CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP
VOX CLARA COMMITTEE
April 28-29, 2010
The Vox Clara Committee met at the Pontifical North American College in Rome from April 28-29, 2010. This was the nineteenth meeting of this Committee of senior Bishops from Episcopal Conferences throughout the English-speaking world. The Vox Clara Committee was formed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments on July 19, 2001 in order to provide advice to the Holy See concerning English-language liturgical books and to strengthen effective cooperation with the Conferences of Bishops in this regard.
The Vox Clara Committee is chaired by Cardinal George Pell, Sydney (Australia). The participants in the meeting were Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb, Emeritus Mobile (USA), who serves as First Vice-Chairman; Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Emeritus Westminster (England), who serves as Secretary, Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Chicago (USA), Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Bombay (India), who serves as Second Vice-Chairman; Archbishop Alfred Hughes, Emeritus New Orleans (USA); Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., Ottawa (Canada); Archbishop Peter Kwasi Sarpong, Emeritus Kumasi (Ghana); Archbishop Kelvin Felix, Emeritus Castries (Saint Lucia), and Bishop Philip Boyce, O.C.D., Raphoe (Ireland). Cardinal Justin Rigali, Philadelphia (USA), who serves as Treasurer, is also a member of the Committee, but was not present for the meeting.
The members were assisted in their work by the following advisors: Reverend Jeremy Driscoll, O.S.B. (USA), Reverend Dennis McManus (USA), Monsignor Gerard McKay, Abbot Cuthbert Johnson, O.S.B. (England), and Monsignor James P. Moroney (USA), Executive Secretary. The customary assistance of officials of the Congregation, led by Reverend Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary, was also appreciated.
The meeting opened with the happy announcement that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments had completed its work of reviewing the English language edition of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia. Following careful consideration of the advice provided over the past eight years by the members of the Vox Clara Committee, a final text was arrived at by the Congregation, confirmed by a decree dated 25 March, 2010 (Prot. 269/10/L) and signed by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Prefect, and Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., Secretary to the Congregation.
The Committee celebrated the occasion by hosting a luncheon with His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, on the first day of the meeting. On this happy occasion, the Holy Father addressed the group:
I thank you for the work that Vox Clara has done over the last eight years, assisting and advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise. Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the Committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from Bishops’ Conferences in Englishspeaking territories all over the world. I thank you for the great labour you have expended in your study of the translations and in processing the results of the many consultations that have been conducted. I thank the expert assistants for offering the fruits of their scholarship in order to render a service to the universal Church. And I thank the Superiors and Officials of the Congregation for their daily, painstaking work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.
Saint Augustine spoke beautifully of the relation between John the Baptist, the vox clara that resounded on the banks of the Jordan, and the Word that he spoke. A voice, he said, serves to share with the listener the message that is already in the speaker’s heart. Once the word has been spoken, it is present in the hearts of both, and so the voice, its task having been completed, can fade away (cf. Sermon 293).
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. The voice that helped bring these words to birth will have completed its task.
A new task will then present itself, one which falls outside the direct competence of Vox Clara, but which in one way or another will involve all of you – the task of preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful. Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.
Dear Brother Bishops, Reverend Fathers, Friends, I want you to know how much I appreciate the great collaborative endeavor to which you have contributed. Soon the fruits of your labors will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere. As the prayers of God’s people rise before him like incense (cf. Psalm 140:2), may the Lord’s blessing come down upon all who have contributed their time and expertise to crafting the texts in which those prayers are expressed. Thank you, and may you be abundantly rewarded for your generous service to God’s people.
The second day of the meeting was spent in a study of issues which had emerged in the course of the development of the confirmed text of the Roman Missal, including a review of efforts to assure internal consistency in the translation of deprecatory language and other specialized terms, the poetic and musical dimensions of the text, and its suitability for proclamation. An extended review of various programs developed throughout the English speaking world for the effective implementation of the new translation was also undertaken. At its closing session, commemorative medals were presented by the Cardinal Prefect on behalf of the Holy See to each of the members and advisors of the Committee. He expressed the thanks of the Congregation for the work of the members and advisors over the past nine years. Cardinal Cañizares also announced the intention of the Congregation to continue the work of the Vox Clara Committee in advising the Holy See on matters pertaining to the English language translation of liturgical books. The Prefect also expressed his gratitude to Cardinal George Pell, chairman of the Committee, for his willingness to continue as Chairman of the Committee.
On behalf of the members and advisors, Cardinal Pell expressed his appreciation for the Prefect’s words and reiterated the gratitude of the Committee to the Cardinal Prefect and his predecessors for their continuing encouragement of the project. He also thanked the Executive Secretary, Monsignor James Moroney, for his outstanding contribution over the many years since the Committee began its work.
The Chairman also expressed his gratitude for the participation of other officials and Superiors of the Congregation throughout the years, most especially Father Anthony Ward, S.M., Undersecretary to the Congregation, who has played an indispensable role in facilitating the work of the Vox Clara Committee.
The meeting closed with the Collect “For the Church” from the new Roman Missal: