I do not know about you, but I find it highly disquieting that the French clergy has now decided to change the French text of the “Our Father”. Do they really think they know better than past generations? Do they really think there is more value in choosing a supposedly more accurate or convenient translation than by leaving the faithful safe in the knowledge they will die with same prayers they were born with?
This “change” introduces the very dangerous concept that the Church might have done things the wrong way even in fundamental things like the “Our Father”. “Look” – the French atheist will say to his friends – “these people say they are the depositaries of eternal truths, and now say to us even in the case of their most important prayer they didn't get it right”.
If you ask me, the vernacular version of the most common prayers should be the one that has been honoured by centuries of private devotions, not the one the last translator who has come around thinks appropriate. A prayer is more than its words. It is an entire world. You don't mess with it.
If the slow usage of the centuries has the effect that the way people understands the meaning of certain words change, then – if you ask me- the proper meaning should be duly explained, not the words changed. The Creed in English says “he descended to hell”, and it is part of Catholic education to know this is the limbus patrum and not the Gehenna.
If we start to play with words in this way, soon nothing will be safe anymore. Is the Hail Mary orthodox? How can I know, if I am praying the version given to me by a XXI Century Jesuit?
Tradition is just this: traditio, “transmission”. Let's transmit to the next generation the prayers we have received from the preceding one. Let's explain what there is to explain. Let us not make linguistic experiments with prayers.
I often say that what was good enough for my grand-grandmother is good enough for me. I can't see why the Our Father should be an exception, nor can I imagine an army of French grand-grandmothers led to erroneous belief by a wrong interpretations of the Our Father.
They were Catholic, you see. They knew things. They weren't people who do not even know how to make the sign of the cross and whose prayers must be dumbed down to match with how dumb they are.
Personally, I think the French clergy should focus their effort on explaining and evangelising, rather than running after language usages of people who don't know jack about what the clergy themselves should teach them.
We slowly see a reaction from the Church hierarchy to the rising cry toward the institutionalisation of sodomy or other same-sex sexual perversions. In the USA, the bishops have eventually decided to show some teeth, and in France they are even going to reintroduce a prayer which, whilst very politically correct in the tones, is still unmistakably clear in its content.
Nothing against Catholic bishops remembering what their job is, of course, but I continue to think that the excessive weakness shown in the past decades will continue to hamper the action of the Church, unless it is put in the dustbin once and for all.
For example, you see everywhere these appeals in defence of “traditional marriage”, as if the unions of perverts were, in some strange way, good, but the “traditional marriage” simply better and as such worthy of protection. The fact is, it is extremely difficult to persuade the public that the traditional marriage is good, without saying why the “modern” marriage is wrong. The simple reality is that sodomy is an abomination in the eyes f the Lord. It is a perversion. Truly truly bad. So bad that it used to be a taboo, like incest or zoophilia, until very recent times, and what goes for sodomy must be pretty much extended to other arts of sexual perversion, like being a lesbian.
Alas, the Church hierarchy (with very few exceptions, like this one) does not speak the clear language that, alone, would allow to make the matter well understood. They either shut up or express themselves in vaguely appreciative tones when there are calls for “civil partnerships”, or the like (our Vincent “Quisling” Nichols is a specialist in this art of satanic perversion of Truth under the pretence of defending Catholicism), and are then in great difficulty when they must explain to non-Catholics why one should be “nice” about civil partnership and not nice anymore when the word “marriage” is pronounced.
What should be told, is that Truth is indivisible: either sodomy is a perversion, or it isn’t. If it isn’t, then there is no problem different from those posed by, say, fornication. If it is, then it is the sacred duty of the Church hierarchy to thunder against it without waiting for marriage to be attacked.
Is this happening? I doubt. Will the French Bishop start hammering in the ears of their faithful that sodomy is a perversion and those who practice sodomy are perverts bent (pun not intended) for hell? Don’t bet your pint. We will, instead, hear more or less flowery words about how nice it is to have a family with mom and dad, which is a model which has worked rather well and therefore shouldn’t be changed. A bit like the Volkswagen Golf, you see. How many will they persuade?
This battle will only begin to be won when the clergy begins to fight it in the proper way, rather than trying not to offend anyone.