Canadian lectionary’s inclusive language receives Vatican approval


After 18 years, the Vatican has put a final stamp of approval on the Canadian lectionary, granting a recognitio to the inclusive language of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible in English.

Canadians have been reading the NRSV at Mass since 1992, when the first edition of the new Sunday lectionary was published with approval from the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

The Canadian NRSV lectionary for weekdays was published in 1994. It was only then that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith objected to NRSV translations.

The NRSV uses inclusive language, referring to both men and women, when the text refers to people. References to God use the pronoun “He.”

Pope John Paul II used the Canadian lectionary at World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto.

“The main issue was not the question of inclusive language,” Archbishop James Weisgerber, vice president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the Register. The Vatican’s concern has been a matter of technical issues and accuracy, he said.

A committee of Canadian bishops had been meeting regularly with Vatican officials to work on the details of the text since 2003. With the recognitio in place, the bishops can begin publishing a second edition to the books already in use, starting with Year B, Nov. 30, 2008. 

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