The Holy See has released a new “motu proprio” from Pope Francis outlining a shift in the responsibility of local bishops and the Apostolic See for the revision and approval of liturgical texts.
Dated Sept. 3, the document is titled “Magnum Principium,” meaning “The great principle,” and deals explicitly with two specific changes to Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law, which addresses the authority of the Apostolic See and national episcopal conferences in preparing liturgical texts in vernacular languages.
The document was published Sept. 9, in the middle of Pope Francis’ six-day trip to Colombia.
Specifically, changes were introduced were to paragraphs 2 and 3 of Canon 838.
Canon 838, 2 has until now stated that: “It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books and review their translations in vernacular languages, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.”
However, with Francis’ motu proprio, the text has been changed to read: “It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books, recognize adaptations approved by the Episcopal Conference according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.”
Similarly, 838, 3 previously read: “It pertains to the conferences of bishops to prepare and publish, after the prior review of the Holy See, translations of liturgical books in vernacular languages, adapted appropriately within the limits defined in the liturgical books themselves.”
The text will now read: “It pertains to the episcopal conferences to faithfully prepare versions of the liturgical books in vernacular languages, suitably accommodated within defined limits, and to approveand publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.”
The changes apportion a greater portion of responsibility for the preparation and approval of liturgical translations to episcopal conferences, rather than the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
Francis stressed that 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,” there are particular terms which “must also be considered in the context of the entire Catholic faith because each translation of texts must be congruent with sound doctrine.”
Given the weight of the task, the Pope said it’s no surprise that certain problems have arisen between episcopal conferences and the Apostolic See along the way.
In order for decisions about the use of the vernacular language to be of use and value in the future, then, “a vigilant and creative collaboration full of reciprocal trust” between the Apostolic See and bishops conferences is “absolutely necessary.”
Because of this, “in order that the renewal of the whole liturgical life might continue,” Francis said ‘it seemed opportune that some principles handed on since the time of the Council should be more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.”
Apt attention ought to be paid to the “benefit and good of the faithful,” while at the same time ensuring that the “right and duty” of episcopal conferences is not forgotten, since it is their task to “ensure and establish that, while the character of each language is safeguarded, the sense of the original text is fully and faithfully rendered and that even after adaptations the translated liturgical books always illuminate the unity of the Roman Rite.”
In order to make collaboration between the Apostolic See and bishops conferences “easier and more fruitful,” and after having listened to advice from a commission of bishops and experts he established to study the issue, the Pope said he wished to make the “canonical discipline” already in force in canon 838 more clear.
Namely, Francis said he wanted the changes to be more directly in line with paragraphs 36, 40 and 63 of the Second Vatican Council Constitution on Sacred Liturgy “Sacrosanctum Concilium” and the provisions of point nine of Paul VI’s 1964 Motu Proprio “Sacram Liturgiam.” so that “the competency of the Apostolic See surrounding the translation of liturgical books and the more radical adaptations established and approved by Episcopal Conferences be made clearer, among which can also be numbered eventual new texts to be inserted into these books.”
All changes will go into effect on Oct. 1 of this year.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.