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THE MUNUS OF TRANSMITTING HUMAN LIFE: A NEW APPROACH TO I-IUMANAE VITAE JANET E. SMITH University of Dallas Irving, Texas 'TIRE ONLY ACQUAINTANCE 1bhat most rea;ders have with the Latin of Humanae Vitae is the tit1le. It is likey that fow laymen and perhaps eV'en fow schofars make ire:ferenoe to the Latin text; indeed, it is ireported that I-Iumanae Vitae was originally composed in ltalian, and it seems that aH available translations of the text al'e based primarily on the Italian V'ersion. But since the official text of Humanae Vitae is in Latin and since translations are necessa11ily deficient, we shouild not be surprised that the ava:ilahle translations fail to convey a:M the nuances of the official text. (Latin, of course, is tihe langua:ge in which all official documents of the Church are written.) This study seeks to show that attenti¥eness to certain words fa the Latin text, most particularly the word munus, uncovers important eonnections between Humanae Vitae and pe['spect[ves of the Church, perspectives particularly highlighted in the documents of Vatican II. It also seeks to show that the La.tin provides greater philosophical precision for certain key teaohings of the text, most particularly section 11: "each and every maritail act must remain open to proc11eation ." It is ii.mportant to note that some of the crucial Latin words of the document cal'ry connotations tihat cannot possibly be captured ihy 1any one English word. Indeed, some of the words convey concepts and attitudes that are quite foreign to speak:iers of modern English; to convey the meaning of some terms requires a. fairly lengthy expl,ication of notions not immed :iate1ly and directly graspaible hy ail readers. Even to the reade[' of Latin, the text does not 'easily ~eld its secrets. The 385 386 JANET E. SMITH Latin of the document has no identifiahle souTee of reliabJe deoipherment; it is a kind of " modern " 0 1 r " Church " Latin, which is an odd comhinat~on of elassical Latin and the lang1uage the Ohurch ha:s deve1oped oveil.' the centuries. The method of translation employed here has invo1 lved consultation of classical and medieval dictionaries, reference to arguably rep- !l1esentative classical and medieval 1 authors, tracing of the word 'being ioonsidered through t1he documents of Vatican II, con- 'sideration of 1appearance of the word in other Church documents , cross-reference to other uses of the word within Huma,nae Vitae itself, and reference to the Italian" 1 original." 1 l In preparation for this article reference was made to six English translations : (a) the translation done by the NC News Service, made widely available by the Daughters of Saint Paul, Of Human Life (Boston, Mass.: Daughters of St. Paul, 1968), hereafter referred to as the "usual translation" and designated by HY; (b) the translation by the Catholic Truth Society printed in John Horgan, Humanae Vitae and the Bishops (Shannon, Ireland: Irish University Press, 1972), 33-53; this translation was modified and reprinted in (c) The Pope Speaks 13 (1969): 329-346, and in (d) the Vatican Press Office translation, " Encyclical Letter on the Regulation of Births " in Vatican II: More Post-Conciliar Doauments, ed. Austin Flannery, O.P. (Northport, N. Y.: Costello Publishing Company, 1982), 397-416; (e) the translation by Rev. Marc Calegari, S.J., Humanae Vitae (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1978), which has undergone a further, as of yet unpublished, revision. 'There is one translation (f) that was made entirely from the Latin, by Rev. A. J. Durand, Humanae Vitae: A New Translation (Bethlehem, Pa.: Catechetical Communications; no date given); it is, though, not widely available. Rev. Calegari, in private communication with this author, noted that the document was originally written in Italian, though the Latin text is the official text. He also stated that the modern language versions were made from the Italian text. My comparisons of the translations of Humanae Vitae with the Italian and the Latin versions indicate that Rev. Calegari is correct in saying that most modern versions are based on the Italian, though a few, most notably that by the Catholic Truth Society, have clearly made reference to the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 385-427
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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