11 December 2017

Will he never stop ... (2) Pope Francis, the Our Father, and the next Conclave

Lead us not into temptation. It is unlikely that the Greek and Latin words translated by temptation meant the sort of thing we mean by 'temptation' in the confessional ... the 'temptation' to steal something, or to speak uncharitably, or to suspend the Custody of the Eyes. Peirasmos has been thought to refer much more probably to the time of testing, that is to say, of being tortured or intimidated to give up our Faith. Scripture teaches us that the End Times will indeed be marked by just such testings or persecutions. It is natural to ask God, whose providence disposes the times, to spare us this. [See for example Mt 26:41; Luke 8:13; Apocalypse 2:10 and 3:10.]

(And, by the way, Evil could be either masculine or neuter (tou ponerou). Many, probably most,  people think it refers to the Evil One.)

So, in my opinion, PF is proposing a revision which is not, as he appears to have been told, a revised translation but a radical change in the meaning of the Greek original. With sorrow, I have to say that this new example of his gigantic self-confidence does not surprise me.

What repeatedly ... it seems, almost daily !! ... irritates me about PF is his endless propensity to treat the Depositum Fidei, the Universal Church and what she has inherited from the Apostles or from the generations since, as something which is at his disposal to change, to criticise, or to mangle in any way that appeals to his personal whimsy at any particular moment. He is like a toddler who has been given toys to play with ... a big, boisterous and wilful child who likes to play with them rather roughly; whose commonest phrase is "I want ...". If anyone suggests that he should perhaps handle them rather more gently, he throws a tantrum. I am immensely sorry to have to write like this about Christ's Vicar but, ever since his election, PF has appeared to me to want attention to be drawn particularly to those parts of his personal 'style' which mark him as most radically different from his predecessors. A pope who disliked close scrutiny and the consequent criticism would keep the journalists and cameramen at a distance, say a very great deal less, and speak only after taking competent advice. An ecclesiastic who deliberately sollicits attention is ill-placed to complain if he gets it, nor can his sycophants plausibly do so on his behalf. This pontificate did not invent the unfortunate modern phenomenon of the celebrity pope, but it has shown how very dangerous and divisive that cult is.

PF's election was, I suppose, the responsibility of the Cardinal Electors ... to whom one has to add such Cardinal non-Electors as Murphy O'Connor, who, we are told, dinnered his way around Rome encouraging his friends, and the other Anglophone Cardinals, to vote for Bergoglio (as he had every right to do). But there are also perhaps systemic problems here too. I do not think that even those whose analysis of this pontificate is totally different from mine will wish to disagree with much in what follows. Firstly ...

Time was when the Church was blessed with perhaps a dozen or two cardinals, pretty certainly not more than seventy; so that, in a conclave, each elector was more likely to know something about at least the more prominent and papabili of his brethren. If there are 120 or more electors, you are inevitably going to have the sort of situation in which an Eminent Father "from the peripheries" who knows next to nobody, will be open to be influenced by fellow electors who appear knowledgeable and who combine to assure him that Cardinal X is a Splendid Fellow. Additionally, PF has (significantly) suppressed the open discussions which the Cardinals used to be allowed to have with each other when they met formally in consistories. His once-claimed passion for parrhesia did not survive his experiences in his two 'synods'.

Secondly, it has come to be felt that it is edifying ... that the World will be impressed ... if a pope is elected within a couple of days. Almost as if it would be dangerous if the electors got to know each other, or if it became apparent to the waiting Press that there were deep divisions inside the Sistine Chapel. Even those simple souls (Ratzinger and I think they are misguided) who believe that the Holy Spirit chooses the pope, might have trouble giving a plausible theological explanation as to why the Holy Spirit should be so keen to operate through a quick-fire conclave rather than through a more lengthy and carefully considered one.

And, thirdly, PF will bequeath to the next interregnum a Church ... and a Sacred College ... much more deeply and ideologically divided than has been true for a very long time, possibly for ever.

I pray that the next conclave may be very, very, lengthy, even if that does encourage the Vatican press corps endlessly to lecture the watching World on such arcane mysteries as Blocking Thirds. Surely, their Eminences will have learned the lessons of the last five disastrous, destructive, divisive years?


Abigail said...

Thank you for expressing so gracefully what oft I thought but ne'er so well express'd Father! GOd bless you for it

ccc said...

Don't blocking thirds only last 1w ballots now?

TLM said...

No Fr., he will never stop. He is on a mission and not a mission to 'benefit' the Church, sad to say. I really don't see any Bishop ready and willing to step in to 'correct' him, so I think we are pretty much on our own.

Woody said...

Very good points, Father. Someone like PF was bound to occur. I see him as a "wake up call" to remind us of how out of touch we have become with our roots, the Tradition that has been handed down from generation to generation. We have forgotten our way and need to repent and get back to our roots.

Jesse said...

Many thanks for this, Father. I do wish, however, that it could be more clearly explained out that when the Lord's Prayer was put into English, "temptation" could be and was used to mean "trial" or "testing" (as the OED abundantly attests). That is also, of course, a principal usage of tentatio in Latin -- a fact missed by various commentators who have been saying that the Vulgate "mistranslated" πειρασμόν as "temptation."

For what it is worth, I think this double meaning of "temptation" is a great help to prayer. As in Advent we reflect on Christ's three comings (in carne, in mente, ad iudicium), it is helpful that this single petition in the Lord's Prayer can bear both an in mente reading (the daily testing of my soul in temptations to sin) and an ad iudicium reading (the final, perhaps eschatological, test of my, and our, perseverance).

But all this aside, would you not agree that the controversy is not properly over the meaning of πειρασμόν, but of μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς? Lacking training in Greek myself, I must rely on the Analytical Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, supplemented by Liddell and Scott. But so far as I can tell, the phrase cannot in any way bear the meaning that the Holy Father wishes to give it. Indeed, Ne inducas seems to me the most adequate translation.

This desire to remove God's agency in bringing us to the test was long since realized by the International Consultation on English Texts (now the English Language Liturgical Consultation), which in 1975 promulgated a version that rendered this line as "Save us from the time of trial." This is the version in our 1985 Canadian Anglican Book of Alternative Services, and I believe it is the version taken up in most of the late twentieth-century Anglican revisions. The problem isn't "time of trial" (which, as you explain, πειρασμόν can bear), but "save us" (which, by my lights, μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς cannot).

(The same version errs, to my mind, in its line "as we forgive those who sin against us." This can't be right, since Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer very carefully distinguishes between "our sins," which God forgives, and the "debts" which we forgive others. The point is that the scribes were entirely correct when they asked, "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" -- Mark 2:7 = Luke 5:21.)

Calvin Engime said...

As promulgated in 1996, Universi Dominici Gregis indeed allowed for a mere majority of cardinals to elect the pope if consensus proved difficult, but Pope Benedict amended it to reinstate the traditional two-thirds requirement.

Liam Ronan said...

Simply marvelous, Father. Educational and edifying as always. Thank you.

I have a question regarding the matter of the portion of the Lord's Prayer which petitions "and lead us not into temptation...".

Did God tempt Abraham to sin, i.e. take the life of his innocent son?

"He said to him: 'Take thy only begotten son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and go into the land of vision: and there thou shalt offer him for an holocaust upon one of the mountains which I will shew thee.'..." Genesis 22:2

Grant Milburn said...

“I desired that the senate of Rome might appear before me, in one large chamber, and an assembly of somewhat a later age in counterview, in another. The first seemed to be an assembly of heroes and demigods; the other, a knot of pedlars, pick-pockets, highwayman, and bullies.” (Swift)

I think that after fifty years we can see why the Mass must NOT in the vernacular. It encourages every charlatan to improvise, ad-lib, ramble, insert creative extras and alter the text at will. It allows any banal ditty to be substituted for the chants. It allows those with a malevolent agenda to introduce inaccuracies, and tendentious and misleading translations. We had a worse than useless translation of the collects for thirty years, and the Indonesian Mass still has something completely different from the NO Latin. The Indonesian Mass also translates “pro multis” as “for all” and clearly always will. This is not incompetence: it is enemy action. I read that John Senior said somewhere that the NO was designed to destroy the Catholic Faith. I'm beginning to think he was right. The NO is certainly valid, but I fear that I the vernacular NO is an incorrigible rogue that will never be put right. Stick with the TLM and pray the highwaymen do not force us to use the vernacular there too apart from the sermon.

El Codo said...

Now the issue of Abraham is troubling. Of course,it is a test. But such a vile and unacceptable one,child sacrifice when the people of God were standing out from all that paganism around them! There are some very moving Youtube clips on this,where the Faith of Abraham,and Isaac,are portrayed beautifully. The son is obedient to the father...an early echo of the Lamb’s offering.

Irenaeus said...

Thank you, Fr. Hunwicke. Most edifying.

Kathleen1031 said...

Thank you Father Hunwicke, so well put, and don't we so desperately pine for a voice to represent OUR feelings for a change.
I just wrote a paragraph on this, then remembered it is your blog site and deleted it.
For 2000 years this prayer has been prayed by Christians.
It is one of the last things we have, to unify us.
If he gets his way, no two Christians can pray it knowing they will pray the same words. That will end. Some will change, some will not. Division.
Does Christendom need more division.
Please God, help us, this papacy is just intolerable.

Unknown said...

The smoke of Satan in the Vatican. God help us. Amen

Grant Milburn said...

Msgr Charles Pope has an interesting article at the NC Register on this issue.
(Ironically the translation has been “save us from the time of trial” in the NZ NO Mass for years.)

Annaedomm said...

The mercy taught by Bergoglio is false and different from that taught by Jesus. The word is the same but the teaching is profoundly different. The mercy of Jesus forgives and encourages to sin no more, in order to go to Heaven; the mercy of Bergoglio is easy to obtain (because it comes only from God, without efforts from the sinner), but if one does not change life and remains in sin, at the end of their earthly life, they will face the merciful justice of the Father that will condemn sinners to hell. http://www.difendiamolaverita.it/en/letsdefendtruefaith/lets-defend-the-divine-mercy-by-the-falsemercy/the-false-mercy-god-forgives-everything-and-god-always-forgives/

Mary Welch said...

You make an interesting point re “forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”
If one gratuitously insults another, say, there are two aspects involved. On the one hand, one sins against God by offending his law to love one’s neighbour. On the other hand, one diminishes the other to the extent that one deprives him of the dignity due him as a creature, made in the image and likeness of God. This diminution of the other places one in his debt insofar as one owes him what one has taken away from him.
One can write-off the debts of another to one, the trespassing effects of his sin; but it is up to God alone to forgive the sin.
On the face of it, it seems somewhat unjust that God can forgive X the harm he does Y, eventhough Y is the injured party and may not feel inclined to do the same. Perhaps the best resolution to this is in Matthew 6:14. To the extent that one is willing to write-off the effects of another’s sin against one, then God can forgive one one’s sins. And this is a necessary condition for God’s forgiveness. For it would be unjust of God to forgive you the harm you do others, if you are unwilling to forgive others the harm they do you.

New translation: “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
I wonder if the Greek would bear this.

Karl J said...

My question is this, Father H:

If the Keys of the Kingdom were given to Peter and to his human successors with:

Matthew 16:19

"I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Why can't the current Peter, bind in Heaven, the laxity from God, toward those whose sins the current Peter is encouraging, whether he(the current Peter) accepts that he(the current Peter) is encouraging gravely mortal sin, in reality or not?

Where does it say that the bishops or anyone else must agree with the current Peter, or his binding is negated? Were these not the words of Jesus Christ himself to Peter, in person?

I am not asking simply to cause trouble. To me commentaries and the like do not have the "authority' of the scriptures, in "disputed matters", such as this. They may point to authentic methods of interpretation, but where is the BOTTOM LINE DRAWN, herein?

Then, a corollary question for me is: Is this confusion, since it is from the top, known at the top and left vague at the top(knowingly and willfully, prima facie) not, reasonably, a fairly good argument for a pervasive/ubiquitous understanding of serious moral issues being excused under the "rubric" of Invincible Ignorance?

It would seem so to me, although without intense introspection or study on my part. So, it is mostly off-the-cuff.

Thank you.


Mike Sheil said...

I'm not looking to open another can of worms, and it only because I have great respect for your opinion that I bring this up.
In nearly every article dealing with the Pope Francis' comments on the Lord's Prayer, the author cites James 1:13.
The Greek text is –
13 μηδεὶς πειραζόμενος λεγέτω ὅτι Ἀπὸ θεοῦ πειράζομαι· ὁ γὰρ θεὸς ἀπείραστός ἐστιν κακῶν, πειράζει δὲ αὐτὸς οὐδένα.

St. Jerome's Vulgate translation renders renders it this way –
13 nemo cum temptatur dicat quoniam a Deo temptor Deus enim intemptator malorum est ipse autem neminem temptat.

St. Jerome appears to take ἀπείραστός in an active sense. I know the the translators of the Rheims New Testament spilled some ink defending this sense against the passive sense which the "saucy heretikes" preferred, going so far as to call the passive sense nonsensical. I've seen some other commentaries that say that ἀπείραστός just might be able to be taken in active sense, but they are few.

The Neo-Vulgate, promulgated in 1979, translates the Greek –
13 Nemo, cum tentatur, dicat: “ A Deo tentor ”; Deus enim non tentatur malis, ipse autem neminem tentat.

What is your take on this admittedly small matter as one who likes to "bob along in a warm, welcoming, and enriching sea called Tradition"?

Fr John Hunwicke said...

I haven't thought a lot about this, but the presence of the 'de' and the autos suggests that the sense of the passage is "Nobody tempts God and he [emphatic] tempts nobody". It would be strange if the sense were "God tempts nobody to evil and he [emphatic] tempts nobody".

Liam Ronan said...

Any hope anyone might address the question I posited earlier in this discussion?:

"I have a question regarding the matter of the portion of the Lord's Prayer which petitions "and lead us not into temptation...".

Did God tempt Abraham to sin, i.e. take the life of his innocent son?

"He said to him: 'Take thy only begotten son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and go into the land of vision: and there thou shalt offer him for an holocaust upon one of the mountains which I will shew thee.'..." Genesis 22:2"

John Vasc said...

The great 18c biblical scholar John Gill - however staunchly Protestant - shows an undeniably profound knowledge of the Hebrew and Aramaic background of the NT, and writes with great insight in his Biblical Commentary. Here is his gloss on Matt.6:13:
"And lead us not into temptation" - 'Such a petition as this is often to be observed in the prayers of the Jews [Hebrew quotation here] "do not lead me" neither into sin, nor into transgression and iniquity, [More Hebrew], "nor into temptation", or "into the hands of temptation"; that is, into the power of it, so as to be overcome by it, and sink under it; in which sense the phrase is to be understood here. We are not here taught to pray against temptations at all, or in any sense, for they are sometimes needful and useful; but that they may not have the power over us, and destroy us.
'There are various sorts of temptations. There are the temptations of God; who may be said to tempt, not by infusing anything that is sinful, or by soliciting to it; but by *enjoining things hard and disagreeable to nature, as in the case of Abraham*; by *afflicting, either in body or estate, of which Job is an instance*; by permitting and letting loose the reins to Satan, and a man's own corruptions; by withdrawing his presence, and withholding the communications of his grace; and *sometimes by suffering false prophets to arise among his people*' [!!]
'His ends in them are on his own account, the display of his power; grace, wisdom, and faithfulness; on account of his Son, that his saints might be like him, and he might have an opportunity of exercising his power and pity: and on his people's account, that they might be humbled; their faith and patience tried; might see their weakness, and need of Christ, and be excited to prayer and watchfulness.
'There are also the temptations of Satan...There are moreover the temptations of the world...add to all this, that there are temptations arising from a man's own heart.
Now, in this petition, the children of God pray, that they may be kept from every occasion and object of sinning; from those sins they are most inclined to; that God would not leave them to Satan, and their own corrupt hearts; nor suffer them to sink under the weight of temptations of any sort; but that, in the issue, they might have a way to escape, and be victorious over all.'

This seems to me - as a faithful Catholic - an admirably orthodox interpretation.

John Vasc said...

P.S. I should have put square brackets around the dots in the penult. para. of the quotation from John Gill's commentary, as they are my own abbreviation of his comments at that point.

coradcorloquitur said...

The simple answer to this column quite simply is "No," Francis will not stop subverting the Church while he lives. That is why he was elected and the plan proceeds apace. Many good Catholics cannot stand to contemplate this. One may want to justify the destruction any way one wants (including rather sophistical legal technicalities about what constitutes magisterial pronouncements or what is heresy or not or whether a pope is auto-deposed by spouting it, even by accusations without substance, such as the one by one of your commentators who likens those who speak the truth about Francis as "being on the same path as Luther and Calvin"), but the fact remains that the Church of Christ is being demolished right before our very eyes, and right reason confirms it. What also remain a great mystery is why God allows it---and into that territory I will certainly not venture. I will finish by saying that, as an Anglican convert from many decades ago (I was in my youth then), I am deeply saddened for the more recent converts who have come into the Church rightly expecting a healthy, loving Mother and have instead found a besieged, divided, wounded, and humiliated one---the innumerable blessings of the Faith Itself (reward enough, I'd say) notwithstanding. God bless you and your wonderful blog. Robert Carballo

Ivanmijeime said...

I feel here a very warm, honest hart, and I need to say something about the last sentence.
I believe honestly, no one should be sad about those who are called by our God, and who positively have responded to the Father's call. It does not matter in which time (of suffering of His Holy Church) they were called, they are truly blessed, because,- they were called and they said a big yes to their Father.
They all (the converts) could be then even the 'workers of the ninth or eleventh hour' in the vineyard of our Lord ans Master, but we know, they will be paid righteously.
The point is, there will always be some other labourers (from the morning hours) who are murmuring against the Master about 'inequality' of his treatment, but every honest and diligent worker, of any time, should never worry about that.
His only concern should be to perform his work in the best possible way to satisfy the Lord.
With saying this, hired workers, especially those of the late hours should know, that in the end of the working day often times the job can be really tough and voluminous.

And then, only after completion of the (good) work to the end, after the end of the day, labourers will be paid with the reward they deserve.

We are blessed because the Master choose us, but we must know, that He choose us to WORK for Him here and now. And here and now is the hour of very tough work indeed.

Moritz Gruber said...

Dear Liam Ronan,

it's been some time since you asked the question, but here my try of an answer:

>>Did God tempt Abraham to sin, i.e. take the life of his innocent son?

No, God did not tempt Abraham to "sin i. e. take the life of his innocent son". He tempted him (or rather, test his obedience) to take the life of his innocent son. He did not tempt him to sin.

We have to bear in mind that this (quite different from the Jephthah calamity) was an actual command by God. And that makes all the difference. God has the right to end a human life, so the moral law "do not take innocent life" does allow exceptions by direct actual command from God (but no other exceptions). (Of course it does not suffice if somebody claims God has spoken to him, but only if God has actually spoken to him!) This is different from, say, the moral law "do not blaspheme", which is (if you pardon the colloquialism) so wrong that not even God's command could turn it right.

If God had not retracted His word (or appeared to do so*), Abraham would have sinned just as little as the Israelites when exterminating Amalek including its innocent members (or trying to do so, but that is another matter).

And then, he still knew by revelation that he would have descendants through Isaak if I remember correctly, so he may have suspected God would resurrect him, or do what He actually would do, or find some other solution, of course. Hence the Letter to the Hebrews says "Abraham trusted God, and this was accounted to him as his justice", which in my view rules out the possibility that his thoughts were chiefly of the kind "oh well, if God goes back on his promise, what else can I do but accept it".

[* Though we might say that Isaak was in fact sacrificed, just not bloodily; 1. by living a holy life afterwards, as when we say that somebody consecrates himself to God; 2. by the vicarious sacrifice of the ram; 3. by inclusion in what that would be the sign of, to wit, the self-sacrifice of God's Son Himself.

By the way, the Muslims' Koran reports the tradition that Isaak (he is not named there, but though the Arabs confuse him with their own ancester Ishmael, the Koran itself does not do so) was actually an adult at the time, understood quite well what his father was up to, and at least by saying nothing did offer himself to be sacrificed. Now that's of course no authority, but it does fit well into the Biblical story if you think about it and may well have been the case.]