From Mr Tom McIntyre SIR – If Fr Leo Chamberlain (Letter, January 9) re-reads what I wrote he will see that I do not disagree with his points, but simply – as a “real Latinist” – make distinctions.
“Better translations should help us all.” True. But the proposed replacement is worse, not better.
“Few have Latin at their command; all the more do they need a translation which comes closer to the authoritative Latin text.” True. But to use actual Latin syntax, idiom and rhetoric distances both text and faithful from the sense of the Latin.
“To include some conjunctions and subordinate phrases is necessary.” True. But Mgr Bruce Harbert, former executive secretary for the International Commission on the English Liturgy (ICEL), includes them all.
“Extremes of paraphrase and omission in ... the Collects.” True. First ICEL pruned three things in Collects: complex theological arguments (for more immediate understanding); confusing wordplay; and alien elements of fourth-century inculturation. The bishops came to think the first cuts wrong. Bishop Maurice Taylor’s ICEL carefully repaired them. But the Curia wanted to keep the painful concomitants of early Latinisation as well – the servile pagan-style entreaties, the very polylogia that Our Lord condemned. It jettisoned 13 years’ delicate work.
Fr Leo hopes that Mgr Harbert will explain the changes. But he stated his whole case at length in journals like the American neo-conservative Adoremus. Indeed, in your own columns, Sir, he urged the superiority of Latin syntax. Elsewhere he condemned our Canons for addressing God with imperatives, constantly addressing him as Father and making no allusion to our servile status: all the flaws that our Canons share with the Our Father.
Would Fr Leo not agree with me that in the Canon at least, where in Christ we realise fully our status as God’s adopted children, we should employ the affectionate directness of Our Lord’s own prayer?
Yours faithfully, TOM McINTYRE Frome, Somerset