Southern African bishops seek Vatican OK to keep new Mass translations

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (CNS) — The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference said it made a mistake in giving the go-ahead to parishes to use Vatican-approved Mass translations, but it has asked the Vatican to allow continued use of the texts. The conference said March 4 it was awaiting the Vatican’s response.

It told parishes in South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland that already have begun using the translations to continue using them and said those that have not yet made the changes should wait until further notice.

Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg, president of the conference, received a letter Feb. 25 from the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, asking that use “of the new English text of the Roman Missal be halted until the (translation) process had been finalized internationally and all English-speaking churches could implement the new translation at the same time,” the bishops’ statement said.

In parishes where the change in the translation of the Order of the Mass has been implemented, it has met with some resistance and stirred controversy.

In a Jan. 18 letter to The Southern Cross, South Africa’s Catholic weekly, Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg said his first reaction to the new texts “was that it was a purely arbitrary decision to demand that the English text had to faithfully represent the Latin in the first place, that many of the changes made no sense, and that some of the formulations were simply bad English.”

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