The Vatican has approved and is ready to release a new English translation of the Mass and its associated prayers and texts.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke Wednesday at the Vatican to Vox Clara, a special committee of Catholic bishops and consultants from English-speaking countries convened to assist with the translation.
"I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication, so that the texts you have worked so hard to prepare may be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the anglophone world. Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of his people," Benedict told the assembly.
The Roman Missal is the official Latin texts for the Mass promulgated after the Second Vatican Council, commonly known as the Norvus Ordo or Paul VI Mass. The latest update was approved by Pope John Paul II in 2000 and the International Commission for English in the Liturgy (ICEL), consisting of bishops from all over the English-speaking world, has been working on the translation since.
The ICEL's work needs formal and final approval by the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, which Vox Clara has been aiding.
While the Vatican-approved text of the Missal translation has yet to be released publicly, various changes proposed by the ICEL have been. Some sections already have received Vatican approval. The aim has been to translate the Latin texts more exactly and literally into English.
As an example of the style of changes, before receiving Communion, the parishioners are to say "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," instead of the current "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you."
Since the new translation also covers such scripted responses, Benedict cautioned Wednesday that "many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation." Priests also will need to be trained.
"The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity," Benedict said, though he noted that the new translation presents an "opportunity for catechesis that ... will need to be firmly grasped."
In other contexts, Benedict has warned against going too far too fast even in correcting poor liturgical practices since the Second Vatican Council, calling instead for a "reform of the reform" rather than simply reverting back to pre-Conciliar ways.
Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Vox Clara chairman, told the National Catholic Register that the new Missal translation won't result in changes in parish practice until 2011, which would make the pre-Christmas Advent season of 2011 (the start of the church's year) the likeliest start date for the new Missal.