Bishop Peter J. Elliot on the New Translation

It is very exciting to see frank discussion of a topic that has long been something of a taboo in the Catholic world, and it is striking that the strongest comments yet come from a world authority on the rubrics of the Roman Rite. This is an article to read in detail (given last July and only printed now). Excerpt:

But do we need a new translation of the Mass in English? Is the text we currently use not good enough?
No, it is not good enough because it is not particularly good – and “good enough” is not the way to describe the language we should use in the worship of God. The time has come to change because what we are using is not only often inaccurate as a translation, but the style of English is rather dull, banal, lacking in the dignity of language for worship, more like the language of a homily than a prayer. How did this come about? To be fair, it needs to be stated at the outset that this dismal situation was brought about by good pastoral and catechetical intentions. The Bishops in the early seventies were anxious to get the “new missal” to the people as quickly as possible. But the translation they hastily approved was distorted because it was based on a flawed principle…

3 Replies to “Bishop Peter J. Elliot on the New Translation”

  1. I suppose Bishop Elliot feels compelled to defend the new translation since all of the bishops have signed off on it and have given lip service, at least, to it. But, whether the language of the translation sings or not is another question. Grammatically weak examples can be found without much trouble. Wasting band width here to cite examples is not prudent. Many examples of the poor English have been given. It seems that the issue of the new translation is neither black nor white and it certainly isn't "good enough" and definitely not the best, despite what the good Bishop writes. We're stuck with it for better or for worse. Of course, Latin is still an option and by using it how much closer to it could we be?

  2. I am not edified by the final process in the production of the translations, but let's not miss the forest for the trees. Jeffrey has been showing some of the differences, based upon the prayers for the current Sunday, so this accomplishes a near random sampling. They are greatly improved, both in accuracy and style, that I look forward with great anticipation to their introduction.

    Bishop Elliot has been a distinguished interpreter of the rubrics of the Missal, and stands out among the bishops as having a very keen sense of the liturgy. If he approves these translations, he should at least get the benefit of the doubt that it is a genuine and seriously held judgment.

  3. It is well known that when Bishop Elliot, a good, holy, and erudite man, wrote his essay, he had before him ONLY the 2007-2008 version of the texts, which all the bishops conferences had approved.

    As one who came to us from the Anglican Communion and is, therefore, steeped in the sonority of the Book of Common Prayer, I wonder what Bishop Elliot's private and personal opinion (for he is a loyal Churchman) of the 2010 Vox Clara revision might be.

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