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MAHONY-MASS May-12-2004 (730 words) xxxi
L.A. cardinal says Order of the Mass draft needs major work

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Despite hopes that English-speaking Catholics soon would have a new translation of Mass prayers, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said he and many other bishops believe the current draft needs major work.

An English draft of the "Ordo Missae," or Order of the Mass, was approved by the episcopal board of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy in January, and copies were sent to every Latin-rite bishop in the United States and other English-speaking countries.

"I felt that there are a few improvements that are very helpful, but the effort to translate every Latin word into English has not been successful," the cardinal said in a May 11 interview with Catholic News Service.

The cardinal was at the Vatican for his "ad limina" visit, which bishops make every five years to report on the status of their dioceses and to hold consultations with Vatican officials.

One of the topics visiting U.S. bishops have been raising with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is the ongoing effort to create English translations of Latin Mass prayers in a way that is faithful to the Latin and can be understood and proclaimed.

The Tablet, a London-based Catholic weekly, reported May 8 that the bishops of England and Wales were critical of the proposed Order of the Mass, particularly because of "lengthy sentences, poor syntax and archaic language."

In their plenary meeting May 11, the bishops of Australia voted to return the draft to ICEL for revision for similar reasons.

Cardinal Mahony said, "This is obviously considered by everybody as a first draft."

The Order of the Mass includes the prayers that are used at every Mass such as the Gloria, the Nicene Creed and the eucharistic prayers. It does not include all of the prayers that change each week during the liturgical year.

The new text is the first English translation of Mass prayers resulting from the 2002 publication of the third edition of the Roman Missal in Latin and from new translation rules contained in the 2001 Vatican instruction, "Liturgiam Authenticam" ("The Authentic Liturgy").

Cardinal Mahony said he gave copies of the draft translation to members of his priests' council and asked them to "read it out loud" with members of their parish liturgy committees.

Because the prayers are meant to be proclaimed, he said, "you can only capture whether it works or doesn't work in hearing it out loud."

"Most of the responses I got back were quite negative," Cardinal Mahony said.

The cardinal said there is an obvious "tension" between the principles enunciated in the 2001 Vatican document on translation and the needs of the priests and people.

"We simply cannot have a translation that is labored and is not easily proclaimed or understood," he said.

"The danger is that that kind of new Roman Missal, if it were approved in such a stilted fashion, would simply not be used," he said.

The cardinal said he was afraid that priests simply would continue using the old translation, "which, of course, is not helpful either."

Cardinal Mahony said he agreed with several bishops who have said the parts of the Mass recited by the entire congregation should not be changed.

"Following the (clerical sex abuse) scandal," he said, "the last thing our people need is to now disrupt the liturgy, which has been a source of nourishment and strength during this difficult journey."

The cardinal said he was in favor of changes "that are obviously an improvement, not just a change to be transliteral."

Cardinal Mahony predicted "it will reach a point where someone will have to reconcile these documents" on translation with the need to "help the local churches express the faith in the language as they use it."

"What is the more important value? Is the more important value to have a more precise translation of Latin into English or is it more important to have a translation that helps people's prayer be nourished and deepened? That, to me, is the more important question," the cardinal said.

"I think that if we are going to make a change to have a Roman Missal that will be with us for generations, let's take our time; let's do it well; let's make sure that it really is an improvement," he said.


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