The Corner


A Bit of Fire Insurance on Papal Remarks

If only for the protection of my eternal soul — God, will a Corner post suffice? — I wanted to highlight two alternative translations of the pope’s remarks on his flight back from Romania that have been brought to my attention. Recently, I wrote a fairly long post on the pope’s comments, speculating about their potential ramifications for the Church.

The science-fiction writer Michael Crichton said . . . a lot of things, among them his observation that manifold “areas of intellectual life have discovered the virtues of speculation, and have embraced them wildly.” Embrace them I did.

The National Catholic Register released a translation of Francis’s remarks, which had formed the basis of my piece. It read: “There is already Christian unity. . . . Let’s not wait for the theologians to come to agreement on the Eucharist.”

Hence my assessment that if the pope is suggesting, as he clearly seemed to be, that the Eucharist ought to be open to non-Catholics, he is necessarily “forcing the Church to address a series of rather difficult and uncomfortable questions.” If this was the actual content of the pope’s remarks, I stand by my writing as a (rather understated!) critique of Francis’s flirtation with heresy.

Two alternative translations brought to my attention after the piece’s publication came from Crux and the Catholic News Agency:

Crux: “Walking together is already Christian unity, . . . but don’t think now that theologians are going to get together to work on the Eucharist!”

Catholic News Agency: “To walk together: this is already Christian unity, but do not wait for theologians to agree to arrive at communion. Communion happens every day with prayer, with the memory of our martyrs, with works of charity and even of loving one another.”

Crux‘s rendition of Francis’s comments is far less egregious than NCR’s, at least with respect to intercommunion (though it is typical of the de rigueur imprecision of the modern clergy — what exactly does it mean to “walk together,” and what does that have to do with the reunification of dissident Christians with the Church?)

CNA’s version seems to be much more literally translated, and is similarly vague — is the lowercase-c “communion” Francis refers to indicative of the Eucharist, or is it the perpetually ill-defined sense of “communion” among various Christian denominations to which he often refers?

The Vatican has the original Italian on its website, for those so inclined.

Even before these divergent translations were brought to my attention, I made it clear to my editor that I wanted to avoid titling my piece any derivative of “Pope Francis Is Wrong about. . . ” — first as, er, fire insurance, and second as an admission that the pope’s phrasing was rather vague (which is problematic unto itself).

Say an Our Father that I might avoid the eternal fire, or at least the similarly tormentous wrath of Francis groupies.

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