Pope Francis’ Controversial Break from Tradition: Why Did He Change the Lord’s Prayer?

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Against the judgement of numerous outspoken traditional Catholics, Pope Francis decided to officially changed the wording of the Lord’s prayer. In Matthew 6:13, instead of it reading “lead us not into temptation” it will now be “do not let us fall into temptation.”

Why the change? As Pope Francis explained, “The one who leads you into temptation is Satan. That’s Satan’s role.” He also concedes that this isn’t as revolutionary as many would have you think, as many other countries have already updated their liturgy to mirror modern times. “The French have modified the prayer to ‘do not let me fall into temptation,’ because it is me who falls, not the Lord who tempts me to then see how I fall.”

In Gloria, the passage will change from “Peace on earth to people of good will” to “Peace on Earth to people beloved by God.”

Despite a very public dissertation by David W. Pao, chair of the New Testament Department at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, who told The Christian Post that the new iteration “does not represent the best reading of the Greek text, nor does it exhaust the meaning of this petition,” the Catholic Church ultimately sided with Pope Francis. They announced its approval to revise the third edition of the Italian Missal.

This controversial decision is not sudden news, it’s been a lingering topic of conversation for over 16 years, and despite its traditionalist detractors, approval towards new language has been ramping up in favor since 2017. The Catholic Church explained its decision to move forward with the changes to “contribute to the renewal of the ecclesial community in the wake of the liturgical reform.”

On May 22, during the General Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of Italy, President Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti officially announced his approval of a third edition of the Messale Romano, which includes the changes to the Lord’s prayer and Gloria. The updated version also received the nod of approval from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, which recognizes the decisions made by bishop’s conferences.

As for those who don’t support the new change, Philip F. Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, told The New York Times in December that “Pope Francis has made a habit of saying things that throw people into confusion, and this is one of them. It just makes you wonder, where does it stop, what’s up for grabs. It’s cumulative unease.”

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, author of The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer As a Manifesto for Revolution, told The Seattle Times, “This is the Lord’s Prayer. It is not, and has never 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.”

But Pope Francis stands by his decision. He said of the new wording, “A father does not lead into temptation, a father helps you to get up immediately. It is not a good translation because it speaks of a God who induces temptation.” In the upcoming months, the newly revised Messale Romano will officially be in print and available for use.

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