Friday, November 19, 2010

The Rhetoric and the New Translation

Just watching the sun rise here in Silicon Valley in California. I am presenting two workshops on the RCIA, one focused on apprenticeship and the other on conversion at today's Faith Formation Conference here at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

So much has been happening in the past few days with regard to the new translation that it boggles the mind. You know, I bristle when I hear terms like "the text has been leaked." It all sounds so Watergate to me. And this is why I bristle. Ever since the advent of the clergy sexual abuse crisis, during which the press legally acquired texts that had been in diocesan files for years, I have become an advocate of more transparent processes in the Church. Of course, there needs to be a guarded custody of certain documents that deal with the legitimate privacy issues of the People of God.

But why would we even have to turn to a phrase like "the text was leaked" when dealing with the translation of the Missal? Is this a document that contains material that would harm the People of God? No. Is it a document that contains information that might expose the Church to scandal? No. Is it a document that, if "leaked" would cause irreparable harm to Pope Benedict or to our bishops? No.

If what was "leaked" eventually results in a move to more transparent processes in the future, then that is a good thing. Why are we treating this like we are all involved in an unfolding spy novel?

I think the answer is simple. We care that the texts that we pray and sing, the texts that express our love and lament, our joys and sorrows, the very beliefs that ground us, are good ones. And for many of us, this is a very, very serious issue. Someone (and I have jokingly suggested it be Dan Brown!) needs to write the history of all that has happened with the translation of the Missale Romanum since the Second Vatican Council. This obviously cannot happen until the implementation is complete. But this history will be much needed as we look for new and better ways to move through a process with clarity and integrity. No, I am not suggesting an exposé here, just an honest re-telling of the process of translation. Knowledge is power. And let's commit ourselves to using this kind of knowledge to do an even better job when the People of God are faced with translating the Missal again.

Thanks for listening. And please pray for the safety of travelers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


jdonliturgy said...

It is a bit interesting the amount of "intrigue" around this - some of which has been created and fostered by some other bloggers. I have a more germane question after the events of the past few days: do you think the "official" statement from Bishop Seratelli regarding the status of the new translation given to the Bishops is an attempt to gloss over the level of angst the process has caused so far? It almost smacked of denial... or is it just me? what do YOU think of it?

Paul said...

Bishop Seratelli's statement was nothing more than propaganda if you ask me. It smacked of arrogance.

Brent McWilliams said...

Bravo, Jerry, bravo!!!!

Do you think the Church will ever have its sanity restored, or did it ever have it to begin with? We are children of a fallen humanity......