18 April 2014

Rome and Tokyo close in on agreement over Missal translation

For years work has been underway to revise the Japanese Missal, but the task of updating the 1978 edition has proven to be a thorny problem. The work is daunting. The goal is not so much a word-for-word, literal translation as one based upon a close examination of the cultural background and the particular linguistic characteristics of Japan. The actions and gestures used in the liturgy require equally painstaking care. Perhaps the biggest complication has been that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, whose approval is required for any new translation, has until now requested translations that adhere closely to the Latin original.

Recently however, “the atmosphere in the Congregation has changed dramatically,” said Bishop Masahiro Umemura of Yokohama, president of the Committee for the Liturgy at the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of Japan (CBCJ). On March 18, Bishop Umemura visited the Congregation with fellow committee member Fr Franco Sottocornola of the Xaverian Missionary Fathers and committee secretary Toshimitsu Miyakoshi to submit revised editions of liturgical documents including “The Order of the Mass and Eucharistic Prayers 1 – 4” and “The General Instruction of the Roman Missal.” They also gave a report on the current state of affairs in Japan.