The New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference has accepted the invitation of the Australian bishops to help produce a new lectionary based on the Revised New Jerusalem Bible.
NZCBC secretary Hamilton Bishop Stephen Lowe, who also represents the New Zealand bishops at the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL), said they (NZ bishops) have been discussing the “biblical choice of version for our lectionary” for some time now.
“At our recent meeting, the NZCBC was in the position to confirm our support for the drafting of a new lectionary based on the Revised New Jerusalem Bible (RNJB), and welcomed the opportunity to be involved with the Australian Bishops’ Conference, and any other conference that accepts their invitation to work on this,” Bishop Lowe told NZ Catholic.
The bishop explained that the RNJB is preferred because it “uses inclusive language, and is based on the Jerusalem Bible translation, that is the current approved lectionary for New Zealand”.
“Its language is familiar and more poetic,” he said.
At the virtual meeting of ICEL on February 8-12, Bishop Lowe said the Indian representative on ICEL, Bishop Peter Paul Saldanha, reported on their (Indian Bishops’ Conference) launching of the English Standard Version-Catholic Edition (ESV-CE) lectionary, which was adapted by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Scottish Bishops’ Conference.
“Both these conferences have received criticism on the lack of inclusive language,” Bishop Lowe said.
One of the critics of the ESV lectionary is Australian Jesuit priest Fr Gerald O’Collins, one of the leading theologians and biblical scholars in the world.
In a piece written for the UK periodical The Tablet, Fr O’Collins called the ESV’s refusal to use inclusive language an “egregious example of inaccuracy”.
He said ESV uses masculine language, even though the text uses generic language.
“It renders into English the words of Jesus about the cost of discipleship: ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it’ (Matthew 16:24–25),” he wrote.
“The implication is that Jesus envisages only men, and not women, as his followers. As John Barton put it: ‘The argument that ‘masculine language is meant to include women’ will not wash nowadays, whatever may have been the case in the not-so-distant-past’.”
Auckland Bishop Patrick Dunn, past representative on ICEL, said the New Zealand bishops are leaning towards a lectionary based on the RNJB.
“What we feel is that RNJB is more beautiful. The language is more beautiful for proclamation,” he said.
Bishop Lowe said the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments’ “regulations” that arose from Pope Francis’ motu proprio, Magnum Principium, are awaiting his (Pope Francis’) approval.
“This will give an indication of how any changes in process and/or principles of translation may affect the work of ICEL,” the bishop said.
He said there is also interest among the bishops’ conferences to do a rework of the Collects of the Mass as they “are considered long and, with the Latin syntax directly translated into English, are difficult to understand”.
“We have indicated our support [for] this endeavour, and have offered to work with all other bishops’ conferences involved,” he said