Authentic vs. Literal

Father Kavanaugh's letter in the June 10-16 Register emphasized that authentic translation need not mean literal translation. Of course, anyone who is familiar with languages will realize that a “literal translation” in the sense of an exact word-for-word rendering is not always possible.

But this does not mean that the process of transculturation demands the modernized paraphrases which abound in the current translations.

The fact is that while untranslatable idioms and structures do exist, nonetheless, the vast majority of the content of the official texts can be completely conveyed in modern English without paraphrase or loose rendering. Such devices serve merely to substitute the words of a handful of translators for the original and often ancient text.

In my years of studying Latin, I have run across countless inexplicably loose renderings in liturgical translations. For instance, there is no reason that the present beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer should read “these gifts we offer you in sacrifice” when the “literal” rendering — “these gifts, these offerings, these holy unblemished sacrifices” — is not only just as intelligible, but much more beautiful.


Steubenville, Ohio

Incorrupt Statistics

Regarding “Blessed John XXIII's Return Spotlights Incorrupt Saints” (June 10-16): Joan Carroll Cruz, whose excellent book on incorrupt bodies I use regularly in the course on the saints that I teach at Loyola University Chicago, is quoted as saying that perhaps the reason so many incorrupt bodies are found among Catholics is that Catholics exhume more bodies, given the requirements of the canonization process.

This may in part be true, but one must remember that for centuries in many parts of the world, including in Europe where most saints have come from, bodies were routinely exhumed after a few years’ burial in order to reuse the grave in situations where churchyards were limited in size and had been in use for many centuries. The bones dug up were then transferred to charnel houses, as can be seen at the Capuchin Church in Rome. Thus a strong, broad statistical sample of exhumations independent of canonization causes exists.

That nonetheless a strong correlation is found between a reputation for sanctity and the incidence of incorrupt bodies points clearly to a connection between holiness and the phenomenon of incorruption rather than simply a “normal” distribution of incorrupt bodies across the general population.

Herbert Thurston, S.J., pointed this out already in his book The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism about 100 years ago. It's proper to go out of one's way to find a natural explanation for miracle claims, as the people your writer interviewed were doing. But scholarly method also requires giving attention to the statistical evidence when it points in the direction of the miraculous.



The writer is a professor of historical theology at Loyola University in Chicago.

Whither Dallas Institute?

I was deeply saddened to read of the resignations of Douglas Bushman and the other IRPS (Institute for Religious and Pastoral Studies) faculty in “Resignations Rock the University of Dallas” (May 20-26) as well as in the Dallas Morning's News’ June 2 feature “Theology Professors’ Departure Raises Concerns.”

As an alumna of both the undergraduate program and the IRPS program, I am deeply disappointed that Msgr. Milam Joseph and the university administration would fail to support and thereby keep in Dallas Douglas Bushman and the extraordinary program and faculty that he has built over the last ten years. I find it puzzling that Msgr. Joseph and Bishop Grahmann somehow saw this program as “too narrowly focused on teaching doctrine,” failing to “serve the local church,” and lacking a “pastoral approach.” Are they talking about the same program I attended?

As I think the vast majority of its student's would attest, Douglas Bushman's IRPS was pastoral in the fullest sense of the word. Far from being a merely academic exercise in perusing dry principles of “doctrine” removed from the faith and life of Dallas Catholics, this program was steeped in the teaching of Vatican II, the pastoral council for our times. Transcending facile liberal/conservative labels, it always strove to educate and inspire to action lay Catholics and deacons in their service to the Church.


UD Alumna “96 & ”00

Democrats Opposed Tax Plan

In the June 10-16 Register, your page-one headline “Democratic Tax Plan Rider Aids Big Catholic Families” is just plain wrong.

The Republicans got the tax plan passed — and it does help families and children. The Democrats just want to tax everyone more. The Democratic Party is not for families or children. They are only for bigger government and taking money out of the pockets of working Americans so they can buy the votes of others.


Staten Island, N.Y.

The page-one headline “”Democratic Tax Plan Rider Aids Big Catholic Families” (June 10-16) is truly an example of slanted political information. With almost 50% of the Democrats voting against the bill, why are they touted as national heroes to big Catholic families?

This tax plan originated as a party platform by the Republican Party, opposed by the Democrats and now is touted as a Democratic victory. How ironic that the word Republican was not used once in the entire article. By adding on an increase to a Republican bill, it now becomes a Democratic moral victory to big Catholic families.

FRed STephanek

Lansing, Illinois

Editor's Note: Republicans have long opposed refundable tax “credits” — benefits paid to families whether or not they owe taxes. But not in this case. The president of the U.S. bishops, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, called the tax credit a “provision that the Catholic bishops in the United States have long sought” and said he was “extremely happy … with the support and direct intervention of President Bush” on the legislation. The Register regrets the error.

Father's Day Tears

I haven't cried in two months, since the death of my little angel in December. But on Father's Day evening, I sat down to read the Register and, in my usual fashion, I turned to the “Culture of Life” section and began. I didn't notice, at first, since I was drawn to the picture of our Holy Father holding Christ in the monstrance, but as I followed the direction, I saw my little angel saying “Thank you” [“Baby Mugs,” June 17-23, featured a picture of Rebecca Anne Feleccia saying “Thank you” in sign language. She died in December at age 3].

This was the greatest gift a father can receive on Father's Day. Since the Feast of Corpus Christi coincided with Father's Day this year, I reflected on how Becky Anne would have loved the culmination of the “Come To Me” conference in Atlanta and how his presence has always given us strength through her illness. Christ's love is always blanketing us and giving us strength.

Becky Anne knew this. She lived it and shared it. She taught me how to trust in him completely. She taught me how to love him unconditionally. And, in her death, she taught me of the Father's undying, unfaltering love for us, his children.

My wife talked about sending in her “mug shot,” but I had forgotten all about it. God, in his usual fashion, gave me the booster I needed. I said I haven't cried in two months. This was true … until last night. Tears of joy as only God and my saint Becky Anne can bring.


Sugar Hill, Georgia