10 Questions on the New Roman Missal [Added 1-2012]

In 2010, the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops published many bulletin inserts for parishes to use to introduce the New Roman Missal to parishioners.  One of these was entitled 10 Questions on the New Roman Missal.  To read the USCCB version click here.

Two of our team members wrote their response to the 10 Questions as follows…

Response to “Ten Questions on the NRM”

Why is there a need for a new translation? There was a need for a new translation following the first effort after Vatican II promulgated in 1973. ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy) had worked hard to complete it’s work as thoroughly and quickly as possible, based upon the principles of Vatican II. All agreed that more time and energy could only improve on this first attempt. So, in 1982, ICEL began again, through a collaborative process that included bishops, liturgical commissions, linguists, theologians and biblical scholars. After 15 years of dedicated work, they sent their finished product to all the English speaking bishops’ conferences for approval. It was readily approved by all eleven English speaking conferences of bishops in 1998 (known as the 1998 Translation). And the need was met! But Vatican officials remained silent, acting as if this lovely translation did not even exist.  Then, in 2001, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued new rules of translation in the document Liturgium Authenticam and eventually released the Vatican-driven Third Translation to be imposed on the English-speaking world this Advent, 2011.


Who is doing the work of translation? It is hard to tell as it was mainly done behind closed doors. But this much is abundantly clear: it was done by a hand-picked group in agreement with theVatican, under the supervision of another hand-picked group, Vox Clara. The original members of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy who worked on the 1998 Translation and were a collaborative and consultative group were all replaced and bishops’ conferences were told to comply withRome’s decisions.


What’s new or different about the new translations? Unlike the 1998 Translation, the Third Translation resorts to a nearly word-for-word, phrase-by-phrase translation, including the Latin sentence structure. While the style and word syntax may work well in Latin, it is clumsy in Modern English. The language is often awkward, overly wordy and repetitive using words and phrases not readily understood. (i.e., “gibbet”, meaning cross).  It negates the Vatican II instruction which states that the rites: “should be distinguished by a noble simplicity; they should be short, clear and unencumbered by useless repetition; they should be within the powers of comprehension of the people and should not require much explanation.”  (See Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Chapter I, no. 34.) The new translation also eliminates much inclusive language.  God is addressed as male and the  assembled People of God an men or brothers, negating the  instruction of Vatican II which states: “Since through Baptism ‘there is neither Greek nor Jew, slave nor free, male nor female, but all are one in Christ Jesus’ (cf. Gal. 3:28), the assembly which most fully portrays the nature of the Church and its role in the Eucharist, is that which gathers together the faithful, men and women of every age and walk of life.” (See Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, #16.)  


What is the timeline for the approval and implementation of the Missal? It is worth noting that after the bishops somewhat reluctantly approved this translation in 2008, another 10,000 changes were made inRome.  There was some considerable scrambling to improve upon some of these many changes, most of which were not helpful.  Nevertheless, it will be imposed on the First Sunday of Advent,November 27, 2011.  The bishops of the English-speaking countries were told to comply and they have done so.


Can we start using the text approved by the bishops immediately? Why would we want to?


What will the process of implementation look like?  Church officials are correct in saying: “Catechesis on the new translation and on the Liturgy itself will become even more important.” So much for rites that “should be distinguished by noble simplicity, easily understood and not require