Pope Urges 'Sensitivity' As Mass Changes Are Introduced

06/28/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Benedict XVI warned that a forthcoming new English translation of the Catholic Mass could provoke "confusion or bewilderment" among worshipers if not "introduced with due sensitivity."

Benedict made his remarks on Wednesday (April 28), during lunch with a committee of English-speaking bishops from five continents, who have worked for nearly a decade with the Vatican's liturgy office on preparing the new translation.

"Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly 40 years of continuous use of the previous translation," the pope said. "The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped."

The pope said the changes, if handled correctly, will help prevent "any risk of confusion or bewilderment" in the most sweeping changes to Catholic worship since the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.

Benedict did not specify a release date, saying only that the text "will soon be ready for publication." Australia's Cardinal George Pell, chairman of the advisory committee, told the National Catholic Register the translation will not be available for use in churches before 2011 at the earliest.

Catholic churches around the world replaced Latin for local vernacular languages in the wake of modernizing reforms of the 1960s. The Vatican ordered changes in 2001 of the translation used in English-speaking countries to make it conform more closely to the Latin original.

The process has been fraught with controversy. Some clergy and lay people have objected to phrasing and vocabulary they find awkward or clunky. Others have argued a more faithful translation produces language of greater solemnity.

In the current version of the Mass in English, for instance, a priest prays over the bread and wine for Communion by saying: "Let your Spirit come upon these gifts, to make them holy."

In the revised version, he will instead say: "Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall."


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