This is the second of a series of posts discussing issues related to the coming review and re-evaluation of Liturgiam Authenticam, the document which governs the translation of liturgical texts.
When Pope Francis and the Coptic Orthodox Pope, Tawadros II, issued a joint statement in Egypt this past week, they landed squarely on an ecumenical issue of great importance: in addition to Pope Francis’s call to strengthen the bonds between the two churches through “the common language of charity” the joint statement said that we must seek to pray together in words that are shared:
Let us deepen our shared roots in the one apostolic faith by praying together and by seeking common translations of the Lord’s Prayer . . .
Common translations have been, and continue to be, one of the important tools of ecumenism. Because the Second Vatican Council valued ecumenism so highly (ecumenism was one of the four goals of the Council itself; see Sacrosanctum Concilium, article 1), the whole reform of the liturgy was undertaken in an ecumenical spirit. Many of our dialogue partners in the English-speaking world welcomed this, and responded with complementary liturgical initiatives in their respective churches.
Some may grumble that we haven’t come far enough in ecumenism, as we still do not share in the Eucharist. Yet much has been accomplished and this should not be taken for granted. For example, one of the outstanding results of ecumenical collaboration on liturgical texts since the time of the Council has been the creation of a common Lectionary. The Catholic three-year lectionary was assembled after Vatican II so that we might enjoy “richer fare” at “the table of God’s word.” It then became the model for the Revised Common Lectionary now used by many churches. An estimated 70% of English-speaking Protestant churches currently use the Revised Common Lectionary, including some in denominations that never had a lectionary before. The development has been revolutionary.