words and matter

So, great debate.  Great Controversy.  The controversial and divisive Pope Francis has waded in with a suggestion.

In an interview with an Italian TV network, the pontiff said that the current language of the Our Father prayer “is not a good translation.”

In English and similarly in Italian, the prayer asks God to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” But, says Francis, it’s not the Lord that tempts.

“It is not He that pushes me into temptation and then sees how I fall,” Francis said in Italian. “A father does not do this. A father quickly helps those who are provoked into Satan’s temptation.”

Francis pointed out that just a few days ago, France’s Catholic church adopted new phrasing in its Notre Père.

Taking a look at the prayer as taught to me when I was, oh, about 8?… and had heard it from age zero, and to show how I always (mis)understood it…

and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil

Understand, taken in weekly and only barely paying attention, I’d always assumed that that temptation part was directed to all those we’re forgiving, followed as it is from that “trespass against us” line.  (Part of the trespassing against us would be the leading us into temptation.)  The Satanically inspired, I guess?  (Or, as the Pope has it with his correction, it is Satan who leads us into temptation, not God.)
Of course, we have that “not” thrown in there which throws a kink into the line, but things sometimes get a rote.

The dissenters against the changed phrase are interesting to parse.

“The word in question is peirasmos [from New Testament Greek] which means both to tempt and to be tested,” the Rev. Ian Paul told the newspaper. “So on one level the pope has a point. But he’s also stepping into a theological debate about the nature of evil.”

Sure.  Sure.  But then there’s…

Paul added: “In terms of church culture, people learn this prayer by heart as children. If you tweak the translation, you risk disrupting the pattern of communal prayer. You fiddle with it at your peril.”

So it is we have a bunch of mismatch with the Priest against some in the congregation.  All is disrupted.  Chaos ensues for about… two seconds… before order returns with the next words.

Then there’s

“Pope Francis has made a habit of saying things that throw people into confusion, and this is one of them,” Mr. Lawler said. “It just makes you wonder, where does it stop, what’s up for grabs. It’s cumulative unease.”

Ye olde slippery slope argument.  Which, granted, it’s the Catholic Church — which has to hold onto traditional grounds against a dizzying secular society — but it’s notable that this comes up against a kind of “probably right.”

This headline is too clever by half.

Worth noting, this comes around the time of an anniversary in church history, and the controversies surrounding previous Popes

In 1520, Martin Luther publicly burned the papal edict demanding that he recant parts of his 95 Theses, or face excommunication.

You know, it occurs to me that nowhere in those 95 demands by Martin Luther does he address the controversy about how many angels dance on the tip of a pin.  Score one for the Catholics.

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