Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship
THE NRSV, THE REVISED NAB AND THE LITURGY
Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship
<The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments has revoked its 1992 confirmation of a U.S. bishops' decision to permit liturgical use in the United States of the New Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible, Cardinal-designate William Keeler of Baltimore, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement Nov. 1. The congregation also revoked its 1992 confirmation of the U.S. bishops' approval of the New American Bible revised Psalter for liturgical use. Archbishop Geraldo Agnelo, secretary of the Vatican congregation, was quoted on the matter in a Catholic News Service report Oct. 25. Agnelo said the decision in this matter was made by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (The revised Psalter, like the NRSV, uses inclusive language. Sources at the doctrinal congregation said problems over the NRSV centered on the use of inclusive language; Vatican officials have said the problems involve doctrinal and theological issues and are not just matters of style.) Keeler's statement clarified aspects of the discussion. He said "use of either the NRSV or the revised NAB for reading or Bible study is not at issue. Both translations are properly approved for these purposes." Keeler said that "what is at issue is liturgical use." His statement indicated that consultation continues on the revised NAB Lectionary. He said that he met in Rome during the last week of October with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the doctrinal congregation, who "agreed that it would be very helpful if members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission residing in Rome could meet with some of our bishops and scholars who are working on the revised NAB Lectionary to discuss and clarify principles for translation." Keeler said also that continued collaboration between Vatican congregations and NCCB committees "should help us soon to have a Lectionary which will be both faithful to the tradition of the church and serve the urgent needs of our people for a Lectionary in the English currently used in our country." Keeler's statement follows.>
Last week in Rome, Archbishop Geraldo Agnelo, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, confirmed that a letter addressed to me on July 27, 1994, constituted the congregation's communication to us of the withdrawal of the permission to use the New Revised Standard Version for liturgical purposes.
An official of the congregation had informed Msgr. Robert N. Lynch, NCCB/USCC general secretary, at a private meeting Oct. 5, 1994, that the July letter was the official response on the matter. Subsequent press coverage, however, seemed to indicate to the conference's staff in Washington that perhaps a new letter had been prepared and mailed.
Because the July 27 letter did not bear the characteristics of a formal decree, my presumption was that it was a continuation of correspondence that had begun earlier last summer. Also, at the time of this correspondence, the preparation of the Revised New American Bible Lectionary was the more immediate concern for us in the United States. Following receipt of initial correspondence from the Congregation for Divine Worship, those working with the Revised NAB Lectionary in this country began preparing a response to the observations received from the Holy See. These were completed recently but have not been forwarded to the congregation.
Last week in Rome, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, kindly met with me and, following the review of the situation, agreed that it would be very helpful if members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission residing in Rome could meet with some of our bishops and scholars who are working on the Revised NAB Lectionary to discuss and clarify principles for translation. It is in the context of the review of the Revised NAB Lectionary that the confirmation of the permission for liturgical use of the NAB Psalter has been withdrawn, as was also indicated in the July 27 letter. Because of the foreseeable modifications in the Psalter, permission was withdrawn so that two versions of the same Psalter not be in use.
The use of either the NRSV or the revised NAB for reading or Bible study is not at issue. Both translations are properly approved for these purposes.
What is at issue is liturgical use, the public proclamation of the word of God in the living tradition of the Catholic Church. One of the points which I believe the scholars would want to discuss is the application of the apostolic constitution <Scripturarum Tesaurus>" of April 25, 1969, and the decree of the Congregation for Divine Worship and for the Discipline of the Sacraments issued Jan. 21, 1981, as guides, especially for liturgical translations.
The continued collaboration between the congregations of the Holy See and the committees of our conference should help us soon to have a Lectionary which will be both faithful to the tradition of the church and serve the urgent needs of our people for a Lectionary in the English currently used in our country.
Taken from the November 10, 1994 issue of "Origins."