US Approval of New Missal Translation Completed

Bishops Urged to Prepare for Coming Changes

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BALTIMORE, Maryland, NOV. 17, 2009 ( The U.S. bishops’ conference completed its approval of the final portions of the new translation of the Roman Missal for use in its country. It now awaits the Vatican’s confirmation.

The vote took place today at the conference’s fall general assembly, which is under way in Baltimore through Thursday.

Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, New Jersey, chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, explained today before the vote that this was the conference’s last chance to send its recommendations to the Holy See. The Vatican has asked for the submission of all input by the end of this month.

The translation has been in progress for the past six years, and the conference has been gradually voting on the various parts of it in their assemblies.

The translation of the Proper of Saints, the Mass prayers for the feast days of saints, was approved by 195 prelates, with 23 opposing and 4 abstaining, thereby winning the necessary two-thirds of the conference’s bishops.

The Roman Missal Supplement translation, with extra material added in the 2008 reprint of the Missale Romanum, was also approved by a vote of 203 to 15, with 3 abstentions.

The translation of the Commons, consisting of Mass prayers for the feast days of saints who have no proper prayers, was ratified by the conference 200-19.

The U.S. Propers, including prayers for specific days on the U.S. liturgical calendar such as Thanksgiving Day and Independence Day, was approved by 199 bishops, with 20 opposing and 1 abstaining.

Lastly, certain U.S. adaptations to the Missale Romanum were approved 199-17.

With this approval, the texts will go to the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for the final “recognitio” (permission), after which the new translation will be implemented.

Historic moment

Bishop Serratelli noted that the “recognitio” is expected at the beginning of 2010, but that it will take another 12 months at that point for the publication of the missal. The date for use will be set at that time, he said.

“We have come to a historic moment,” he said as the voting on the translation was concluded this afternoon.

“After hours of discussion and debate, we have completed our work as a national conference on the translation,” the prelate affirmed.

He acknowledged that even the best translation will not suit everyone’s preferences, but he reminded the conference that there is something greater in this work.

This missal, the bishop said, is not composed of the “expressions of an individual,” but of a community. The prayers “pass on the faith from one generation to the next,” and thus it is an important task to provide translations that are “accurate and inspiring,” he said.

“No translation is perfect,” Bishop Serratelli affirmed, “but the new translation is good and worthy of our use.”

He urged his fellow prelates to catechize the people in preparation for the coming liturgical changes. The prelate announced that many publishers are already preparing material to help in the implementation of the new missal.

He exhorted parishes to “begin now” to prepare their people, for priests to review the approved translations on the Web site of the conference Committee on Divine Worship. In the Spring, he said, 20 workshops will be held around the country to help in the preparation.

Cardinal Francis George, the conference president, affirmed that with the coming changes, “there is a tremendous moment of religious renewal that is possible now.”

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