Pope Decrees Change in Lord’s Prayer—What’s Next?

By Mark A. Kellner
Posted June 10, 2019

When elected supreme pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis’s very elevation promised change. The native of Argentina was, after all, the first pope from the Americas—and he was the first who was a member of the Society of Jesus, better known as the Jesuits, a scholarly religious congregation founded by Ignatius of Loyola.

He’s the pope singled out Muslim prisoners for the traditional Holy Thursday foot washing, and opened parts of the Vatican to refugee families as living space. When he said “Who am I to judge” the sincerity of gay clerics seeking to live celibate lives, an uproar followed.

Now, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio is making headlines again after what many believed was a decree changing the very words of the Bible. He’s approved a change to the Catholic Church’s Italian-language liturgy, specifically the “Our Father,” also known as the Lord’s Prayer.

Changing the Bible?

Instead of saying “lead us not into temptation,” Roman Catholics in Italy will say, “do not abandon us to temptation.” A similar change was made in the French Catholic liturgy two years ago, while Catholic bishops in Germany rejected such a shift. English-speaking bishops have yet to decide the question, although earlier versions of the Italian liturgy have been translated for English usage.

It’s important to note that while the liturgical language has been changed, the pope has not directed a change in the wording of Catholic translations of the Bible. Many media reports suggested such a shift, which would certainly excite passions. In fact, the very notion of such a liturgical change had previously drawn some fire from critics.

When news of the re-translation surfaced in 2017, The New York Times reported the response of a key evangelical leader. “I was shocked and appalled,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told the newspaper. “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.”

Dr. Meredith Warren, a professor at the University of Sheffield in England who also heads the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies, told National Public Radio that she dissents from the new rendering. She said, “[T]he gospels are pretty clear in the Greek that the original translation—lead us not into temptation—is the best reflection of that biblical Greek. It’s a subjunctive verb. It’s used in the second person, addressed directly to God. And it really does say, do not lead us into temptation. ‘Please—I hope that you do not lead me into temptation.’ And that’s really what the Greek says.”

Francis’ Christian Unity Push

Along with approving a change in the Italian liturgy, Pope Francis also made news recently when he suggested unity among Christian churches—specifically the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox communions—was more common than some would believe.

“There is already Christian unity,” the National Catholic Reporter quoted Francis as saying after a trip to Romania, where he prayed in public with that nation’s Orthodox patriarch. “Let’s not wait for the theologians to come to agreement on the Eucharist.”

Rev. Thomas Reese, a Catholic priest and fellow Jesuit, wrote of Francis’ statement, “Is the pope signaling his willingness to move toward Eucharistic sharing without total theological agreement? This would be consistent with everything else he is saying. … Such a view would see the Eucharist as a unifying sacrament rather than a celebration of unity.”

Bringing diverse faith groups together has been a key element of Francis’ papacy since his election. On the day following his installation, the pontiff welcomed a variety of faith leaders, including the then-General of The Salvation Army, as equals. In March, Francis welcomed the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormons, to a private audience.

While it’s good to have cordial relations in today’s multi-faith world, many believers of earlier times understood the papacy to be anything but a friend toward authentic Christianity. Former Catholic priest Martin Luther, whose writing sparked the Protestant Reformation, went from being a full supporter of the pontifical office to a harsh critic: The papacy, he wrote, “is a human figment which is not commanded, and is unnecessary and useless; for the holy Christian [or catholic] Church can exist very well without such a head, and it would certainly have remained better [purer, and its career would have been more prosperous] if such a head had not been raised up by the devil.”

Yet as noted, Francis has reached out to “separated brethren,” even going so far as to record a video greeting to a group of Protestant leaders meeting in the U.S. back in 2015. When that happened, Pastor Doug Batchelor spoke about the prophetic significance of such moves, and those comments bear reflection even now.

This is particularly true when you consider that Daniel 7 speaks of a “fourth beast” who shall rise out of the confusion of the end times, and who will represent spiritual, religious power on a global scale. In verse 25, we read that this power is a man, and that “he shall speak pompous words against the Most High, Shall persecute the saints of the Most High, And shall intend to change times and law.”

Many students of Bible prophecy over the centuries—including Martin Luther, Isaac Newton, and William Miller, among others—have affirmed that this “beast” is the papacy. If so, that means Pope Francis is in a much more pivotal position than some might imagine.

To learn more about the relationship between the papacy, Bible prophecy, and the future of the United States, check out our free book The Beast, The Dragon, and the Woman. It offers insights straight from the Bible that will put things in context and give you a glimpse of what is going to happen in the years ahead. You need to have this knowledge!

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