Cold water has been poured on the idea that Catholics might have to endure another English translation of the Mass, just six years after the last change, following an amendment to Canon Law by Pope Francis.
The new law, Magnum Principium, was issued on Saturday and is seen as an example of the Pope following the reforms started by Vatican II, by returning authority to bishops’ conferences over the translation of liturgical texts from Latin into local languages.
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), who campaigned against the new English translation of the Mass issued in 2011 as “a backward step”, have welcomed the announcement, saying it hopes that Irish bishops will “quickly take this matter in hand” to revise the language of the Missal.
However, Bishop John McAreavey, a member of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), the body involved in preparing English translations of Latin liturgical texts, told The Irish Catholic this was “unlikely”.
Bishop McAreavey said 10 years of work had been put into the last translation of the missal and “it’s not an easy thing to pull it and start again”.
Fr Tom Whelan CSSp, a prominent specialist in liturgy, echoed the bishop saying: “No matter what happens at this stage, the Missal cost so much to produce that whether people like it or loathe it, it is not going to be printed again in the immediate future.”
Fr Whelan said there are a number of liturgical books currently being revised in the new translation, and “from that point of view Magnum Principium is and will be of importance to Ireland”.
“We are in the middle of a stream of translations and it is hoped this document will begin to affect anything new that is coming in, that hasn’t already got Roman approval.”
Bishop McAreavey, who welcomed the new document as “a very positive development”, said that in terms of “effective cooperation between bishops’ conferences and the Holy See” he believed that ICEL would “feel what is in this document is what we have actually been doing the last number of years”.