Tuesday, November 2, 2010

New Translation Tuesday: Shrugging Shoulders

Welcome to this installment of "New Translation Tuesday."

Today, our Catholic day of remembrance, affords me the time to pause and remember those who have touched my life but have gone to the other side of life. Today, I remember with gratitude mentors Jim Dunning, Christiane Brusselmans, Frank Sokol, Joanna Case; people with whom I had the privilege to minister. I remember friends who died in the early prime of their lives. I remember with fondness great grandparents and grandparents (my Memeres and Peperes), my many aunts and uncles and cousins. And, of course, touching my heart most deeply today is the memory of my youngest sister, Joanne, who died in early 2001.

May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Now, onto the new translation business.

Folks, if you have been following developments over the last few weeks, you know that there has been a major snag in the process of the the new English translation of The Roman Missal. Simply put, there have been adjustments made to the text that the bishops of the English-speaking conferences spent years working on and had sent to Rome. Apparently, there are mistranslations, some theological blurring, and generally a move away from the principles laid down in Liturgiam Authenticam in some of the translations. I am joining my voice with the voices of those who have expressed the hope that these issues will be addressed and resolved quickly and thoroughly. It is hard to find anyone who is happy about all of this right now.

On a more serious note, being one of those people who is traveling around talking with people about the pastoral implementation of the Missal, these times are especially trying. It is challenging enough to bring people to the realization that our current translation needed some work. It is challenging enough to move people through the differences between Comme le Prevoit and Liturgiam Authenticam. It is challenging enough to try to help people see that there might just be a kernel of wisdom behind the move to go through a new translation process. It is challenging enough to try to respond to peoples' real concerns about the cost of all of this—both the costs associated with the translation process itself and the costs that parishes will incur (purchase of one or more missals, music resources, catechetical resources, etc.). Now comes the challenge of trying to explain to people the mysterious moves of the past few months. Those who were on the fence, ready to give up on the Church, will only be more incensed by these latest moves. Those who have been champions of the principles espoused in Liturgiam Authenticam are now scratching their heads as they see the latest translations that have been leaked, which show a move away from those principles.

The real challenge, for me at least, is in the catechesis that many of us are asked to do for parishes, clergy gatherings, and diocesan leadership gatherings. I believe in clarity and transparency. And I believe the people of God deserve this kind of clear communication and sharing of the facts. Hopefully, within a very short period of time, we will have answers to the questions such as "Why?" and "Who?" Until then, I guess we just tell people that "final adjustments are being made," in the hope that people don't ask more probing questions. There is nothing quite like being a speaker in front of a group of people and when a question is asked, all one can do is stand there shrugging one's shoulders.

Perhaps that's all we can do right now.

A blessed All Souls Day to you.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Linda Reid said...

I do not envy your position, Jerry and I pray for you and all those who are in your position.
Speaking for myself, I could not do what you are having to do! And yet, I will have some part in doing it eventually.

Mary said...

"I believe in clarity and transparency."

Amen to that. To put it even more theologically, I believe in the dignity of every human person, because they were created by God. That dignity entitles them to be treated fairly, and that requires clarity and transparency.

What I didn't understand until I came to live in Europe is the extent to which the Church's structures are still based on feudal approaches that the rest of the world has abandoned. And feudalism is built on nepotism and secrecy, just the opposite of clarity and transparency.

Until the church's operating principles catch up with it's theology, we are simply doomed to repeat more of the same, no matter whether the issue is contraception, sexual abuse, liturgical reform or financial mismanagement.