The Vatican missing paragraph mystery

When I was studying canon law, my professors always insisted on referring to the official Latin version of the Code of Canon Law rather than relying on a translation. It was sound advice that I have always endeavoured to apply to reading any official Vatican documents, including encyclicals, Vatican II documents and the like.

This week, however, while reading Pope Paul VI’s Octogesima Adveniens, better known as the Letter to Cardinal Roy marking the 80th anniversary of the encyclical Rerum Novarum, I was startled to notice a whole missing paragraph in the English version of the document!

Paragraph 5 of the Latin text ends with the following sentence:

Hoc officio, cuius penitus conscii sumus, Nos hodie impellimur, ut nonnulla cogitata suasionesque prοponamus, quas amplissimae quaestiones hominibus hac aetate expediendae gignunt.

But it is completely missing in the English version!

I checked the French, Spanish, Italian and German versions and they all do contain a translation of that sentence. Only the English is faulty.

Well, here’s my translation into English then:

Feeling acutely conscious of this responsibility has led us today to propose several reflections and suggestions that seek to respond to the magnitude of the problems that confront people at present.

Not a big paragraph but enough to make you aware of the dangers of relying unthinkingly on a translation!

Stefan Gigacz


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