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“… and your horns fall off”

7 October 2013

Chiapas Catholics have always had to do things a bit differently.

Photo:  The Guardian

Photo: The Guardian

After having decided fifty years ago that the rites of the Church should be in the national language, Mexico’s fifty plus national languages has been one more rock in the shoe of the rather slow moving Vatican bureaucracy. In the Diocese of San Crisobal (Chiapas), the about two-thirds of the faithful are indigenous, and speak any one of five different languages. The two main languages being Tzotzil and Tzeltal, the late Bishop Samuel Ruiz had permitted priests to offer a partially translated Mass in the two Mayan languages, but much of the service required ad hoc translations and paraphrasing, which was often inadequate or misleading.

Oh well… it only took the Catholic Church about 1900 years to get all the various sacramentals into more widely spoken languages like English and Spanish, so coming up with the proper way of saying things, and preventing well-meaning but monolingual Spanish-speaking priests from saying “I baptize thee, and your horns fall off” rather than the more conventional “I baptize thee in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost” in only seven years is something of an accomplishment.

(Jornada: Aprueba papa Francisco fórmulas en tzotzil y tzeltal para sacramentos)

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