Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Hunwicke on the Obscuration of Vat II

Fr Hunwicke makes an interesting point about the new Missal translations, basicly he is saying those who are against the new translation are part of the thumbs down 4 Vat2 brigade. Interesting, eh?
.....it is the post-conciliar Missal, the Missal authorised by Pope Paul VI "by the mandate of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council", that was kept hidden, by faulty translation, from the ears of the faithful for four decades. It is, substantially, the Missal of Paul VI that the new translation will now begin to make accessible to the People of God. Enthusiasts for Vatican II, and its aftermath, and for Paul VI, should be applauding the new translation. It provides what they claim they want.

Remember: the Council never said that the Mass had to be in English; it simply authorised some degree of vernacular use. This guarded permission was subsequently extended, not by the Council but by a series of unilateral decrees emanating from the Curia. And the Council certainly did not decree that vernacular translations should be such as to obscure a large amount of the meaning of the authorised Latin texts. The Instruction which bears responsibility for the currently expiring translation, Comme le prevoit, had nothing to do with the Council. Again, its origin was in the Curia. People who claim to have a suspicion of the Curia and of its 'dominant role in the Church's life', should, if they have any consistency or logic, be prejudiced against the 1970s translation of the Mass.

The new translation, which our bishops, laudably, are bringing in earlier than most other hierarchies, means: back to Paul VI; back to the Missal which derived from the Conciliar impetus. Those fighting a rear-guard action against it should sort out their own confusions.

6 comments:

Mike said...

Despite Fr Hunwicke’s correct description of what was decided at the Second Vatican Council, the official website for promoting the new translation in Scotland suggests the following incorrect version should be included in parish Bulletins in Scotland:
“At the Second Vatican Council, in the early 1960s, it was agreed that Mass could be said in the language of the country in which it was being celebrated.”
http://www.romanmissalscotland.org.uk/bulletin-inserts-for-the-new-missal.html

Tom said...

Fr Hunwicke has taken down his blog and his ordination deferred:

http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2011/06/june-9-1968.html

Laudator concilii said...

"Interesting, eh?" No, not really, just the same old anti-Vatican II special pleading. To say that "the Instruction which bears responsibility for the currently expiring translation, Comme le prevoit, had nothing to do with the Council. Again, its origin was in the Curia" is a seriously misleading statement.
The Council's constitution on the liturgy, approved virtually unanimously by the bishops of the Council, was drafted by members of what became the commission set up by Pope Paul VI to implement the constitution. This commission produced the document Comme le prevoit, which is therefore directly linked to the decisions of the Council. Its successor, the Congregation for Divine Worship, has become an arm of the Curia, which under John Paul II and Pope Benedict has been more and more detached from any accountability to the bishops. It has even gazumped the bishops' authority in canon law to approve translations of the liturgy.
Comme le prevoit, now 40 years old, sets out accurately and concisely principles of translation which any competent philologist will recognise. Liturgiam authenticam, the product of the CDW, says little more than that translations should be faithful to the original Latin text of the liturgy, but hardly addresses at all questions of the theory or methodology of translation. Comme le prevoit informs the current English version of the mass, which is certainly not perfect, but was clearly produced by people who had thought about how to express in English the meaning, style and form of the Latin original. Liturgiam authenticam, by contrast, yields the new version that the Curia wants to impose on us, little better than a paraphrase from Latin in schoolboy translationese. A better translation is needed, but if the people of the Church are going to have to go to the trouble and expense of getting used to a new one imposed on them by the Curia - and without being consulted at all - they could surely expect something a lot better than this.
As regards the scope of translation into vernacular languages, the Council's constitution says that "the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites," but also that the limits of the use of the mother tongue "may be extended" and that it is the bishops of each language area who have the authority to decide "to what extent the vernacular is to be used" (Article 36). They could, therefore, rightfully decide that the original liturgical text should be kept in Latin, but that for practical use it should be translated in toto. This is what they did decide - and fully in accord with the principles laid down by the Council.
You may not like what the Council decided, but do try not to rewrite history and remember that a general ecumenical council such as Vatican II is the highest form of the magisterium of the Catholic Church.

Patricius said...

There are those of us, on the ''right'' of the spectrum (as it were), who do not welcome the new translation because it is impoverished, artificial and pretentious. Anyone with any taste and knowledge of great works of English literature can see that. It just seems to me that Rome is capable only of might-have-beens and a lot of mediocrity.

CPK said...

"Comme le prevoit informs the current English version of the mass, which is certainly not perfect, but was clearly produced by people who had thought about how to express in English the meaning, style and form of the Latin original."

This, if true, casts grave doubt upon the intentions of those who produced a result which manifestly suppresses in English (in a way that does not affect vernacular translations in other languages) the meaning and particularly the style of the Latin original.

We absolutely do not need a theory or methodology of translation. (I can speak English pretty well, without having any particular theory or methodology behind my praxis.) We do not need the academic infrastructure, the committees and talking-shops and international debates (and jollies) that constructing such a theory would involve.

We simply need a translation, which the current effort is not. The practical upshot of Liturgiam Authenticam is that a bad translation is better than a "good" mistranslation. Roma locuta est.

Laudator concilii said...

Depends what you mean by translation. Without consideration of theory and methodology you may easily end up with the new version - not a true translation but a paraphrase from one language to another.