Is it always the language of the majority present? Has any resource been
published that might help us? The goal to be sought is intelligibility in the service of active participation by all members
of our assemblies. The Introduction to the Lectionary for Mass (1981) strongly emphasizes the need for Scriptural readings
to be intelligible, both in their translation (no. 111) and in their proclamation in an "audible, clear and intelligent" (no.
14) manner. For "the faithful's participation in the liturgy is increased to the degree that they listen to the word of God
spoken in the liturgy..." (no. 6). Intelligibility is all the more important to the gospel, "the high point of the liturgy
of the word" (no. 13).
While the liturgical books are otherwise silent concerning the question
of multi-lingual liturgies, dioceses and parishes have developed a variety of strategies in an effort to make the Scriptures
intelligible for their multi-lingual assemblies. Some have followed the lead of Multicultural Celebrations: A Guide by Mark
Francis, CSV, published in a bilingual edition (English/Spanish) by the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.
These guidelines suggest that the principal language of the assembly be
determined first. The gospel should be proclaimed only in the language of the majority of those assembled and a short synopsis
or commentary on the reading should also be announced in alternate languages. These guidelines suggest " avoiding an unduly
long period of time speaking in a language that is not understood by the whole assembly." Non-verbal ways to acknowledge the
other cultures present should also be explored. (Multicultural Celebrations : A Guide, p. 20,21).
A second practice permits the proclamation of the gospel in two different
languages. While the duplication of parts of the Mass (even in two different languages) is generally to be avoided, there
is precedent for this practice in the more solemn Papal Masses of Easter Sunday (where the Gospel is proclaimed in Greek and
in Latin) and in the Holy Father's recent pastoral visit to the United States.
During these Masses the gospel was proclaimed both in English and in Spanish.
It is important to note, however, that the greeting in English was followed by the proclamation of the gospel in English.
Then, without the greeting or introduction the gospel was proclaimed in Spanish, concluding with the Spanish Acclamation.
Thus the order of this proclamation was:
Greeting and introduction in English
Proclamation in English (without
Proclamation in Spanish (without greeting or introduction)
Concluding acclamation in Spanish
Committee on the Liturgy
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
4th Street, N.E., Washington, DC 20017-1194 (202) 541-3060 November 10, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference
of Catholic Bishops