Catholic priests said they were intrigued by the argument of the three petitioners who have succeeded in getting a court injunction against the usage of a Tamil translation of the Missal 1993, the liturgical book, in churches under their jurisdiction.

“The objective of the translation is to make the Missal accessible to the common man, who will certainly feel alienated when words like ‘sareeram’, ‘jeeva ootru’ and ‘partichutham’ are used. Instead, ‘udal’ ‘vaazhvin neer’ and ‘thooya’ elegantly convey the message,” said Rev Fr Vincent Chinnadurai, one of the secretaries Catholic Bishops' Conference of India.

While delivering the judgment on a suit by G. Alex Benziger, Leonard Vasanth and J.V. Fernando of Chennai, 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. The petitioners contended that contrary to earlier translation, the bishops replaced ‘udal” for body instead of ‘sareeram’ and the word ‘sin’ was found totally removed. According to them, the Second Vatican Council in 1965 accorded permission to conduct mass in local languages, and the Roman Missal was translated. The first translation was released in 1970 with the consent of Rome. But the Missal 1993 was released by the Roman Catholic bishops in the State without obtaining the approval of the Pope.

In their response, the Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore, two other Archbishops and 11 bishops, had said the translation had been approved by Catholic Bishops of Tamil Nadu and necessary procedural formalities had been taken to render the original text. Rev. Fr. L. Anandam, Rector, St Peters Seminary, Madurai, said theologically there was nothing wrong with the word “udal”.

Echoing his view, Rev Fr Joe Arun, a cultural anthropologist, said the Second Vatican Council made it clear that church should be sensitive to the local tradition and translations culture-specific. “The Catholic church could set up ashrams in India because of the message of Second Vatican Council. We use camphor instead of candles. Similarly, kuthuvizhakku is allowed. Local culture became part and parcel of the church,” he said.

Fr Arun argued ‘thirunilaipaduthal’ was a better translation for ordination while in the earlier days the word ‘abishekam’ was used and the idea is to dispense with Sanskrit words.

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