Language: If the majority doesn't want it, is it still 'inclusive'?

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

A bit of 'ammunition' to use at your local parish...

'In 1992 the Vatican held up the translation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church into English for two years until the feminist language and, therefore, ideology had been removed.

...In 1995, Catholic Insight contributor Thaddeus Pruss of Vancouver wrote the most incisive reports to appear in the English language on how radically the feminist language in the NRSV had changed the meaning of the Bible: (see Jan/Feb, April, May 1995 but especially 64 shadows of man, October 1995.)

...In the fall of 1995, Rome issued new guidelines for translation to the English speaking Bishop's conferences

...In January 1997, the Catholic World Report of San Francisco published a large opinion poll showing the vast majority of church-going Catholic women, 69 per cent, had no interest in feminist language in the liturgy. [In fact] Many opposed it.

In March 1997, American Bishops and Cardinals travelled to Rome and agreed to an English translation for a new (American) lectionary. This lectionary has a modest amount of modern terminology to replace the masculine overtones of previous bibles, but, as Bishop Donald Trautman, a champion of 'inclusiveness' put it, this new version "has been substantially and radically altered, rendering it no longer an inclusive language text." This version was discussed in the American Bishops' June meeting and subsequently approved with a two-thirds majority in a July vote by mail

[...The translation guidelines include:]

3. The translation of Scripture should faithfully reflect the Word of God in the original human languages. It must be listened to in its time-conditioned, at times even inelegant, mode of human expression without "correction" or "improvement" in the service of modern sensitivities.

3.b. If explanations are deemed to be pastorally necessary or appropriate, they should be given in editorial notes, commentaries, homilies, etc.

4/1. The natural gender of personae in the Bible, including the human author of various texts where evident, must not be changed insofar as this is possible in the receptor language.

4/2 The grammatical gender of God, pagan deities and angels according to the original text must not be changed insofar as this is possible in the receptor language.

4/3 In fidelity to the inspired Word of God, the traditional biblical usage for naming the persons of the Trinity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is to be retained.

4/4 Similarly, in keeping with the Church's tradition, the feminine and neutral pronouns are not to be used to refer to the person of the Holy Spirit.

4/5 There shall be no systematic substition for the masculine pronoun or possessive adjective to refer to God, in correspondence to the original text.

4/6 Kinship terms that are clearly gender specific, as indicated by the context, should be respected in translation.

6/1 Translation should strive to preserve the connotations as well as the denotations of words or expressions in the original and thus not preclude possible layers of meaning.'

These exerpts have been quoted from: 'Holy See Rejects Feminist Language', by Catholic Insight staff, published in Catholic Insight, September 1997.

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