Vatican Bans NRSV for Catholic Worship

The Christian Century, December 7, 1994 | Go to article overview

Vatican Bans NRSV for Catholic Worship


Striking again at the use of gender-neutral language by Roman Catholics, the Vatican has withdrawn permission to use an ecumenical edition of the Bible during worship services. In addition to declaring the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible off-limits for Catholic liturgy, the Vatican has also withdrawn permission for worship use of the New American Bible Psalter, a new translation of the Psalms in the modern Catholic Bible. "What is at issue is liturgical use, the public proclamation of the Word of God in the living tradition of the Catholic Church," said Cardinal-designate William Keeler of Baltimore, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. "The use of either the NRSV or the revised NAB for reading or Bible study is not at issue."

Critics immediately denounced the action as undermining the authority of the U.S. bishops, who in 1991 approved the NRSV for worship. "This is a blow to the American bishops and their own criteria on the use of inclusive language; it is a blow to their authority and it is a blow to ecumenism," said Gab Huck of Chicago's Liturgical Training Center, a Catholic-based publisher of ecumenical liturgical resources for congregations.

Joseph Jensen, executive secretary of the Catholic Biblical Association, an organization of Catholic Bible scholars, urged American bishops to fight the Vatican action. "Will the American bishops meekly acquiesce in Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's invasion of their rights to establish the sort of lectionary which is pastorally appropriate for their own people?" Jensen asked, referring to the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the church's chief theological watchdog. …

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