With fear and trembling do I point readers to MSM articles on things Catholic. Who knows whether the articles are getting things right or getting them far wrong. We have seen the trouble much of the MSM has with evolution and Catholic teaching. The coverage is frequently embarrassingly inaccurate. It makes you wonder how accurate reports are when you can't get at the underlying story independent of the MSM coverage and find out whether it's accurate or not.
Be that as it may, here is a piece on the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual November meeting, which is taking place right now in Washington, DC. Among the topics under discussion is revision of the translations of the Sacred Liturgy. Here is the lead to a story in the Past-Gazette:
WASHINGTON -- At a meeting where the sexual abuse scandal was not on their public agenda, the U.S. Catholic bishops repeatedly raised the topic in matters ranging from their budget to an acrimonious discussion about proposed changes to the English liturgy.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago noted that a long-standing division between bishops who prefer standard American English and those who want a literal rending of Latin has become more complex. Some bishops on both sides have realized that the current English text is more familiar and meaningful to many Catholics than the centuries-old Latin text once was, he said.
"There are those who have been quite critical of the present translation, but who are now saying that we don't want to disturb the people, especially in the situation of weakened episcopal authority we have now," he said, referring to distrust of bishops who failed to remove child molesters from the priesthood.
Continue here: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05319/606567.stm.
I don't know the context of Cardinal George's statement, nor do I know whether the reporter understands the context, so I won't opine away and make the sort of smart-aleck comments about a statement in a news story you often see on blogs. But I will say that I do not understand opposition to a more straightforward and traditional rendering of the Latin text. It is true that translating isn't always easy to do. For most of the points in question as reported in the story (let's assume it's accurate), though, it's hard to see what the problem is.
The story has it:
Some bishops, including Bishop Donald Trautman of Erie, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Liturgy, believe the changes are clunky and obscure. For instance, in the Nicene Creed, "one in being with the father" would be replaced with "consubstantial with the father."
Here we have "one in being with the Father" vs. "consubstantial with the Father". I can see how people might have arguments on both sides of that issue, given the state of things. But many people have told me that when they hear (and say) "one in being with the Father" at Mass, they either have no clue to what it means or they understand it to mean that the Son is one with the Father by being with him.
Of course such a misunderstanding can be cleared up by educating people that "one in being with the Father" means "being of the same substance" as the Father, i.e., both possess the divine nature and are God. But before long, as you start explaining what "one in being with the Father" means, you realize you might just as well have used the traditional phrasing "consubstantial with the Father" and educated people on what that means, as to have taken the time to explain what "one in being with the Father" means. The problem of people's lack of understanding "consubstantial with the Father" is largely the same as that of their lack of understanding "one in being with the Father". Both are the result of a lack of formation in the Faith.
Another translation that seems controversial, if we are to take the story seriously, concerns the response, "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed".
We've all become accustomed to those words and that is a reason not to change them. Changing translations can itself be unsettling, even when the new translation is better than the old. But not revising an inaccurate translation also can be unsettling to those who come to find out the translation currently employed leaves out or alters part of the Church's Liturgy. It is unsettling to know that the translation of the Liturgy used at Mass doesn't reflect the text as it has been promulgated in the original Latin of the Liturgy.
The proposed revised translation of the aforementioned response is: "Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed". That has the advantage of reflecting accurately in English the Latin response actually found in the Church's Liturgy, rather than giving a form of the response someone (a translator) decided to put into the Mass by rendering a poor translation to begin with. The revision also has the advantage of reflecting the biblical language (the text is based on the response of the Roman centurion to Jesus when Jesus offered to go to the centurion's house) and adapting it for a Eucharistic context. The translation "my soul shall be healed" puts the emphasis where it in fact is in the Church's Liturgy at this point--on the spiritual dimension of the healing in question--the healing of the soul.
It may seem like quibbling. But the real issue is whether translators, with an ideological agenda, should be free to alter the Latin phrasing in service to their agendas, rather than letting the Liturgy of the Church speak for itself. The translators already had their way when the Sacred Liturgy was first "Englished" decades ago. What the proposed revisions seek is to get rid of those translations reflective of those agendas and to put in place a translation of the Liturgy that better reflects the promulgated Latin text, something to which every Catholic has a right.