Cathnews has much to be thanked for, including the plugs they occasionally give to worthy blogsites. In particular, I am thinking of the recent plug it gave to Fr Z’s “What does the Prayer Really Say” blog – although it took them long enough to discover it and decide to highlight this very well read blogsite.
A comment has appeared attached to this article from one Gerard Moore, who, one supposes, is none other than the esteemed liturgiologist (ie. a student and teacher of matters liturgical – many people say “liturgist” but that refers to what one does when one wears vestments and says the mass) Fr Gerard Moore SM, Associate Professor and Director of Research at Sydney College of Divinity. This is what he says of Fr Z:
It is not my usual want to take up the offer to make comment, but I must say I am disappointed that the CathNews has featured this site. The politics aside, the adverting to such a site that purports to be about liturgical translation is a disservice.
The blogger is not a liturgical translator, rather a person who translates liturgical texts. There is little reference to the scholarship behind the prayers, nor an understanding of the transmission of liturgical texts through history, and especially into the current Latin missal.
As for the 1973 ICEL translations, liturgists of all stripes are well aware of their deficiencies, but these must be understood in context of the translation instructions at the time and the overwhelming sense of urgency. Many appreciate the vast effort involved, though the results are far from satisfactory.
As for liturgical translations proper, these require deep scholarship, rich latin, and the provision of texts that are to be prayed aloud. as well, the process involves submitting any translations to the scrutiny of editorial committees and conferences of bishops. This is much more than slavish translation of liturgical texts!
I am actually going to take issue with Fr Moore on this one – I am sure he will not be too offended.
Now, I know Fr Moore to be much better read in both Latin and Liturgy than I, but having been a reader of Fr Z’s blog and a listener to his podcasts for some time, and I believe I can say (as one who knows a little about the liturgy) that he knows what he is talking about. He is a very skilled latinist (again, that is from one who knows a little latin), as well as being well read in the writings of the church fathers.
I am not sure what Fr Moore means by the rather precious distinction between “a liturgical translator” and “a person who translates liturgical texts”, but I do think this is a distinction that only a certain kind of modern professional liturgiologist could make. I can simply say that Fr Z IS a liturgiologist in whose knowledge of the history of the Roman rite is encyclopedic.
As for his translations of the prayers, a comparison of his texts to the final version of the propers contained in the Grey Book recently approved by the ACBC (and rejected by the USCCB) will show a very close agreement – especially in style – with only slight differences in the choice of vocabulary.
Whatever Fr Moore’s attachment to the 1973 texts may be, we all know that their use by date is approaching fast.