One of the most controversial points of the new English Mass translation is the Nicene Creed. Not just the “consubstantial” but more especially the “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven.” The translation acts as if it is a formal equivalent translation – where the same word in Latin is translated by the same word in English. And the translation insists that “propter nos homines et propter nostram salutem” be translated as “for us men…” So far so uninclusive, but it really hits home when we look at the Gloria: “…and on earth peace to people of good will…” translating “et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis”.

Hominibus is the plural masculine and feminine dative of homo, meaning a human being, man, person. Homines is… ummm… ummm… plural masculine and feminine accusative of, well what a surprise(!), the exact same word, homo. According to the papal rules it should be translated by the same English word, but the papally approved translation fails: people in one place, men in another.

Interestingly the NZ priest’s book, presumably a typo(?), has for the new text of the Nicene Creed, “for us and for our salvation”. [NZ Roman Catholics have begun using the “people’s parts” of the new translation].

The Vatican has made over 10,000 alterations to the English texts that left the Bishops’ Conferences for the Vatican’s approval. ICEL is less than impressed. My discovery, merely quickly flicking through the text, is reinforced by a list of 13 types of errors the Vatican is guilty of:

1. change of meaning from the Latin original (RT 41)
2. mistranslation of the Latin (RT 20)
3. limiting of the vocabulary (LA 49/51; RT 20, 46-50)
4. additions of an element not found in the Latin (LA 20)
5. omission of an element found in the Latin (RT 44)
6. weakening of Scriptural allusion (RT 6, 36)
7. loss of intensity of original (RT 50/62)
8. introduction of a theological problem (RT 102)
9. difficulty with English grammar or usage (LA 44/74)
10. adoption of Neo-Vulgate when an antiphon uses the Vulgate (LA 37/38; RT 37/107)
11. capitalization of LORD when it renders YHWH. (LA 41c; RT 81/116)
12. suppression of a rhetorical device (LA 57a/58/59)
13. translations of ‘unigenitum’ (RT 81)

It may be a little while before NZ Roman Catholics spot the issues. Following my predictions, the not-used-at-Mass-previously Apostles Creed is being preferred to the Nicene Creed, the latter being far more significantly altered, uninclusive in language, and with the now-famous “consubstantial”. The Gloria is not used during Advent.

I have already pointed out that the Lord’s Prayer does not follow the Vatican’s requirement. And it interests me that, while the Received Text does not include the contemporary ecumenically agreed English-language Lord’s Prayer, the NZ edition does.

The lack of responses to the NZ experience of using the new texts is due to a variety of reasons, not least loyalty. But in several conversations there is irritation that clergy are putting spin on the new texts by extreme denigration of the texts which have helped them grow in faith for four decades. One newspaper article compared the new texts as an oak dining table to replace the formica and chrome suite used for the last 40 years. One does not enhance the authority of and respect for the papacy by running down the texts authorised through several recent papacies.

Further information: Pray Tell

Image source: directly quoting a conversation in Chapter 6 of Through the Looking Glass.

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