05 November 2018

"Without Always Professing. . .Publicly" A Mistranslation?

[[Hi Sister, you once wrote an explanation of the paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which say consecrated hermits might not always make public vows. Would you mind posting again what you said there about pars. 920-21?]]

Yes, sure. I don't know if you want the whole post or just the portion devoted to the phrase, "without always professing the evangelical counsels publicly," (a translation which does not comport with or correspond to the Latin original) so I will quote and expand on that portion and then provide a link to the original post with its broader discussion or other paragraphs in the CCC.

[[But what then about the strange phrase [["Without always professing the evangelical counsels publicly]]  First the key Latin phrase in the original is this: [[quin publice tria consilia evangelica semper profiteantur]] Which translates, [[but always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly]] This corresponds exactly with the Church's theology of consecrated life; that is, any profession will be a public and ecclesial act; it will be canonical resulting in canonical obligations and rights. If this is so, if the Latin is clear on this matter, then where does the word and notion of "without" come from in the English translation? By this I mean what is optional for the consecrated hermit if the profession itself is ALWAYS to be made as a public, ecclesial act? There are two possibilities.

If the CCC is referring to consecrated life (life in the consecrated state) here there is only one thing it could be: canon 603 allows for diocesan hermits to use "other sacred bonds" than vows" for their public profession if they choose. It is the only form of consecrated life besides consecrated virgins living in the world (who do not make vows) that does. Thus, the clumsily formulated English phrase would not mean, "Without always making vows publicly" but rather, " Without always using vows to make their public profession."
[My thought is that perhaps the redactors attempted to make as small a change in the text as possible (adding "without" and changing "profession" to "vows"); they may have thought other texts on consecrated life would prevent misunderstanding, but if so this has proved to be untrue.

There is a second possibility regarding why the redactors added "without" in the English version of the CCC --- especially given the change in terminology from "profession" to "vows", namely, they may have meant to include lay hermits living out their baptismal consecration here using private vows (etc.) and without benefit of entering the consecrated state through the canonical act of profession. Moreover, they may have tried to do this without adding a separate section to the Catechism on non-canonical or non-consecrated (lay) hermits. Given the presence of the discussion of baptismal consecration preceding any initiation into the consecrated state, Vatican II's emphasis on the lay state and vocation, and recognizing the growth in the non-canonical hermit vocation this makes real sense. Unfortunately, doing this while making brevity a priority and maintaining unchanged the heading of the entire section, creates problematic ambiguities which have been a source of unending confusion for some who are theologically or canonically na├»ve or who may even seek to benefit from the ambiguity by treating it as a loophole. 

In citing CCC #920,] Ms McClure has italicized parts of the paragraph. . .which seem geared to ensure one reads it as providing the option of private vows rather than public for those in the consecrated state of life. However, the overall context [of this section of the CCC, namely, the heading:] "consecrated states of life" will not allow this, [not least because it refers to states of life which are never entered with merely private acts]. Neither will the original Latin text nor the Church's theology of consecrated life per se. The only option, the only "without always"  c 603 allows is that of [making one's profession with sacred bonds other than vows]; even so the profession of either of these will ALWAYS BE PUBLIC [with definitive profession initiating one into the consecrated state and every profession establishing] public rights and obligations, public ecclesial relationships (legitimate superiors), and even public expectations on the part of the faithful generally.]] 
The link to the whole post is: Clarifying Vocabulary and Texts, CCC pars 914-15 and 920-21.