On the blog of Andrea Tornielli of the Italian daily Il Giornale we read a story that says Pope Benedict may change the 1962 Roman Missal‘s prayer on Good Friday for the conversion of the Jews.
My translation of the blog item with my emphases and comments:
Benedict XVI has decided to reformulate the text of the prayer for the Jews on Good Friday in the 1962 edition of the "Tridentine" Missal which was derestricted with the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, having received requests from many rabbis. I call to mind the long journey begun under Pius XII (who had published an explanation in which he reminded that "perfidis" referring to the Jews in the liturgy meant "without faith" and he required the genuflection also for this prayer), and continued under John XXIII (who in 1959 eliminated both "perfidis" and "perfidia") and not concludes with Papa Ratzinger, who has eliminated the reference to the blindness of the Jewish people.
The article in Il Giornale says:
Benedict XVI has decided to reformulate the text of the prayer for the Jews contained in the "Tridentine" Missal derestricted by the recent Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum: The publication of the new text, completely reformulated, ought to come out in a matter of days. Gone is the reference to the "blindness" of the Jewish people. The new version will enter into effect already in the celebrations the faithful will follow in the older rite during the next Holy Week. [This will make celebrations of the older rite for Holy Week far more possible and perhaps frequent in many places. That is the upside.]
In the old text one prayed, in Latin, for the conversion of the Jews, asking God to take, "that people… from their shadows" and to remove "blindness" from them (the term borrowed from a letter of St. Paul). As one might recall, after the publication of the Motu Proprio which derestricted the pre-Conciliar Mass, many worried voices were raised in the Jewish world. The head rabbis of Jerusalem, the spiritual guides of the Sephardic and Ashkenazic communities, had written to Ratzinger to ask for a modification of the prayer on Good Friday.
It must be remembered that the journey of rapprochement was initiated already under Pius XII, who through the Congregation of Rites made clear that the old formulation "pro perfidis iudeis" meant "for the Jews who do not have the faith". [It did NOT mean that Jews were not trustyworthy, etc.] Papa Pacelli reintroduced, moreover, the genuflection for that prayer. John XXIII, from 1959 onward, also eliminated both the "perfidis" and also the following reference to Jewish "perfidia". The text emended by Papa Roncalli, in the 1962 edition, the last of the old Missals before the post-Conciliar reform, was derestricted by Benedict XVI in the last months. In the prayer there remained references to the "blindness" and "shadows" of the Jewish people. "That prayer worries us", Rabbi Giuseppe Laras, President of the Assembly of Rabbis of Italy, told il Giornale last September. "We are afraid that those who read it could put two and two together and reason like this: if we pray that God lift the blindness of the Jews this means that they are outside the truth and this could incite people even to anti-semitism." [I don’t buy that would happen today, but I am not a Jew and it is hard for me to get into their head about this.]
Bishops and prelates tasked with dialogue with the Jewish world asked the Holy See to intervene and an openness in this sense was manifested last July by the Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone who, at Pieve di Cadore, had spoken of a possibility of a correction. Benedict XVI had prepared a draft for the new prayer that ought to be published in the next few days by the Congregration for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. According to leaks, in the new version, while the passages considered by the Jews as offensive were omitted, there would nevertheless remain the outline of the old framework of the prayer, namely, that of conversion. It was precisely on this point that the Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,(from 2003 to 2005 the second in command to Cardinal Ratzinger) Archbp. Angelo Amato, explained to the daily Avvenire that "in the Mass we Catholics are always praying, in the first place, for our own conversion. And we beat our breasts for our sins. And then we pray for the conversion of all Christians and of all non-Christians. The Gospel is for everyone." The decision of Benedict XVI is a hand outstretched to the Jewish community, who have invited the Pontiff to visit the Synagogue of Rome. It is noted that Ratzinger would desire very much to be able to visit Israel in 2009, even if the present conditions of the bilateral talks between the state of Israel and the Holy See for solutions about some juridical and administrative problems are not at present leaving much room for hope.
I would remind anyone who thinks that what is going on in Italy or in Rome with all sorts of controversy with the Holy See and La Sapienza or whatever controversy is taking place at any given time, never to underestimate the impact that those Italian and Roman dealings can have on the universal Church.
Here is Reuters:
Fri Jan 18 13:16:28 UTC 2008
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict has decided to modify a controversial prayer for the conversion of Jews, an Italian newspaper reported on Friday.
Il Giornale newspaper said this would involve at least the removal of a reference to Jewish "blindness" over Christ but the changes could be more extensive.
A Vatican source said he expected changes to be announced before Good Friday on March 21 this year, but had no details. Good Friday is the day Christians commemorate Christ’s death.
The Vatican had no official comment on the report.
Controversy arose last year when the Pope issued a decree allowing a wider use of the old-style Latin Mass and a missal, or prayer book, that was phased out after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which met from 1962 to 1965.
The Good Friday prayer in Latin asks that God remove the "veil" from Jewish hearts so that they would recognize Jesus Christ and speaks of the "blindness" of the Jewish people.
Jews have called for a change in the Latin prayer which, if left as stands, would be used by several hundred thousand traditionalists who follow the old-style Latin rite.
The overwhelming number of the world’s some 1.1 billion Catholics would use a post Second Vatican Council missal, which includes a Good Friday prayer for Jews but makes no reference to Jewish "blindness" over Christ.
The strongest criticism to the Pope’s decree has come from U.S. Jewish communities and there have been fears controversy could come up during the Pope’s U.S. visit in late April.
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.
Implementation of the decree has been difficult. The Pope’s number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said recently the Vatican was preparing a document on how it should be introduced around the world.
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. [Inaccurate cliche. You would expect more from a distinguished long-time Roman journalist like Philip Pulella after all this time.]
Many traditionalists missed the Latin rite’s sense of mystery and the centuries-old Gregorian chant that went with it.
Some denounced Council reforms that included a repudiation of the notion of collective Jewish guilt for Christ’s death and urged dialogue with all other faiths. [Well… I don’t know that any but the virtually unhinged on the fringe were clinging to calling Jews "Christ killers". This seems out of place to me.]