They may well be published imminently, but the time it’s taking to translate the Synod on the Family’s final report into various languages is becoming something of a mystery.

It’s been nearly two weeks since the “relatio finalis” was released in Italian. By contrast, the controversial interim relatio had been translated into several languages only 48 hours after the first phase of the synod had ended. Both reports are roughly the same length. 

The speed at which the 6,000 interim report was written and translated, the discrepancy between its content and the matters raised in the interventions, and irritation among participants that it was sent out with minimum scrutiny, led to well grounded suspicions of manipulation.

Asked about the delay with the final report, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told me the secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has been responsible for both reports, and also for the translations.

An assistant to the synod's general secretary told me last Saturday that she “could not tell me the time” of when the translations of the 8,000 word final report will be released, and suggested checking the Vatican website where it will be published. She also would not say who was doing the translating, nor did she share reasons for the delay when I enquired earlier this week.

When the final report is translated into various languages, they will appear here.

Some speculate the wait is most probably due to a willingness to avoid problems with the interim relatio, in which a few sentence translations subsequently needed revising. Some Italian words in that document were retranslated because of a public outcry (the word accogliere in relation to homosexuals was changed from “welcome” to “provide for”, even though to welcome or receive is a correct rendering of accogliere). A new translated version of the document was then issued, although reasons for disillusionment over the document had more to do with its general content.

But given the earlier translation problems, the most logical explanation for the delay is that the secretariat wants to be right first time. The interim report, as the Vatican was at pains to point out, was only a “working document”; this final one will act as the lineamenta – guiding document – for next year’s synod, therefore making it significantly more important. But if that is the reason, it's not one the secretariat is sharing. 

Another question some have been asking is whether the small language groups' reports will also be translated. Father Lombardi said they probably won't be as they had "already accomplished their function" during the synod and were presented to the synod by each of the groups. 

UPDATE: The secretariat of the Synod of Bishops has now published the translations (the English version can be read here), though the mystery over their delay remains.