About John Lilburne


Announcement of GIRM translation for England and Wales

According to Bishop Mark Jabale "Early in 2005 the English translation of the revised General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and other resources, will be published." (Introduction at liturgyoffice.uk/Resources)

I find this remarkably confident. He offers no caution such as "God willing" or "if the Vatican gives its approval".

[Update 31 October 2004. The reason for his confidence is explained in the November 2004 Newsletter:

"The translation and adaptation of the revised General Instruction for the use of the Church in England and Wales was approved by Cardinal Arinze in August. It will be published by CTS, on behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales in the Season of Easter 2005.

"The 3rd edition of the Roman Missal, was published in Latin in 2002. The General Instruction forms an integral part of the ritual book, and a translation of it would not normally be published in advance of the whole book. However in this case the Bishops of England and Wales sought the permission of the Holy See to publish a version of the General Instruction for use in their dioceses, because of the significance of the celebration of the Mass in the life of the Catholic community, and because the revised General Instruction has had force of law from the time of the publication of the Latin edition. ..."

I pleased to learn that the concerns I expressed about the publication of an unapproved translation are incorrect. End of update.]

More doubt was found in the April 2004 Liturgy Newsletter, of the Liturgy Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales:

"The Bishops’ Conference has had further discussions with the Holy See concerning its proposed edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 3rd edition. This has now been re-submitted to the Holy See for recognitio. It is hoped that this text will be approved in time for publication in the autumn."

The GIRM has been approved for publication in the United States. Part of it says: "The Roman Missal, whether in Latin or in lawfully approved vernacular translations, is to be published in its entirety." (n. 389) Perhaps Cardinal Arinze will follow this and not give approval for publication of part of the Roman Missal.

Parts of this unapproved England and Wales GIRM have already been published on liturgyoffice.org.uk. There is a PDF document "The Roman Missal: a guide for composers" which begins:

"This document is being prepared to support the eventual publication of the English and Welsh edition of the Roman Missal 3rd edition. It will not be finalised until the English translation has received approval. At that the approved texts for the Order of Mass will be inserted together with any further information about the provision of music in the new edition. Until that time this document is offered for comment and as an indication of future guidance."

It gives, for example, a proposed text for GIRM 47 - 48, different to the approved USA one.

When The Tablet published a draft translation of the Order of Mass, it was reported by cathnews.com:

"Bishop Mark Jabalé has expressed the English and Welsh bishops' disappointment at the decision of the independent Catholic paper The Tablet to "cloud" their consultative process by publishing the draft translation of changes to the Order of Mass.

"Bishop Jabalé, Chairman of the Department for Christian Life and Worship, said: "The confidentiality of the consultative process with such texts is intended to help Bishops consider the matters away from a spirit of controversy fuelled by speculation in the Catholic and secular press; any attempt to cloud this process is therefore to be deplored. ..."

If publication of draft translations of one part of the Roman Missal should be deplored, why has his office's website published another part?

The draft guide for composers gives this advice:

"The current edition of the Lectionary uses the Jerusalem Bible together with Grail Psalms (1963 edition) for the psalter. The following versions of scripture are also approved by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales for use in the liturgy:

Revised Standard Version
New Revised Standard Version
New Jerusalem Bible
Grail Psalm (1993 revision)"

That is not the way the approval of liturgical books works. It is the Vatican that approves them, not the Conference of Bishops.

The guide for composers has: "In some cases texts may be adapted slightly to accommodate the musical line (for example the Memorial acclamation “When we eat this bread...” might be expressed “When we eat this living bread...”) but care should be taken that the essential meaning of the text is respected."

I disagree. I agree with Fr McNamara "the priest should not change on his own authority any approved text from the missal. Even if he were an expert Latinist and the official translation were blatantly erroneous he would not be authorized to change it." (zenit.org, 28 September 2004).

By J.R. Lilburne, 30 September, 2004. Updated 31 October 2004. I give what I have written on this page to the public domain.

Other sites:


Zenit report 28 Sep 2004

cathnews.com "UK Bishops rap The Tablet for publishing Mass draft"