Trautman: Ditch the New Translations

NCR is reporting that Bishop Donald W. Trautman is encouraging the U.S. bishops to adopt a last-minute measure to reject the new Mass translations.  Trautman, who served as chairman of the USCCB Committee on Liturgy, has long opposed the new translations, as you can see from his article, from 2007, in America.   Here are two snippets from the NCR piece, as reported by Jerry Filteau.

Last-ditch effort to dump Mass translations


WASHINGTON -- Bishop Donald W. Trautman is calling for a last-minute measure by the U.S. bishops this month to save American Catholics from new Mass prayers full of grammatical errors and unproclaimable texts.

The bishops are set to approve the last four segments of a new U.S. English translation of the Roman Missal at their annual fall meeting Nov. 16-19.

Trautman, the bishop of Erie, Pa., is urging the bishops to reject at least one of these segments, he told NCR Oct. 30.

Trautman said he thinks the only procedural way the bishops can halt the process and gain a new review of texts they have already approved (including Vatican reversals of many of their amendments to earlier texts) is to vote down at least one of the final segments up for review and form a committee to go to Rome and consult with the Vatican on what he considers the questionable texts approved by the Holy See.

There’s simply no doubt that the bad grammar he declaims is there in prayers already approved by the U.S. bishops, or subsequently modified by Rome, which the priest or people are expected to pray during Mass. Which start, like this sentence, with a relative pronoun, making the entire sentence a subordinate clause. Which, he says, is no way to try to make people pray. And entire sentences, like this one, with no subject or verb.


“Our liturgy needs not a ‘sacred language’ but a pastoral language that will fulfill the mandate of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy for full, conscious and active participation,” Trautman said. “The noble simplicity recommended by the Council Fathers needs to be emphasized.”

He said amendments made by the U.S. bishops to the new translations done by the Vatican-approved scholars of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy have resulted in a text that “is vastly improved but not mature at this point for the worship life of the church.” And, as he noted by phone later, in the texts so far approved by the Vatican, it has overturned many of the U.S. amendments, changing the text back to the commission’s original version.

At its present stage the new translation “does not have a pastoral style” that would lead American Catholics to “own the prayer text, its vocabulary, its style, its idiom, its cadence,” he said.

“If the Roman Missal does not speak to our culture, the church in the United States will suffer,” he said.

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Joe Garcia
9 years 2 months ago
As someone who attends Mass in (depending on time and location) English, Spanish and Latin I must confess the current translation is both invincibly banal and jarring.
If one hears Mass in, say, Spanish (or Portuguese, French, Italian, etc.) and then English this "jarringness" becomes absolutely unavoidable. Why English should suffer from such an appalling translation while other languages do not has never been explained, let alone explained satisfactorily.
Now, I'm not particularly exercised by the usage of "ineffable" or "incarnate" and I suspect that a dash of catechesis - remember that? - might go a long way to alleviate any transitional discomfort.
Donald Schenk
9 years 2 months ago
I agree with Brenden McGrath-if Bishop Trautman prefers the "misa liberalese" to an acurate translation of what the current Missal really says, maybe he should apply for an idult to continue saying his favorite "REALLY extrodinary form" of the Missal.
Brendan McGrath
9 years 2 months ago
Donald - I think you misread the way the posts are laid out; the idea of an idult for the current translation came from Geoff, not me.  (Does anyone else think the layout should be changed so that the poster's name is placed ABOVE the post, rather than below?)  Although that could be a nice idea! 
I've sometimes thought that it might be a good idea to have an extraordinary form of the Mass in which feminine language is used for God (e.g., "In the name of the Mother, and of the Son (maybe even "Daughter"), and of the Holy Spirit," etc.).  I mean that seriously, actually - although I think we need to keep "Father/Son/Holy Spirit" and certain other such formulations as the norm, I'm all for people complementing masculine language for God with feminine language in their own prayers, speech, writings, etc., and I think we could perhaps really have some extraordinary litrugical form that would use feminine language.  Of course, that's not going to happen anytime soon, but perhaps eventually. 
On a related note:  I've known for a while about the strand of theology and mysticism that speaks of Christ as Mother, but recently I stumbled upon something Scott Hahn mentioned (obviously I doubt he would agree with the suggestions I've made here) about the Holy Spirit being addressed as Mother.  Among other things, he mentions "the Syriac rite of pre-baptismal anointing," in which "the Holy Spirit is called upon,'Come, Mother of the seven houses.'"  (See or )
The delightful things you can find in Catholicism's attic!  (By the way, this is what I meant about being both liberal and traditional - on the one hand, I like archaic "thou/thee" language, and on the other hand, I like the whole God as Mother thing.  To those of you in our Catholic community who tend to be more conservative on this issue, I hope you won't think ill of me!)
9 years 2 months ago
As an educated, practicing, far from perfect Catholic woman in the 21st century, I wish I could care more the pastoral style of the new translation.  
Tony Podlecki
9 years 2 months ago
I hope his colleagues have the good sense and courage to stand with Bishop Trautman on this one. What ever happened to collegiality?
William Rydberg
9 years 2 months ago
I think that Bishop Trautman is wrong on this one...
Pearce Shea
9 years 2 months ago
It's funny. I have a number of very liberal and a number of very conservative Catholic friends. I'm not sure where it is I sit among them, but I've not that all the liberal Catholics hate this new translation and all the conservatives love it. The vast majority have no idea what it actually says. That said, Tony- from what I've read,Bp.  Trautman very much appears to be in the minority here, so I'm not sure what "collegiality" would be necessitated. Mort to the point, Bp. Trautman does not seem to feel any compunction about collegiality when it comes to the work that his brother Bishops have been championing, so... where's his sense of collegiality?
Brendan McGrath
9 years 2 months ago
I'm both liberal and traditional (not ''conservative'') as a Catholic - from seeing various bits of the new translations, I like some things and dislike others.  I do want more elevated, poetic language - in certain cases, though, I think the translations fall flat or are clunky: i.e., not elevated or poetic enough. 
I'd also like to have them use ''archaic'' forms like ''thee''; I'm disappointed they're not doing that - I don't really like ''thou'' too much, but ''thou'' is worth it to have ''thee,'' which is just so beautiful.  The intimate, breath-like quality of ''thee'' is especially apparent in ''And let my cry come unto Thee,'' for example, or in the Anima Christi's more traditional translation.  Below is the traditional translation of the Anima Christi, and later a contemporary translation; comparing them you can see how the ''elevated,'' ''poetic'' langauge creates this breath-like intimacy that's wrecked in the contemporary translation by the switch from ''thou/thee'' to ''you'' and the rewording of things.  The same principle applies in various ways to the Mass translations too:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me;
Within thy wounds hide me;
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee;
From the malignant enemy defend me;
In the hour of my death call me,
And bid me come to Thee,
That with thy saints I may praise Thee
Forever and ever, Amen.
Now, compare that to this monstrosity that I came across:
Soul of Christ, make me holy.  [THUD!!!]
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, make me strong.   [THUD!]
O good Jesus, hear me. 
Hide me within Your wounds.   [THUD!]
Let me never be separated from You.   [KERPLUNK!]
Deliver me from the wicked enemy.  [CLUNKETY CLUNK]
Call me at the hour of my death,   [''Give me a call...'']
And tell me to come to You,    [''Tell me''?!]
That with Your saints I may praise You
Forever.  Amen.   [did we have to lose ''and ever''?]
Anyway, just some thoughts, ramblings, etc.
Geoffrey Rider
9 years 2 months ago
Perhaps Bishop Trautman and those others who are attached to the old translation could apply for an indult for the Mass to be celebrated according to the old 1970 form.


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