New Translations of Vatican II Texts Needed, Says Prefect

Archbishop Levada Hopes for a Revision Within 10 Years

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ROME, OCT. 11, 2005 ( The present translations of the documents of the Second Vatican Council are «imprecise,» says Archbishop William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

To resolve the problem, the archbishop «hopes that for the Council’s 50th anniversary — in 10 years time — a careful official translation of the Council will be made in the main languages.»

To date, no translation of Vatican II documents has been presented as official.

Archbishop Levada spoke Monday at the opening of the academic year of the Athenaeum of St. Anselm on Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on divine Revelation, «Dei Verbum.»

In his address, Archbishop Levada explained that ambiguous translations had been made of the Council’s texts, in particular of «Dei Verbum,» suggesting the urgency of a total revision of the texts to correct the various interpretations and translations, which, he believes, do not reflect the authentic meaning of what the conciliar fathers wished to transmit.

Dei Verbum

The prefect pointed out that «Dei Verbum» shows «the close relationship between Revelation, the Word of God, Scripture, Tradition and the magisterium» and clarified that «the magisterium is not above the Word of God but serves it faithfully.»

The prefect, 69, who was archbishop of San Francisco, California, before taking up his post in Rome last August, made his contribution following an outline made of «Dei Verbum» by then professor Joseph Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI) after its promulgation.

At the time, Archbishop Levada said in Italian, «Joseph Ratzinger identified […] three topics which have come together in the debate: the application of the historical-critical method to the interpretation of Scripture; the emergence of the so-called biblical movement; and the relationship between Scripture and Tradition.»

Regarding the historical-critical reading of the Bible, Archbishop Levada said: «It cannot be denied that ‘Dei Verbum’ has contributed a certain peace to the world of Catholic exegesis because of the importance of the literary genres for the interpretation of Scripture.»

The archbishop pointed out that the biblical, liturgical and ecumenical movement made Scripture «better known and utilized in the life of the Council.»


He praised the attempts to make a «spiritual» and not just critical or literal reading of the Bible and mentioned, in this connection, the indications of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Regarding Tradition and Scripture, the prefect said that both are in «symbiosis» and he rejected any «dichotomy.»

Cardinal Ratzinger’s successor at the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith added: «We can only be amazed in the face of Revelation and the love of God which shows itself in different ways.»

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