Lead us not into temptation, Pope Francis!
Millions of people around the world recently received shocking reports regarding Pope Francis and a change to the Our Father. While it appears that no "official" replacement of the original Pater noster is imminent, there is real cause for concern despite the "move along, nothing to see here" posts and podcasts of neo-conservative apologists and bloggers. Modifications to Our Lord's very words (hence "the Lord's Prayer") have already been issued in various countries throughout the Church over the past years.
Pope Francis' comments regarding the Our Father were quickly disseminated by the international press, much like his famous "who I am to judge" observation regarding homosexuals and assertion that Catholics need not breed "like rabbits." Catholics must be aware of the real and serious danger Pope Francis continues to pose to the Faith and the salvation of souls. The Pontiff's words regarding the Our Father cannot be ignored or defended, the impact that this development has already caused and will continue to cause, cannot be minimized.
Published on Youtube on December 6, 2017 was the seventh episode of a series of interviews of Pope Francis, conducted by 38 year old Fr. Marco Pozza. The chaplain of a prison in Padua, Fr. Pozza - dressed in chic plain clothes - appeared with the Pontiff on TV2000, the Italian Bishops' official media outlet. Francis and Pozza had recently co-authored a commentary on the Our Father, called Padre nostro, released on November 23, 2017. The episode dealt with the sixth petition of the prayer: "and lead us not into temptation."
Speaking of the phrase, Pope Francis said: "This is a translation which is not good. The French have also now changed the text with a translation 'do not let me fall into temptation.' It is I who fall, it isn't He (God) Who throws me into temptation to then see how I fell; no, a father doesn't do this, a father helps [his child] to rise quickly.”
Indeed, the Episcopal Conference of France imposed a new version of the Our Father, effective December 3, 2017, the First Sunday of Advent. The French now recite ne nous laisse pas entrer en tentation (do not let us enter into temptation). A similar mandate had taken place a year earlier in the Netherlands, when on November 27, 2016 - also the First Sunday of Advent - the Dutch Bishops promulgated their new version of the Our Father, substituting "test," "ordeal," or "tribulation," (beproveing) for "temptation" (bekoring).
The original Greek, found in St. Matthew's Gospel (6:13) and St. Luke's Gospel (11:4) is kai me eisenenkes hemas eis peirasmon. The Latin is et ne nos inducas in tentationem. The Italian e non ci indurre in tentazione (disparaged by Pope Francis) literally corresponds to the Greek and the Latin. Interestingly, while the versions of the Our Father in the Gospels of Saints Matthew and Luke slightly differ, "and lead us not into temptation" was written by both Evangelists in the same exact way.
It is true that the Pope did not directly order an immediate or universal revision of the Lord's Prayer for either liturgical or non-liturgical use. However, the implications of his statement were obvious especially given his September, 2017 motu proprio called Magnum Principium.
Magnum Principium modified Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law, giving national and regional episcopal conferences the authority to produce liturgical translations. The document also displaced the principles of the 2001 instruction Liturgiam Authenticam, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) under Pope John Paul II. Liturgiam Authenticam insisted on translations' fidelity to Latin typical texts, as well as the Sacred Scriptures in the original Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek. Francis' motu proprio also removed the previous authority of the CDW (formerly the Sacred Congregation of Rites). When Congregation prefect Robert Cardinal Sarah attempted to do damage control, he was publicly and flatly contradicted by Pope Francis himself: the Pontiff insisted on the original meaning of his plan to decentralize the authority and role of the Congregation.
Reaction to a perceived revision of Christ's own prayer was immediate and worldwide, the news stunning Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Seeking to dispel the unease, Greg Burke, official press secretary of the Holy See clarified to Julius Müller-Meiningen of Germany's General-Anzeiger, "So far, we are talking about a conversation between the Pope and a journalist... an invitation to reflect."
Quoted in the New York Times, R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary stated: "This is the Lord's prayer. It is not, and never has been, the Pope's prayer, and we have the very words of Jesus in the New Testament. It is those very words that the Pope proposes to change. It is not only deeply problematic, it's almost breathtaking."
Such a (patently illicit) change which disturbs even the Protestants, would sadly not be without precedent. How can we forget that Christ's words were scandalously changed in the very formula of the consecration of the Precious Blood? For more than four decades in different languages, the celebrant of the Mass has repeated "for you and for all," while it is clear from the Gospel (Matthew 26:28) that Our Lord said "for many" at the Last Supper. Although corrected in English-speaking countries since 2011, "for all" continues to be used in German, Italian, and Spanish celebrations of the Novus Ordo, despite a 2006 Vatican decree to the contrary.
Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, Germany (by no means a traditionalist) took the French bishops to task for changing the Our Father, in the December 1, 2017 issue of Die Tagespost. Voderholzer acknowledged that "and lead us not into temptation" was the phrase used by Christ, and that those words could not be revised. Although the Bishop stated this before the Youtube release of the TV2000 interview, his comments would logically apply to Pope Francis' position, too.
Liberal German scholar Thomas Söding explained that if anyone wanted to change the prayer, then they must necessarily first change the New Testament. Söding added that the new French version was "not a translation, but a paraphrase." This assertion would also be equally valid for Pope Francis' claim.
Perhaps the most shocking defense of the unadulterated Our Father was that of the modernist German Jesuit, Fr. Klaus Mertes. In a December 8, 2017 interview with Deutschlandfunk regarding the French mutation - and in which he denied the very existence of the devil (!) - the pro-gay Fr. Mertes called the new version an inconceivable "distortion."
As evinced from Pope Francis' position on the prayer (let alone very-possible, personal intellectual difficulties on his part with Latin and Greek) could these words of St. Peter apply to Pope Francis: "In which are certain things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction"? (2 Peter 3:16) As a diocesan priest in Great Britain wrote regarding this sad episode, "If we can't have a Pope fluent in the major liturgical languages, God grant us one who knows when to keep silent!"
We are nearing the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' election. Since that fateful day in March, 2013, we have witnessed on his part a consistent disdain for all that is sacred, an itching desire to do away with the permanent and impermeable, and the willful destruction of what little was left of Catholic Tradition; in short an agenda to compromise the already-compromised Faith. The change to the Our Father is the newest, calculated “low” of this agenda. What a striking contrast to the Papal Coronation Oath, previously sworn at the beginning of pontificates: “I vow to change nothing of the received Tradition, and nothing thereof I have found before me guarded by my God-pleasing predecessors.”
Pope Francis should remember Our Lord's words: "For Amen I say unto you, till Heaven and earth pass, one jot, or one tittle shall not pass of the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew 5:18) The same holds for the solemn warning found in the Apocalypse of St. John: "If any man shall add to these things, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book." (Apocalypse 22:18)
We know that "all Scripture [is] inspired of God." (2 Timothy 3:16) No man, not even the Pope, has the authority to change one word of it. Let us pray that Pope Francis not give into temptation, or lead us into temptation. Instead, may the Roman Pontiff be filled with the fear of the Lord, faithful to the words of the Divine Word, Jesus Christ. Let the Pope, and each of us, recall St. Paul's admonition: "Neither let us tempt Christ: as some of them tempted, and perished by the serpents." (1 Cor. 10:9)
This article originally appeared in the January 2018 issue of Catholic Family News. Gain quicker access to traditional Catholic news by subscribing here.