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Bishops' head: Changes to Mass translation 'minor'

 |  NCR Today

The outgoing head of the U.S. bishops' committee in charge of the implementation of the new Vatican-approved English translation of the Roman Missal released a statement today addressing reports of last-minute changes to the translation.

In the statement, Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of the Paterson, N.J. diocese called the changes "minor" and akin to a "copy edit."

The statement comes a week and a half after a scathingly critical report of the changes, seemingly written by a group of highly professional scholars, was sent to English-speaking bishops’ conferences around the world.

The report alleged that the final Vatican version of the new English translation made numerous departures from the Vatican’s own translation rules and changed almost countless texts that had previously been approved.

The statement was made on the U.S. bishops' conference Web site this morning. Serratelli, who served as the chairman for the U.S. bishops' committee on divine worship, was formally replaced by his successor, Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the New Orleans archdiocese, at noon today.

For more on the alleged changes and the report, see Jerry Filteau's stories:

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Here's Serratelli's full statement:

There has been some discussion recently about a report surfaced through some segments of the Catholic Press regarding the present state of the text of the Roman Missal, Third Edition. A number of facts will hopefully clarify the situation and, in so doing, give us the calm needed to welcome and implement the new text.

First, it is helpful to keep in mind the genesis of the final text that is now being prepared for publication. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) prepared for the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops preliminary drafts (“green books”) of the 12 sections of the Roman Missal. After incorporating the feedback and responses of the individual Conferences of Bishops and the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, ICEL then prepared the final drafts (“gray books”). These were approved by canonical vote by each of the member Conferences. In approving the gray books, each conference also had the opportunity to make further suggestions to the Congregation, as was done in particular by our Conference. We submitted many amendments to the texts. The Congregation, working with the Vox Clara Committee, carefully listened to what the bishops said. The Congregation incorporated many of the suggestions of the various Conferences (including our own), combined with their own review and changes, and put forth the final text. The Congregation followed the principles of Liturgiam Authenticam faithfully but not slavishly.

This is the final text now being readied for publication. This process includes a final review and copy edit which, given the size of the text, uncovers some minor questions of consistency, typographical errors, and layout. Those questions are being addressed by the Congregation for Divine Worship. This review has not dealt with the translation itself. The critique that has circulated has necessarily failed to take into account the final version of the text, which incorporates some corrections issued by the Congregation since the transmittal of the full text to the English-speaking Conferences of Bishops in August 2010.

To sum up, there is a final text. It has received a recognitio. As the work of editing and assembling nears completion, there is assurance that the published text will be available in more than ample time for implementation in Advent 2011. It is good to note also that the catechetical preparation for implementation is already underway and has proceeded with much enthusiasm and wide acceptance by both clergy and laity. It is clear at this point in time that there is an attitude of openness and readiness to receive the new text. Let us pray in this time of transition and change that the Roman Missal, Third Edition, will enable all to understand more deeply the mysteries we celebrate.

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
Chairman
November 18, 2010

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