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Through our Creed, we profess our faith.

My question: Why do Catholics say Apostle's Creed more than Nicene Creed?

For example, we don't say Nicene Creed in Catholic Liturgical Mass or rarely do we say it. So why did this transformation take place?

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    Where has it been replaced, and by whom? Both creeds continue to be used in many Christian traditions, so we need more information to be able to understand what you mean. – Nathaniel is protesting Aug 12 '18 at 23:35
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    I'd expect that this varies widely across Catholicism. Can you edit this to add any source showing that most Catholic Churches don't regularly say the Nicene Creed? – curiousdannii Aug 13 '18 at 1:16
  • I had the opportunity to be in seven churches in my area including the church adjacent to my Catholic School. And mostly we said Apostle's Creed. So just out of curiosity wanted to know why did this change take place? – mvr950 Aug 13 '18 at 2:22
  • Where is your "area", @mvr950? I haven't noticed any change in my area (Maine, USA). – workerjoe Aug 13 '18 at 21:16
  • Our church says the Nicene Creed. All of the churches I have been to in the past 10 years use the Nicene Creed, though now and again the apostle's creed is recited (it's in the Missalette). Where is your source for the assertion in the title of your question? Have you asked the local ordinary (bishop) or someone in the Chancery about this local policy? – KorvinStarmast Aug 14 '18 at 21:25
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I have been a practicing Catholic for 65 years and in all those years in multiple parishes and different dioceses I have NEVER heard the Apostles Creed used in place of the Nicene Creed except since the 2011 change made it optional for Lent and Easter seasons. I have lived in Europe for a few years and never heard the Apostles Creed used in place of the NiceneCreed there either. I am puzzled by so many responses that attest to the contrary.

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The use of the Apostles Creed at mass has been permitted since the authorisation of the 2002 Roman Missal, which was first authorized in English in 2011. Its use is particularly suggested during Lent and Easter.

(It's unclear as far as I know whether the Latin rubrics were authorized for a mass in the vernacular before the English translation was authorized, though I think not.)

So the answer is that it has been permitted since then. I personally have not come across it except in the context of baptisms, but then I don't necessarily attend the most typical masses. Your experience may well be an outlier, though I wouldn't swear to it. Equally, I can't be sure that it wasn't used before that, though it would certainly have been illicit if so.

As for why... I'm guessing, but I imagine the advantages are:

  • Length
  • Ecumenical considerations -- the Apostles Creed does not contain the filioque
  • People finding the 2011 translation very clunky (e.g. "consubstantial")

But, as I say, those are my guesses.

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... why did this change take place?

Introduction

First of all you should note that about 50 years ago the mass was in Latin language so using the Creed in local language is quite new.

In my youth in the 1980s the Apostle's Creed was already more common than the Nicene Creed (which was only rarely used in that time) so the change you are describing must have begun directly after changing from Latin to local language.

In the parish where I grow up the Nicene Creed was nearly never used in the 1990s. And when I was going to the mass in other cities I had the same impression.

Some theologian told me that sometimes the church law is changed to allow something which is already "illegally" done in many parishes for more than 30 years.

If it is true that using the Apostle's Creed in the mass was not officially allowed before 2002 or 2011 then this change of the church law seems to be one example for such a change.

And I doubt that in such cases you'll find any written document that describes why something is done:

When such a practice begins it is illegal according to the church law. So nobody dares to write some document why this is done. And 30 years later when the practice is officially allowed nobody can remember why and how everything started 30 years before.

My suspicion

I have a very strong suspicion why the Apostle's Creed is commonly used in German speaking countries. It's some ambiguous sentences in the German translation of the Nicene Creed. I can't judge other translations.

Through our Creed, we profess our faith ...

... which means: You are publicly saying what you believe in and you stand behind what you are saying. And this of course implies that you understand what you are saying.

Now let's have a look at the German translation of the Nicene Creed. As an example you'll find these words:

... gezeugt, nicht geschaffen ...

Having compared the English to the German translation I suspect a "simple" translation problem here: The word "gezeugt" definitely does not match what is written in the English translation!

I myself understand the German translation of the sentence in a way that Jesus Christ did not exist at the beginning of the universe but he is the result of a random biological process.

(And this is not the only sentence in the Nicene Creed which I at least do not understand.)

Translation errors in the Creed however are fatal:

Either you say the Creed in the mass - than you say that you believe in something you actually don't believe in.

Or you don't say the Creed (that's what I do if the Nicene Creed is used) - then it will be rather silent in the church.

Maybe this is the reason why priests in the parishes started to use the Apostle's Creed instead of the Nicene Creed in the end of the 1970s in Germany.

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  • The German translation of the Nicene Creed that Google found for me at katholisch.de/glaube/unsere-gebete/das-glaubensbekenntnis differs a bit from the translation in my German-Latin missal, but both translations seem quite clear to me (and essentially in agreement with the Latin text). – Andreas Blass Oct 6 '18 at 22:17
  • @AndreasBlass I added an example. – Martin Rosenau Oct 7 '18 at 6:32
  • @MartinRosenau The line "gezeugt, nicht geschaffen" is clearly not easy to understand, but your interpretation conflicts with the line "aus dem Vater geboren vor aller Zeit". In its context "gezeugt, nicht geschaffen" means that Jesus is not of a normal origin (every other man was "geschaffen" by God). But I can imagine that the Nicene Creed is too long and complicated for many people (or at least many priests think so). – K-HB Oct 23 '18 at 8:07

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