My friend Mr. John Allen, the well-balanced nearly ubiquitous former Rome correspondent for the über-lefty National Catholic Reporter has a blurb in his weekly notes about Jewish reactions to the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. This Motu Proprio derestricts the older form of Mass which on Good Friday includes a prayer for the conversion of Jews.
Some Jews are angry that Christians should pray that everyone believe in Christ. (Granted, they are also upset about the way that prayer expresses that wish.)
Here is Allen’s piece. My emphases and comments.
Speaking of Catholic-Jewish relations, conversation continues to percolate on the subject of Pope Benedict’s early July motu proprio liberalizing permission to celebrate the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass. Many leaders in Jewish-Catholic dialogue have voiced concern that the Good Friday liturgy according to the old rite contains a prayer for the conversion of the Jews, which refers to "the blindness of that people," asking God to remove "the veil from their hearts" and to deliver them from "darkness."
One little-known wrinkle is that on March 7, 1965, Pope Paul VI decreed a set of changes to the pre-Vatican II rite which removed the word "conversion" from the title "Prayer for the Jews" and deleted the language cited above. Instead, the revised prayer recalls God’s "promises to Abraham and his seed." Church historians say that Paul made the revisions after the Second Vatican Council voted in favor of a more positive approach to relations with Jews, and the pope wanted to implement its new vision in the liturgy right away, even before the post-Vatican II Mass was ready.
Many experts seem to believe that those changes do not apply under the terms of the new motu proprio. Msgr. James Moroney, executive director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Aug. 9 that the motu proprio refers to the 1962 Missal alone, not to any subsequent amendments. [Mr. Allen called on this one too. I agree with Moroney. The text of the older Mass we can use is the 1962 version, not the version with the revisions of 1965. Until there is some change from the Holy See about this, only the 1962, as is, must be used in the Triduum. Similarly, elements of the Triduum from editions previous to the 1962 may not be interpollated either. It works both ways.]
"As of now, it seems to me that it would not be possible to use texts published in 1965 when the permission is for the 1962 texts," Moroney said, though without excluding the possibility that the pope might wish to make changes in the future.
Some canonists, however, argue that because the 1965 revisions were never abrogated, they should be considered part of the 1962 Missal, [that is not what Summorum Pontificum says. It says 1962, not 1962 with subsequent revisions.] just as subsequent amendments to the new rite issued after 1970 are still considered part of that Missal. Experts are awaiting clarification from the Vatican. Some believe that while the amendments from Paul VI were an improvement, the prayer remains problematic even with them, and would like to see it revised along the lines of the Prayer for the Jews in the post-Vatican II rite. That text asks that God help Jews "progress in fidelity to Your covenant."
On July 18, Bertone seemed to signal openness to such revisions, telling reporters that the Vatican had no intention of rolling back the clock on Jewish-Catholic relations and that "the problem can be solved."
Three other quick points are worth making in this regard.
First, the prayer for the Jews is not the only controversial bit of language in the Good Friday rite. There’s also a prayer for "heretics and schismatics," referring to other Christians, and to "pagans," referring to followers of other religions. Many experts say both pose equally serious questions in terms of consistency with Vatican II’s ecumenical and inter-religious vision. [I am not one of them. I don’t see any of these prayers, which have been used since the original indult for the older Mass as having changed inter-religious dialogue one way or another.]
Second, the pre-Vatican II rite has been available with the permission of the local bishop since 1984, which means that a certain percentage of Catholics have been hearing these prayers on Good Friday for the last 23 years. Whatever their theological limits, they did not prevent Catholicism from pursuing pioneering efforts in Jewish-Catholic dialogue over that time, [exactly!] including John Paul’s visit to the Rome synagogue in 1986 and the trip to Israel in 1999. That, perhaps, is an invitation to caution about worst-case scenarios in terms of what all this might mean.
Third, Catholics who celebrate the pre-Vatican II Mass say that even though it’s sometimes called the "Missal of 1962," in fact many places don’t follow the ’62 Missal because it was expensive, hard to find, and quickly superseded by the new Mass. What people are actually using is often a Missal from the era of Pius XII or even earlier, because that’s what they have lying around. This may mean they’re still praying for the "perfidious Jews," because that language wasn’t taken out until John XXIII in 1960. [I made that point to Mr. Allen by phone and on this blog on various occaisions. It is very important that, when the older form of Mass is celebrated, we use the CORRECT edition, or at least make the necessary changes to the edition we possess to bring it into conformity with the 1962 edition.] They’re also often using catechetical materials and devotional aids utterly untouched by the vision of the council or the new Catechism of the Catholic Church. Some experts believe the spotlight on the old Mass created by the motu proprio will encourage these communities to bring themselves up to date. If nothing else, it should mean that the actual 1962 Missal will become more readily available, and that catechetical materials reflecting official post-conciliar church teaching will be produced.
Ironically, therefore, a decision perceived by a wide swath of the church and the outside world as an effort to roll back the clock, may instead by experienced by the people actually affected by it as an invitation to step forward. [Yes. One of the Holy Father’s objectives, for sure.]
This is a good, well-balanced presentation of the thorny issue of how some Jews are upset by those prayers.