Lost in Translation: The English Language and the Catholic Mass


Lost in Translation: The English Language and the Catholic Mass, by Gerald O'Collins SJ, with John Wilkins. Published by Liturgical Press.

In this book, Gerald O'Collins SJ, takes a systematic look at the 2010 English translation of the Roman Missal and the ways it fails to achieve what the Second Vatican Council mandated: the full participation of priest and people. Critiquing the unsatisfactory principles prescribed by the Vatican instruction Liturgiam Authenticam (2001), this book, which includes a chapter by John Wilkins, tells the story of the maneuverings that sidelined the 1998 translation approved by eleven conferences of English-speaking bishops, criticizes the 2010 translationl and illustrates the clear superiority of the 1998 translation, the "Missal that never was."

Gerald O'Collins, SJ, is an adjunct professor at Australian Catholic University and a research fellow at the University of Divinity in Melbourne. He taught at the Gregorian University in Rome for thirty-three years and is well known as a lecturer and broadcaster around the world. Fr O'Collins has had hundreds of articles published in professional and popular journals and authored or co-authored 67 books, including The Second Vatican Council: Message and Meaning (Liturgical Press, 2014).

John Wilkins edited the London-based international Catholic weekly The Tablet from 1982 until his retirement in 2003.

John F Baldovin, SJ, Professor of Historical and Liturgical Theology Boston College School of Theology & Ministry said: "At last we have a comprehensive treatment of the sad history of the Vatican's dismantling of ICEL's efforts at providing us with translations that are both elegant and communicative. My favourite line: 'Before I die, I would be delighted to celebrate once again the Eucharist in my native language.' This book provides trenchant criticism of the current translation of the Roman Missal and wonderful observations on the 1998 'Missal that wasn't.' As in so many areas of contemporary theology, we are once again in O'Collins's debt."

Maxwell E Johnson, University of Notre Dame commented: "Here is a required book for any class in contemporary Roman Catholic eucharistic liturgy today. O'Collins narrates the rise and fall of the 1998 ICEL translation of the Roman Missal and its replacement by the 2010 'translation.' Together with ample references to the best in contemporary liturgical scholarship and official documents-including Comme le prévoit and Liturgiam authenticam-O'Collins calls for the end of the 2010 text with its impossible syntax and forced 'sacral language' in favour of an official recognition of the 1998 text. With serious ecumenical implications as well (especially with regard to what were common texts of the Kyrie, Gloria, Creed, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei), this book needs to be read by all in light of Pope Francis's call for a reevaluation of Liturgiam authenticam. May O'Collins's hope be realized and may the 2010 text become but a footnote in the history of the Roman Rite."

Lost in Translation: The English Language and the Catholic Mass, by Gerald O'Collins, SJ, with John Wilkins is published by Liturgical Press. For more information, and to order a copy, see: www.litpress.org/Products/B4457/Lost-in-Translation

Share this story