Monday, April 02, 2007

Sacramentum Caritatis: red faces for the English translators

New update: the English version of the text on the Vatican website has been corrected! (Hat-tip to Hermeneutic of Continuity). Too late, of course, for all the people who read and quoted it when it first came out. The problems with the translation process at the Vatican needs to be addressed urgently, if the Pope is to communicate with his people. See Fr Zuhlsdorf on this.

Damian Thompson, editor in chief of the Catholic Herald, points to the lack of a press release on the exhortation as an indication of a certain lack of enthusiasm by 'the Left-wing apparatchiks at the Bishop's Conference': see here. And The Catholic Herald has lodged an official complaint against the 'Communications Office' of the Bishops of England and Wales: see here.

Background briefing:
dissent, and attempts to undermine the Holy Father's teaching, apparently extends even to the office in the Vatican entrusted with the translation of documents into English. Within hours of the publication of the Exhortation 'Sacramentum Caritatis', bloggers began to notice an extraordinary attempt to distort the Holy Father's meaning when he encourages the use of Latin in Masses for international gatherings. Where he said that it would be appropriate, or right, to use Latin in that context, the translators apparently prefer the English-speaking world to think he said merely that Latin 'could' be used.

For the full details, and commentary, see Diogenes of Catholic World Report.

Of note to Catholics in the UK: the Pope reaffirms the importance of having the tabernacle in a central and visible location, and the appropriateness of kneeling for the Consecration.


John Kearney said...

Although Sacramentum Caritatis is a wonderful document I am involved in a dispute about where the Tabernacle should be placed and find the instruction on the placement of the Tabernacle vague. "it should be readily visible to everyone entering the Church. Well in my dispute it is, you come in a corner door and see the Tabernacle in the opposite corner, move to the centre of the Chruch and it is no longer visible. The Church does not have a seperate chapel but is the word `appropriate` give me the right to go in with all guns blazing and tell the priest he has it wrong. Or when describing how it is appropriate to place it in the apse area I am then confused by the words "or in another place where it will be equally conspicuous" In my position I need stronger guidelines. Has this passage also suffered from bad translation. I need help here. Can I quote the document.

Webmaster said...

Here's the pertinent passage (SC 69), as it appears on the Vatican website:

"The correct positioning of the tabernacle contributes to the recognition of Christ's real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Therefore, the place where the eucharistic species are reserved, marked by a sanctuary lamp, should be readily visible to everyone entering the church. It is therefore necessary to take into account the building's architecture: in churches which do not have a Blessed Sacrament chapel, and where the high altar with its tabernacle is still in place, it is appropriate to continue to use this structure for the reservation and adoration of the Eucharist, taking care not to place the celebrant's chair in front of it. In new churches, it is good to position the Blessed Sacrament chapel close to the sanctuary; where this is not possible, it is preferable to locate the tabernacle in the sanctuary, in a sufficiently elevated place, at the centre of the apse area, or in another place where it will be equally conspicuous. Attention to these considerations will lend dignity to the tabernacle, which must always be cared for, also from an artistic standpoint. Obviously it is necessary to follow the provisions of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal in this regard. (197) In any event, final judgement on these matters belongs to the Diocesan Bishop."

It seems to be that this passage is presenting an unambiguous position, with let-out clauses, rather than an ambiguous position. The best place for the Tabernacle in an old church is in the 'centre of the apse', on the old high alter: i.e. where it always was. The theological considerations appealed to underline that: the Tabernacle's location is a concrete teaching on the Blessed Sacrament - it must be given the place of highest honour, fit for the people's adoration, expressive of the Blessed Sacrament's dignity.

Now for the let-out clauses: in some places special chapels have been set up: we're not being told to move the Tabernacle back, unless the chapel actually serves to hide it. The GIRM is still the law of the Church. And the local bishop can ignore all this anyway.

Here's the GIRM: on the one hand
"314. In accordance with the structure of each church and legitimate local customs, the Most Blessed Sacrament should be reserved in a tabernacle in a part of the church that is truly noble, prominent, readily visible, beautifully decorated, and suitable for prayer."

But on the other hand:
"315. It is more in keeping with the meaning of the sign that the tabernacle in which the Most Holy Eucharist is reserved not be on an altar on which Mass is celebrated."

And so it gives the (disused) old high altar and a separate chapel as the preferred options.

What I think you can say is: read as a whole, the SC makes the Pope's mind clear: in a pre-1960s church, it ought to be in the traditional place. Is this an enforceable directive? Unfortunately, no.

(And congrats on the letter in the Catholic Herald!)

John Kearney said...

Thank you for your help. But the placement is only a part of the problem, if you provide yourself with a strong drink and go into my website `catholicrights` you will find there the full extent of the horror. I have provided photographs of the new `Tabernacle. in an articel `What is this?

Webmaster said...

Yes indeed: see my comment on your blog's post.

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen