English translations have helped Catholics better understand the sacraments they share, says Pope

English translations of Latin liturgical texts have promoted unity in the faith and helped millions of Catholics better understand the sacraments they share, Pope Francis said.

“The fruits of your labours have not only helped to form the prayer of countless Catholics, but have also contributed to the understanding of the faith, the exercise of the common priesthood and the renewal of the church’s missionary outreach,” the Pope said during a meeting today with representatives of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy.

The representatives were meeting in Rome to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the commission, established in 1963 to develop unified English translations of the prayers used at Mass, for the celebration of the sacraments and other liturgies.

ICEL is made up of 11 bishops’ conferences: the United States, Canada, Ireland, England and Wales, Scotland, southern Africa (South Africa, Swaziland and Botswana), India, Pakistan, Philippines, New Zealand and Australia.

Before English texts may be used, individual bishops’ conferences must approve them and submit them to the Vatican. Since 2001, Vox Clara, a committee established by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, has reviewed and suggested revisions to the translations before the Vatican gives its final approval.

“By enabling the vast numbers of the Catholic faithful throughout the world to pray in a common language,” Pope Francis told ICEL members, “your commission has helped to foster the church’s unity in faith and sacramental communion.”