The New Roman Missal is Not Better

I rarely make declarative statements regarding liturgy. As I’ve mentioned before I have had exactly one course in liturgy in my education; it is, to be sure, not my area of expertise. So at the risk of stirring the pot, let me say:

The new translation of the Roman Missal we will be using this fall is not a better translation than the old translation.

Now before you head to the combox,  let me explain.

I get very uneasy when I hear people say that the new translation will be “better” than the old. This implies that a) what we have been saying is somehow wrong or deficient, and b) that what we will be saying this fall is what we should have been doing all along.

But I think this is comparing apples to oranges. You can’t really compare the two because the rules for translation changed. If the rules had been the same, then we might be able to claim that one is better based on a shared criteria. But the old translation was a “good” translation in so far as it followed the rules of dynamic equilelency in force at the time; the new translation is a “good” translation in so far as it follows the rules of formal equilelency that are now in place.

Now we can debate which set of rules is “better”; but we can’t fault the old translation for following the rules the Church had in place at the time.