Melanie McDonagh Melanie McDonagh

Pope Francis is wrong to rewrite the Lord’s Prayer

Is the Pope a Catholic? You have to wonder. In the old days, a pope’s remit was modest: infallible, but only in the vanishingly rare cases when he pronounced on matters of faith and morals concerning the whole Church. But even at their most bombastic and badly behaved, earlier popes would have hesitated to do what nice Pope Francis has done, which is to approve changes in the liturgy which amount to rewriting the Lord’s Prayer.

That bit that says ‘Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil’ is, for Pope Francis, a bad translation. ‘It speaks of a God who induces temptation,’ he told Italian TV. ‘I am the one who falls. It’s not him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen. A father doesn’t do that; A father helps you to get up immediately.

Which sounds as if it’s not the translation he doesn’t like, it’s the sentiment — Christ not being Christian enough. And so, he’s approved changes by the Italian bishops to the Italian translation of the Roman Missal. The original Latin Vulgate version reads: ‘et ne nos inducas in tentationem’ which is pretty well exactly the same as the familiar English one. The Italian translation, ‘e non ci indurre in tentazione’, is now being replaced with ‘e non abbandonarci alla tentazione’, or ‘and do not abandon us to temptation’.

This matters because the Lord’s Prayer is common to Christians of all denominations. It’s part of our languages and our culture. We say it at weddings, funerals; the unreligious remember it from school. It’s a common prayer which binds us together. Why change the words? Especially since, as Greek scholars will tell you that the root verb, eisphero means bring or carry in, and hence, lead; nothing about ‘allow’.

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