English bishops say new Mass translation offers chance to deepen faith

Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark celebrates Mass. Credit: Mazur
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark celebrates Mass. Credit: Mazur

.- England’s bishops say the upcoming new English translation of the Mass is not “change for change’s sake,” but will “ensure greater fidelity to the liturgical tradition of the Church.”

In a letter to be read in all parishes May 29, the bishops say the current translation of the Mass does not express the full meaning of the original Latin and loses some of the “teaching of the faith,” meant to be communicated in the liturgy.

“In the earlier translation not all the meaning of the original Latin text was fully expressed and a number of the terms that were used to convey the teachings of the faith were lost,” the Bishops of England and Wales say in the letter, which was obtained by CNA.

The bishops note that the language is important for passing on the true teachings of the faith because “the way we pray forms the way we believe.”

The present English translation of the Mass was prepared in 1973 by an international team appointed by bishops conferences in the 11 countries where English is a dominant language.

The new translation, known as the third typical edition of the Roman Missal, will be fully introduced throughout the English-speaking world on the first Sunday of Advent.

In their letter, the bishops say the new version provides “a closer connection with the Sacred Scriptures which inspire so much of our liturgy.”

In order to prepare parishes for the change-over, the English bishops plan to phase in the texts beginning in September. They will also provide resources explaining each change as it happens. A similar program of catechesis is being planned for schools. Meanwhile, new musical settings are also being composed.

Implementing the new translation “offers an opportunity to deepen our knowledge and understanding of the mystery we celebrate each week,” they added.

They also quoted Pope Benedict XVI, who said on his visit to England in 2010 that the new edition of the Missal should be welcomed with “in-depth catechesis on the Eucharist, and renewed devotion in the manner of its celebration.”

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