New Catholic Tridentine Rite Good Friday Prayer
- Created: February 6, 2008
- Written by Ian Fisher
ROME - Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday issued a replacement for a contentious Good Friday prayer in Latin, removing language that many Jewish groups found offensive but still calling for the Jews' conversion.
However, representatives of Jewish groups as well as traditionalist Catholics quickly condemned the new prayer, though for different reasons. Jewish groups said it was still offensive, and traditionalists said they preferred the version that was replaced.
"It's disappointing," said Rabbi David Rosen, director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, who for 20 years has worked on Jewish-Catholic relations with Benedict as pope and, earlier, when he was a cardinal.
The prayer was a focus of dispute last year when Benedict allowed for greater use of a traditional version of the Latin Mass, called the Tridentine rite. That decree improved ties with Catholic traditionalists, who oppose the sweeping changes to church liturgy made from 1962 through 1965 during the Second Vatican Council.
The prayer is not part of the standard service used by most of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics, who celebrate Mass in their local languages.
The new prayer, published only in Latin on Tuesday in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, deletes a reference to Jews' "blindness" and a call that God "may lift the veil from their hearts."
An unofficial translation of the new prayer reads: "Let us pray for the Jews. May the Lord Our God enlighten their hearts so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men.
"Almighty and everlasting God," it continues, "you who want all men to be saved and to reach the awareness of the truth, graciously grant that, with the fullness of peoples entering into your church, all Israel may be saved."
Rabbi Rosen, while saying he was pleased that language he found offensive was removed, objected to the new prayer because it specified that Jews should find redemption specifically in Christ. He noted that the standard Mass, issued after the liberalizations of the Second Vatican Council, also contained a prayer for the Jews' "redemption" but did not specifically invoke Christ, stressing rather God's original covenant with Jews.
"Pope Benedict XVI really does care about positive Catholic-Jewish relations - that I know for a fact," Rabbi Rosen said.
"It is therefore particularly disappointing," he said, "that this text doesn't seem to show any sensitivity as to how this new text will be read within Jewish circles."
On the other side of the debate, Kenneth J. Wolfe, a columnist for the traditionalist Catholic newspaper The Remnant, said traditionalists would have preferred no change at all.
Mr. Wolfe said that the change "rattles the cage of traditionalists" and that it would probably make more difficult any rapprochement with traditionalist groups like the Society of St. Pius X, which rejects the Second Vatican Council and has appointed its own bishops.
The full prayer also contains calls for the conversion of other groups, including Protestants, the Orthodox and pagans.
In discussing changes to the prayer, Vatican officials have said in the past that it is the church's right, believing in the truth of Catholicism, to pray for the salvation of all those who do not believe.
The Vatican said the new version of the prayer should be used by the traditionalist minority starting this Good Friday, March 21.