A new liturgical translation with very little fuss

Cover for new Italian lectionaryAfter the Italian bishops announced Monday that their new Lectionary was approved by the Vatican and ready for parish use, the story made all the newspapers and the most popular Catholic blogs.

The focus generally was on changes made to familiar biblical passages. For example, Jesus teaches the disciples to pray to God, “Do not abandon us to temptation” rather than “Lead us not into temptation.” And the Angel Gabriel, in greeting Mary, no longer says, “Hail, full of grace,” but, “Rejoice, full of grace.”

But no one seemed particularly upset. And no one accused anyone of being too casual or too formal, too innovative or too old-fashioned.

Instead of planning a series of educational efforts to help Catholics understand the new translation, as English-speaking bishops are doing, the Italian bishops are putting extra energy into commissioning artwork to decorate the volumes.

Bishop Giuseppe Betori, secretary general of the Italian bishops’ conference, told reporters that the two main goals in the new translation were fidelity to the original language of the Scriptures and ridding the Italian text of “archaic” terms.

Name-calling aside, the English-language debate over the new translation of the Mass prayers usually focuses on how familiar or formal the prayers should be.

The Vatican itself called for the balancing act in the 2001 document, “Liturgiam Authenticam,” when it said, “So that the content of the original texts may be evident and comprehensible even to the faithful who lack any special intellectual formation, the translations should be characterized by a kind of language which is easily understandable, yet which at the same time preserves these texts’ dignity, beauty, and doctrinal precision.”

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