“Not a magic phrase said along the way”

Our Father © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

Munster theologian Clemens Leonhard takes a positive view of the debates about a possible change to the Lord's Prayer's line "Lead us not into temptation". The discussion shows that the Lord's Prayer is by no means a simple "magic spell".

Rather, it has an important, personal meaning for many, Leonhard said in an article for the Freiburg-based "Herder Korrespondenz" newspaper.

He says it is important to enter into a "dialogue at eye level" between believers and "liturgical designers". A reformulation is just as conceivable as a complete deletion of the request, according to the theologian.

Pope interview as trigger

The discussions were triggered by a decision of the Catholic bishops in France to change the previous wording in French "Do not subject us to temptation" to: "Let us not be tempted". Pope Francis had said in a television interview that "lead us not into temptation" was not a good translation.

It is not God, he said, who tempts man to see how he falls. "A father does not do such a thing; a father helps to get up again immediately. Whoever tempts you is Satan," the pope said.

Most recently, the German Bishops' Conference opposed an amendment. Catholic bishops, however, pleaded for a positive take on the debate. "It is important to use the opportunity to explain in depth the meaning of the Lord's Prayer in the context of the Christian image of God and the Christian understanding of the relationship between man and God."

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