Bishop Michael G. Campbell from the Diocese of Lancaster in England has provided an English language translation of the 2015 Synod of Bishops’Relatio Finalis (or, ‘Final Report). Papal biographer and Church historian, Austen Ivereigh, who is fluent in both English and Italian, the language in which the report was composed, calls Bishop Campbell’s translation “an excellent, accurate rendition, and dependable.” But, he notes that “It is not, of course, the official Vatican one,” which continues to be the Italian original.
This English language translation of a document that will serve as one source of Pope Francis’ much anticipated Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortationcan be found here. Bishop Campbell’s edition, available in PDF, provides the voting results from the morning of Saturday, October 24, as well.
But, before you click over to it, here’s a little sampling to whet the appetite. Keep in mind this translation is the work of an Augustinian monk turned Bible scholar who has no patience for the shenanigans of groups like Call to Action, and who enjoys good relations with African missionaries as well as the approval of Pope Benedict XVI. (See below.) So, his rendering is probably not a bad way to study a widely discussed text.
Here’s how the good bishop translates paragraph 85 of the report, which concerns the divorced and civilly remarried. Recall that this paragraph received the greatest number of opposing (or, so-called ‘No’) votes (some eighty in all).
For one example of Bishop Campbell’s translation of a paragraph touching on the matter of homosexuality, let’s look at paragraph 76. That numbered section received 221 ‘Yes’ votes and only thirty-seven ‘No’ votes.
Much more can be found here.
While primary attention should be on the content of the final synodal report itself, one may want to know something about the translator himself, despite the fact that a good translator is not unlike a transparent window through whom the light of a text is able to shine. Nonetheless, here are a few things worth knowing about Bishop Campbell.
A Little Background on the Translator
He’s an Augustinian monk and a scholar. Bishop Campbell entered the Augustinian order at Clare Priory in August of 1962. According to his biography, he completed his novitiate there and then continued on toward studies in philosophy, which he undertook in Dublin. Later, he earned a degree in Semitic languages from University College – certainly, no easy accomplishment. He advanced to studies for the priesthood at Rome’s premier Pontifical Gregorian University between 1968 and 1972; and, he was ordained to the priesthood on September 16, 1971 in the chapel ofAustin Friars School in Carlisle. Bishop Campbell obtained a graduate degree in Biblical Studies from King’s College in London and he lectured on the subject between 1985 and 1989.
He’s a Pope Benedict bishop. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI named Campbell the Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Lancaster. A little more than one year after his episcopal ordination on March 31, 2008, Campbell succeeded Bishop Patrick O’Donoghue, thus becoming the ordinary there on May 1, 2009.
He’s regarded for his keen interest in the New Evangelization. As a bishop, he participated in the Thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith,” which was convened in Rome between October 7 and 28. There, he represented of the bishops of England and Wales. That post followed in the wake of previous pastoral appointments as a teacher-chaplain at a girls’ school, a parish curate, prior, pastor, and eventually Episcopal Vicar for Religious. Today, he serves both the Department of Christian Life and Worship and the Overseas Seminaries Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and he is on the Editorial Committee of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy. (As an aside, Bishop Campbell has no patience for groups that obstruct the work of authentic Catholic evangelization, like the so-called ‘Call to Action.’ See here.)
He’s got an African connection. With all eyes on Africa, both during the 2015 Synod and as the Holy Father prepares for an Apostolic Voyage there later this month, it is worth noting that Bishop Campbell once served the community of St. Augustine’s Major Seminary in Jos, Northern Nigeria. Last February, he called upon the aid of two African priests from the Institute of the Holy Family Fathers and Brothers of the Youth from Nigeria to take over the care of his diocese’s Marian shrine in St. Mary’s, Fernyhalgh and the Ladyewell Shrine.
But, he’s got no connection to the 2015 Synod. Although he participated in Pope Benedict XVI’s Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, he did not attend last month’s three-week-long meeting on “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World.” Theoretically speaking, that puts him at least one remove from the political dynamics surrounding last month’s synodal assembly. That could suggest his rendering of the final report is more faithful to the original language and thus much less an interpretation of it.