German Translations Latest to Face Vatican Crackdown: After Overhaul of Commission on English, Rome Turns Attention to Liturgical Texts in Other Languages. (World)

By Allen, John L., Jr. | National Catholic Reporter, February 14, 2003 | Go to article overview

German Translations Latest to Face Vatican Crackdown: After Overhaul of Commission on English, Rome Turns Attention to Liturgical Texts in Other Languages. (World)


Allen, John L., Jr., National Catholic Reporter


While a Vatican-driven sea change in liturgical philosophy continues in the English-speaking world, moving away from a flexible approach based on living language toward greater conformity with Roman models, fresh evidence suggests a similar overhaul is underway in other languages.

Since 1997, the Vatican has pressed the agency responsible for liturgical translation into English, the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, called ICEL, toward greater fidelity to the Latin originals of liturgical texts. Founded at Vatican II and sponsored by the English-speaking bishops' conferences, ICEL had been known for an approach called "dynamic equivalence," allowing translators some liberties in order to render Latin texts accessible in modern English.

Though the issues involved can be highly technical, observers say the reversals mark one of the most significant course changes under John Paul II from what had been a season of experimentation following the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). Some also see the increasingly direct role of the Vatican in liturgical translation as an example of re-centralization of power in this papacy.

Now the Vatican appears to be turning its attention to other language groups as well.

The agency responsible for liturgical translation into German, known as the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Liturgischen Kommissionen im deutschen Sprachgebiet, caned IAG, is slated for a major reorganization. News of the move followed a December meeting between Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, chair of the German bishops' liturgy committee, and the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship.

IAG, like ICEL, known for a "dynamic equivalence" approach, is housed at the Deutsches Liturgisches Institut in Trier. Member countries include Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, along with a handful of other German-speaking dioceses.

Vatican officials are said to be concerned about German translations in part because some Eastern European conferences use them as base texts for their own translations.

At the annual meeting of IAG in Augsburg, Germany, in January, Meisner informed the group that it will have to be revamped in light of the May 2001 Vatican document Liturgiam Authenticam, which promulgated translation principles reflecting the Roman approach. …

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German Translations Latest to Face Vatican Crackdown: After Overhaul of Commission on English, Rome Turns Attention to Liturgical Texts in Other Languages. (World)
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