Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez

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Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, who played a major role in determining how current translations of the Mass in English were done, died Oct. 3 in Santiago. He was 94.

From 1996 to 2002, Cardinal Medina served as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, not only overseeing and approving the translations of Mass texts, but also establishing guidelines for how the translations were to be done.
Pope Francis, in a telegram of condolence, described Cardinal Medina as a “devoted prelate who, for years and with fidelity, gave his life to the service of God and the universal Church.”

As prefect of the worship congregation, in 1999 Cardinal Medina ordered a complete overhaul of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, the body sponsored by 11 bishops’ conferences to draft common English versions of liturgical prayers.

Cardinal Medina said at the time that the commission was not giving “to the bishops, to the Holy See and to the English-speaking faithful an adequate level of service.”

And, in 2001, he published, “Liturgiam Authenticam” (“The Authentic Liturgy”), a document of translation guidelines and principles subtitled, “On the Use of Vernacular Languages in the Publication of the Books of the Roman Liturgy.” It insisted on translations that were as close as possible to Latin.

Born in Santiago, he was ordained a priest in 1954. Much of his early priesthood was spent at Santiago’s Catholic University, where he was a theology professor, dean of the school of theology and, for nine years, university chancellor.

Named auxiliary bishop of Rancagua, Chile, he was ordained to the episcopate by St. John Paul II in a 1985 ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica. He was named head of the diocese two years later, and in 1993 became bishop of Valparaíso, Chile. St. John Paul tapped him to head the worship congregation in 1996 and, two years later, named him to the College of Cardinals.—CNS