November 11, 2011

Letters to the Editor

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Rationale for new Mass translation is ‘weak and made up,’ reader says

Father Peter Daly’s column in the Oct. 28 issue of The Criterion on the new Mass translation gave the rationale that it will be a better sign of unity in the Church of the Roman rite.

After examining Mass translations into German, Italian, French and Spanish, I conclude that this reason is false.

Father Daly says “and with your spirit” makes us “conform to the translation in other languages.”

It’s easy to use “spirit” in Romance languages which flow from Latin, but German uses “Geist.” Since English is a Germanic language, to be consistent, we should use “Ghost” like we used to for the third person in the Trinity.

Obviously, the special commission appointed to force through this retranslation thought that use of “spirit” with its unclear meaning in this context was preferable to what we have used for 40 years—“and also with you.”

The three culpas: English, German, Italian, Spanish yes, French no.

Who did Christ die for? English says “many,” from the Latin “multis.” But Italian says “tutti”—all. German says “Alle”—all. French says “La multitude,” and Spanish says “vosotros y por todos los hombres”—you and for all men.

The use of “many,” ignored in all other translations, ought to make John Calvin and believers in predestination very happy.

Enter under my roof: German does use “Dach”—roof, but Italian says “participare alla mensa”—participate at the altar. French uses “parole”—say the word, and Spanish invites “en mi casa”—into my house. Does retranslation of the centurion’s words show unity?

The true reason for the new translation is ideological and political. Vatican conservatives seek to undo Vatican II and its liturgical norms.

That pre-empts Father Daly’s three reasons—and all of the weak, made-up reasons that you publish in weekly columns on the retranslated Mass.

- James J. Divita, Indianapolis

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