That does it. The final straw, the line crossed that must not be crossed, and once crossed cannot be uncrossed, the bridge too far, the Popeye Moment. Believe thee you me, if this isn’t a sign that the Apocalypse is at hand (and not a moment too soon), I don’t know what is.
The source of my discontent is news that Pope Francis is authorizing changes to The Lord’s Prayer and The Gloria. I was born and raised a Catholic in the heady days of the mid-1940s and 1950s and although I’ve consider myself a cultural Catholic—as opposed to a practicing Catholic—since I stopped attending Mass more than five decades ago, I still hold some atavistic attitudes. I, therefore, cannot, will not, shall not countenance such apostasy.
On those rare occasions when I am compelled to recite The Lord’s Prayer (funerals of late, and I only do it out of love and respect for the deceased), I shall continue to say “and lead us not into temptation” rather than the suggested “do not let us fall into temptation.” As a side-note, I also am wont to say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,” although I do not object, on theological, moral, or aesthetic grounds, to saying, “forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors,”
As far as The Gloria goes, I think the proposed change from saying “Peace on earth to people of good will” to “Peace on Earth to people beloved by God” is dangerously discriminatory and I will have nothing to do with it. Does this God not love all people? Are we not admonished to hate the sin but love the sinner? Doesn’t such a change not merely condone, but promote, tribalism? How many more religious wars will this benighted policy spark among the religious fanatics. Who is to decide who is “beloved of God” or are we back to the motto of the Albigensian Crusade: “Caedite eos, novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.” Roughly translated: “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”
Regarding the changes in The Lord’s Prayer, Pope Francis suggests that the change is a translation that better reflects the Church’s view that we are the authors of our own misfortunes; that God, in his or her infinite wisdom, benevolence, or I-could-care-less-about-my-minions attitude would never bait human-kind into transgressing the Divine Will. Oh no, our Father or Mother who art in heaven is no God of Entrapment. HAH! Tell that to Job. There is that nonsense from the Apostle Paul (among much nonsense from Paul) in his letter to the Corinthians to the effect that “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). If someone offers such cant to you in times of trouble, I encourage you to punch that person in the face. No, really, punch him or her in the face and then go buy yourself some ice cream.
But Francis says that the proposed change in The Lord’s Prayer is a better translation of Divine Policy. Translation? From what? The Greek (and Coptic Greek at that)? Aramaic? Latin? Please! It took Mother Church more than a thousand years to decide that we have a bad translation to deal with? This is a problem when, for example, the Washington Post just reported on a Vatican report that details how the leader of the Catholic Church in West Virginia gave cash gifts totaling $350,000 to fellow clergymen—including young priests he is accused of “mistreating”—and more than a dozen cardinals in the United States, and at the Vatican? And, as we know, this is just the tip of the iceberg that is the moral rot at the heart of Mother Church—I hope you’ll forgive me, Gentle Reader, for the mixed metaphor. Bad translation, my eye (I was thinking of that portion of the anatomy a little lower, but one does not want to be crude). A distraction, that’s all it is—a distraction.
I have no idea why the change in The Gloria was proposed, other than to fall in line with the growing tribalism that increasingly describes today’s troubled world.
Lest you think of me as one to oppose all change, let me say that I welcomed the fresh breeze of Vatican II. Well, maybe not doing away with the Latin Mass. But then I always viewed the Mass as dramaturgy rather than theology ever since I fell away from the symboled world at about age fourteen. Even then, I did thrill to a Latin High Mass complete with incense, bells, couture vestments, and the Bach Mass in B Minor sung by a competent choir. A folk-songed-guitared-up Mass is no match for that. Still, Vatican II was not without its virtues as evidenced by the resistance of the right-wing conservatives in the Vatican to Pope John XXIII and the proposed changes in Church culture designed to bring the Church—kicking and screaming much too often—into the 20th Century .
The question now is: Where do these changes lead me? Admittedly, my behavior is apt not to change much since I can’t attend church less than I attend now—it’s only a funeral that takes me into a church service today. I am far too old to be invited to weddings, or Christenings. My monetary contributions can’t decline any more either. But, by golly, I am changing my attitude about Francis, a pope I was inclined to think well of up until now. I fear he may be not much better than Benny the Rat, though Francis neither is nor was a Nazi as was and still is, I suspect, Benny the Rat.
Small solace, I’d say. Still, it’s something. And it seems to me better than “killing them all and letting God sort them out.”