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You are here: Documents > General Principles > Fifth Instruction for the Right Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council  Back one page.

Table of Contents
Table of ContentsIntroduction1. General Principles Applicable to All TranslationsEndnotes

I. On the Choice of Vernacular Languages to be Introduced into Liturgical Use

10. To be considered first of all is the choice of the languages that it will be permissible to put into use in liturgical celebrations. It is appropriate that there be elaborated in each territory a pastoral plan that takes account of the spoken languages there in use, with a distinction being made between languages which the people spontaneously speak and those which, not being used for natural communication in pastoral activity, merely remain the object of cultural interest. In considering and drafting such a plan, due caution should be exercised lest the faithful be fragmented into small groups by means of the selection of vernacular languages to be introduced into liturgical use, with the consequent danger of fomenting civil discord, to the detriment of the unity of peoples as well as of the unity of the particular Churches and the Church universal.

11. In this plan, a clear distinction is to be made also between those languages, on the one hand, that are used universally in the territory for pastoral communication, and those, on the other hand, that are to be used in the Sacred Liturgy. In drawing up the plan, it will be necessary to take account also of the question of the resources necessary for supporting the use of a given language, such as the number of priests, deacons and lay collaborators capable of using the language, in addition to the number of experts and those trained for and capable of preparing translations of all of the liturgical books of the Roman Rite in accord with the principles enunciated here. Also to be considered are the financial and technical resources necessary for preparing translations and printing books truly worthy of liturgical use.

12. Within the liturgical sphere, moreover, a distinction necessarily arises between languages and dialects. In particular, dialects that do not support common academic and cultural formation cannot be taken into full liturgical use, since they lack that stability and breadth that would be required for their being liturgical languages on a broader scale. In any event, the number of individual liturgical languages is not to be increased too greatly.[14] This latter is necessary so that a certain unity of language may be fostered within the boundaries of one and the same nation.

13. Moreover, the fact that a language is not introduced into full liturgical use does not mean that it is thereby altogether excluded from the Liturgy. It may be used, at least occasionally, in the Prayer of the Faithful, in the sung texts, in the invitations or instructions given to the people, or in parts of the homily, especially if the language is proper to some of Christ's faithful who are in attendance. Nevertheless, it is always possible to use either the Latin language or another language that is widely used in that country, even if perhaps it may not be the language of all — or even of a majority — of the Christian faithful taking part, provided that discord among the faithful be avoided.

14. Since the introduction of languages into liturgical use by the Church may actually affect the development of the language itself and may even be determinative in its regard, care is to be taken to promote those languages which — even while perhaps lacking a long literary tradition — seem capable of being employed by a greater number of persons. It is necessary to avoid any fragmentation of dialects, especially at the moment when a given dialect may be passing from spoken to written form. Instead, care should be taken to foster and to develop forms of speech that are common to human communities.

15. It will be the responsibility of the Conference of Bishops to determine which of the prevailing languages are to be introduced into full or partial liturgical use in its territory. Their decisions require the recognitio of the Apostolic See before the work of translation is undertaken in any way.[15] Before giving its decision on this matter, the Conference of Bishops should not omit to seek the written opinion of experts and other collaborators in the work; these opinions, together with the other acts, are to be sent in written form to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in addition to the relatio mentioned below, in art. n. 16.

16. As regards the decision of the Conference of Bishops for the introduction of a vernacular language into liturgical use, the following are to be observed (cf. n. 79):[16]

  1. For the legitimate passage of decrees, a two-thirds vote by secret ballot is required on the part of those in the Conference of Bishops who have the right to cast a deliberative vote;
  2. All of the acts to be examined by the Apostolic See, prepared in duplicate, signed by the President and Secretary of the Conference and duly affixed with its seal, are to be sent to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In these acts are to be contained the following:
    1. the names of the Bishops, or of those equivalent to them in law, who were present at the meeting,
    2. a report of the proceedings, which should contain the outcome of the votes pertaining to the individual decrees, including the number of those in favor, the number opposed, and the number abstaining;
    3. a clear exposition of the individual parts of the Liturgy into which the decision has been made to introduce the vernacular language;
  3. In the relatio is to be included a clear explanation of the language involved, as well as the reasons for which the proposal has been made to introduce it into liturgical use.

17. As for the use of "artificial" languages, proposed from time to time, the approval of texts as well as the granting of permission for their use in liturgical celebrations is strictly reserved to the Holy See. This faculty will be granted only for particular circumstances and for the pastoral good of the faithful, after consultation with the Bishops principally involved.[17]

18. In celebrations for speakers of a foreign language, such as visitors, migrants, pilgrims, etc., it is permissible, with the consent of the diocesan Bishop, to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy in a vernacular language known to these people, using a liturgical book already approved by the competent authority with the subsequent recognitio of the Apostolic See.[18] If such celebrations recur with some frequency, the diocesan Bishop is to send a brief report to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, describing the circumstances, the number of participants, and the editions used.

Table of ContentsIntroduction1. General Principles Applicable to All TranslationsEndnotes

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You are here: Documents > General Principles > Fifth Instruction for the Right Implementation of the Constitution on the Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council  Back one page.

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All contents © copyright, 1998-2014
The Catholic Liturgical Library
http://www.catholicliturgy.com