Recently I have heard that the Creed (along with a whole series of other prayers and psalms) will be newly translated and that it will be changed to accommodate what has become, in recent years, known as “horizontal gender inclusivity.” As I understand it, one of the changes in the Creed will be “for us and our salvation,” leaving out the word, “men,” despite the fact that the Greek word, “anthropos,” is in the original Greek text.
First of all, to consider that “for us men” is non-inclusive is to misunderstand the English language. The word, “man,” according to the 1971 edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (1982 reprint), the most authoritative dictionary of the English language, means a human being irrespective of sex or age. Therefore the notion that the term, “men,” is not inclusive of women is simply false. The idea that the word, “men,” is non-inclusive has been conjured up within the last thirty years and is based upon a claim by feminists that the word is sexist. See for example the most current edition of the Oxford English Dictionary which states: “The generic use of man to refer to “human beings in general” is now widely regarded as old-fashioned or sexist.”
A recent survey, as reported by Catholic World Report, provides interesting statistics in regard to the use of gender inclusive language.
In February 1997, the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut surveyed a thousand Catholic Americans concerning the use of inclusive language. (A poll this size is considered reliable to an overall accuracy of within three percent.) The results of the survey, published in the March 1997 Catholic World Report (CWR), revealed the following:
Most Catholics sense no need for new liturgical translations.
The overwhelming majority of Catholics are unfamiliar with the term "inclusive language."
When the rationale for inclusive language is explained to them, most Catholics reject it.
When asked to choose between two sets of actual Biblical texts-one drawn from a standard translation, the other from a new inclusive-language version-Catholics choose the standard translations by comfortable margins.
The preference for standard English holds for all demographic groups: men and women, old and young people, daily communicants and lapsed Catholics.
The preference for standard English is strongest among the people who adhere most closely to Catholic teaching and practice; it is weakest among those who rarely receive the sacraments and those who reject Church teachings.
What strikes me the most about the proposed change in the Creed is how western and secular the change is. Why worry about correcting the Latin uses which have crept into the Byzantine Church such as the filioque, when this proposed change is a marriage with modernity and modern feminism?
The proposed change to the Creed also makes no sense in light of the recent instruction on translations for the Roman Liturgy:
In many languages there exist nouns and pronouns denoting both genders, masculine and feminine, together in a single term. The insistence that such a usage should be changed is not necessarily to be regarded as the effect or the manifestation of an authentic development of the language as such. Even if it may be necessary by means of catechesis to ensure that such words continue to be understood in the "inclusive" sense just described, it may not be possible to employ different words in the translations themselves without detriment to the precise intended meaning of the text, the correlation of its various words or expressions, or its aesthetic qualities. When the original text, for example, employs a single term in expressing the interplay between the individual and the universality and unity of the human family or community (such as the Hebrew word 'adam, the Greek anthropos, or the Latin homo), this property of the language of the original text should be maintained in the translation. Just as has occurred at other times in history, the Church herself must freely decide upon the system of language that will serve her doctrinal mission most effectively, and should not be subject to externally imposed linguistic norms that are detrimental to that mission.
While I understand that Liturgicam Authenticum does not apply to the Eastern Churches, nonetheless why should the guiding principles be any different?
The phrase in the Creed, "for us men and our salvation came down from heaven...and was made man," seems to correspond directly to the reference in 1 Timothy 2:5. If the Church is to be consistent, it should seek to make the same changes in Scripture itself. For example, 1 Timothy 2:5, " For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus...," in a Protestant Bible, is being rendered, "For there is one God and mediator between God and human beings, Christ Jesus, himself human.." Moreover, the Creed as set forth in “The Catechism of the Catholic Church” uses the phrase, “for us men.” Because this catechism is normative for the entire Catholic Church, are we to assume that the Church has there erred? And of course, what are we to assume of all of Scripture where the terms, man or men, are used to represent human beings irrespective of sex or age? This of course is most evident right from the beginning wherein we learn that God created man; male and female he created them.
Sadly, it looks like we're entering a new era in which we are concerned with being politically correct rather than making correct translations of our ancient liturgy and creed. These changes may also further the divide with our Orthodox brethren.
Cardinal John Henry Newman, in a sermon, “The Gospel, a trust committed to us,” wrote:
The grant of grace in Baptism follows upon the accurate enunciation of one or two words; and if so much depends on one sacred observance, even down to the letter in which it is committed to us, why should not at least the substantial sense of other truths, nay, even the primitive wording of them, have some special claim upon the Church’s safe guardianship of them? St. Paul’s Articles of Belief are precise and individual; why should we not take them as we find them?
Here is a link to that sermon: http://www.newmanreader.org/works/parochial/volume2/sermon22.html