Bad Liturgical News.

I know, I know. I promised to retire from the liturgical police. But Jimmy Akin discovered something that got my Irish/Italian up. The (US) English translation of the Christmas Proclamation differs significantly from the Latin text. The English translation is political correctness on steroids.

It is, in fact, insulting to mature secure women who do not have a victim complex . Jimmy’s assessment (H/T New Advent):

First and foremost, they wiped out all the specific time expressions in the first part of the proclamation, thus destroying it’s character as a concatenation of different ways of expressing the same year. So that’s violence to the literary form of the text, right there.

Not only do they fuzz out the clarity from these numbers (“untold ages,” “several thousand years,” referring only to centuries rather than years), they also change numbers (they’ve got the Exodus in the 13th century B.C. rather than the 15th century B.C.) and add stuff that isn’t there in the original, and significant stuff, too:

  • “and then formed man and woman in his own image,”
  • “when God made the rainbow shine forth as a sign of the covenant,”
  • “and Sarah,” 
  • “Eleven hundred years from the time of Ruth and the Judges”

Why these things got included is anybody’s guess, though note we’ve worked women into an otherwise male narrative three times (Ruth even gets top billing, though her story comes after the book of Judges in canonical order, and she ordinarily isn’t paired with them). They’ve also included a rainbow, which has not entirely the same significance today that it did in the past.

It’s not hard to see a gender/sexual agenda shaping the translation here.


I understand part of the motive to change the text of the Christmas Proclamation.

The text itself is part of the Roman Martyrology and is based on the Chronology of Eusebius of Caesarea (a.k.a. “the father of Church history”–he lived back in the 300s and attended the first ecumenical council at Nicaea in 325).

The dates he gives for the earlier events in the Chronology are probably not right, and in any event we wouldn’t claim today to be able to establish these dates with the exact precision that he did. In one case–the date of the Exodus–modern biblical scholars have generally dated it a couple centuries after the traditional date.

So rather than confuse people with a bunch of dates that we aren’t that confident of, or that are likely not right, I can understand the motive to revise the text (about the dates, anyway; the other stuff not so much).

And if the Vatican chose to make those changes to the Latin original in the Roman Martyrology, I would not have a problem with it.

My problem is with the translators arrogantly deciding to make the changes on their own–as well as introducing other, apparently agenda-driven changes–into a liturgical text.

This is the kind of stuff we’ve had to live with in English liturgical texts for a long time.

So thank God we’re going to be getting a new, more faithful translation this Advent.

Consider this a Class-A example of why Rome decided we needed a new translation.

But here comes the bad news, folks . . . 

The new translation is of the Roman Missal, not the Roman Martyrology. Since the Christmas Proclamation comes from the Martyrology, it probably hasn’t been retranslated at this point and so come Midnight Mass at Christmas, smack in the middle of the glorious new translation, will be this execrable object.


The post is long, but very informative. Jimmy provides the current translation along with a correct one.  Read the post here.

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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1 Response to Bad Liturgical News.

  1. Susan Swehla says:

    Ugh! I noticed to when I went to Stations at CTK, the narrator kept saying humankind and making sure he put in “sister” whenever there was a mention of brother. Please, I’m a big girl. I can handle it.


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