From Right Rev David Konstant
Sir, Were Mrs McLeod's letter, written as Chairman of
the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice movement, merely an attack on me. I would not bother to comment.
However, she makes certain statements that should be corrected.
There is nothing quaint in the use of inclusive language.
The argument she uses for calling herself a Chairman is that this term includes both men and women. Everyone would have accepted that some years ago. Now many people do not. Language develops, and like it or not. the English language is chang ing so that people are increasingly reluctant to accept a male (or female) word doing double duty.
At no point did anyone in Rome suggest that there were additions or omissions in the original English translation that altered the sense of Catholic teaching. Neither Cardinal Law. who together with me supervised the English translation, nor I. would have allowed such a departure from the given text. To suggest otherwise is strictly speaking libellous.
It is incorrect to say that I would prefer the term "Reli gious Education" to the term "Religious Instruction". The two terms are distinct, and should be used correctly in their appropriate contexts.
Apart from accuracy, a good translation needs to attend to the subtlety of the English language and to what Cardinal Ratzinger, in an essay on What can we expect from a Catechism? calls "feeling for language". Inciden tally, he was apparently not averse to the suggestion that we could assist from England in the translations to Roman documents, when I suggested this to him last week.
Yours faithfully DAVID KONSTANT Bishop of Leeds.
From the Revd. John H Fitzsimmons Sir. I had always been led to believe that the process of Reductio Ad Absurdum was something that was inflicted on opponents in argument. I am therefore at a loss to understand why your correspondent Mrs McLeod should do it to herself (Letters. Sept 25).
She is correct in one detail, and that is that the previous translation of the Catechism was "shelved" (as she so colloquially puts it) because of its inclusive language; that such language was "invented by feminists' is a matter of considerable doubt; that Rome eventually decided to produce a Latin editio typica might lead to the conclusion that the problem was not with the English version in the first place, but with the original French text.
In any case, the "absurdity" in question is this: it is simply not true that vatican dicasteries employ enough "officials" who have English as their first language; I can read the Annuario Pontificio as well as the next person. Secondly, their competence in English is only half of the question: how much do they understand of the tortuous and heavily nuanced Italian or Latin (or, for that matter, French) originals that they have to deal with? The materials recently published by the Congregation for the Clergy are uniformly awful in the 'English" versions offered to us, The Catechetical Directory is not the worst – the worst is without doubt the 'Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests" of 3 I .! .94. The "absurdity" resides in this: that anyone would prefer a semi-literate. unintelligible. version in "English" to one which might be immediately readable as a result of decent co-operation between Rome and the English-speaking churches. I have no desires to see the Church I love continue to make a fool of itself in thinking circles, simply because someone like Mrs McLeod thinks it is: "safer" to stick with "oblique vaticanese".
It is high time Rome started to take the churches of the English-speaking world seriously; the good will has been manifested a thousand times on their part, but the Roman Authority seems to be deaf on the matter. Of course, it is down to the bishops, and they have been consistently too timid.
How else do we explain the fact that there was no English version of Ad Tuendant Fidem on publication day? On the other hand, there was an English version of Cardinal Ratzingees "commentary" available.
Yours faithfully, JOHN H FITZSIMMONS Church of St John Bosco Erskine, Renfrewshire.