The Retreat From Justice

The 2001 promulgation of the document on translation, Liturgiam authenticam (LA), accompanied by the rejection and abandonment of the 1998 English translation of the Roman Missal and the forced reconstitution of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) signalled a retreat from allowing the concerns of contemporary English-speaking worshippers to influence liturgical texts. This retreat happened on many levels, all of which discouraged engagement with the justice dimensions of worship.

The restrictions specified in LA (106-8) about the creation of new vernacular prayers to be used alongside the (mostly ancient) Roman orations had a range of impacts. Justice is a vernacular pursuit, involving local people either in local situations or in situations where they are oppressed by forces far from their control. The cry of the poor is vernacular, particular, and contemporary. The suppression and prohibition of new texts meant that the voice of the needy in prayer was silenced unless it reflected situations of injustice already named in prayers written in the second half of the first millennium, and in particular those composed in Rome in the then-vernacular Latin.

Gerard Moore, “Let Justice Find a Voice: Reflections on the Relationship between Worship and Justice”, Worship 90 (May 2016): 210.

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Article by Andrew Doohan

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