THE SERVANT GENERAL
ERRORS IN TRANSLATION?
Anti-life, anti-family, homosexualist activists are already
inside the Catholic Church, and in some places in the western
world, well entrenched. How high up do they go in the Church
This is our Church. This is the one true Church established
by Jesus Christ, the only one. The gates of the netherworld
shall not prevail against the Church (Mt 16:18), but the enemy
certainly can weaken it, and in the process, bring many Catholics
We need to know our faith. We need to live our faith. We need
to proclaim the gospel anew to Catholics, many of whom are
lapsed. And we need to stand up and fight for authentic marriage
and Christian family life.
VATICAN SYNOD ON THE FAMILY - 2014
‘error’? Final English Synod text cuts marriage
‘between a man and a woman’
On The Family
at first glance, and without looking it up on Google Translate,
what is the difference between these two passages of a recent
important Vatican document, the final “Relatio”
from October’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops?
“…confronto alla luce del Signore Gesù
per discernere le vie con cui rinnovare la Chiesa e la società
nel loro impegno per la famiglia fondata sul matrimonio
tra uomo e donna.”
“…facing the situation, with an eye on the Lord
Jesus, to discern how the Church and society can renew their
commitment to the family.”
A little pared down, perhaps? The official Italian original
says, roughly, “…facing, in the light of the Lord
Jesus, [how] to discern the ways in which to renew the Church
and society in their commitment to the family based on marriage
between a man and a woman.”
That last little bit does seem rather significant, doesn't
it? Especially so, given the general tenor not only of the
international secular media’s take on the Synod, but
of what we know of the conflict within the Synod aula itself.
There can be no doubt that in that tumultuous two weeks, there
was a battle over attempts by the “progressivist”
wing of the bishops to do whatever possible to water down
the meaning of Catholic teaching on the nature of the family.
There can also be no doubt that those efforts were quickly
expanded to include an attempt at changing the definition
of the family to include same-sex partnerings.
If it is a “translation error” as we are politely
calling it, it seems a rather extraordinary coincidence that
it should be such a significant omission.
We will, no doubt, hear shouts from all directions saying
it was just an oversight, a clerical error perhaps. But that
seems hard to believe.
us look at the whole paragraph, the fourth of the introduction,
so we don’t lose the context:
4. Alla luce dello stesso discorso abbiamo raccolto i risultati
delle nostre riflessioni e dei nostri dialoghi nelle seguenti
tre parti: l’ascolto, per guardare alla realtà
della famiglia oggi, nella complessità delle sue
luci e delle sue ombre; lo sguardo fisso sul Cristo per
ripensare con rinnovata freschezza ed entusiasmo quanto
la rivelazione, trasmessa nella fede della Chiesa, ci dice
sulla bellezza, sul ruolo e sulla dignità della famiglia;
il confronto alla luce del Signore Gesù per discernere
le vie con cui rinnovare la Chiesa e la società nel
loro impegno per la famiglia fondata sul matrimonio tra
uomo e donna.
Here’s paragraph 4 in the official English version:
4. With these words in mind, we have gathered together the
results of our reflections and our discussions in the following
three parts: listening, looking at the situation of the
family today in all its complexities, both lights and shadows;
looking, our gaze is fixed on Christ to re-evaluate, with
renewed freshness and enthusiasm, what revelation, transmitted
in the Church’s faith, tells us about the beauty and
dignity of the family; and facing the situation, with an
eye on the Lord Jesus, to discern how the Church and society
can renew their commitment to the family.
If you know even a little Italian, you can see that until
we get to the last portion of this very long sentence, the
English version is almost word-for-word. Until it makes the
rather hot-button point that we in the Catholic Church define
both the family and marriage in one way only.
I contacted someone in the Vatican press office asking what
the procedure is for the various documents of the Synod. How
are they to be disseminated throughout the Catholic world
to the bishops? I wanted to know if the bishops would receive
this document in some other official form, perhaps with a
corrected translation, or if their secretaries were going
to be reduced to looking it up on the Vatican website like
the rest of us. But no one seemed to know.
It was vaguely intimated that “I suppose” the
nuncios would be taking the final relatio, as well as the
mid-term document and the summaries of the small-group discussions,
to be distributed to the bishops of each country. Or maybe
it was going to be the heads of the national conferences,
who were in attendance.
Calls to the Synod office itself to ask whether this error
were going to be corrected, went unanswered.
It seems odd, given the massive attention the issues received
at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome last month,
that the mainstream secular media has largely missed the news
of this omission, which has made the rounds on some of the
Catholic blogs and online magazines. The dominant language
of the world’s media, particularly on the Internet,
is English. And given the near continuous uproar around the
western world over changing the definition of marriage to
include same-sex partners, a document produced by the Vatican
on marriage in English is going to be extremely newsworthy.
Moreover, this wasn’t was not the only “translation
error” that was made during the process of the Synod.
In mid-stride, after the very vocal denunciation by some of
the Synod bishops of the mid-term Relatio, the English version
of that document was changed. A passage that called for the
Church to “accept and value” the homosexual “orientation”
was changed to speak of “providing for” homosexuals
rather than “welcoming” them.
It seems apparent that some shenanigans are still going on
with regard to the very problematic documents of this very
problematic Synod. But what end is being sought is anyone’s
guess. Who made the change from the Italian version to the
English version? Who, if anyone, authorized it? Is there yet
another version that is not being made available to the public
that bishops will see? Who is responsible for approving Synod
document translations? Is it the Synod administrator, Cardinal
Baldisseri? Is it the obviously beleaguered Fr. Lombardi,
the head of the Holy See Press Office? Getting accurate answers
to these kinds of questions is like pulling hens’ teeth.
If it was a deliberate omission, an attempt at deception,
who on the inside would imagine that no one was going to make
a comparison? And which group of Catholics is being targeted?
Are we, those the media calls “conservative” Catholics
supposed to be influenced by it? Are we supposed to forget
what Church teaching is? Or perhaps it is an effort to appease
the Church’s secular enemies, to refrain from reiterating
it in the language it is most likely to be read by secularist
and homosexualist activists? Who knows?
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