way in which the relationship between the faithful and God is expressed in the Latin text.

52. The translator should strive to maintain the denotation, or primary sense of the words and expressions found in the original text, as well as their connotation, that is, the finer shades of meaning or emotion evoked by them, and thus to ensure that the text be open to other orders of meaning that may have been intended in the original text.

53. Whenever a particular Latin term has a rich meaning that is difficult to render into a modern language (such as the words munus, famulus, consubstantialis, propitius, etc.) various solutions may be employed in the translations, whether the term be translated by a single vernacular word or by several, or by the coining of a new word, or perhaps by the adaptation or transcription of the same term into a language or alphabet that is different from the original text (cf. above, n. 21), or the use of an already existing word which may bear various meanings.37

54. To be avoided in translations is any psychologizing tendency, especially a tendency to replace words treating of the theological virtues by others expressing merely human emotions. As regards words or expressions conveying a properly divine notion of causality (e.g., those expressed in Latin by the words "praesta, ut . . ."), one should avoid employing words or expressions denoting a merely extrinsic or profane sort of assistance instead.

55. Certain words that may appear to have been introduced into the Latin liturgical text for reasons of meter or other technical or literary reasons convey, in reality, a properly theological content, so that they are to be preserved, insofar as possible, in the translation. It is necessary to translate with the utmost precision those words that express aspects of the mysteries of faith and the proper disposition of the Christian soul.

56. Certain expressions that belong to the heritage of the whole or of a great part of the ancient Church, as well as others that have become part of the general human patrimony, are to be respected by a translation that is as literal as possible, as for example the words of the people’s response Et cum spiritu tuo, or the expression mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa in the Act of Penance of the Order of Mass.

B. Syntax, style and literary genre

57. That notable feature of the Roman Rite, namely its straightforward, concise and compact manner of expression, is to be maintained insofar as possible in the translation. Furthermore, the same manner of rendering a given expression is to be maintained throughout the translation, insofar as feasible. These principles are to be observed:

a) The connection between various expressions, manifested by subordinate and relative clauses, the ordering of words, and various forms of parallelism, is to be maintained as completely as possible in a manner appropriate to the vernacular language.

b) In the translation of terms contained in the original text, the same person, number, and gender is to be maintained insofar as possible.

c) The theological significance of words expressing causality, purpose or consequence (such as ut, ideo, enim, and quia) is to be maintained, though different languages may employ varying means for doing so.

d) The principles set forth above, in n. 51, regarding variety of vocabulary, are to be observed also in the variety of syntax and style (for example, in the location within the Collect of the vocative addressed to God).

58. The literary and rhetorical genres of the various texts of the Roman Liturgy are to be maintained.38

59. Since liturgical texts by their very nature are intended to be proclaimed orally and to be heard in the liturgical celebration, they are characterized by a certain manner of expression that differs from that found in everyday speech or in texts intended be read silently. Examples of this include recurring and recognizable patterns of syntax and style, a solemn or exalted tone, alliteration and assonance, concrete and vivid images, repetition, parallelism and contrast, a certain rhythm, and at times, the lyric of poetic compositions. If it is sometimes not possible to employ in the translation the same stylistic elements as in the original text (as often happens, for example, in the case of alliteration or assonance), even so, the translator should seek to ascertain the intended effect of such elements in the mind of the hearer as regards thematic content, the expression of contrast between elements, emphasis, and so forth. Then he should employ the full possibilities of the vernacular language skillfully in order to achieve as integrally as possible the same effect as regards not only the conceptual content itself, but the other aspects as well. In poetic texts, greater flexibility will be needed in translation in order to provide for the role played by the literary form itself in expressing the content of the texts. Even so, expressions that have a particular doctrinal or spiritual importance or those that are more widely known are, insofar as possible, to be translated literally.

60. A great part of the liturgical texts are composed with the intention of their being sung by the priest celebrant, the deacon, the cantor, the people, or the choir. For this reason, the texts should be translated in a manner that is suitable for being set to music. Still, in preparing the musical accompaniment, full account must be taken of the authority of the text itself. Whether it be a question of the texts of Sacred Scripture or of those taken from the Liturgy and already duly confirmed, paraphrases are not to be substituted with the intention of making them more easily set to music, nor may hymns considered generically equivalent be employed in their place.39

61. Texts that are intended to be sung are particularly important because they convey to the faithful a sense of the solemnity of the celebration, and manifest unity in faith and charity by means of a union of voices.40

The hymns and canticles contained in the modern editiones typicae constitute a minimal part of the historic treasury of the Latin Church, and it is especially advantageous that they be preserved in the printed vernacular editions, even if placed there in addition to hymns composed originally in the vernacular language. The texts for singing that are composed originally in the vernacular language would best be drawn from Sacred Scripture or from the liturgical patrimony.

62. Certain liturgical texts of ecclesiastical composition are associated with ritual actions expressed by a particular posture, gesture, or the use of signs. Thus, in preparing appropriate translations it will be advantageous to consider such factors as the time required for reciting the words, their suitability for being sung or continually repeated, etc.

4. Norms pertaining to special types of texts

A. The Eucharistic Prayers

63. The high point of all liturgical action is the celebration of the Mass, in which the Eucharistic Prayer or Anaphora in turn occupies a pre-eminent place.41

For this reason, the approved translations of the approved Eucharistic Prayers require the utmost care, especially as regards the sacramental formulae, for which a particular procedure is prescribed below, in nn. 85-86.

64. Without real necessity, successive revisions of translations should not notably change the previously approved vernacular texts of the Eucharistic Prayers which the faithful will have committed gradually to memory. Whenever a completely new translation is necessary, the principles given below, in n. 74, are to be observed.

B. The Creed or Profession of Faith

65. By means of the Creed (Symbolum) or profession of faith, the whole gathered people of God respond to the word of God proclaimed in the Sacred Scriptures and expounded in the homily, recalling and confessing the great mysteries of the faith by means of a formula approved for liturgical use.42

The Creed is to be translated according to the precise wording that the tradition of the Latin Church has bestowed upon it, including the use of the first person singular, by which is clearly made manifest that "the confession of faith is handed down in the Creed, as it were, as coming from the person of the whole Church, united by means of the Faith."43

In addition, the expression carnis resurrectionem is to be translated literally wherever the Apostles’ Creed is prescribed or may be used in the Liturgy.44

C. The "Praenotanda" and the texts of a rubrical or juridical nature

66. All parts of the various liturgical books are to be translated in the same order in which they are set forth in the Latin text of the editio typica, including the institutiones generales, the praenotanda, and the instructions supplied in the various rites, which function as a support for the whole structure of the Liturgy.45

The distinction between the various liturgical roles and the designation of the liturgical ministers by their proper titles is to be maintained in the translation precisely as it is in the rubrics of the editio typica, maintaining due regard for the principles mentioned in n. 50c above.46

67. Wherever such praenotanda or other texts of the editiones typicae explicitly call for adaptations or specific applications to be introduced by the Conferences, as for example the parts of the Missal that are to be defined more specifically by the Conference of Bishops,47

it is permissible to insert these prescriptions into the text, provided that they have received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. It is not required in such cases, by their very nature, to translate these parts verbatim as they stand in the editio typica. Nevertheless, a mention is to be made of the decree of approbation of the Conference of Bishops and of the recognitio granted by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

68. At the beginning of the vernacular editions are to be placed the decrees by which the editiones typicae have been promulgated by the competent Dicastery of the Apostolic See, with due regard for the prescriptions found in n. 78. Also to be placed there are the decrees by means of which the recognitio of the Holy See has been granted for the translations, or at least the mention of the recognitio is to be made together with the date, month, year, and protocol number of the decree issued by the Dicastery. Since these are also historical documents, the names of the Dicasteries or other organ of the Apostolic See are to be translated exactly as they appeared on the date of promulgation of the document, rather than


The Editors