Most Reverend Excellency,
With the Motu Proprio MAGNUM PRINCIPIUM, dated 3 September 2017, entering into force on 1 October, made known through the Press Office of the Holy See on 9 September and published in L’Osservatore Romano on 10 September in Latin and in Italian, the Holy Father modified canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law.
The new guidelines, concerning the translation and the adaptations of liturgical books into the modern languages, concern both this Dicastery and the Conferences of Bishops.
As such, we all must, with respect and acknowledgement, accept the thrust of this Pontifical document, of the motivations and principles raised in it, in a particular way, the intention that brought about the modification of this canon, namely to "make the collaboration between the Holy See and Bishops Conferences easier and more fruitful.” The Pope, in fact, wishes "a constant collaboration full of mutual respect, vigilance, and creativity." [Said grudgingly]
The Motu Proprio does not have retroactive force. The important outcomes come to maturity in recent years, in obedience to the discipline up until now in force, retain their value. For the future, the guidelines concerning liturgical translations are to be interpreted in the light of what has been indicated by the Holy Father.
In recalling the genuine responsibility of Bishops’ Conferences, the new norms do not fail to underscore the grave task of fidelity in translating texts for liturgical prayer that belongs to the Bishops, who must guarantee the unity of the Church that celebrates the Mystery of Christ. Liturgical adaptations require discernment and the sensus Ecclesiae, with the awareness that no one is master of the holy mysteries that we celebrate, rather, we are all servants, obedient to the mandate received from the Lord Jesus.
The collaboration between the Holy See and the Conferences of Bishops must be strengthened for the good of the Church and to the glory of God.
To this letter, which is known to the Supreme Authority is attached the commentary and the note that accompanied the publication of the Motu Proprio. The Dicastery will provide, in due time, further indications of a practical and procedural nature.
I take this opportunity to give my sincere greetings, with a profound sense of respect [for Your Excellency].
Fr. Corrado Maggioni, S. M. M., Undersecretary