Lord’s Prayer revision: OK, say some, but don’t let meaning get lost in translation
And lead us not into banal translations of the Lord’s Prayer.
Catholics in the Diocese of Greensburg say they don’t mind Pope Francis’ proposed change to the Lord’s Prayer, as long as it faithfully reflects the meaning of Christ’s words.
“I would not want him to mistranslate Jesus’ words, but I like the theological point he’s trying to make,” said Nazzi Zola, 67, of Hempfield.
A new translation endorsed by Francis changes the penultimate petition in the Lord’s Prayer — “and lead us not into temptation” — to “do not abandon us to temptation” or “do not let us enter/fall into temptation.”
The Italian Bishops’ Conference recently approved the new wording for use in a revised edition of the Italian Missal, to be published in the coming months. The less familiar wording is also said to be in use in French and Spanish.
Whether it comes into wider usage in the United States and elsewhere is a matter to be taken up by liturgical authorities in Rome.
“Pope Francis is inviting a conversation about a change to the Our Father with what he is saying is a more accurate translation of the prayer,” said Jerry Zufelt, spokesman for the Diocese of Greensburg. “His proposal would need to be approved by the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. If the change is approved by the Congregation, it could take up to two years before it is implemented in the U.S.”
Zola, on his way to the 12:10 p.m. Friday Mass at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Greensburg, said his chief concern is that Jesus’ meaning not be lost in translation.
“Whatever Jesus’ words were, as long as the interpretation is a fair translation, I like what (the pope) is saying,” he said.
Nancy O’Donnell of Jeannette said she heard about the change and started adding her own wording as a tag on the end of the petition. When she prays “and lead us not into temptation,” she adds “and into the light of the world (Christ).”
As for the pope’s translation, she said, “I like his, too.”
O’Donnell said she prays the Lord’s Prayer daily, whether as part of the rosary, at Mass or in a prayer group.
“It really doesn’t concern me too much,” said Mary L. Franklin, 90, of Greensburg. “It doesn’t change the meaning of the prayer.”
Then Franklin added: “Between you and me, I’m going to keep saying it the way I always say it. I’m really too old to change.”
In interviews and in a series of teachings on the Lord’s Prayer, Francis has said he does not want people to be misled by the petition into thinking that God leads people into sin.
“We must exclude God as the source of the temptations that impede humanity in its journey, as if God himself were on the prowl, setting snares and traps for his children,” he said in his weekly general audience May 1.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes that the original Greek word “lead” is difficult to translate into English.
“The Greek means both ‘do not allow us to enter into temptation’ and ‘do not let us yield to temptation,” the Catechism states.
The new translation has not been well received in all Catholic quarters.
In the conservative Catholic monthly First Things, writer Charlotte Allen said, “It is always irritating when professional liturgists, theologians and prelates deem ordinary Catholic laypeople mentally incapable of looking beyond the surface meaning of ‘lead us not into temptation’ and understanding that the words might actually imply a subtle and nuanced understanding of God the Father’s providential concern for sinful humanity.”
Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter .