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‘Inclusive’ Scripture Gets Boost Vatican Group Will Review Gender-Neutral Readings

A drive by American Roman Catholics for gender-neutral Scripture readings got a boost Saturday when the Vatican said that a working group would give their readings a final review.

The American bishops conference prepared a revised English edition of Mass readings from the Bible four years ago containing “inclusive” language, and has been seeking Vatican approval for it.

The revision substitutes “men and women” or “the human race” for “man” or “men,” for example.

The bishops asked to meet with Vatican officials to make their case. Seven U.S. cardinals sat down Friday with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and other church officials.

The result was the working group, which Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore said would “essentially (grant) approval of what’s been prepared.”

The Scripture “will be sensitive to the ear of the typical person in a pew in the United States,” Keeler told The Associated Press.

The texts are excerpts from the revised New American Bible contained in the Lectionary of the Mass, a collection of readings to be used during Masses.

Parts of the Bible revision already contain gender-neutral language. Objectors are more concerned about the Lectionary because the language would be heard during Mass and so would acquire liturgical weight.

The American bishops lost a similar battle over the 1994 English edition of the church’s catechism, a compendium of Roman Catholic teaching, when the Vatican ruled out such changes.

Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said a working group including American bishops and Vatican officials responsible for doctrine and worship will begin meeting early next year to make a “final review” of the texts.

They will seek to approve the translations “as soon as possible,” Navarro-Valls said in a statement released Saturday.

Keeler said the delay in approving the Lectionary was due to “concerns by many people on both sides of the ocean that the translations be faithful to the traditional proclamations of the church.”

The American cardinals were Keeler, Bernard Law of Boston, John O’Connor of New York, James Hickey of Washington, D.C., Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia and Adam Maida of Detroit.

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