The Bishop of Auckland, Bishop Patrick Dunn, supports a theologian’s suggestion of having another look at the 1998 ICEL translation of the Roman Missal.
Bishop Dunn is one of 11 bishops conference representatives on the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) — from 11 of the different countries that use English to celebrate Mass.
Australian theologian Fr Gerald O’Collins, SJ, has had an open letter published in the London Tablet, addressed to English-speaking bishops, seeking their action to improve liturgical English.
“My hope is now that you will act quickly to help English speaking Catholics participate
more eff ectively in the liturgy,” Fr O’Collins wrote.
Episcopal conferences approved a revised translation completed after 17 years of work by ICEL, he wrote. “You also know that this 1998 translation, when sent to the Congregation
for Divine Worship, was simply rejected without any dialogue.
“Roman authorities set up a committee called Vox Clara (‘a clear voice’), which was largely
responsible for a ‘revised’ translation in 2010 that came into force in November 2011.
Ironically, the results produced by Vox Clara were too often unclear and sometimes verging on the unintelligible.”
In 2001, the Holy See issued Liturgiam Authenticam, which included the requirement that, in translations of liturgical texts from the official Latin originals, or sacred Scripture
from the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, the original text must as much as possible
be translated integrally and in the most exact manner, “without omissions or additions
in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses”. Any adaptation to the characteristics or the nature of the various vernacular languages was to be sober and discreet.
That contrasted with the principle of dynamic equivalence that was promoted after Vatican II.
Bishop Dunn wrote to NZ Catholic that he supported Fr O’Collins’ suggestion to look again at the 1998 ICEL translation of the Roman Missal.
He was suggesting to the other New Zealand bishops that they arrange for representatives
from English-speaking conferences of bishops to meet the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and his staff, and let them know of the difficulties being faced with the principles
of translation arising from Liturgiam Authenticam, Bishop Dunn stated.
The present translation produces an accurate English translation of Latin, he said, but not a clear and beautiful English vernacular text.
“If the NZ bishops, at our meeting in April, accept my proposal, we need to work through the presidents of English-speaking conferences to see if they will collaborate with us.”
Bishop Dunn said he would like to see ICEL publish a study edition of the 1998 ICEL text
(already online) so English speaking bishops and their advisers can take a second look at that version — which was approved by all English speaking conferences before the release of Liturgiam Authenticam.


  1. Bishop Dunn says, “The present translation produces an accurate English translation of Latin… but not a clear and beautiful English vernacular text.” With due respect to the bishop, I say absolute rubbish. Sounds to me like a clear case of ongoing ‘sour grapes’ and misplaced priorities by someone who should know better. Our church leaders (also including parish priests and religious) should use their energies and talents more wisely on behalf of the faithful by better promoting the ‘unchanging’ essentials of the Catholic Faith – including understanding of the Real Presence, and the vital importance of regular Confession. Ignorance and loss of faith is wide-spread in New Zealand – dare I say, endemic – thanks to decades of catechetical wishy-washiness.