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YOUCAT-TRANSLATION (UPDATED) Apr-13-2011 (1,040 words) With photos. xxxi

Vatican to organize corrections to be made to new youth catechism

The English language "Youcat: Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church" is published by Ignatius Press of San Francisco. (CNS/Ignatius Press)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will set up a special working group to collect reported errors and distribute corrections in translations of a new catechism created for young people.

The move came after the catechism's Italian edition was found to have a translation mistake concerning the church's teaching on contraception.

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna, who oversaw the creation of "YouCat," a recently released supplement to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, told journalists at a Vatican news conference April 13 that many translations of the original German text of the new catechism were still under way. "YouCat" was expected to be published in 13 languages, including Chinese and Arabic, by the end of 2011 and in 25 languages by 2012.

While the original German version had been studied and approved by the doctrinal congregation before its publication, the other language editions did not pass through the doctrinal office after they were translated by different publishing houses.

"For each translation we had an agreement with the publisher and we, the Austrian bishops' conference, asked that a bishop who had theological and catechetical expertise act as guarantor of the translation in his language," Cardinal Schonborn said.

Citta Nuova, the publishing arm of the Focolare lay movement, handled the Italian edition of the catechism. It was translated by Pietro Podolak and translation revisions were overseen by Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice.

Sometimes translators get a meaning wrong or editing mistakes are made, Cardinal Schonborn said, and for that reason "we need a second or third edition" that gets reviewed.

He said publication of the French edition has been halted because of a discrepancy with the original German text concerning the church's view of other religions.

The cardinal said he met with the head of the doctrinal congregation, Cardinal William Levada, April 13 to discuss "how to proceed" with current and any future discoveries of translation errors.

He said the congregation will be setting up "a small working group to collect all the observations, all the corrigenda coming in concerning the various translations and also the original German."

The working group will study each of the mistakes or suggestions, then compile a list of corrections for subsequent printings, Cardinal Schonborn said.

Distribution of the "YouCat" Italian edition was temporarily suspended April 12 because a translation erroneously left the impression that Catholic couples could use "contraceptive methods."

The Italian copies distributed at the April 13 news conference had the misleading section crossed out in black pen and a photocopied slip of paper with the corrected text tucked between the pages.

The 300-page book uses a question-and-answer format to talk about what the church teaches.

Question 420 of the Italian edition reads: "Can a Christian couple turn to contraceptive methods?" The answer reads: "Yes, a Christian couple can and must be responsible about their capacity of being able to give life."

The answer in Italian goes on to explain -- in line with church teaching -- that the church does not accept artificial means of contraception, but does allow regulation of fertility through natural methods.

The corrected question now reads in Italian "Can a Christian couple turn to methods that regulate fertility?"

The error was not found in the original German text of "YouCat," nor in the U.S. English edition, which was published by Ignatius Press.

The English translation of the question and reply is: "May a Christian married couple regulate the number of children they have? Yes, a Christian married couple may and should be responsible in using the gift and privilege of transmitting life."

Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, founder and publisher of Ignatius Press, said the original German term is "a little vague," as it means the regulation of conception, though not in the sense of suppressing or being anti-conception.

The Vatican spokesman, Italian Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, who is fluent in German, said German "is not an easy language for everyone and, therefore, every so often there are misinterpretations as we have seen in another recent case."

Father Lombardi was referring to an error made in an Italian translation of a book-length interview in German with Pope Benedict XVI, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times," released in November.

The translation said a prostitute using a condom was an example of where condom use can be "justified."

Father Lombardi said at the time that the Italian translation was an error. The pope did not say its use was justified but that it may be a sign of moral responsibility in some specific situations when the intention is to reduce the risk of AIDS.

The "YouCat" Italian edition came out in bookstores March 30 and sold 14,000 copies in five days, a Citta Nuova press release said April 6. At that time, Citta Nuova said some 46,000 copies had already been printed and more than 27,000 copies ordered.

Cardinal Schonborn said it was proposed that a corrigenda be inserted in the already published Italian editions containing the error.

Father Fessio said the English edition sold 13,000 copies in the first four days after its release.

He said it will be "a great source for confirmation material," which is lacking, and is proving to be of interest even to older adults wanting to learn more about the faith.

Some 700,000 copies of "YouCat" were to be distributed in at least 10 different languages to young people taking part in World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. An electronic version also will be available.

Pope Benedict wrote the book's foreword and said he wanted to supplement the Catechism of the Catholic Church by translating it "into the language of young people."

A group of German and Austrian youth who developed many of the questions and ideas in the book greeted Pope Benedict at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square April 13.

One young man spent a few minutes showing the pope how the "YouCat" application worked on an iPhone. The free app, which lets users build a social network around the new catechism and World Youth Day events in Madrid, will be active after May 1.


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