Dies Domini Mistranslated in English.

I would like to call attention to an apparently significant mistranslation in the Vatican's English version of Dies Domini. As posted to the Vatican web site, paragraph #14 is translated as:

14. In the first place, therefore, Sunday is the day of rest because it is the day "blessed" by God and "made holy" by him, set apart from the other days to be, among all of them, "the Lord's Day".

The Latin for this sentence on the Vatican web site is as follows:

14. Quietis itaque dies idcirco ante omnia talis est quod dies est a Deo « benedictus » ab Eoque « sanctificatus » scilicet ab aliis diebus segregatus ut inter omnes « dies sit Domini ».

It is important to note that the Latin word for Sunday, which is "Dominica", is not used. The Latin text speaks of the "dies quietis", referring to the "day of rest", or sabbath day. In context, Pope John Paul II is speaking of the seventh-day sabbath (Saturday) being blessed, made holy and set apart by God, and not Sunday. This is clear also in the Vatican's German version, which reads:

14. Der Tag der Ruhe ist der Sabbat also vor allem deshalb, weil er der von Gott »gesegnete« und »geheiligte« Tag ist, das heißt, getrennt von den anderen Tagen, um unter allen der Tag des Herrn zu sein.

Note that the German word for Sunday, Sonntag, does not appear. Rather, the sentence reads "the day of rest" (Der Tag der Ruhe), and it even then uses "Sabbat" for clarification, referring to the Saturday Sabbath.

Also in French, Italian, Spanish, Portugese and Polish, the wording does not specifically use the word for Sunday:

In French: (Sunday is Dimanche)

14. Le jour du repos est donc tel, d'abord parce qu'il est le jour « béni » par Dieu et « sanctifié » par lui, autrement dit séparé des autres jours pour être, entre tous, le « jour du Seigneur »

In Italian: (Sunday is Domenica)

14. Il giorno del riposo è dunque tale innanzitutto perché è il giorno « benedetto » da Dio e da lui « santificato », ossia separato dagli altri giorni per essere, tra tutti, il « giorno del Signore ».

In Spanish: (Sunday is Domingo)

14. El día del descanso es tal ante todo porque es el día « bendecido » y « santificado » por Dios, o sea, separado de los otros días para ser, entre todos, el « día del Señor».

In Portugese: (Sunday is Domingo)

14. Portanto, o dia do repouso é tal primariamente porque é o dia « abençoado » por Deus e por Ele « santificado », isto é, separado dos demais dias para ser, de entre todos, o « dia do Senhor ».

In Polish, the Pope's native tongue: (Sunday is niedziele)

14. Tak wiec dzien odpoczynku zawdziecza swój charakter przede wszystkim temu, ze Bóg go « poblogoslawil » i « uswiecil », to znaczy oddzielil od pozostalych dni, aby byl posród nich « dniem Panskim ».

In view of the above texts, which all read "the day of rest", and do not use the word for Sunday, it is clear that a more accurate English translation of #14 from the Latin would read as follows (note the context in which #14 appears):

"God blessed the seventh day and made it holy" (Gn 2:3)

13. The Sabbath precept, which in the first Covenant prepares for the Sunday of the new and eternal Covenant, is therefore rooted in the depths of God's plan. This is why, unlike many other precepts, it is set not within the context of strictly cultic stipulations but within the Decalogue, the "ten words" which represent the very pillars of the moral life inscribed on the human heart. In setting this commandment within the context of the basic structure of ethics, Israel and then the Church declare that they consider it not just a matter of community religious discipline but a defining and indelible expression of our relationship with God, announced and expounded by biblical revelation. This is the perspective within which Christians need to rediscover this precept today. Although the precept may merge naturally with the human need for rest, it is faith alone which gives access to its deeper meaning and ensures that it will not become banal and trivialized.

14. In the first place, therefore, the day of rest (the sabbath) is such because it is the day "blessed" by God and "made holy" by him, set apart from the other days to be, among all of them, "the Lord's Day".

In order to grasp fully what the first of the biblical creation accounts means by keeping the Sabbath "holy", we need to consider the whole story, which shows clearly how every reality, without exception, must be referred back to God. Time and space belong to him. He is not the God of one day alone, but the God of all the days of humanity.

Therefore, if God "sanctifies" the seventh day with a special blessing and makes it "his day" par excellence, this must be understood within the deep dynamic of the dialogue of the Covenant, indeed the dialogue of "marriage". This is the dialogue of love which knows no interruption, yet is never monotonous. In fact, it employs the different registers of love, from the ordinary and indirect to those more intense, which the words of Scripture and the witness of so many mystics do not hesitate to describe in imagery drawn from the experience of married love

Consequently, Pope John Paul II clearly does not claim in Dies Domini section #14 that Sunday was explicitly declared "blessed" by God and "made holy" by Him (as was the Saturday Sabbath in Genesis 2:3). Rather, as is evident from the Latin, and all translations but the English, the Pope is affirming that the original "Lord's Day" was indeed the seventh-day Saturday sabbath. According to the Pope, later in Dies Domini, the change to Sunday was made not by God Himself but by the Christian (Catholic) Church, based on an assumed authority:

63. Christ came to accomplish a new "exodus", to restore freedom to the oppressed. He performed many healings on the Sabbath (cf. Mt 12:9-14 and parallels), certainly not to violate the Lord's Day, but to reveal its full meaning: "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath" (Mk 2:27). Opposing the excessively legalistic interpretation of some of his contemporaries, and developing the true meaning of the biblical Sabbath, Jesus, as "Lord of the Sabbath" (Mk 2:28), restores to the Sabbath observance its liberating character, carefully safeguarding the rights of God and the rights of man. This is why Christians, called as they are to proclaim the liberation won by the blood of Christ, felt that they had the authority to transfer the meaning of the Sabbath to the day of the Resurrection.

Note that the above says that Jesus did not violate "the Lord's Day" by healing on the Sabbath, clearly meaning the same day with both terms: Saturday. Pope John Paul II is acknowledging that the Saturday Sabbath was truely the original Lord's Day, and that Jesus is the Lord of that Sabbath.

This point of view, that Saturday was "the Lord's day" can also be found in an old Catholic Catechism:


'Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath-day'

1. What are we commanded by the Third Commandment?

    By the Third Commandment we are commanded to sanctify the Lord's day by performing works of piety and abstaining from servile works.

2. Which is the Lord's day?

    In the Old Law it was the seventh day of the week, or the Sabbath-day (day of rest), in memory of God's resting on that day, after He had finished the work of Creation in six days. In the New Law it is the first day of the week, or the Sunday, in memory of the accomplishment of our Redemption, which is a new spiritual Creation (Gal. vi. 15).

Source: A Complete Catechism of the Catholic Religion, from the German of Joseph Deharbe, S.J., Sixth American Edition, published by Schwartz, Kirwin & Fauss, 53 Park Place, New York, copyright 1912, 1919, 1924, pages 186-187.

So overall, considering sections #14 (properly translated), #63 cited above, and Deharbe's Catechism, Pope John Paul II is making the case that God had originally instituted the "Lord's day" on Saturday the seventh-day, and that the early Christian Church felt they had full apostolic authority from God to transfer the observance of this day of rest to Sunday. This makes Sunday the new "Lord's day" of rest, not by a direct decree of God, but by decree of the Church based on an assumed authority. The implication in #63 being that this transfer or "exodus" to Sunday has in the process "liberated" the Gentile Christian from the excessive Jewish legalisms associated with the Saturday Sabbath. Precisely how this transfer to Sunday sacredness was indicated or justified by Jesus' healing on the Sabbath is not clearly stated.

So let's examine in scripture which day the Lord claims explicitly to be his Holy day:

Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
Exo 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:

Isa 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
Isa 58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Luke 6:5 And he [Jesus] said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

The Lord God himself has declared the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) to be His holy day, and nowhere in the New Testament is this rescinded or transfered to Sunday by either Jesus or the Apostles.