Thursday, 12 April 2012

Cardinal Napier On The Bible Debate (Amended)

On the 22nd of March 2012, The Southern Cross published, as its “Letter Of The Week”, no less, a letter from two lecturers of St Augustine College in South Africa. The letter was titled, though I am not sure if the writers or the editor chose this title, “Are We Using The Right Bible?

The above letter criticises the decision to use the RSV and not the NRSV translation of the Bible in the new lectionary in South Africa. They proceed to give all kinds of reasons and make all kinds of statements about why the NRSV trumps the RSV. All of which are, to say the very least, complete and utter nonsense. I would have hoped that, as lecturers of this theological college, they would be better informed.

As if they haven’t done enough, they then proceed to end their letter with this statement; “The decision to go with the RSV, rather than the NRSV, can only further the suspicion that behind the entire exercise of the new missal (including the rejection of the 1998 ICEL translation) was the attempt to ensure that inclusive language is kept far away from the Catholic Church, and that women are never directly addressed by the word of God.” Again, what complete and utter nonsense! I wonder if these two writers also believe the Vatican is complicit with the US government in keeping secret the existence of UFO’s?

When one considers the above statement by these two, one can begin to understand why the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith felt the need to authorise a document that reminds theologians that they must submit to the truth proclaimed by the Magisterium! (See more here)

Cardinal Napier has now written a letter in response to the above letter, which has been published in this week’s copy of The Southern Cross. (11 Aril 2012) Cardinal Napier’s letter, sadly, has not received the same pride of place as the above-mentioned letter and was relegated to the ‘ordinary’ letters that do not deserve being classified as “Letter Of The Week” by the editor.

I really would think that if one of our bishops writes to The Southern Cross, especially in response to this nonsense from these learned people of St Augustine’s College, that it would receive pride of place as the “Letter Of the Week” in our Catholic newspaper. Oh well, what do I know?

The editor of the Southern Cross has asked me to remove the Cardinal's letter as I am apparently infringing on the copyrights of The Southern Cross by displaying it. This was not my intention and I apologize for doing so. I will however strongly advise that you read the Cardinal's letter. You will it under letters to the editor in the April 11, 2012 issue of the newspaper.

Concerning the RSV versus NRSV letter by Fr Szypula and Sr Coyle (March 21), a visit to websites on this topic will lead one to question those who are questioning the decision of the Holy See to opt for the 1971 edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible rather than the earlier 1952 edition or the New Revised Standard Version. An interesting observation by one of the researchers is that at least one of the translators working on the New Revised Standard Version expressed surprise at finding “inclusive language” in the NRSV text where it had not been there when the text last passed through the hands of the translators. Is that translator implying that the text was “doctored” or “emasculated” post factum? Two serious talking points on one of the websites focused on: (i) the NRSV text of Isaiah which states that “the young woman is with child”, as if something has already happened; as compared with the RSV text which talks about something still to happen: “the virgin will conceive and bear a son.” (ii) the NRSV text of John 7:39 which states: “For as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” By contrast the RSV reads: “For as yet the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” The latter has grave consequences for the doctrine of the Holy Trinity! So, while the NRSV maybe more accurate, is it better liturgy and for theology? If you are interested google “RSV versus NRSV”. At least a dozen sites will come up — all most informative!

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM,
Archbishop of Durban
Letter from: The Southern Cross; Letters to Editor; April 11, 2012


  1. Well what can we say about the Southern Cross? It always seems to be trumping with the wrong cards! Jokers wild and shooting itself in the foot when it loses the game!

    I have always wondered why they have still not been kicked into touch! Is it because somebody wishes to undermine the Catholic Faith and the Faithful?

  2. OK! You have been asked to remove the Cardinal's letter i.e hide the truth away!

    Now, certainly, it is not infringing upon the copyright, when one relates what the Cardinal expressed.

    He said that the reason for the Church promoting the RSV version as opposed to the NRSV version is that the NRSV version (promoted by the Southern Cross) ACTUALLY promotes a scriptrure interpretation which contrary to Church doctrine, which is not in the spirit of the Liturgy.

    Does the Southern Cross not want your readers to know that it is promoting dissent by fostering the the NRSV version?

    By asking you to withdraw the Cardinal's letter, I would say, that the Southern Cross has fired the second shot in its own foot!