CDWDS Decree on Magnum Principium 4: Reform, Culture, and Inherent Problems

No serious commentator would suggest the double effort of reform and translation is easy. Problems abound, especially balancing the pastoral needs of worship in vernacular languages, particularly in cultures with non-Romance languages.

4. In reforming the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, in accordance with the provisions of the Second Vatican Council, the need for their translation into spoken languages and their adaptation to the cultural diversity of peoples was kept in mind, as were the problems inherent in such work. In this regard, it should not be forgotten that:

a) the translations of the liturgical texts, being part of the rites themselves, are the voice of the Church which celebrates the divine mysteries, and they have the same value as the liturgical texts in Latin. [Cf. Paul VI, Allocutio in aula Clementina habita iis qui operam dant liturgicis textibus in vulgares sermones convertendis, cum Romae Conventum agerent, 10 novembris 1965: AAS 57 (1965) 968] They must therefore strive to become “liturgical” languages and, despite their diversity, always maintain the one and the same voice of the Church, the one and the same “lex orandi”. Therefore, the translations of the liturgical books cannot be left to the judgment of individuals but, entrusted to the responsibility of the Bishops, must be approved by their Conferences;

b) for the pastoral benefit of the faithful, in addition to the adaptations already provided for in the liturgical books, which are the responsibility of the celebrant, there are also other types of necessary or useful adaptations which are left to the decision and approval of the Conferences of Bishops.


  • Vernacular language used in worship is certainly “elevated” to the level of sacred language. This is not really a difficult concept, not for people who strive to see God in all things. 
  • It is certainly possible to engage that elevation, not only in formal language but also in words that are poetic, lyrical, and artistic. This would seem to be a concept somewhat advanced beyond the work of ICEL and Vox Clara in the early part of this century.
  • Few advocate for the formal “elevation” of the texts of individuals into the realm of sacred worship. But it is possible for bishops, theologians, and a wider survey of artists to assess individual contributions, should they be seen as important for the overall effort.
  • It is good to see the need for “necessary” adaptations to be given to conferences, bishops, clergy, and lay leaders.

The link of the English translation is here

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in CDWDS Decree on Magnum Principium, Liturgy, post-conciliar liturgy documents. Bookmark the permalink.

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