The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference will ask the members of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) to review the 1998 draft Roman Missal translation in view of Pope Francis’ recent edict Magnum Principium. NZCBC president Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn said the New Zealand bishops agreed to write to ICEL to put the possibility of using the 1998 translation under discussion when it (ICEL) meets in February.

“A lot of people are asking, ‘what’s happened to the 1998 Missal?’ We need to actually dust it, take it off the shelf. Let’s have a look at it and see what was achieved,” Bishop Dunn told NZ Catholic.

Bishop Dunn said as soon as Magnum Principium came out, a number of New Zealand priests started urging their bishops to lead the way and start using the 1998 Missal translation.

“It’s not quite that simple because even with Magnum Principium, you still need to go to the Congregation [for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments] for confirmatio (Latin for confirmation),” explained Bishop Dunn.

He stressed the Congregation “does play an important role because it preserves the unity of the Roman Rite”.

Bishop Dunn said the New Zealand bishops are also not inclined to go it alone because they acknowledge the importance of working collegially with ICEL.

In a recent NZCBC statement, the bishops emphasised they “will be working in collaboration with English-speaking bishops’ conferences around the world, as we seek to explore prudently and patiently the possibility of an alternative translation of the Roman Missal and the review of other liturgical texts”.

Bishop Dunn said bishops of other English-speaking countries also feel the need for unity.

“The general feeling among the ICEL bishops is that we should try to keep that spirit of collaboration and cooperation. That is quite a strength and it’s a very good thing,” said Bishop Dunn. “Let’s not break up what we’ve got going.”

He added the Holy See appreciates ICEL’s efforts as it is the only language group that has worked so cooperatively thus far.

Bishop Dunn said at ICEL’s February meeting, it would be interesting to see what the other episcopal conferences think about revisiting the 1998 translation.

“What I suspect is that many [ICEL] bishops’ conferences may not want to be bothered with a whole new Missal. They’ll think, ‘dear God, not again’,” he said.

Bishop Dunn said his personal opinion is that it might be worthwhile reviewing the 1998 translation for the Eucharistic Prayers, but keep the people’s responses the same.

“In the present Missal, the Collect [or opening prayer] really frustrates a lot of priests because it’s been translated too literally from the Latin and sometimes, it’s not clear exactly what it means,” he said.

The New Zealand bishops have always advocated a review of the 1998 translation because of the complaints of the priests and the people regarding long sentences, multiple subordinate clauses and general “clunkiness” of the present Missal text put out by the Congregation.

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