WBUR

Committee Head Discusses Catholic Mass Changes

BOSTON — For the first time in 40 years, Catholics will soon use different words at Mass.

Beginning on Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent, a new translation of the Roman Missal goes into effect under order from the Vatican.

Monsignor James Moroney, who teaches at Saint John’s Seminary in Boston, headed the Vox Clara Committee, the group which oversaw the new translation. He says they made the change to make the language accessible and to reflect fully the Latin text.

“The poetry, the beauty, the depth of the language is a difficult thing to translate for contemporary times,” Moroney says. “But poetry and beauty is appreciated in any age.”

The parishioners prayers have changed the least, with much greater poetic expression added to the passages delivered by the priest, says Moroney.

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  • Steve

    It is great that BUR aired this story that covered many key points about a topic that is significant to practicing Catholics.  A couple of corrections – the new translation is not a “New Mass”.  The discussion was of course of the English translation, not a translation to be used by “All Catholics”.  One of the goals of this translation was to make the English more consistent with translations in other languages that are all based on the original Latin.  A major point the interviewer should have posed to the guest is the failure of the new translation to use “inclusive” language – replacing male terms with gender neutral terms.  We were working to use inclusive language in liturgical music on my college campus 30 years ago,  to someone of my generation the failure of the new translation to address this issue makes it seem very out of date already. 

  • Lurker #59

    Steve~

    The Catholic
    Church understands gender specific terms in scripture and the liturgy to have
    real metaphysical meanings — thus to translate using “general neutral
    terms” does violence to the texts and actually distorts what the scripture
    and the liturgy is trying to have us understand.  Each she and he is important.

    • Steve

      While there may be some in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church who believe that all gender specific terms in the liturgy have real metaphysical meaning, I would be very surprised if all of the Catholic scholars who contributed to the new translation share that point of view.  Common sense would suggest that in some places a gender specific term has meaning and others it does not.  The Creed is a great example:  what is the metaphysical meaning of a congregation of men and women praying “for us men”?  I’ll concede that “became man” does have a metaphysical meaning since Jesus was born as a male infant. 

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