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Pope Francis issued the document Magnum principium ("The Great Principle") dated 3 September 2017 on his own authority. It modified the 1983 Code of Canon Law to shift responsibility and authority for translations of liturgical texts into modern languages to national and regional conferences of bishops and restrict the role of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW). It was made public on 9 September and its effective date is 1 October.
While directly concerned only with liturgical texts, it represented a significant initiative in the program long advocated by Francis of changing the role of the Roman Curia in the Catholic Church and fostering "shared decision-making between local churches and Rome."That he used canon law to achieve his aims demonstrated, in the view of liturgist Rita Ferrone, the intensity of his commitmment to this project.
For several decades the Catholic Church has increased the use of the vernacular in place of Latin in its liturgies. The Sacred Congregation of Rites, predecessor of the CDW, granted permission for the use of local languages in several countries with expanding missionary activity, including Mandarin Chinese in Mass except for the Canon in 1949 and Hindi in India in 1950. For rituals other than Mass, it gave permission for the use of a French translation in 1948 and a German one in 1951.
The Second Vatican Council's Sacrosanctum Concilium , issued by Pope Paul VI on 4 December 1963, discussed the use of the vernacular in the context of the need to enhance lay participation in liturgies. It suggested an increased use of the "mother tongue" of the congregation and instructed local groups of bishops to consider the role of the vernacular. It "opened up the possibility of linguistic change but did not make it mandatory".
As local groups of bishops and Vatican authorities disputed the quality and nature of translations, the CDW's instruction Liturgiam Authenticam , issued on 28 March 2001 with the approval of Pope John Paul II, ruled that texts "insofar as possible, must be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages is to be sober and discreet."One side in the ongoing debate promoted the philosophy of translation called dynamic equivalence, roughly "sense-for-sense" translation, rather than the more literal word-for-word translation that John Paul said was required.
In the 21st century, Catholic bishops in Germany decided not to work with a commission Pope Benedict XVI erected to guide their translation efforts and then found their own translations rejected by the CDW. French, Italian and Spanish translations were rejected as well.The CDW also dictated much of the work and staffing of the multi-national board, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), created to produce English translations, which have met with criticism. The bishops of Japan contested the Vatican's right to judge the quality of a translation into Japanese, questioning both the quality of the review and the subsidiary position in which the CDW's review placed them.
In December 2016, Pope Francis formed a commission to review the implementation of Liturgiam Authenticam. Headed by Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the CDW, its membership included bishops from all continents.On 24 August 2017, addressing a conference of Italian liturgists, Francis spoke of the liturgical development since the Second Vatican Council and said: "after this long journey, we can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible".
Francis said he had received the commission's report and considered its recommendations. He outlined the mission of the translation effort:
The goal of the translation of liturgical texts and of biblical texts for the Liturgy of the Word is to announce the word of salvation to the faithful in obedience to the faith and to express the prayer of the Church to the Lord. For this purpose it is necessary to communicate to a given people using its own language all that the Church intended to communicate to other people through the Latin language. While fidelity cannot always be judged by individual words but must be sought in the context of the whole communicative act and according to its literary genre, nevertheless some particular terms must also be considered in the context of the entire Catholic faith because each translation of texts must be congruent with sound doctrine.
While acknowledging the role Latin continues to play in Catholic liturgy, he expressed confidence that translations could achieve a similar status, that over time "vernacular languages themselves [...] would be able to become liturgical languages, standing out in a not dissimilar way to liturgical Latin for their elegance of style and the profundity of their concepts".
Where the Council fathers spoke of the participation of the laity, Francis wrote of "their right to a conscious and active participation in liturgical celebration".
He recognized the role of the CDW and said that to promote "vigilant and creative collaboration full of reciprocal trust" between the CDW and conferences of bishops he thought "some principles handed on since the time of the [Second Vatican] Council should be more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice".
Archbishop Roche explained that "The object of the changes is to define better the roles of the Apostolic See and the Conferences of Bishops in respect to their proper competencies which are different yet remain complementary."
Magnum principium modified two clauses in canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law. Before its modifications the passage at issue read:
§2 It is the prerogative of the Apostolic See to regulate the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, to publish liturgical books and review their vernacular translations, and to be watchful that liturgical regulations are everywhere faithfully observed.
§3 It pertains to Episcopal Conferences to prepare vernacular translations of liturgical books, with appropriate adaptations as allowed by the books themselves and, with the prior review of the Holy See, to publish these translations.
The revised text read (highlighting in original):
§2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books, recognise adaptations approved by the Episcopal Conference according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.
§3. It pertains to the Episcopal Conferences to faithfully prepare versions of the liturgical books in vernacular languages, suitably accommodated within defined limits, and to approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.
The role of the CDW is to review translations rather than authorize them. A note accompanying the release of Magnum principium authored by Archbishop Roche, explained that the CDW was tasked with confirming a translation, that the process "leaves responsibility for the translation, presumed to be faithful, to [...] the bishops' conference", and "presupposes a positive evaluation of the faithfulness and congruence of the produced texts with respect to the Latin text".The CDW's role is to ratify the bishop's approval, not to review the translation itself. The CDW still has a role in reviewing "adaptations", that is, additions to liturgical texts, rather than translations per se. The term adaptations, as used by liturgists, refers to modifications introduced into a liturgy to incorporate or reflect local culture, which can include practices, movement, costume, and music as well as text. The more common term for this undertaking is inculturation.
In The Tablet , Christopher Lamb wrote that "This throws open the possibility that the 2011 English Roman Missal–which became mired in disagreement with claims that the Vatican had overly controlled the process–could be changed. The onus will now be on local bishops to take the initiative."In America , liturgist John F. Baldovin wrote: "those conferences which have been experiencing tension with the Vatican over revised translations, like the French-speaking and German-speaking, now have much more breathing room in deciding what is best for translating liturgical texts".
Cardinal Blaise Cupich thought Francis was "reconnecting the church with the Second Vatican Council" by "giving in this document an authoritative interpretation of the council as it relates to the responsibilities of bishops for the liturgical life of the church".Veteran Vatican journalist John Travis wrote that Magnus principium "underscored just how irrelevant the major Roman Curia departments have become under Pope Francis", since this involved an extra-curial commission and showed little evidence of input from the CDW. He anticipated "a new round of criticism by conservative Catholics who fear that Francis is slowly undoing the legacy of his two predecessors".
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich-Freising said that German bishops felt "great relief" and the Episcopal Conference of Germany thanked Francis for underlining the "genuine doctrinal authority” of episcopal conferences.
The Roman Missal is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Mass in the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.
Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, is one of the constitutions of the Second Vatican Council. It was approved by the assembled bishops by a vote of 2,147 to 4 and promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 4 December 1963. The main aim was to achieve greater lay participation in the Catholic Church's liturgy. The title is taken from the opening lines of the document and means "this Sacred Council".
The Mass of Paul VI, more commonly called the post–Vatican II Mass, is the Ordinary Form of Mass in the Roman Rite, the form promulgated, after the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), by Pope Paul VI in 1969 and published by him in the 1970 edition of the Roman Missal and the revised 1975 edition, and as further revised by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and published in the third Vatican II edition (2002). In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI said of it: "The Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form – the Forma ordinaria – of the Eucharistic Liturgy".
The New American Bible (NAB) is an English translation of the Bible first published in 1970. The 1986 Revised NAB is the basis of the revised Lectionary, and it is the only translation approved for use at Mass in the Catholic dioceses of the United States and the Philippines, and the 1970 first edition is also an approved Bible translation by the Episcopal Church in the United States.
Ecclesiastical Latin, also called Church Latin, Liturgical Latin or Italian Latin, is a form of Latin initially developed to discuss Christian thought and later used as a lingua franca by the Medieval and Early Modern upper class of Europe. It includes words from Vulgar Latin and Classical Latin re-purposed with Christian meaning. It is less stylized and rigid in form than Classical Latin, sharing vocabulary, forms, and syntax, while at the same time incorporating informal elements which had always been with the language but which were excluded by the literary authors of classical Latin.
"The Jerusalem Bible" is an English translation of the Bible published in 1966 by Darton, Longman & Todd. As a Catholic Bible, it includes 73 books: the 39 books shared with the Hebrew Bible, along with the seven deuterocanonical books as the Old Testament, and the 27 books shared by all Christians as the New Testament. It also contains copious footnotes and introductions.
The Nova Vulgata, also called the Neo-Vulgate, the New Latin Vulgate or the New Vulgate, is the official Classical Latin translation of the original-language texts of the Bible from modern critical editions published by the Holy See for use in the contemporary Roman rite. It was completed in 1979, and was promulgated the same year by John Paul II in Scripturarum thesaurus. A second, revised, edition was promulgated in 1986, again by John Paul II. It is the official Latin text of the Catholic Church.
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments is the congregation of the Roman Curia that handles most affairs relating to liturgical practices of the Latin Church as distinct from the Eastern Catholic Churches and also some technical matters relating to the Sacraments. Its functions were originally exercised by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, set up in January 1588 by Pope Sixtus V.
An episcopal conference, sometimes called a conference of bishops, is an official assembly of the bishops of the Catholic Church in a given territory. Episcopal conferences have long existed as informal entities. The first assembly of bishops to meet regularly, with its own legal structure and ecclesial leadership function, is the Swiss Bishops' Conference, which was founded in 1863. More than forty episcopal conferences existed before the Second Vatican Council. Their status was confirmed by the Second Vatican Council and further defined by Pope Paul VI's 1966 motu proprio, Ecclesiae sanctae.
The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) is a commission set up by a number of episcopal conferences of English-speaking countries for the purpose of providing English translations of the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, the originals of which are in Latin.
Summorum Pontificum is an apostolic letter of Pope Benedict XVI, issued in July 2007, which specifies the circumstances in which priests of the Latin Church may celebrate Mass according to what he calls the "Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962", and administer most of the sacraments in the form used before the liturgical reforms that followed the Second Vatican Council.
A Catholic Bible is a Christian Bible that includes the whole 73-book canon recognized by the Catholic Church, including the deuterocanonical books.
The 1983 Code of Canon Law, also called the Johanno-Pauline Code, is the "fundamental body of ecclesiastical laws for the Latin Church". It is the second and current comprehensive codification of canonical legislation for the Latin Church sui iuris of the Catholic Church. It was promulgated on 25 January 1983 by John Paul II and took legal effect on the First Sunday of Advent 1983. It replaced the 1917 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Benedict XV on 27 May 1917.
Arthur Roche is an English prelate of the Catholic Church who has been an archbishop and the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments since 2012. Roche was the ninth Roman Catholic Bishop of Leeds from 2004 to 2012, having served previously as Coadjutor Bishop of Leeds and before that as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Westminster.
Liturgiam authenticam is an instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, dated 28 March 2001.
The Grail Psalms refers to various editions of an English translation of the Book of Psalms, first published completely as The Psalms: A New Translation in 1963 by the Ladies of the Grail. The translation was modeled on the French La Bible de Jérusalem, according to the school of Fr. Joseph Gelineau: a simple vernacular, arranged in sprung rhythm to be suitable for liturgical song and chant. All official, Catholic, English translations of the Liturgy of the Hours use the Grail Psalms.
In the Roman Catholic Church, collegiality refers to "the Pope governing the Church in collaboration with the bishops of the local Churches, respecting their proper autonomy." In the early church the popes exercised moral authority rather than administrative power, and that authority was relatively limited; regional churches elected their own bishops, resolved disputes in local synods, and only felt the need to appeal to the Pope under special circumstances.
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Spiritus Domini is an apostolic letter in the form of a motu proprio by Pope Francis signed on 10 January 2021 and released the next day. It changed the Code of Canon Law to allow women to be admitted to the instituted ministries of acolyte and lector, which had until then been exclusively available to men.