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Pope Francis Just Cannot Catch a Break

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Even when Pope Francis agrees with the CCC he gets criticized. In case you haven’t heard there is a new  ‘Pope Francis controversy.’  The controversy has to do with the translation of the sixth petition of the Our Father – “Lead us not into temptation.”

Here’s the background.

Four years ago (2013) the French bishops made a request to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDWDS) for a new translation of the sixth petition of the Our Father. The reason for the request was that they believed the current translation did not adequately convey the correct meaning of the petition.  Instead of “Lead us not into temptation,” they wanted the sixth petition to say, “Do not let us fall into temptation.”  The CDWDS approved the new translation which was subsequently released by the French episcopal conference on Dec 3.

And here begins the controversy.

According to a Dec. 8 Catholic News Agency article, “In a video series for Italian television network TV2000, Pope Francis said that “lead us not into temptation” is a poorly translated line of the Our Father.

“This is not a good translation,” the Pope said in the video, published Dec. 6. “I am the one who falls, it’s not (God) who pushes me toward temptation to see how I fall. A father doesn’t do this, a father helps us to get up right away.”

And so the criticism began.

As might be expected, Novus Ordo Watch (NOW) was one of the first websites to chime in with the headline “Pope” Francis wants to change the “Our Father.”  The story’s lead said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we can all breathe easier now: After 2,000 years of Catholics praying the Lord’s Prayer incorrectly, Mr. Jorge Bergoglio (aka “Pope Francis”) has now come to deliver Christendom from a frightening “mistranslation” of the words revealed directly by the Lord Jesus Christ: The line in the Our Father that says “And lead us not into temptation” is a thorn in the side of the Jesuit apostate, since it insinuates, so he claims, that God would ever tempt His own children to sin, which is not something a father would do.”

What the CCC Says

The complete lack of respect for the Holy Father shown by the writer is regrettable.  But so is the writer’s knowledge of Catholic doctrine. NOW might want to take a look at the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  They, and everyone else who is criticizing the Pope for his comment, might want to read the CCC.  They may be surprised to find out that the CCC actually supports what Pope Francis is saying.

2846 This petition goes to the root of the preceding one, for our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to “lead” us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both “do not allow us to enter into temptation” and “do not let us yield to temptation.” “God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one”; on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle “between flesh and spirit”; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength. [Italics added.]

Making sense of it all

When I read this in the CCC 24 years ago, my immediate reaction was “I knew it!” I’d always had a problem with that particular petition.  I wondered if perhaps there was a translation problem in taking the Our Father from Aramaic to Greek to Latin and then to English.  I could never understand why a God who so loved us that He would send His only Son to be so horribly put to death for us would ‘lead us into temptation.’

After I read this explanation in the CCC I actually changed the way I recited the Lord’s Prayer. To my way of thinking, asking God “do not let us yield to temptation,” just made sense.

St. James tells us, as referenced in the CCC, God “tempts no one.” (Jas. 1:13) Why then would God ever “lead us into temptation?”  Maybe the French are on to something!?