Sorry about the interlude. It's been a busy time these last few days but I am now back in the parental pile for a little while. As I was saying ...
Endean does a two-step shimmy at the end of his piece in The Tablet.
The first is to provide four guidelines for a sensitive implementation of the new translation. Acknowledge there are arguments on both sides of translation practice; acknowledge there are conflicting concerns in how the translations are made (cultural, linguistic) and desist from name calling; recognise that reverence and accessibility are theologically complementary; only say in public what you actually believe.
Now, one could pick holes in any one of these guidelines. How, for example, does Endean think the great mysteries of the faith can be accessible (in the way in which we know he means 'accessible')? But we'll let that pass. What I'm interested in, rather, is his remark at the end of the guidelines:
Pastoral sensitivity to different voices is also a recognition of the truth that those voices may be expressing. And therefore - this is a paradox that a pluralist vision can never avoid - these guidelines [that is, Endean's] disallow, absolutely, understandings of truth as coming only from one source. They would lead us somewhere different from where we now are, on much else as well as on liturgical matters.
Where does one start with that? Some decent, straightforward, normal-sounding English would be a help. I think what he means is this:
Pastoral sensitivity to different voices recognises the truth that those voices may be expressing. And therefore - this is a paradox that a pluralist vision can never avoid - these guidelines [that is, Endean's] totally rule out the idea that truth only comes from one source. The correlations of these guidelines apply not just to liturgy but to other matters .
There are several problems here. But, first, however much people like Bishop Arthur Roche dress up the new translation in ecclesiastical stardust and polished DVD presentations, the fact is that no sensible churchman imagines that translation is a truth matter like doctrine or dogma is. What exactly is Endean getting at? So what if there can be other viable translations? Someone, somewhere has to call the shots, and actually settle the matter in a canonical manner, because the Church is a community and needs rules to function coherently. This is on the level of the squareness of the square and the roundness of the wheel. Legislation isn't a denial of the value of other ways of doing things; but it is a source of order, and when it has been duly considered, it is the responsibility of the Church's ministers to implement it accordingly, not whine like a princess whose frog is a bit too slimy for bilabial contact.
But, what on earth is Endean saying when he declares, 'these guidelines [that is, Endean's] disallow, absolutely, understandings of truth as coming only from one source'? If Endean means only 'translation truth', then the remark is redundant, since nobody imagines translation resides in the province of truth. If Endean means theological truth, then he is not strictly wrong - we could distinguish theological sources and methods in all their plurality, as well as charismatic or prophetic insights into truth - but the tenor of his argument is that truth as validated by authority is not unique. In which case, what other sources does Endean think can validate truth for us? Is he begging for more receptiveness to charism and prophecy or is he advancing the case for a democratic or congregationalist form of teaching? Is he setting up some other magisterium, other than the ecclesial? Or - let's be flippant for a moment - does Endean think we should look to The Tablet for corroboration of the truth? Or to Endean himself perhaps? And if not, to whom then? Whose are these other voices which he has insisted on anyway?
Still, wait for the sting in the tail:
They [the guidelines] would lead us somewhere different from where we now are, on much else as well as on liturgical matters.
Would they now? Where then? And if not just on liturgical matters, on what other matters?
The last remark seems like a give away when you think about it. You, like me, thought this article was about the new translation, but Endean tells us here that his guidelines are about 'liturgical matters', and that they apply elsewhere. But where exactly? To flower arranging? Horse racing? Polite conversation? Just where is Endean advocating the pluralism of truth which he has just argued for?
Well, if that was not enough, Endean dresses up his article in some very odd robes to finish off with. Having just suggesting the value of pluralism in various areas - who knows which exactly? - Endean finishes with what strikes me as a flourish that borders on the disingenuous:
This new translation, both in its content and in the manner of its imposition, represents a retreat from the salutary, evangelical reform of church style and mood that Vatican II represented.
Well, I'm not going to deny that there are some salutary features of church style and mood that were brought in by Vatican II. But Endean is smart enough and well-educated enough to know that this is not the whole story. He is surely well-enough versed in theology to know the serious complaints that have been made against the old 'new translations' and which did not result purely from different translation styles. In other words, he knows fine well that he cannot dress up the post-Vatican II era as a period of happy church-mood change, without acknowledging the serious doctrinal upheaval and confusion that have accompanied it! So why on earth is he trying to slip this shimmy in at the end of his article? It looks seriously like a sleight of hand of the most dubious kind.
The new translations are not a sign of the return of the abusive exercise of power. What is abusive is the way in which Endean uses the argument over the new translations to foreground his rather manipulative - because vague - insinuations about pluralism within the Church, and then tries to dress this up as a matter of happy style change.
Endean must decide if his argument is about mood and style or about truth. Anything else is just flannel.
And that, as every good Jesuit knows, can only to be rightfully deployed with a rollneck jumper and casual jacket.