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Commission to Review Liturgiam Authenticam

Despite the recent promulgation of the new English translation of the Roman Missal, Rome isn’t finished with translations of the other ritual books from Latin into native languages. According to a Jan. 26 article in America magazine, Gerard O’Connell reports that the pope has assembled a commission to review Liturgiam Authenticam, which O’Connell characterizes as “the controversial decree behind the most recent translations of liturgical texts from Latin into English and other languages.”

“The commission, established by the pope just before Christmas, is also tasked with examining what level of decentralization is desirable in the [C]hurch on matters such as this,” O’Connell writes. “The mixed commission includes bishops from all the continents. Significantly, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Arthur Roche, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, to be its president. The English-born archbishop is the number two official at the congregation; he has more experience in the liturgical field and a more open approach to liturgical questions than its prefect, Cardinal Robert Sarah.”

No details are forthcoming on the proposed review, O’Connell reports, including when the committee will first meet or who have been named commission members.

While O’Connell holds that the review will likely focus on ways to give bishops’ conferences greater authority in liturgical matters, the review will also, O’Connell states, give bishops dissatisfied with the new translation a forum to air their grievances.

“Some bishops,” O’Connell writes, “…consider [Liturgiam Authenticam] too rigid and do not accept that there is such a thing as ‘sacral language.’”

According to Italian journalist Sandro Magister in a Jan. 11 article for the Italian newspaper L’Espresso, the pope’s requested review of the liturgical document might also serve as an opportunity to revisit the “pro multis” controversy that the new English translation of the Mass had stirred.

Explaining that Liturgiam Authenticam “sets the criteria for the translation of liturgical texts from Latin into the modern languages,” Magister writes, “With Benedict XVI these criteria had been further reinforced, in particular through the pope’s intention to hold firm the ‘pro multis [i.e., ‘for many’] of the Gospel and the Latin missal in the words of consecration of the blood of Christ, against the ‘for all’ of many current translations.”

“But [Pope] Francis immediately made it understood that this matter left him indifferent,” Magister adds, citing instances of Pope Francis celebrating Mass in which “for many” is used and other celebrations where “for all” is used. “And now, with the institution of this commission, [Pope Francis] is meeting the expectations for a modernization of liturgical language….”