Friday, June 14, 2013

A PUBLIC APOLOGY FROM ONE OF THE EARLIEST TRANSLATORS OF THE LATIN MASS INTO ENGLISH, THE 1970 MISSAL (RIP)

This priest ordained in 1956 was a part of the International Committee on English in the Liturgy which translated the revised Latin Missal after Vatican II into English, what became the 1970 missal, discarded two years ago and for the much better, more faithful and more elegant new English translation. In the 1960's though, the translators followed what was called the "equivalent" rather than the "strictly translated" method. But often the equivalent was completely wrong, theologically and in terms of faithfulness to the meaning of the Latin. This priest's repentance take real courage.

6 comments:

Anonymous 2 said...

This is_extremely_interesting and important. It would also be very interesting to know more about the details of the deliberations on the Committee and why the so-called “progressives” (who, it seems, were Americans) on the Committee pushed for the particular translations they did. Father Somerville does not really address this in any depth although he does hint darkly at some possible motivations.

It would also be very interesting to know about translations into other vernacular languages. Is the problem Father Somerville addresses restricted to English or is this question of “mistranslation” also an issue for other languages? Is there a source that discusses the matter from this comparative perspective?

Gene said...

I don't have much patience with these people who should have known better, but who were swept up in the hippie-dippie swingin' progressive theology and who, in a fit of feel-good self-indulgence, wrecked the Liturgy. Now, they want to say, "Oops, sorry." They sound like a Steve Martin routine...

Carol H. said...

We should rejoice with the angels and saints in heaven when a sinner is repentant and has obvious remorse for what he has done. This public confession is especially good because it provides concrete evidence that the mistranslation with the intention to change doctrine was intentional. This gives evidence that the Latin syntax doesn't sound right to modern ears argument is completely bogus.

rcg said...

I am with Carol on this one about the forgiveness. I am a little cautious that this authentic.

John Nolan said...

If you look at the last section of Comme le prevoit (1969) it is clear that the longer-term goal was to move beyond translation and for different language groups to make up their own prayers. So it is not just an ICEL issue. I am told that the Portuguese "translation" is as bad as the now obsolete ICEL, but I am not conversant with the language. The German version seems to favour chopped-up sentences (and this is a language where an entire paragraph in Die Zeit often consists of a single sentence). When in France I usually make a beeline for the nearest TLM (SSPX if necessary) but the last time I heard a vernacular French Mass the Eucharistic Prayer was not one I recognized. To give the French their due, they don't usually inflict the four-hymn sandwich on you, and set the Propers to simple but not unattractive melodies.

I wouldn't rush to blame the Americans for the truly appalling old ICEL "translation". Fr Somerville is a Canadian, and Canucks generally have little love for the Yanks who had a habit of invading their country at regular intervals. However, I get the impression from the usual suspects at PTB that one of their objections to the new translation (which should really be called the first translation)is that it was largely the work of Englishmen.

Henry said...

Fr. Sommerville's testimony is "authentic" in the sense that it has been well-known for some time. His open letter published some years ago is posted here:

http://www.fisheaters.com/frsomerville.html

Though the substance of what he says rings true, it should be acknowledged that he is now probably as far in one direction as are the PTB suspects in the other. Fr. Sommerville came to wider public view as the spiritual advisor to Mel Gibson during the filming of "The Passion".