CDWDS Decree on Magnum Principium 14-16: More On Languages

A basic responsibility is laid out for the conferences of bishops: they decide which languages will be used in liturgy. They also determine who and how this will be done:

14. It is for the Bishops’ Conference to decide which language or languages to adopt in the liturgy for the area of its competence, assessing whether and how the process of translating all or some of the typical liturgical books, the whole book or only those parts of it that are more directly necessary or useful to encourage the participation of the people in the liturgy, is feasible. [e.g. biblical readings, Psalms, chants, elements of the ordinary of the Mass, specific formulas of the various Rites.]

This makes sense. There was a strain in Liturgiam Authenticam about Rome lacking competence in some less-spoken languages in the world. The faint suggestion of resorting to colonialism (i.e. using European languages of colonizers) never seemed to be really workable–at least from a view to evangelization.

The first question for the local bishops: is there a Bible?

15. A basic prerequisite is the existence of a version of the Bible in a given language, approved by the Bishops’ Conference.[Cf. canon law 825 § 1; Roman Missal Lectionary for Mass, Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1981, Praenotanda, n. 111; cf. GIRM 391.] The texts of Sacred Scripture are in fact the primary and essential source of the liturgy,[Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 24.] indispensable for the formation of a liturgical language. [Cf. Liturgicae instaurationes 2; Varietates legitimae 23, 28, 53; GIRM 391.] 

Once the bishops decide on the languages to be used, the CDWDS must give approval:

16. The decision of the Episcopal Conference regarding the adoption and use of a given language in the liturgy is presented to the Apostolic See for the required confirmatio,[Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 36 § 3; Decem iam annos, n. 1] without which the work of translation should not be undertaken.

In other words, don’t start translating for liturgy before Rome gives the go-ahead. Translating a Bible, I think, can be authorized by local bishops without CDWDS approval.

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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