New Zealand Bishops welcome statement on translations of liturgical text

During our recent meeting in Wellington, we discussed Magnum Principium (the great principle), Pope Francis’ September 2017 edict concerning the translations of liturgical texts. The Holy Father has shifted the responsibility of liturgical translations from a Vatican department back to national Conferences of Bishops. Thus he has reaffirmed the teaching of the Second Vatican Council which states that it is local groupings of Bishops who oversee then approve translations into the language of the land, before seeking final acceptance of this work by the Holy See.

The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference (NZCBC) gratefully welcomes this directive from Pope Francis. We appreciate the bold step he has taken to ensure translations of liturgical texts are of the highest standard.

Pope Francis has stated that three principles should guide the work of liturgical translation: fidelity to the original text; fidelity to the particular language into which it is being translated; and, a commitment to the intelligibility of the text. Therefore respect for a language’s own syntax, structure, and turns of phrase are to be upheld.

Like many priests and parishioners, we share in the frustration concerning some aspects of the current translation of the Roman Missal and we reiterate our desire for beauty, comprehensibility and participation in and through the sacred liturgy.

We will be working in collaboration with English speaking Bishops’ Conferences around the world, as we seek to explore prudently and patiently the possibility of an alternative translation of the Roman Missal and the review of other liturgical texts.


✠  Patrick Dunn, Bishop of Auckland and NZCBC President

✠ Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North and NZCBC Secretary

✠  John Dew, Cardinal Archbishop of Wellington

✠  Steve Lowe, Bishop of Hamilton

Rev Michael Dooley, Vicar General, Diocese of Dunedin

Rev Rick Loughnan, Diocesan Administrator, Diocese of Christchurch