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New Irish translation of Roman missal welcomed

By Sarah Mac Donald - 15 March, 2016

Bishop Martin Drennan. Pic courtesy: connachttribune.ie

Bishop Martin Drennan. Pic courtesy: connachttribune.ie

The announcement that a new translation of the Roman missal in Irish, An Leabhar Aifrinn, will be published later this year has been welcomed by Bishop Martin Drennan of Galway.

To mark Seachtain na Gaeilge, the Irish Bishops Conference made the announcement that the altar edition will be published by Veritas.

In a statement, Bishop Drennan, chair of the bishops’ Council for Liturgy said, “The publication of An Leabhar Aifrinn Rómhánach is hugely significant not only for the Church in Ireland, but for all who cherish our culture and heritage, particularly the Irish language.”

He added, “We become what we pray. When we pray to our God of life He transforms and renews us so that we become more fully alive with His life. When we pray the Mass we believe that God’s saving presence is active in our assembly bringing about our transformation.”

Bishop Drennan continued, “An Leabhar Aifrinn Rómhánach will serve those who celebrate the liturgy in Irish and will help to preserve the Irish language as a living language for worship. Tá áthas mór orm go bhfuil sé beagnach réidh agus tá suil agam to mbeidh cóip den Leabhar Aifrinn seo i ngach seipéal ar fud na tíre roimh deireadh na bliana seo.”

The Missal is the book that contains all the prayers and instructions for the celebration of the Mass.

The new edition of the Missal came into use across the English-speaking world in November 2011, and proved contentious.

According to the Association of Catholic Priests, many priests found that their congregations struggled with the new wording and found it difficult to switch to language which was a more literal translation from the Latin but was more awkward for English-speakers.

In 2013, the editor of New Liturgy, a bulletin for the National Secretariat for Liturgy, Fr Paddy Jones, wrote that “During my 21 years as secretary for liturgy, the main preoccupation has been the Roman Missal … the Congregation for Divine Worship was very dissatisfied with the structures and work of ICEL … the structures of ICEL were radically changed …”

Writing about the translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal he said its “merits and demerits are well known. It is a fuller and more literal translation but its style often has an awkwardness that in many cases can be overcome by careful preparation”.

He highlighted that a review was promised, though he said the mechanism of such a review was not known.

“However, such a review is necessary if we are to listen to what is being said and what is happening, the scholarly and pastoral criticism of the translation and the instruction on translation but also including its non-acceptance by some, the use of a mixture of old and new translations by others and the disturbing quietness of congregations to the new responses and other parts …”

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