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November 19, 2009



Perhaps all of this is being done in order to convince everyone that, golly, English, and for that matter any language other than Latin, just isn't good enough for liturgical worship and that we all better just get back to Latin.

Gene O'Grady

Remarkable -- I have seen many translations of Latin or Greek that omit the particle "o" before a vocative, but this is the first time I have ever seen it added in English where it doesn't appear in Latin.

I note that you observe that the tone of argument in several of these translations. I noted that in several of your previously posted extracts -- seems to fit Francis George, though.

cor ad cor loquitur

The new translation is dreadful. But isn't the battle over? I thought that the last group of English-speaking [sic] bishops had decided to vote this one through. It is easy enough to find things to criticise in this translation, but will anyone listen?

Spirit of Vatican II

Yes, the battle is over. No, nobody will listen.

The entire debacle is a grim symptom of church dysfunction.

Heaven knows what will happen when the texts are actually used in worship. Perhaps the faithful are already so inured to trashy hymns and vacuous sermons that they will take a new batch of dull verbiage in their stride.

Spirit of Vatican II

But we could get together and send close analyses of the Eucharistic Prayers, pointing out the weaknesses, to the Congregation for Divine Worship.

cor ad cor loquitur

I agree, Joseph, and feel I should apologise to you and other readers of this blog for what must have seemed a despairing post.

I agree that we should send a close analysis of the prayers and translations, not only to the CDW but also to some of the more thoughtful bishops (e.g. Abp Nichols); at the very least it might help them deal with the pastoral problems that these texts will cause in the US and UK.

Andy K

Joseph, can you give us some insights into how the new Latin text was developed?

There are millions of people with sufficient talent and charism to produce well crafted English text. How many people can there be that can do the same in Latin? Maybe the English text of a "close" translation is bad because the Latin is bad.

Spirit of Vatican II

Good question -- I'll seek enlightenment on it.

cor ad cor loquitur

Andy, I suppose it's possible that "bad Latin" is the cause of the poor vernacular translations.

But I think it's unlikely.

The Latin text of the Roman Canon (now called Eucharistic Prayer 1) is virtually identical in the Tridentine and Novus Ordo forms of the Mass. I haven't compared every variation (prefaces, commemorations, variations in the 'Hanc igitur', etc.) but the unchangeable bits don't differ. So the dreadful translations of the Roman Canon cited on this blog aren't a result of changes to the Latin, but of poor translation; more precisely, of the badly conceived Liturgiam Authenticam.

There were more changes to the Latin of the proper prayers -- collects and the like. Prof Lauren Pristas has written extensively about these; the following papers may be of interest:




These papers feature very close comparisons of the prayer texts, together with analysis of the principles by which the new Latin text was constructed.

Pristas shows that the post-conciliar liturgists tended to simplify the Latin of the older prayers and to correct errors in Latin grammar that had crept into the texts. They also made other, more substantive changes -- for instance, removing some of the darker language of sin and guilt. Whatever you think of these, it's hard to believe that they made the translators' task harder; if anything, simpler and more grammatically correct Latin should be EASIER to render in idiomatic English.

Finally, if "bad Latin" is the culprit, why does the French vernacular read so easily, even though it is close to the Latin? No doubt French and Latin are structurally more similar than are English and Latin, but not enough to account for these horrid translations.


Speaking of other cultures, read this:


I find that most of your criticisms of the new translation are not criticisms of the English but actually the Latin.

The New translations do not cut out or add new words for the most part unlike the ICEL. If you do not like the latin, then maybe you are int he wrong Church.

Spirit of Vatican II

Daniel, I like the Latin and love the Roman Canon in Latin. Your comment is uncalled for.


The new translation is abysmal. In places it seems irreverently to bring God down to the level of man as if he's informing God as to the best way to do things. Not only that but to pray to God in ambiguous language seems and sounds so disrespectful. I for one will seek out a church where the first prayer is used.

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