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BISHOPS-MISSAL (UPDATED) Jun-18-2009 (950 words) With photos posted June 17 and 18. xxxn
Liturgy translations fall short of two-thirds; mail balloting needed
By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service
SAN ANTONIO (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops will have to poll members missing from their spring meeting in San Antonio before it's known whether they have approved liturgical prayers, special Masses and key sections of an English translation of the Order of the Mass.
Five texts being prepared for use in English-speaking countries failed to get the necessary two-thirds votes of the Latin-rite U.S. bishops during the June 18 session of the bishops' meeting.
With 244 Latin-rite bishops in the United States eligible to vote on the questions, the required two-thirds would be 163. With 189 eligible bishops attending the meeting, only 134 voted to accept the first section, Masses and prayers for various needs and intentions.
On four subsequent translations, the votes also failed to reach two-thirds, meaning the 55 bishops not present will be polled by mail on all five parts. That process is expected to take several weeks.
The items that failed to pass contain prefaces for the Mass for various occasions; votive Masses and Masses for the dead; solemn blessings for the end of Mass; prayers over the people and eucharistic prayers for particular occasions, such as for evangelization or ordinations.
The section receiving the highest level of approval -- with a 159-19 vote, with three abstentions -- was the Order of the Mass II, with its prefaces, blessings and eucharistic prayers.
The bishops did have enough votes to approve a sixth action item from the Committee on Divine Worship, a Spanish-language Lectionary. After that vote of 181-2, with three abstentions, the bishops' conference president, Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, joked: "Ahora, vamos a continuar en espanol," or "Now we will continue in Spanish."
Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, warned that delaying approval or failing to send the Vatican guidance by the end of November will risk shutting the U.S. bishops out of the English-language translation approval process.
Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., had several times raised questions about the timetable for submitting the liturgical texts and voiced frustration with their grammar, sentence structure and word choices that he said were not suited to contemporary worship.
"I say yes to more accurate Latin translation ... yes to a more elevated tone," Bishop Trautman said from the floor. "But a resounding no to incomplete sentences, to two and three clauses in sentences, no to 13 lines in one sentence, no to archaic phrases, no to texts that are not proclaimable, not intelligible and not pastorally sensitive to our people."
In an interview with Catholic News Service Bishop Trautman singled out for example a phrase included in the translations for votive Masses and Masses for the dead: "May the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Lord, cleanse our hearts and make them fruitful within by the sprinkling of his dew."
"What does that even mean?" he asked, citing frustration also with phrases such as "the sweetness of your grace."
"I don't think the word 'sweetness' relates to people today," at least not in the way the translation intends, he told CNS.
Bishop Serratelli, a member of the International Committee on English in the Liturgy, known as ICEL, told the meeting that ICEL members pray the texts aloud as they draft the English versions. ICEL is made up of representatives of 11 main English-speaking bishops' conferences.
He also emphasized that after an eight-year process to get to this point, the Vatican is waiting on the U.S. bishops to weigh in with their approval.
"We're at the end of the process," Bishop Serratelli said. Of the missal text, he said it's "a very, very good text. ... It's not perfect, but we're at the end of a long, healthy process."
In June 2008 the Vatican granted its "recognitio" or confirmation to the translation of the main parts of the Mass, which the U.S. bishops had voted to approve in June 2006.
Bishop Serratelli told reporters at a news conference that he expects enough votes among the bishops being polled by mail to approve all of the texts. If any fail to get two-thirds support, those pieces will come back to the bishops as a whole at their November meeting.
Typically, attendance is higher at the November meeting, which is where the USCCB conducts most of its conference business.
In November 2008 the U.S. bishops signed off on another section, the Proper of the Seasons, which includes the proper prayers for Sundays and feast days during the liturgical year.
Yet to come for approval by the U.S. bishops are new translations of the Proper of the Saints, propers for the dioceses, antiphons, eucharistic prayers for Masses with children, introductory material and appendices. The propers are expected to be taken up by the U.S. bishops at their regular business meeting in the fall.
When the material was introduced a day earlier, among a handful of questions raised was Bishop Trautman's about the timetable for sending the finished missal changes off to the Vatican and what he found to be too short a time for review.
Noting that the text came to the bishops at a very busy time of year, close to Holy Week and Easter, he said its 812 pages -- 406 each of English and Latin -- meant few bishops had time to do detailed reviews.
Bishop Serratelli disagreed that time was too short, saying the material went to the bishops for review in March.
"The Holy See wants it in November," he said.
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