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Catholic Church Changes Translations To More Original Latin Text

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Catholic Mass At St. Patrick's Cathedral

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBS 2/AP) – The Catholic Church initiated a new English translation of the Roman Missal on Sunday, bringing its ritual text used for celebrating Mass more closely in line with traditional Latin.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan says it’s one of the biggest changes in generations to the way English-speaking Catholics worship.

“It’s beautiful, it’s more poetic, more uplifting,” Dolan says. “It’s more to the definitive text, which is Latin.”

Many responses will have to be relearned, with the changes affecting the priest, more than the parishioners.

“When you tamper with the mass, you got problems, because everyone’s used to praying to it,” Dolan says.

The roots of the new translation go back to that epochal council held at the Vatican in the 1960s, which allowed Mass in languages other than Latin. An English-language missal was produced by 1973, but that was intended to be temporary while improvements were made.

In 2001, the Vatican office that oversees worship issued a directive requiring translation of the English missal that would be closer to the Latin rather than to more familiar vernacular speech. Numerous revisions and bishops’ meetings eventually produced agreement on the translation being used Sunday.

Parishes and dioceses around the country have spent months trying to prepare Catholics for the change. Descriptions of the new translation have been printed in weekly bulletins, seminars have been held and since Labor Day, many parishes have been gradually introducing the new translation piece by piece, starting with the parts of the liturgy that are sung.

Fr. James Martin describes the new translation as “a little more elevated.” For example, when the priest says, “the lord be with you,” instead of saying “and also with you,” the new response is “and with your spirit.”

The move has been somewhat controversial with some American bishops wanting to wait.

“They think the translation is not that good,” Grant Gallicho, of Commonweal Magazine, says. “They think it’s not speakable English.”

Meanwhile, some Catholics are unsure of the new text.

“I think they’re going back to something very conservative, and I find the language very stilted,” John Lee says.

Aside from clergy, the changes also will greatly affect music directors, who have had to compose all new settings to incorporate the new prayers.

What do you think of these changes for the Catholic Church? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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