Altering the Nicene Creed at Mass

Lately I’ve noticed a trend, even among some priests and nuns, to leave a word out of the Nicene Creed at Mass. I was actually taken to task by a couple of nuns for not doing it myself.

Apparently, for some, political correctness trumps the way the creed was written.

Anyway, I have a short blog post about it which you can read here:

Well, this is nothing that is even lately. Some of the priests at my parish have been saying the Creed this way for at least 8-10 years, the congregation recites it exactly as written, and now there is only one priest, the Pastor, who omits "men"although he is not the first Pastor to do so in our parish. I just ignore it, as do most of us, and I am sure he has heard about it before. The correct wording is printed on a card in the pew, and I have not yet heard anybody in the congregation recite it differently. Other than this, everything is by the book, so to speak, at our Masses.

Nothing new there. They were doing it in the eighties. The recent round was probably because they had hoped that the 2011 would “improve” by omitting the word men** from the creed.

There’s very little you can do about how other people behave. That holds true for saying or not saying certain words, using or not using particular gestures, adopting or not adopting certain postures, etc.

If you allow it to distract you, you are giving them control over your life that would be best retained by you yourself.

I don’t care if others leave out that word, but I do object when they try to get me to, especially when they act like I’m doing something horribly wrong when I include it.

I never would have guessed that some nuns, of all people, would tell me I’m wrong to recite a prayer in church the way it was written. :shrug:

Is it only English speakers who have such a problem with generic nouns? The generic use of ‘man’ and ‘men’ is not really replaceable. One could say “for us humans and our salvation,” but that would sound stilted and not human at all.

I pity those who feel they must omit the word. What do they believe the phrase as written means? When we pray “for us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven,” do they really believe it means that Jesus only came to save the men and not the women? Do they believe that by allowing the word to remain the 2011 revision committee meant to imply that women cannot be saved? If they really believe that this is what the Church is teaching such a mistake can be easily rectified as it has no factual basis whatsoever. If they admit that, while the word was intended to be all-inclusive, others may ignorantly misinterpret it as exclusive. The remedy for such a circumstance is not a revision of the text but proper catechesis. Finally, there are those who object to the word and know that it is intended to be understood inclusively, but deliberately choose to interpret it in its exclusive sense. This last circumstance is unfortunately the one that is likely the most prevalent amongst the objectors and it is the most troublesome due to its complete irrationality. If the Church were to redraft every text that could be deliberately misinterpreted to preclude such a misinterpretation there would be no end of it. What if someone claimed that they choose to interpret “For us and for our salvation” to mean only us Catholics, or only the people showing up for Mass and actually reciting the prayer? It is simply ridiculous. People need to interpret things as they were intended to be understood by the writer, any other method can only result in anarchy.

It’s not a new trend. That line was altered to:

“For us and for our salvation”

for a number of years as I recall in the missal. It was the version I was taught in school. for example still has that version of the creed listed.

Putting “For us men” back into the creed seems to actually be the newer trend.

That’s true. But the way it is also commonly said “for us and our salvation” conveys the same thought since “us” are humans by default since no one but humans would be saying the creed (at least until we genetically engineer a talking cat)., for all its merits, is not an official website of the Catholic Church, and nothing there carries the same authority as the Magisterium. I deny your claim that the Church ever officially altered the line in the past. Any alterations that appeared in print were undoubtedly unauthorized versions produced by disaffected factions.

If it’s really the same then why would anyone skip the extra word?

Because they see “men” as being exclusive of women. Just as mankind has fallen out of favor as a word to describe humanity for the same reason. And rightly so, it is an exclusionary term that can be interpreted to exclude women both accidentally and intentionally. And when there are more accurate terms to use (or in this case where it’s not even needed), to continue using it makes no sense to many people.

I mean I understand sometimes rejecting “gender neutral” language when referring to things like God. But in this instance there’s really not a great argument for why “men” needs to be included since the intended meaning of the Creedal passage is in no way negatively impacted by its exclusion. The only real argument for keeping it is tradition, though even that is questionable since it’s not always been used in even Catholic translations.

True it’s not an official site, but it contains Catholic based materials that have been up there for many years. You may deny my claim, but it doesn’t negate the fact that it’s so. I can assure you that the missal versions my parish used were by no means unauthorized nor were they produced by disaffected factions to anyone’s knowledge. Unless you’re accusing the entire Diocese my parish was apart of growing up, of being some sort of rogue diocese. Which I suppose is possible. The original submitted version for the changes leading up to 2011 omitted “men” as well as I understand it as submitted by several bishops.

Not a hill to die on.
I knew a nun from Kentucky who used to pray “and deliver us from ALL evil” instead of deliver us from evil at the conclusion of the Our Father. Everyone in her convent prayed it that way.
The bottom line, it doesn’t change the meaning in any way shape or form.

“Not a hill to die on.”

I like that expression. People who omit the word may be willing to die on this hill - changing or omitting single words here and there. We should not take up arms, as it were, against them, but continue to say the prayers as the USCCB has directed.

We had a visiting priest one day who omitted or changed a few words during the mass. The one I noticed was he replaced “his” with “God’s” during the prayer after the preparation of the gifts. :shrug:

I figured we were probably a bigger spur under his saddle than he was under ours. We sang in Latin and said all the prayers as they were written, and most people received communion on the tongue, and oh my goodness! We are just such papist sheep! :smiley:

No worries. Carry on in your love and service of God, in love!

It is true that words like man and mankind can be used in a sense that only refers to the male sex, and such restricted meaning can usually be discerned from the context of the text within which it is found. When the context is ambiguous is not the more charitable interpretation the more inclusive one? The context of the creed offers no evidence of the exclusive interpretation so clearly only an uncharitable reader would interpret the phrase to exclude women. I hope you’d agree that such an interpretation is mistaken and that any investigation into the drafting of the creed would immediately expose the error. Persistence in the exclusive interpretation after the error was uncovered would then be not only uncharitable but a deliberate misinterpretation. If we are to alter the text of the liturgy of the Mass, the very heart of our Catholic communal worship of God, based on a deceitful misinterpretation by an uncharitable reader, then absolute chaos would result.

You claim that “for us and for our salvation” conveys the same concept, but what if a vocal minority deliberately misinterpreted that version to mean that Jesus only came to earth for the salvation of Catholics and that members of any other faith are doomed to burn in hell forever? What would you change it to then? Where would it stop?

Also, an authorized change could give credence to the claim that the Catholic Church taught for over 2000 years that Jesus did not come for the salvation of women. An outrageous falsehood to be sure but one that would be used by various Protestant sects to undermine the authority of the Church established by Christ himself. “A HA!” they will exclaim, “the Catholic Church has finally admitted that it taught a false doctrine for over two millennia!”

I do not deny that you had such materials in your diocese, I simply deny that any changes in the wording of the creed were officially sanctioned by the Magisterium. While it is unfortunately not unusual for Bishops to exceed their individual authority on occasion, I believe it is more likely that some unordained editor tasked with the secretarial duty of preparing the text for publication took it upon himself to make the change and it went unnoticed until it was too late. Thereafter it remained, as it is the sort of thing that can be easily overlooked when one does not consider the implications.

Thanks for the link. The fact that the ordained Bishops tasked by the Magisterium with updating the English translation of the Catholic creed officially considered omitting the word “men” and, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, subsequently rejected it makes the matter closed in my mind.

At no time in all of history has the creed of the Catholic Church excluded women from salvation. The text itself does not require an exclusive interpretation and anyone who exerts even a modicum of effort to learn the history of the creed will quickly discover that such an interpretation has never been the intent of anyone who was involved in either the drafting of the original Latin text, or of any involved in producing the English translations made therefrom. The Church should not alter the text at the behest of those who are at best ignorant of its meaning or at worst selfish and dishonest.

I wouldn’t change it to anything but “for us and our salvation.” If someone wants to read it as referring only to Catholics they’d be the first I’ve heard of when most other creedal churches I know of off hand use that exact phrasing and don’t see it as limiting salvation to just their churches. Indeed the Ecumenical version of the creed written in 1975 and/or 1988 that many faiths use including my own (the ECUSA uses the 1975 version as the basis of ours) uses that exact phrasing.

I agree that such an interpretation is neither logical nor natural from that text, I was postulating a deliberate and dishonest misinterpretation. In the very same manner interpreting the phrase “for us men and for our salvation” as necessarily excluding women is neither logical nor natural.

True it’s not an accurate reading of it in either case. But in the case of “men” being there it’s got the disadvantage of being misread in your hypothetical Catholic-centric sense, and the sexist sense. Does it not make sense to eliminate the latter sexist sense when some do read it un-hypothetically as sexist and removing it subtracts nothing from the meaning.

As for your hypothetical Catholic-centric reading, that’s easily dismissed when you consider any Protestant or Anglican church using the “for us and our salvation” version would be making the same claim and would have agreed to do so ecumenically in 1975 and 1988 (which of course makes no sense).

Sadly. I can fully believe it was nuns who were criticizing you. Some want to be “politically correct”, modern, or hip rather than theologically or linguistically correct.

How is removing “men” theologically or linguistically incorrect when the meaning is the same?

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