Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Changes Delay English-Language Catechism: Text Is Too Gender-Inclusive, Critics Say

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Changes Delay English-Language Catechism: Text Is Too Gender-Inclusive, Critics Say

Article excerpt

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Publication of the English-language version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, expected in early spring, has been delayed because the Vatican wants changes in the text - changes some say may involve trimming inclusive language.

"That's not the case at all," according to Charles A. Bugge, marketing manager for the U.S. Catholic Conference's Office for Publishing and Promotion Services, the principal American publisher.

However, Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, editor in chief of Ignatius Press, San Francisco, said last week that inclusive language is "the central concern." Fessio, according to reports, has been a leading opponent of inclusive language.

Bugge said he learned March 11 that he and 12 copublishers, who have hundreds of advance orders for the catechism, should expect the revised text in late April. Publication is scheduled for five to eight weeks later.

Its initial translations - French and Italian - have sold well in Europe since the Vatican approved the catechism in December. Divided into sections on the creed, sacraments, commandments and prayer, the catechism is intended as a reference on essential content of the Catholic faith.

Terry Dosh of Minneapolis, editor of the newsletter Bread Rising, wrote in its March issue that the catechism has been delayed six months.

"My sources report that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston that there was too much inclusive language therein. Subsequently, Law hired an American Jesuit to revise the catechetical language to make it less inclusive and therefore passable by Roman standards." Dosh said his sources are confidential but highly reliable.

Law's communications director, John Walsh, when asked about the delay, sent NCR a copy of the cardinal's Feb. 12 diocesan newspaper column praising the English translation and anticipating availability "within several months."

Newsweek reported March 8 that American translators compromised on gender-specific language with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at an early February meeting in Rome.

The Americans agreed to restore "brethren" in place of "members of my family," Newsweek said; Ratzinger agreed that gratuitous male nouns can be replaced, such as "fatherhood" by "parenthood."

Father Douglas Clark, the principal English-language translator, could not be reached last week for comment.

The Tablet of England, reporting Feb. 13 on the Rome meeting, said Fessio was among objectors to inclusive language. However, Law and Bishop David Konstant of Leeds, England, managed to demonstrate that most criticisms could be set aside, reported The Tablet.

Fessio said neither he nor Clark was at the February meeting. He expressed his objections to inclusive language in letters to Ratzinger, to Law and to another U.S. bishop, he said.

The Tablet said Fessio objected because U.S. bishops had not chosen Ignatius Press as a copublisher.

Not so, said Fessio. Although be had a contract, be did not sign it because it required a minimum order of 5,000 copies and a down payment in January. "I knew there were going to be problems with this catechism" and that it would be delayed, be said. …

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