Judge terms the translation as improper, incorrect, illegal and unbiblical

A City Civil Court has granted a permanent injunction restraining Roman Catholic Bishops and priests from using a Tamil translation of the Missal 1993, the liturgical book, in churches under their jurisdiction.

T. Chandrasekar, IV Assistant Judge of the City Civil Court, said ‘Thiruppali Puthagam’, a translated work by the bishops was illegal, improper, incorrect, unbiblical and ultra vires of the Code of Canon Law. Consequent to the judgement, Catholic churches across the State are not in a position to use the book for mass.

Terming the translation as ‘careless’ and ‘confusing’, the judge said there was no documentary evidence to show that a committee was appointed for translation.

The judgement was delivered on a suit filed by G. Alex Benziger, Leonard Vasanth and J.V. Fernando of Chennai, who described themselves as members of the Roman Catholic Church.

They contended that contrary to earlier translation, the bishops replaced “udal” for body instead of ‘sareeram’ and the word ‘sin’ was found totally removed. When asked about the history of translation, Rev. Fr. L. Anandam, Rector, St Peters Seminary, Madurai, said there were three translations of the Missal in the past.

After the Second Vatican Council in 1965, Pope Paul VI granted local translation of the Missal, which was in Latin and belonged to the period of Pope Pius V (16th century). Again, Pope Benedict XVI sanctioned the latest translation, which is in use since 2011-12. He said theologically there was nothing wrong with the word “udal”.

Rev. Fr. Joe Arun, a cultural anthropologist, said the argument of the petitioners would turn the clock to the days of Hellenisation when the Bible was translated from Aramaic – the language Jesus and his disciples spoke - and Hebrew into Greek and symbolises the supremacy of the language of the conqueror and dispensing with culture specific translations.

“Here, the battle is between conservatives and reformists. We need a culture specific Missal that accommodates the people’s language,” he said.

Fr. Vincent Chinnadurai, one of the secretaries of the All India Catholic Bishops Conference, said only a microscopic minority opposed the Missal 1993 and it was the same conservatives who opposed translation of Missal from Latin to Tamil.