From 1 October 2017, there will be a change in Roman Catholic canon law that will mean that local Conferences of Bishops will be the final arbiters of the liturgical translation used in their region.
The canon to be changed is Can. 838.2 and 838.3. Currently §2 reads:
§2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books and review their translations in vernacular languages, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.
This will become
§2. It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books, recognise adaptations approved by Conferences of Bishops according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.
You will notice the addition of “recognise adaptations approved by Conferences of Bishops according to the norm of law”.
As to §3, this currently reads:
§3. It pertains to the conferences of bishops to prepare and publish, after the prior review of the Holy See, translations of liturgical books in vernacular languages, adapted appropriately within the limits defined in the liturgical books themselves.
This will become
§3. It pertains to the conferences of bishops to faithfully prepare versions of the liturgical books in vernacular languages, suitably accommodated within defined limits, and to approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.
You will notice, “faithfully” has been added. And the significant change: conferences of bishops will from now on “approve” the liturgical translations that they have prepared.
The centralised, Vatican approval, and in fact alteration of vernacular translations, has been mired in controversy, to say the least. The Vatican-approved 2011 English translation insists in being gender-specific exclusivist, is inconsistent, difficult to proclaim, poorly laid out, difficult to understand, and abandoned agreed ecumenical texts and, with it, music.
The NZ bishops’ appeals to the Vatican (for example to allow the contemporary Lord’s Prayer) were ignored.
German, French, and Italian bishops conferences have not given in so easily – and their translations are stalled in agitation.
Many may not realise that there is a perfectly good English-language translation produced painstakingly in 1998 that the Vatican rejected.
Although one might now visualise the English-language version in one part of the planet being different to the version somewhere else (cf. the Anglican family of texts), locally, ecumenical working together might, by this, be repaired. Restoration of our agreed English-language ecumenical texts (and with it the possibility of shared music) is one of my hopes.
The Second Vatican Council was clear: “Translations from the Latin text into the mother tongue intended for use in the liturgy must be approved by the competent territorial ecclesiastical authority mentioned above [the local conference of bishops]” SACROSANCTUM CONCILIUM 36.4
Pope Francis is returning to the teaching of Vatican II.