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Changes delay English-language catechism: text is too gender-inclusive, critics say.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Publication of the English-language version of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, expected in early spring, has been delayed because the Vatican wants changes in the text - changes some say may involve trimming inclusive language.

"That's not the case at all," according to Charles A. Bugge, marketing manager for the U.S. Catholic Conference's Office for Publishing and Promotion Services, the principal American publisher.

However, Jesuit Father Joseph Fessio, editor in chief of Ignatius Press, San Francisco, said last week that inclusive language is "the central concern." Fessio, according to reports, has been a leading opponent of inclusive language.

Bugge said he learned March 11 that he and 12 copublishers, who have hundreds of advance orders for the catechism, should expect the revised text in late April. Publication is scheduled for five to eight weeks later.

Its initial translations - French and Italian - have sold well in Europe since the Vatican approved the catechism in December. Divided into sections on the creed, sacraments, commandments and prayer, the catechism is intended as a reference on essential content of the Catholic faith.

Terry Dosh of Minneapolis, editor of the newsletter Bread Rising, wrote in its March issue that the catechism has been delayed six months.

"My sources report that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston that there was too much inclusive language therein. Subsequently, Law hired an American Jesuit to revise the catechetical language to make it less inclusive and therefore passable by Roman standards." Dosh said his sources are confidential but highly reliable.

Law's communications director, John Walsh, when asked about the delay, sent NCR a copy of the cardinal's Feb. 12 diocesan newspaper column praising the English translation and anticipating availability "within several months."

Newsweek reported March 8 that American translators compromised on gender-specific language with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at an early February meeting in Rome.

The Americans agreed to restore "brethren" in place of "members of my family," Newsweek said; Ratzinger agreed that gratuitous male nouns can be replaced, such as "fatherhood" by "parenthood."

Father Douglas Clark, the principal English-language translator, could not be reached last week for comment.

The Tablet of England, reporting Feb. 13 on the Rome meeting, said Fessio was among objectors to inclusive language. However, Law and Bishop David Konstant of Leeds, England, managed to demonstrate that most criticisms could be set aside, reported The Tablet.

Fessio said neither he nor Clark was at the February meeting. He expressed his objections to inclusive language in letters to Ratzinger, to Law and to another U.S. bishop, he said.

The Tablet said Fessio objected because U.S. bishops had not chosen Ignatius Press as a copublisher.

Not so, said Fessio. Although be had a contract, be did not sign it because it required a minimum order of 5,000 copies and a down payment in January. "I knew there were going to be problems with this catechism" and that it would be delayed, be said.

Bugge, unlike Fessio, said problems delaying the catechism involve differences between British and American spellings - which will be the only variances in English-language editions - and differences in numbering British and English references to the Code of Canon Law. He also said he heard that some critics wanted to return to older scripture language such as thee and thou.

The Vatican licenses the USCC to publish the American edition, and the USCC sublicenses American copublishers. Their number may go to 13 or 14, Buggd said. Those currently on board are the Apostolate for Family Consecration, Benziger Publishing, Brown Roa Publishing, Catholic Book Publishers, Daughters of St. Paul, Liguori Publications, Liturgical Press, Thomas More Association, Paulist Press, William H. Sadlier, Silver Burdett and Ginn, and the Wanderer Press.

Holy See compiles

tome of objections

to British edition

OXFORD, England - the British edition of The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the translation by Father Douglas Clark, with a few adjustments in spelling and punctuation. The British publishers, Cassell/Geoffrey Chapman, say they think it is a job well done in so short a time and even, in some respects,"a improvement on the original French."

But now they are beginning to tear their hair as the frustrations of publishing on behalf of the Holy See mount.

Archbishop Giovanni Lajola,who as secretary of the Patrimony of the Holy See is responsible for contracts, has been bluntly told that unless he gives the go-ahead by March 19, the hoped-for publication by Pentecost this year will not be possible.

Casell/Chapman say they do not expect a positive answer. The latest delay is due to a 65-page catalog of objections from Dominican Bishop Christoph von Schoborn, auxiliary of Vienna, secretary of the committee that composed the catechism.

Some of the objections were valid. Mistakes inevitably creep into so long a translation. But many complaints were misunderstandings hat suggested what everyone knew: Schoborn's unsteady.

Behind Schoborn lurks the figure of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, his patron. The objections are not just to "inclusive" language - though David Konstant, bishop of Leeds with Cardinal Bernard Law the British coordinator of the translation, was delighted to find the word people used instead of men in a quotation from John Henry Newman. No one suspects the great Victorian of ceding ground to rampant feminism.

Some of the objections were to the "very moderate" use of inclusive language found in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, which is universally recognized as the most accurate modern translation.

But other objections seem to be based on "an ideology that dare not speak its name." This is especially true of quotations from Vatican II that are somewhat loosely rendered in the French version.

Thus famous subsistit in is translated in French by the word realisee. This subverts the obvious meaning of the text.
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Title Annotation:includes related article
Author:Gibeau, Dawn
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Mar 26, 1993
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