The Process of Translation

The task of translation is carried out for the English-speaking Bishops' Conference by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy [ICEL].

First a base translation is prepared which seeks to draw out the meaning of the Latin text as clearly as possible. This is reviewed and revised with a consideration of content and form but also how well the prayer can be proclaimed. At all stages a key part of the process has been to test the prayers by proclaiming and singing them. When the bishops of the ICEL Episcopal Board are satisfied with a section it sent to Bishops’ Conferences.

Green Book
The Missal was released in a number of sections (such as Order of Mass, Proper of Saints) to Bishops’ Conference and from them to the bishops and their advisors. ‘Green’ refers to the colour of the cover and distinguish this stage in the process. A Green Book is for comment. At this stage a bishop can say ‘I don’t like how this has been translated’ or ‘why not try this…’. In England and Wales comments were reviewed first by the bishops’ Department for Christian Life and Worship who sent the collated comments to ICEL. The comments from around the world were reviewed and revised text was produced and sent to Bishops’ Conferences.

Grey Book
This is the text for voting on by bishops. At this stage if a bishop feels strongly about a particular part of the text he can propose an amendment which is voted upon by his own bishops’ conference and if approved becomes part of its submission to the Holy See.

The final stage is the involvement of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in the Holy See. Once the Bishops’ Conference had approved the complete text it submitted to the Holy See. Once the Congregation have reviewed the text they grant recognitio to the text to the Bishops’ Conference who can them make preparations for its publication.

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Timeline for Roman Missal 216.63 kB