New Catholic Tridentine Rite Good Friday Prayer
- Created: July 18, 2007
- Written by Reuters
The most senior official in the Vatican after the Pope on Wednesday suggested that a highly controversial prayer for the conversion of the Jews could be dropped from the re-introduced Latin-language rite.
Speaking at a news conference, Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone was asked about Pope Benedict's recent decree allowing a wider use of the old Latin missal, or prayer book, that was phased out after the reforms of the so-called Second Vatican Council which sat between 1962 and 1965.
Some Jewish leaders have sharply criticized the decree, which revived the possible use of a passage from the old Latin prayer book for Good Friday calling for Jews to be converted.
Bertone, who is secretary of state and ranks second only to the Pope in the Vatican hierarchy, said "we could simply study" the possibility of substituting the prayer.
The Good Friday prayer asks that God remove the "veil" from Jewish heart so that they would recognize Jesus Christ.
Bertone said the prayer that many Jews have found offensive could be substituted with one introduced into church rituals in the 1970s and which makes no reference to conversion of Jews.
"This could be decided and this would resolve all the problems," said Bertone, who was speaking near the northern Italian area where the Pope is on a mountain holiday. His news conference was televised live.
Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti Defamation League, a U.S.-based Jewish rights group, said Wednesday "I am delighted that the Vatican is listening to our concerns."
"I hope that Cardinal Bertone's public conjectures will shortly result in putting Catholic-Jewish relations back on the road they were on before all this," he said.
Benedict's decree, issued on July 7, authorized wider use of the old Latin missal, a move which traditionalist Catholics had demanded for decades but which Jews and other Christian groups said could set back inter-religious dialogue.
The move by the German-born Pontiff raised fears in some liberal Catholic quarters that it could split the Church and roll back the clock on various reforms introduced in the 1960s and 1970s and which are opposed by many traditionalists.
Before the Second Vatican Council, Catholic mass and prayers were full of elaborate ritual led in Latin by a priest with his back to the congregation.
The council reduced the formality and had the priest face the faithful to pray in their local language.
Many traditionalists missed the Latin rite's sense of mystery and the centuries-old Gregorian chant that went with it.