Francis corrects Sarah: Liturgical translations not to be ‘imposed’ from Vatican

Light of truth

Pope Francis has issued a public correction to an article by Cardinal Robert Sarah about the changes the pontiff made last month to how the Catholic Church’s liturgies are to be translated from the original Latin into local languages.

In the correction, which takes the form of a letter to Sarah but the Pope asks to be posted at the same websites where the cardinal’s article first appeared, Francis makes clear the Vatican is no longer to undertake a “detailed word-by-word exam” of translations they receive from the world’s local bishops’ conferences.

Francis says the new motu proprio Magnum Principium (“The Great Principle”), released on September 9, “grants the episcopal conferences the faculty to judge the worth and coherence of one or another phrase in the translations from the original.”

“The process of translating relevant liturgical texts into a language … must not bring a spirit of ‘imposition’ over the episcopal conferences with a translation handed down from the Dicastery, as that would betray the right of bishops as set forth in canon law,” the Pope tells the cardinal.

Sarah is the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which tradi-tionally has had authority over liturgical translations.

Francis’ correction, sent out by the Vatican press office on Oct. 22, is a response to an article by Sarah that appeared in the October 14 edition of the French magazine L’Homme Nouveau and was then posted in Italian on several other websites.

In his article, Sarah had claimed that the Pope’s motu proprio did not change his congregation’s authority to impose new translations on bishops’ conferences when the congregation decided the bishops’ efforts did not match the original Latin texts closely enough.

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