Pope francis has published an apostolic letter giving bishops’ conferences greater control over the translation of liturgical texts.

Commentators described the document as a “momentous” shift that could provoke a new era of liturgy wars.

The document, entitled Magnum Principium (“The Great Principle”), was released by the Vatican as Pope Francis was travelling in Colombia.

It changes two clauses in Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law. The Vatican will no longer “review” translations submitted by bishops’ conferences, but will “recognise” them. And, rather than being called to “prepare and publish” the translations, the bishops are to “approve and publish” them.

Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said that under the new rules the Vatican’s confirmatio [confirmation] of a translation was “ordinarily granted based on trust and confidence” and “supposes a positive evaluation of the faithfulness and congruence of the texts produced with respect to the typical Latin text”.

The document’s title refers to what Pope Francis called the “great principle” of the Second Vatican Council that liturgical prayer “should be accommodated to the comprehension of the people”.

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