Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: The Liturgy

The Liturgy QUESTION from Jon on February 18, 2003 Can you please explain:
1. How the Church formally issues a new liturgical rite.
2. What is the procedure that an individual country takes to translate that rite into the vernacular.
3. Can a country ONLY translate the rite or can it also alter the rite in any way.
What do the terms editio typica and editio typica altera mean?
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on February 23, 2003 Dear Jon,
The liturgical books have at the beginning a decree which explains how it was promulgated. Normally, texts are prepared and then sent to the pope for approval. He then prepares an apostolic constitution in which he mandates that the texts be promulgated by the Congregation for divine worship, who then produces the decree.
Individual bishops' conferences have the task of preparing translations, they may either do it themselves, form a committee, or have someone else do it. The translation must first be approved by the bishops, then sent to Rome where they will be checked and approved (or rejected) before they are allowed for liturgical use. Sometimes Rome will send the translation back to the bishops and say fix this and this and this and then resend it back before we will approve.
The translations do not need to be literal or exact. Many times the English translation differs from the Latin so that it better fits in our culture. Some of the prayers do not match the original at all, and this is okay as long as the translation is approved by Rome. Unfortunately the English translation in my opinion has lost much of the beauty and sacredness that it could have had were it more literal, and also I consider it to be a very poor translation. Nonetheless it has been approved by Rome and so it will do just fine.
Editio typica: commonly translated as typical edition signifies that a specific edition of a liturgical rite is the one that is in current use. The previous editions are no longer used.
Editio typica altera: I can't think of any rites that have this designation, maybe one of my readers can help. Anyway altera is Latin for another or the second. It probably could mean an alternate edition but I don't know that for sure.
Mr. Slavek
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