ASK FATHER: Do priests who celebrate only in the vernacular really know what they are saying? | Fr. Z’s Blog

I recently discovered the SCDF declaration Instauratio liturgica (Jan. 25, 1974), which says that the meaning of a translated sacramental formula is that of the original Latin, understood according to the mind of the Church. Especially in the case of not-so-literal translations, this means that, ironically, priests who celebrate sacraments in the vernacular might not actually know what they’re saying. Of course, they understand the vernacular words, but unless they understand them in the same sense as the Latin, which they may have never seen, they don’t fully understand what they’re saying. To take a concrete example that comes to mind, Bishops’ Conferences have fought to keep from translating “pro multis” literally—successfully in the case of the new Italian Missal. But the Italian priest who says, “per tutti,” is actually saying, “pro multis,” and probably doesn’t know it. I find this terribly ironic given the criticism of priests who say Mass in Latin without understanding well what they’re saying.

ASK FATHER: Do priests who celebrate only in the vernacular really know what they are saying? | Fr. Z’s Blog

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