Pope pushes decentralization on translation of liturgical texts

(Crux) In a move likely to generate special reaction in the English-speaking Catholic world, Pope Francis on Saturday made a series of amendments to Church law governing liturgical translation, the net effect of which is to shift a considerable share of the power away from the Vatican and to local bishops’ conferences.

More broadly, the new legal document is likely to be taken as one of Pope Francis’s strongest moves yet in terms of fostering greater collegiality in the Catholic Church, meaning shared decision-making between local churches and Rome.

It’s also likely to be seen as at least a partial reversal of a 2001 Vatican instruction called Liturgiam Authenticam, issued under St. Pope John Paul II, which both ratified a more activist role for Rome in taking control of the translation process. However, Francis was careful to insist that the basic principle in Liturgiam Authenticam, of ensuring that translations into the vernacular languages are faithful to the Latin original, remains in force.

Issued in the form of a motu proprio, meaning a legal document issued under the pope’s personal authority, “Magnum Principium” represents, at least indirectly, Francis’s response to what has been one of the most contentious issues in English-speaking Catholic life over the last twenty years: Who should decide how Catholic worship sounds in English? [More]