RNS: Critics unsatisfied after pope tweaks prayer for Jews

There is a piece on Religion News Service about the new Good Friday prayer for the Jews to be used in celebration of the Triduum with the 1962 Missale Romanum.   Your humble correspondent is quoted.

My emphases and comments.

Critics unsatisfied after pope tweaks prayer for Jews

By FRANCIS X. ROCCA

    VATICAN CITY — With his decision last July to liberalize use of the
Old Latin Mass, Pope Benedict XVI sought to appease traditionalists
disaffected by recent changes to Catholic worship. [Wow... that is really not what the Pope had in mind.  Sure, that is one component, but not in any way the most important.]
    But in making it easier for priests to celebrate the so-called
Tridentine Rite, Benedict also resurrected a controversial prayer used
on Good Friday that called for the conversion of the Jews.
    On Tuesday (Feb. 5), just in time for Lent, the Vatican published a
new version of the prayer clearly designed to allay Jewish concerns. [Really?  I wonder.]
Gone is the reference to Jews’ "blindness" and the request that God
"take the veil from their hearts."  [Not really accurate.  The reference is still very much there, as I show in another entry.  The use of language from Romans 11 brings us directly back to Paul speaking about the blindness of the Jews.  The reference to blindness is not gone.  You just have to look for it a little harder.]
    The new prayer calls upon God to "enlighten (Jews’) hearts so that
they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men" and expresses
the hope that "all Israel may be saved."
    Yet judging from initial reactions to Benedict’s solution, the
formula for preserving Catholic tradition while promoting the interfaith
harmony
that sprouted in the 1960s remains elusive — both inside and
outside the church.  [Ummm... I don't think a Catholic observance of Good Friday is about interfaith harmony.]
    "We are deeply troubled and disappointed that the framework and
intention to petition God for Jews to accept Jesus as Lord was kept
intact," said Abraham Foxman, national director of the New York-based
Anti-Defamation League.  [No surpise there.]
    The International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations,
which represents a dozen international Jewish groups, also issued a
declaration of "deep regret and disappointment" over the new text.
    According to one expert on Catholic liturgy, the revised prayer
continues to pose difficulties for the church’s interfaith outreach,
which was born after the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, the same
time the old Tridentine Rite was retired.
    "There is a tension that will not go well with the furthering of
Jewish-Christian relations
," said the Rev. Keith F. Pecklers, an
American who teaches at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. [This is one of the three fellows who worked up the book about the post-Conciliar reform that came out over the name of Archbp. Piero Marini.  I suspect Pecklers actually wrote most of it, but I am not sure.  I think we can be reasonably sure, however, that he is helping to spearhead an effort to set up Archbp. Marini as a rallying point for those who don't like what Pope Benedict is doing with the liturgy.]
    "It’s a slight improvement over the original text," he said, "but
not much more."

    Instead of modifying the Tridentine text, the pope could have
applied language from the post-Vatican II liturgy, a step that "would
have certainly solved the problem,"
Pecklers said.  [First, it would have solved nothing.  Had the Holy Father made the sort of change Fr. Peckler's suggests, the ADL and others would have then merely pivoted and found some other point to to attack and gripe about.  Second, it may be that Pope Benedict sees a very different "problem" than both Fr. Peckler's and the ADL et al.  His Holiness could have chosen the solution of Pecklers and the ADL, but he decided instead to reaffirm the substance of the traditional prayer in the older Missal.  By doing so, he is probably saying that a) the Good Friday service is not really about ecumenical dialogue and b) any continuing dialogue making reference to how we pray must be rooted in what Catholics actually believe, rather than in what we are willing to compromise on after being griped at for long enough.]
    The Good Friday prayer for Jews in the 1970 Roman Missal, now used
by most Catholic congregations around the world, refers to Jews as "the
first to hear the word of God" and prays that "they may continue to grow
in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant."
  [Which means ... what, exactly?  Is there any reference to Christ as our salvation in that formula?]
    The Vatican’s secretary of state and No. 2 official, Cardinal
Tarcisio Bertone, suggested last July that the relevant section of the
Tridentine liturgy could be replaced by the Latin version of the 1970
prayer.
    But such a move would have been unacceptable to traditionalists,
notes the Rev. John T. Zuhlsdorf, whose Web site "What Does the Prayer
Really Say?" is popular among devotees of the Old Latin Mass.
    "It would have been a different prayer," he said.  [Well... yah.]
    For some, Zuhlsdorf predicts, even the pope’s more limited revision
will seem too radical.  [That this is proving to be the case, for some people anyway, according to the comments elsewhere on this blog.]
    "There are going to be a lot of hysterical reactions," he said.
"Some will really hate this prayer simply because it’s change."
    But other traditionalists "will read this prayer carefully and will
come to realize that it is actually in substance pretty darn good,"
Zuhlsdorf said. "The substance of the prayer … remains the same.
However, instead of talking about blindness, now we’re talking about
illumination."  [Though, as I pointed out, the reference to blindness is clearly in the subtext because of the use of language from Romans 11.]

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67 Responses to RNS: Critics unsatisfied after pope tweaks prayer for Jews

  1. Anyway, Fr Z, I’ve printed the new prayer and inserted it into my 1962 Missale Romanum. I hope that all the other priests who have a 1962MR have done the same. Cheers!

    (Sorry if that’s a repeat. Having difficulty getting the combox to send comments)
    ===========

    It would be nice is some tech expert could provide a graphic image of the words with the chant in the same size used in the Missale Romanum. Anyone?

  2. Andy says:

    Fr. Zulsdorf,

    I think Chris Ferarra’s most recent article in “The Remnant” will be the more common traditionalist response. I was relieved to read it. I am eagerly awaiting a statement by Bishop Fellay. I could be wrong, but I think it will be similar, and will be an opportunity for the Society to put its money where its mouth is and prove that they are in fact loyal to Rome. This is what I hope and pray for, in any case.

  3. Dino Marcantonio says:

    But the substance of the prayer is not the same. Is there not a substantial difference between acknowledging Christ is Our Lord and acknowledging Christ is the Savior? Does the new prayer not place the conversion of the Jews in an eschatological context?

  4. FATHER Z:

    It seems to me that the controversy around the prayer is just another example of a mind set that is prevelant today: that group consensus is the highest form of authority. Perhaps we could say that when heresy or clearly un-authoriazed doctrines are being spread, the consensus of the Church is an important ingredient. However, it the Bishop, in this case the Bishop of Rome, who sets forth clearly liturgical texts. In my estimation I believe that is exactly what the Holy Father has done. I have read a number of comments here and elsewhere, and frankly I can\’t say that I have been edified. May we all tone donwn the Rhetoric, Please! It is Lent, a time for the inner journey.

  5. Fr Peter says:

    Father thanks for this post and for your blog it is great. I am tired of people who seem to want to wash down the message of the Church. Thanks to the Holy Father for reminding us that as the world needs Jesus all the world. Some want unity so bad that they are willingt o sacrifice the beliefs of the church, I am glad you are here to keep us all in line. God Bless you and God Bless the Holy Father.

  6. FATHER Z:

    It seems to me that the controversy around the prayer is just another example of a mind set that is prevelant today: that group consensus is the highest form of authority. Perhaps we could say that when heresy or clearly un-authoriazed doctrines are being spread, the consensus of the Church is an important ingredient. However, it is the Bishop, in this case the Bishop of Rome, who sets forth clearly liturgical texts. In my estimation I believe that is exactly what the Holy Father has done. I have read a number of comments here and elsewhere, and frankly I can’t say that I have been edified. May we all tone donwn the rhetoric, Please! It is Lent, a time for the inner journey.

  7. Fr Peter says:

    Father thanks for this post and for your blog it is great. I am tired of people who seem to want to wash down the message of the Church. Thanks to the Holy Father for reminding us that as the world needs Jesus all the world. Some want unity so bad that they are willingt o sacrifice the beliefs of the church, I am glad you are here to keep us all in line. God Bless you and God Bless the Holy Father.

  8. The entire prayer in the context of its Scriptural references makes it clear that Christ is Lord as Saviour, and that He is Saviour as Lord. He cannt be one without being the other.

    And, of course, we’re not heading toward any evolutionary cosmic something or other, but we are being drawn by Christ to the Father in that one Hour of salvation on the Cross where, as it were, time itself is redeemed.

    We will see Him as He is now, risen, but with the wounds of slaughter upon Him. This happens during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. All shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, as Saint John says. Time does march on, but always in front of the Him who is crucified and now risen.

    The salvation of each person is wrought in an eschatological context, with the end-times, as it were, beginning with the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, beginning with the Last Supper, where He weds Himself with His Bride, the Church, with those two wedding vows of His: This is my Body being given for you… This is the chalice of my Blood being shed for you…

    Also, we should be clear about this, it is not all Jews, but only a portion that experiences this hardening, as Saint Paul says.

    Also, Benedict has made a wonderful correction in this revision of some recent rubbish. That rubbish, so very ambiguous (discussed in the Trilogy), claims that the Jews are to look forward to the coming of the Messiah with us, it not being said that the Jews are to look for His first coming even while Christians are looking for His second coming, or is it that…

    In other words, Benedict has done something historic, yet again, alone, which would otherwise normally be carried out as business in a general Council of the Church. This is the grandeur of Petrine governance, and of the governance wrought by Ratzinger as Peter.

    Obedience in faith is not blind obedience, but obedience in faith.

  9. Tom says:

    I just defended, on another part of this blog, a reading of this prayer as not purely eschatological in its meaning – we pray for the conversion of Jews living now as well as of Jews living at the end-time.

    This is what I wrote:

    Clearly the prayer includes all Jews whose salvation is still in question, and not just those around on the last day. For the prayer invokes, in relation to the Jews, God’s desire that all men be saved and know the truth, not just those humans about on the last day. And the introduction calls for the Jews in general to recognise Christ as saviour of all. It is not simply concerned with a future community living on the last day. So the prayer is concerned with Jews now as well as Jews then.

    But now we find what I rather feared: Cardinal Kasper on Vatican Radio defending a purely eschatological reading that excludes a mission to convert the Jews now on a level with the mission to convert heathens now. See this link on Kathnet (in German I’m afraid.)

    http://www.kath.net/detail.php?id=18969

    ‘Wenn der Papst nun von der Bekehrung der Juden spricht, dann muss man das richtig verstehen. Er zitiert wörtlich das elfte Kapitel des Apostels Paulus aus dem Römerbrief. Dort sagt der Apostel, dass wir als Christen hoffen, wenn die Fülle der Heiden eingetreten ist in die Kirche, dass dann ganz Israel sich bekehren wird. Das ist eine eschatologische endzeitliche Hoffnung, bedeutet also nicht, dass wir die Intention haben, nun Judenmission zu betreiben, so wie man Heidenmission betreibt.’

    I have to say this understanding of St Paul might have surprised him and the early Church, who were surely running a mission to Jew and Gentile alike.

    I think Cardinal Kasper’s remarks deeply troubling. They are not, I think, a convincing reading of the prayer. But they will greatly impede the acceptance of the new prayer by many Catholics.

    What a mess!

  10. Mike says:

    Father: But other traditionalists “will read this prayer carefully and will
    come to realize that it is actually in substance pretty darn good.”

    Father, are you saying those of us who disagree with this change, those of us who don’t approve of the Marxist strategy of one step forward (toward tradition) and two steps back (toward modernism), those of us who don’t like Bill Clinton-like symbolic actions like we witnessed this week, that we simply haven’t read the prayer carefully? I think that’s a little insulting to truly traditional Catholics.

    We’re not all knee-jerk reactionaries. What we are are people longing for a Pontificate that goes back to the ways of a Pope St. Pius X who would have scoffed at Abe Foxman and not even taken a meeting with him let alone do what he was asking.

    I am very appreciative of what our Holy Father has done for us with the MP. But let’s not start throwing mud and saying any traditional who doesn’t agree with this decision somehow hasn’t read the prayer carefully enough. That’s just not true in many cases and insults are intelligence.

  11. Jordan Potter says:

    Tom said: I think Cardinal Kasper’s remarks deeply troubling. They are not, I think, a convincing reading of the prayer. But they will greatly impede the acceptance of the new prayer by many Catholics.

    As usual, I’m not happy about Cardinal Kasper’s remarks, but then I’m usually in disagreement with him about these sorts of things, and I know that he would be expected to try and make the best of what he must see as a bad deal. I also find it remarkable that, once again, voices of the more extreme and most disgruntled traditionalists are saying the same thing abut the interpretation of this prayer as their nemesis Cardinal Kasper. But I am happy to disagree with his misinterpretation: the prayer is obviously asking for Jewish conversion now, not just at the end of the world. Cardinal Kasper favors the “eschatological” misreading because, from all I’ve read and heard from him, he apparently doesn’t believe it is important for all men today to confess that Jesus is Lord and Savior. On the other hand, I think the extreme traditionalists favor the “eschatological” misreading because they don’t like changes to traditional liturgy, because many of them are happy only when they are unhappy, and because many of them probably deep down (or maybe not deep down) rather like being plain and blunt and even offensive about the faith. Anti-Semitism is also found in certain traditionalist circles, and such traditionalists would naturally be angry about any softening of the Church’s language about unbelieving Jews.

  12. Tom says:

    Here’s the translation of Kasper:

    ‘If the Pope is now speaking of the conversion of the Jews, then that must be properly understood. He is quoting verbatim from the eleventh chapter of St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. There the Apostle says that as Christians we hope that when the fulness of the Gentiles has entered the Church, that then all Israel will convert. That is an eschatological hope for the end-time, but does not mean that we have the intention of running a mission to the Jews as we would run a mission to the Gentiles/Heathen’.

    Well of course there are many good reasons for not running a mission to the Jews as one would run a mission in eg unevangelised Papua. But does Kasper really mean that one reason is that we’re not even called on to hope and pray for the conversion of Jews now? That the direction and intent of the prayer for conversion is excusively to future Jews living at the end of time? Paul may not have expected all Israel to convert till the end. But that didn’t mean that he did not hope and work for Jewish conversions now.

    If Kasper does not mean that the scope of the prayer is exclusively eschatological, what then does he mean?

    Of course, there’s nothing to stop one giving an exclusively eschatological reading to the old 1962 prayer. And Kasper’s observations provide in themselves no good reason for rejecting the new prayer. They’re just a tendentious reading of it, designed to keep the liberal objectors quiet. But Kasper’s observations won’t help win the more recalcitrant traditionalists over either, since they have used such an exclusively eschatological reading as an objection to the new prayer. The reading may be forced. But Kasper gives it more currency.

  13. Tom says:

    Jordan

    I made my last post before I read yours. We are in full agreement about Kasper. It is not good that someone with Kasper’s – (by the standards of Christian and Catholic tradition) – extraordinary views on evangelisation still gets to hold the Curial position that he does. Much talk from radical traditionalism about the crisis in the post-conciliar Church may be Da-Glo. But such talk has its causes within the Church itself, and at quite a high level. This is an example, I’m afraid.

  14. Prof. Basto says:

    The Holy Father made haste to amend the Good Friday prayer for the Jews used in the recently liberalized extraordinary form; now, it is time to change that prayer also in the ordinary form, so that it also becomes trully and explicitly a prayer for the conversion of the Jews.

    Why was the ordinary form prayer left intact?

    Isn’t it true that the Novus Ordo prayer, in not asking for the conversion of the Jews, is more problematic than the 1962 prayer?

    Shouldn’t this new prayer, now composed to replace the 1962 one in the extraordinary form, also be imposed on the ordinary form, to replace the one found in the 1970/1975/2002 Missals?

    Wouldn’t that be an improvement?

    Why is it that only in the extraordinary form we will keep praying for the conversion of the Jews? Shouldn’t that also be done in the ordinary form?

    Isn’t the 2008 suitable for the ordinary form? Isn’t it not only more recent, but also better, than the one that is contained in the 2002 Missal?

    After all, the Pope didn’t impose the prayer contained in the 2002 Missal on the 1962 extraordinary form. Instead, he chose to compose a new one. That shows that the 2002 prayer was found as not being ideal.

    So, why is it that this new composition isn’t also applied by the Pope to replace the 2002 prayer?

  15. Michael says:

    My not approving of this change is not a knee-jerk reaction. Frankly, this pope could have picked a prayer written by St. Augustine and I still wouldn’t rejoice over the change. It’s not about the content about the prayer, it’s about the fact that it had to be rewritten at all. Even if we say the pray is the same in substance and is still a very good prayer, are we not right to question the principles that led to this change? Is it ok for the pope to change what he wants in the liturgy so long as whatever he replaces it with is “in substance pretty darn good”? I think the quality of the replacement is irrelevant. Organic development only about the quality of changes, but about the nature of the changes themselves. I remain convinced, along with every major newspaper, that this prayer was a compromise that DID in fact, seek to satisfy the Jews. Pecklers admits that it’s a “slight improvement” even if didn’t go as far as he had hoped. What I see is a prayer that tries to concede to their demands while doing its best to not change the purpose of the prayer. A solution that pleased no one.

    If you’re correct, Father, that this prayer is meant to say the very same thing as the traditional prayer, then we have new problems. Does this new prayer say the same thing as effectively as the traditional prayer? With the old prayer, none of us had to get out our bibles and put the references in context. We didn’t need it’s true meanin pointed out to us. It was clear, direct, and to the point. The true meaning of the new prayer has been “veiled,” if you will, and it stands out when compared to the precise and clear language found in the other prayers recited on Good Friday. Perhaps someday, when the Church is once again free, a pope might uncover a dusty Missal in the Vatican Sacristy and restore this very ancient petition. Our Triduum liturgy is slightly less rich because of its loss.

    I don’t find Ferrara’s article that convincing, no matter how pleasing a solution to this problem might be. We all want to convince outselves that this is really a “papal materstroke” in disguise, that this change is so progressive it’s traditional and isn’t as devastating and disturbing as it might seem. Journalistic prozac! But can we really look at the facts and come to that conclusion? Isn’t it at least possible that our beloved Holy Father did something he knew would do harm to the integrity of the Good Friday liturgy to avoid a Regensburg repeat? We’ve all read his books. We know how Ratzinger feels about liturgical reform, and this seems very unlike him.

  16. omagh says:

    The USCCB explanation is actually very good:

    Statement of Most Reverend Richard J. Sklba
    Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee
    Chairman, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Ecumenical and
    Interreligious Affairs

    WASHINGTON – “The Holy Father has heard with appreciation the concerns of the Jewish community that the prayers of Good Friday should reflect the relationship between Jews and the Church put forward in Nostra Aetate, and implemented by the late Pope John Paul II. As Vatican II states, ‘God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues – such is the witness of the Apostle’ (NA, no. 4).

    “The Holy Father has chosen to omit from his revision any language from the various editions of the (Latin) Missal of 1962 that have long been associated with negative images of Jews. For example, there are no references to the ‘blindness of the Jews,’ to the ‘lifting of a veil from their heart,’ or to their ‘being pulled from darkness.’

    “Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to present the relationship of the Church and the Jews within the mystery of salvation as found in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans (cf. Rom 11:11-32). Central to the concerns of the Holy Father is the clear articulation that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and his Church. It is a faith that must never be imposed but always freely chosen.

    “The Catholic Church in the United States remains steadfastly committed to deepening its bonds of friendship and mutual understanding with the Jewish community.”

  17. MIke says:

    Omagh:

    You think that an explanation that effective says our Pope caved to another religious group is good? I’d love an explanation of that logic.

  18. omagh says:

    Mike:
    USCCB: “Central to the concerns of the Holy Father is the clear articulation that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and his Church.”

    This is a big step forward towards articulating the traditional Catholic faith.

  19. Mike says:

    Omagh: “This is a big step forward towards articulating the traditional Catholic faith.”

    So now, our threshold for articulating the traditional Faith is stating that only Catholics have the possibility of salvation? Wow, we certainly have set the bar low.

    That statement is the exact reason why truly traditional Catholics are upset — because it confirms the fact that our ponfiff acted not out of the good of the Faith but to appease the interests of non-Catholics.

    You can look with your microscope, parse words and pull out small ideas if that helps you swallow this. I am done settling for breadcrumbs.

  20. Boko says:

    Is Marini now the point man for resistance to the Benedictine project? How old is he? How popular? Please don’t tell me he is papabile, but, is he?

    Also, why wasn’t the Pauline Missal’s prayer changed? Is it because the anti-Benedictine forces are strong enough to prevent this or because the Pauline Missal really doesn’t matter, as it won’t be around longer than another generation or two?

  21. omagh says:

    Mike,
    If you’ve been alive for the past 40 years, you know that the bar has indeed been set low. That is why this is such a welcome and significant statement by the USCCB. Step by step, my friend…

  22. Mike says:

    I don’t worry about what bar novus ordo Catholics have set. If everyone was so pleased at nominal progress, we’d still have slavery in America.

    I think we can be a tad bit more critical than applauding such a rediculous statement.

  23. danphunter1 says:

    Yes indeed, why havn’t the Novus Ordo Good Friday prayers been changed to keep up with the 1962 prayer?
    Is it because the Holy Father realizes that the Tridentine Mass is more important than its fabricated younger sibling?
    This could all be part of His Holiness, “Marshall Plan”, to abrogate the Novus Ordo.
    Deo Gratias.

  24. omagh says:

    Mike,

    The fact is, the bar set by NO-ers is the bar which has been set for the vast majority of Catholics. For that reason, I maintain that any improvement is welcome.

  25. Matt Q says:

    Father Renzo wrote:

    “This is the grandeur of Petrine governance, and of the governance wrought by Ratzinger as Peter.”

    ()

    Father Renzo, unfortunately this “grandeur of Petrine governance” is not evenly exercised or not fully able to be, else why is it so difficult to get anything done in the Church, correct it, or get rid of disobedient/ineffectual bishops?

  26. Michael: My not approving of this change is not a knee-jerk reaction.

    My I kindly remind you, Michael, that no one asked you to approve this prayer. Nor do you have the charism in the Church or the authority to approve of this prayer or disapprove it. The Holy Father does, however, have the charism and the authority.

    … are we not right to question the principles that led to this change?

    Perhaps not.

    Is it ok for the pope to change what he wants in the liturgy so long as whatever he replaces it with is “in substance pretty darn good”?

    I see. You are now extracting a quote from me, to a journalist, which may or may not be an accurate quote that might not depend on the context, essentially a sound bite, and you are using it as a hermeneutic to look at this complicated question of the authority of the Pope to govern the Church’s liturgy.

    I remain convinced, along with every major newspaper,…

    You give a great deal of authority to newspapers.

    What I see is a prayer that tries to concede to their demands while doing its best to not change the purpose of the prayer. A solution that pleased no one.

    That may be what happens in the long run. However, we haven’t even had one Good Friday with it yet, much less a period of time to access what it all means.

    Also, there are deeper issues at stake. I don’t think this whole thing has to be about relations with the Jews at all.

    If you’re correct, Father, that this prayer is meant to say the very same thing as the traditional prayer, then we have new problems. Does this new prayer say the same thing as effectively as the traditional prayer?

    We can’t possible know that yet. We can, however, ask how effective the older prayer was. Did it bring about many conversions among the Jews? We can’t measure that easily either, of course. We just don’t know.

    With the old prayer, none of us had to get out our bibles and put the references in context. We didn’t need it’s true meanin pointed out to us. It was clear, direct, and to the point.

    This is a little naive, I think. Prayers have their sources, underpinnings, inspirations. The theological and scriptural underpinning of the older prayer seems to be the same verses of Romans 11 that undergird the new prayer. People can benefit from the explanation of the older prayer as well, and those explanations ought to be offered and accepted.

    The true meaning of the new prayer has been “veiled,” if you will, and it stands out when compared to the precise and clear language found in the other prayers recited on Good Friday.

    I think that that older prayers require quite a bit of explanation. You start to tread on some rather thin ice when you begin using language like “true meaning”. I have been at this “What Does The Prayer Really Say?” thing for long enough to know that prayers about not as clear as you might think they are.

    Perhaps someday, when the Church is once again free, a pope might uncover a dusty Missal in the Vatican Sacristy and restore this very ancient petition. Our Triduum liturgy is slightly less rich because of its loss.

    Well… very romantic, but you lost ground here.

    We know how Ratzinger feels about liturgical reform, and this seems very unlike him.

    Maybe you don’t understand him as well as you think?

    Just an idea.

  27. Prof. Basto says:

    Father,

    Rorate is running with a story about the Assembly of Italian Rabbis voting to suspend ecumenical dialogue with the Church due to the new prayer for the conversion of the Jews.

    The bigots are exposed now.

    But I dare ask: wouldn’t it be better if no change had taken place. The 1962 prayer would still be on the Books, and the Jews wouldn’t be having this tantrum.

  28. Richard says:

    First there is unhappiness about the words “blindness” and “veil” over Jewish hearts, now there is dissatisfaction over the prayer’s petition that the Jews accept Jesus as Lord. Once the pope moved to rectify the initial issues related to such concerns, some still expect the Pope to act according to their desires, without any regard for the faith, viewpoint, or concerns of the Church. This confirms the point Fr. Z made about how, if the Pope did revise the prayer to some version which did say nothing of Jesus or the need to convert to him, folks would have pivoted around to pigeon-hole another issue which prevents the Catholic faith from looking like their own. I would suggest that such a double standard is also bad for “interfaith harmony”. But, you probably won’t hear that point articulated in the mainstream press too much.

  29. Prof. Basto: But I dare ask: wouldn’t it be better if no change had taken place. The 1962 prayer would still be on the Books, and the Jews wouldn’t be having this tantrum.

    I suspect that some Jews will always have a bone to pick with the Church, no matter what we do or don’t do. Similarly, some Catholic traditionalists will always find something to pick at.

    Some people are happy only when they are unhappy.

    Perhaps the most important thing to consider is NOT the reaction of the Jews either way, but the fact that the revision of the Good Friday prayer means that the older Missale can no longer be claimed by anyone, friend or foe alike, to be a mere museum piece. It is a living liturgical book again in every sense. As such it is much harder to get rid of or resist.

  30. Tom says:

    “Yes indeed, why havn’t the Novus Ordo Good Friday prayers been changed to keep up with the 1962 prayer? Is it because the Holy Father realizes that the Tridentine Mass is more important than its fabricated younger sibling? This could all be part of His Holiness, “Marshall Plan”, to abrogate the Novus Ordo.”

    That doesn’t square with Summorum Pontificum and various documents and even books written by Pope Benedict XVI/Josef Cardinal Ratzinger.

    His Holiness has made it clear that the Novus Ordo Mass is here to stay.

  31. Mike says:

    Father: It is a living liturgical book again in every sense. As such it is much harder to get rid of or resist.

    Father, no offense, but that’s what Summorum Pontificum did. This watering down of a prayer does not further that action.

  32. Michael says:

    Father,

    My post was meant to be a defense of my position, not combative. I apologize if it came off that way. There was no way I could have known that your quote was innacurate, since you didn’t mention that in your commentary and even made it bold to draw attention to it. Nor was not questioning the authority of the Pope. Of course he has the authority to make any change he pleases. Perhaps “approve” was the wrong word, but my point was that there are major problems with this kind of reform, just as I see major problems with versus populum posture and other changes in the liturgy that the Pope has the authority to permit. But just because us laymen lack the authority to ignore this decision, does not mean that we are obliged to abstain from questioning their prudence. I really hope we don’t find ourselves falling back into the mode of thought typical of the Church before the council, which didn’t question the liturgical decisions coming out of Rome until they woke up one morning and the Roman Rite was dead. The Pope expects us to obey him, not to think every decision he makes is fantastic.

    Benedict XVI knows what he’s doing. That’s what concerns me. Sure. He wrote a very nice prayer. There are many good things to say about it. Some might even consider it an improvement. But having read his address at the Fontgombault conference, in which he discusses the possibility of liturgical reform in the 1962 Missal and his introduction to Alcuin Reid’s book, this decision comes as a surprise. I do not believe this is the kind of change he would have encouraged before he was pope. Either he sees no other solution or his views have since changed, which is also probable. It’s quite possible, and perhaps likely, that Benedict made this change reluctantly and without the same enthusiasm you seem to be expecting from your readers.

  33. Michael says:

    The 1962 Missal was never a museum piece. A museum piece isn’t used. It sits on a shelf and collects dust. The 1570 Missal might be a museum piece, but not the 1962. There have been priests praying it since it was issued, and many souls nourished by its prayers. I understand the significance of having a post-conciliar Missal for the EF, but that’s precisely what we have already. A Missal issued before the council being used by many communities after the council.

  34. Breier says:

    Michael,

    Great comments. I appreciate your tone and respectful argument.

  35. Habemus Papam says:

    Tom: where has H.H. made it clear that the Novus Ordo Mass is here to stay? I think it very unlikely that the Pope wants to see this Mass in its present form to stay around for much longer.

  36. Brian2 says:

    If the Real Concern, as some poster maintain, is that tinkering wiht the prayer sets a bad precedent (rather than the actual content of the prayer) then all one can do is suspend judgement until we see if it really IS a precdedent, or just a one-shot event.

    In my view, this is the last change to the EF we will see for a while; hopefully some tinkering will be done with the OF though (which, in a backhanded way, this sets a nice precedent for)

    Of course, one might argue that the THE precedent was set in with the original promulgation OF missal, creating an attitude in which the liturgy is made rather than past on, in which case all of our debates now are just trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube.

  37. Kiran says:

    I think there is an issue about liturgical change, and there are lots of liturgical changes which we are not going to like. I personally miss the sequences omitted at Trent. But that is part and parcel of growth, I guess, that things change. I think you are right, Father, that it does definitively suggest that the 1962 missal is not some preserved artefact for the use of a few oddities who happen to like it, but something which is part and parcel of the Church’s ongoing life. Besides this, the Pope did foreshadow some changes being made to the 1962 missal. Once again, not everybody (I am not even sure where I would stand on it for that matter) will like it, but not everybody likes every change that was made in 1962.

  38. Maureen says:

    When a people make unreasonable and endless demands, the people on whom those demands are placed will sooner or later rebel. They draw that proverbial line in the sand and, in their obstinacy, they can become as unreasonable as their oppressors. In doing so, they are still ceding control of the situation to the oppressor.

    Rather than concede control of their doctrines to Jews, some Catholics seem willing to concede control of their actions. “We will not do what you demand” is, in its own way, as limiting as “we will do whatever you demand”.

    I understand the growing resentment against the indiscriminate charges of anti-semitism. I even understand why some people have begun claiming it as a badge of honor. Just the same, I think that such an approach is wrong-headed.

    An anti-semite can only be defined in terms of the semite. The semite thus becomes the grounds on which one’s definition depends.

    The more liberating approach, and the one that the Holy Father seems to have taken, is to refuse either stance. By addressing the Jewish complaints about the prayer with charity, the Pope has essentially disarmed the opposition. He has refused to subject himself to their manipulation. The burden of unreasonableness has shifted from his shoulders to theirs.

    Foxman assumed that he had a win-win situation.

    If the Pope refused to make the requested concessions the Church was “returning” to an anti-semitic posture and thus guilty of blasphemy. [Note how often the word 'perfidious' appeared in articles discussing a prayer that did not contain that word.]

    If the Pope did change the prayer to avoid the charge of blasphemy, the Church admitted to being merely one of many paths to salvation. [Anyone who thinks that Jews might accede to a claim that the Church was one of two paths to salvation simply hasn't been paying attention.]

    Foxman complained about the words in an effort to undermine the meaning of the prayer. The Holy Father changed the words in an act that strengthens the meaning of the prayer. It strengthens rather than negates the universal claims of the Church.

    If every charge of anti-semitism could be met in a like manner, the charge would be quickly abandoned.

    Antisemitism is a Jewish problem. We shouldn’t make it ours.

  39. Kiran says:

    That is quite an interesting and insightful comment, Maureen, although there is genuine anti-semitism, and in charity, it is our problem too. That said, there is nothing anti-semitic about the prayer for the Jews. I think though that a lot of the comment has come from people who didn’t deign to do the most elementary research. Perfidious is the classic example. Someone heard something about a prayer that said something about perfidious jews, and they think the prayer still has the word.

  40. schoolman says:

    Of course Kaspar had tried to color the recent instructions from the CDF in a similar manner — he was not particularly happy with them either. So, rather than contradicting them he attempts to color them in a way that best preserves the status-quo and avoiding any “hurt” feelings. Kaspar claims that we do not now seek to convert (mission) the Jews…as we do the heathens. Well, I think he may be correct. We seek to convert the Jews in a manner best suited to convert the Jews!

  41. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    The Pope was obviously wrong to change the Good Friday Prayer. All these various arguments raised in favour of the change are secondary. The problem is that, for the first time ever, a precedent has been set by which the Vicar of Christ gets down on his hands and knees to kiss the feet of the two chief rabbis of Palestine and Abraham Foxman. That is the worst possible precedent. The Successor of St. Peter should not even have deigned to admit the existence of these whiners. They embarrassed themselves by having the temerity to tell us how we should pray for their own good, especially given what they have to say about Jesus the Christ, His Holy Mother, and all Christians in their blasphemous and uncivilised Talmud. The fact that the Babylonian Talmud is part of their religion is something for which they should hang their heads in shame. When and if they decide to join the civilised world, they can amend that book, so that civilised human beings can read it without feeling shame for them.

    I completely refuse to accept the new prayer for the Jews, and I will never pray it, just as I will never pray the fake luminous mysteries. Because Good Friday is not a holyday of obligation, we are not obliged to attend Good Friday Services. If we do attend, we are perfectly entitled to read the 1962 words from our handmissals in Latin or the vernacular when the priest intones in Latin whatever. Since it is not a holyday liturgy, we can read anything we like at a Good Friday Service, except something that is sinful per se. An official prayer of the Church does not fall into that category.

    Moreover, we can attend S.S.P.X Good Friday Services because, thanks to the new laws after Vatican II, we are allowed now even to attend Protestant services except to fulfil the obligation. If we can attend Protestant services even apart from social obligations (the new allowance), we can certainly go to the S.S.P.X when it is not a matter of fulfilling the Sunday or holyday obligation!

    Also, we are always free to walk away from this new Zionist edition of our Missal and attend Eastern Divine Liturgies of Good Friday, or to stay home and read the 1962 version privately, or even to organise 1962 revised versions led by laics (they would have to be revised for obvious reasons). There are all sorts of options, although I think that the easiest is simply to hold on to our 1962 Missals and ignore the change by reading the 1962 words when the priest reads whatever.

    At any rate, this new change does not bind laics in law in the sense that it does not force us even to read the prayers, let alone pray them. What is not forbidden is allowed.

    As for priests, neither under the 1917 Code nor the 1983 Code is a parish or other priest obliged to offer the Good Friday Services at all. Of course, many will feel obliged to do so to avoid some consequences, but this change will only apply to diocesan priests who are given charge of personal parishes or special chaplaincies for the 1962 books. In other places, the N.O. version is the only one that can be used anyway.

    In many respects, this change shows that the Pope knows how to put the masoretes in their place. However, it would have been better to ignore them because we do not want to set a precedent for tinkering with our Mass, especially one made by special interest groups, a fortiori, one made by adherents of the enemies of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. I will never observe this Zionist revision to our Missal. I will not say Alleluia when they say Alleluia. I will not say Amen when they say Amen. Amen!

    Some on this blog are wondering or even rejoicing that the masoretes have rejected this new prayer. Frankly, I don’t give a damn whether they love it or hate it. That is irrelevant. Let’s just pray for their salvation while ignoring what they say or do.

    P.K.T.P.

  42. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    The good Fr. Zuhlsdorf wrote:

    “Perhaps the most important thing to consider is NOT [his emphasis] the reaction of the Jews either way, but the fact that the revision of the Good Friday prayer means that the older Missale can no longer be claimed by anyone, friend or foe alike, to be a mere museum piece. It is a living liturgical book again in every sense. As such it is much harder to get rid of or resist.”

    Now that’s what I call reaching for an argument. Sorry, Father, but “Summorum Pontificum”, a legal act of the Supreme Pontiff, achieved this end. S.P. is not an indult at all–not in the least, even though its provisions replace those of an Indult. It includes a formal admission in *law* that the pre-conciliar Missal was never abrogated and has remained, therefore, permissible. S.P. explains a legal situation in which two Missals are generally permitted, and then establishes norms in regard to one in order to show how rights arising from the two affect one another. It follows logically that no amendments to the 1962 Missal are in the least necessary to make it a ‘living’ part of the Church. It is ‘living’ simply because it is used lawfully. By your logic, it would seem, the 1637 Missal had become merely a museum piece by, say, 1850, since it had never been amended even by a comma in over two hundred years.

    While I find that most comentators on this blog are only trying to defend the Holy Father, which is admirable in itself, they are starting to reach into fantasyland to find arguments. Let’s stick with the facts. I, for one, do not reject the Holy Father’s legitimate legal act dated Shrove Monday (well, at least not once it is published in the A.A.S., before which it has no force in law). However, this merely means that we must accept that this change is legally valid. But it only binds us to the extent that the law declares and, in this case, the law simply does not require us to pray that prayer or even to read it; even a diocesan priest assigned to pastor traditionalists can always refuse to pray it by refusing to offer Good Friday prayers at all. Do you deny this fact? A yes or no answer will suffice!

    P.K.T.P.

  43. PKTP: Now that’s what I call reaching for an argument

    No, it is actually the exactly right argument and the really important point we should carry away from this whole thing. The reaction of the Jews to this prayer, or any other prayer is incidental. The real point is that Pope Benedict intends that this book actually be used. The 1962 Missale is a living book in use by the Church, not a museum piece.

  44. Silver Thread says:

    Will the Rabbi’s revised the language in the Talmud that is offensive to Catholics?

  45. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    An addendum to my first post on this subject:

    THE TINKERING HAS BEGUN

    As I have explained and argued in other fora, inorganic tinkering is problematical at any time. But it is far worse to do it at some times than at others. The 1960s, the Age of Aquarius, was a period of social, ecclesiastical, and liturgical revolution in Western society. Such evils as rock noise continue to destroy Western civilisation today as a consequence. The result in the Church has been chaos, accompanied by a truly devastating decline. Kenneth C. Jones has documented this very well in his “Index of Leading Catholic Indicators”. His data shows that, the very year after the Mass was introduced in the vernacualar tongues, a precipitous nosedive followed in church attendance, vocations, recourse to the Sacraments, and numbers of Catholic schools and schoolchildren. As one priest put it in a film released in Québec: “At the beginning of 1966, my church was packed to the doors; at the end of that same year, it was almost empty. Only a few elderly ladies remained.” What is less known is that this decline, which started in 1966, followed twenty years of steadily rising indicators in every category for the Catholic Church, during which the Protestants were experiencing a huge decline.

    We are now living in the aftermath of this revolution and we seek to hold fast to that which is good. That which is good is that which has sustained the Church through countless centuries. This is NOT the time for tinkering; it is the very worst time for any change. If the ordinary of the Mass could be unchanged for over 200 years even in its punctuation and spellings (1637-1884), then we need fifty years of zero change now.

    But Benedict XVI has set a precedent. He has not only deigned to compose a prayer for our Missal and then impose it instantly (which is inorganic Bugnini-like change), but he has done so at the behest of the very worst enemies of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. What the masoretes say about Jesus, about His Holy and Immaculate Mother, and about all Christians is, in some texts (e.g. Gittin 56a) unprintable. Elsewhere, it is shameful. Why would the Pope amend OUR Mass to satisfy those whose religion prays at one place, “May God strike them all dead”? it is unthinkable, and those on this blog who argue otherwise are not thinking like traditional Catholics. I am not saying that they are not traditional Catholics but that they are not reacting in accordance with the spirit and sensus catholicus which is traditional.

    Next week, folks, the liberals of NewChurch will find that the prayers of 1962 for the Feast of Christ the King are too triumphalistic. If even the Jews can amend our liturgy, why not everyone else?

    P.K.T.P.

  46. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf responds to me:

    “The real point is that Pope Benedict intends that this book actually be used. The 1962 Missale is a living book in use by the Church, not a museum piece.”

    With the greatest respect, Father, your response to my text is not a response to my point. Whether the Holy Father had amended the text or not, the Missale of 1962 would be living part of the Church. It is no more or less living because he has nor has not amended it. It is living because “Summorum Pontificum” states authoritatively (vide Article 1, final para.) that it was never abrogated. Period, Father. End of story.

    Put another way, a liturgy is living because it is used licitly, not becasue it has been amended. The 1637 Missale Romanum was not amended for over 200 years. Does that mean that it was not a living part of the Church from 1637-1884? Come on, Father, be fair when you’re wrong. This is Lent, after all. Say uncle!

    P.K.T.P.

  47. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Small admission to Fr. Z.:

    I will concede to Fr. Z. that the amendment of Shrove Monday helps to *demonstrate* that the 1962 Missal is a living liturgy. However, this demonstration is not logically necessary. It would be a living liturgy whether the amendment had been made or not. The only demonstration that is logically necessary is the text of Article 1 of “Summorum Pontificum”.

    P.K.T.P.

  48. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Response to Andy, way back in comment #2:

    I have today received a very brief note from the S.S.P.X regarding this issue. The Society merely points out that this entire affair does not concern it, since, while they use the 1962 texts mostly, for the Triduum Sacram, they use the 1955 texts. That means the 1962 words but with the term ‘faithless/perfidious’ retained. That works for me. How apt it is. It makes me all the more likely to attend Society Good Friday Prayers. By the tone of their note, I gather that they have no intent of changing this–ever. Good for them!

    At any rate, they can argue that the Pope’s act does not concern them in any event, since a change of the 1962 text is not a change in the text they use in the first place.

    P.K.T.P.

  49. Dan Hunter says:

    PKTP,
    Interesting information about the FSSPX using the ’55 texts for the Triduum.
    I believe the ICKSP does as well.
    Does anyone know if the FSSP uses the 1955 prayers?

  50. Rose says:

    Seems to me that the very strong Jewish reaction to the revision makes it clear why the revision was more than cosmetic and more necessary than we thought- witness the howls of protest at what one would have thought was a pretty clear position for the Church. Maybe it wasn’t so clear after all. Can it be that years of interreligous dialogue with its muddling through, making nice (what’s a difference of opinion among friends) polite talk etc. etc. have contributed to this aura of false expectations and therefore overwhelming disappointment?

  51. Jordan Potter says:

    Dan asked: Does anyone know if the FSSP uses the 1955 prayers?

    They were originally established through Ecclesia Dei with permission to use the 1962 Missal.

  52. Excellent point, Rose. And that point does not necessarily have to be merely incidental to be valid and good. God bless.

  53. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    On the F.S.S.P. and others, I think that, the less said, the better. Whatever the case, we don’t want to add pressure for them to conform to this. Presumably, they will do whatever the Church requires of them.

    The case of the S.S.P.X is entirely different. Since it functions separately, it not and clearly will not make any changes. Presumably, if an arrangment is made between the Society and Rome, it will not be forced to accept this change. I am sure that the Society will simply not accept it as a condition of any such arrangement. Thank goodness we can rely, as usual, on the Society founded by the saintly Archbishop Lefebvre.

    P.K.T.P.

  54. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Dear Dan Hunter and Jordan Potter:

    Could you please be so good as to e-mail me privately? My e-mail address is

    P.K.T.P.

  55. Above, I wrote:

    It would be nice is some tech expert could provide a graphic image of the words with the chant in the same size used in the Missale Romanum. Anyone?

    If I remember correctly, there is a website of some monastery somewhere that has developed a programme for gregorian chant. Where is that? Maybe we can do something with this new revised prayer.

  56. Dan Hunter says:

    PKTP,
    I cannot read your e-mail address could you kindly post it again or e-mail me at: danphunter1@aol.com

  57. If the ICK is using anything other than the 1962 prayers for everything, they shouldn’t be.

  58. Aussie Paul says:

    “It is of course possible to read the Old Testament so that it is not directed toward Christ; it does not point quite unequivocally to Christ. And if Jews cannot see the promises as being fulfilled in him, this is not just ill will on their part, but genuinely because of the obscurity of the texts and the tension in the relationship between these texts and the figure of Jesus. Jesus brings a new meaning to these texts – yet it is he who first gives them their proper coherence and relevance and significance. There are perfectly good reasons, then, for denying that the Old Testament refers to Christ and for saying, No, that is not what he said. And there are also good reasons for referring it to him – that is what the dispute between Jews and Christians is about.” ( God and the World, Joseph Ratzinger, Ignatius Press, San Francisco, 2002, p. 209)

  59. Mike Williams says:

    “At any rate, they can argue that the Pope’s act does not concern them in any event, since a change of the 1962 text is not a change in the text they use in the first place.”

    That, and the fact that the insincerity of their oft-touted loyalty to the Holy Father is being laid bare by Benedict XVI’s action. How long can they maintain the crypto-sedevacantism of their leadership with reactions like this?

    And don’t think for a moment that Benedict doesn’t know it.

  60. RBrown says:

    Card WK also said:

    “I must say that I don’t understand why Jews cannot accept that we can make use of our freedom to formulate our prayers,” Kasper, a German, told the Corriere della Sera.

    also:

    “We think that reasonably this prayer cannot be an obstacle to dialogue because it reflects the faith of the Church and, furthermore, Jews have prayers in their liturgical texts that we Catholics don’t like,” Kasper said.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL0788456120080207?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0

  61. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Fr. Z. is mistaken about the I.C.R. (not ‘I.C.K.: it uses the Latin for the abbreviation, which is standard).

    I would like him also to e-mail about this off-blog. I can’t seem to reach you, Father, by e-mail, but I am not very competent with computers.

    pkperkins@telus.net

    P.K.T.P.

  62. Dove says:

    “If the ICK is using anything other than the 1962 prayers for everything, they shouldn’t be.”
    I agree, Fr. Z., but the ICK priest in our parish has not used the 1962 Missal for Holy Week for the past 2 years, and this year did not use it for the Ash Wednesday liturgy. They seem to think that they can use whatever they want to use, in any combination.

  63. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I would very much appreciate it if Fr. Zuhlsdorf and “Dove” would contact me off list about the I.C.R. and other traditionalist orders. I think it imprudent to continue referring to their particular situations on this blog or in any public forum.

    pkperkins@telus.net

    Peter Karl T. Perkins

  64. Dove: the ICK priest in our parish has not used the 1962 Missal for Holy Week for the past 2 years, and this year did not use it for the Ash Wednesday liturgy.

    If we were to trasfer this to a discussion of some modern suburban parish, your statement would sounds very much like, “The liberal priest at our parish has been making up his own liturgy for the past two years.”

  65. jack says:

    I’ll be celebrating Mass from the Lorra Sacramentary this Tuesday in my parent’s basement if anyone wants to come. I’ve reformed the Liturgy of Saint James with some fragments of a type 2 Gregorian source that I’ll be using on Sunday for all interested.

    This would be funny but according to Bugnini and others there was an insane epidemic of this kind of thing in the late sixties which helped further his liberal agenda since the party line of his camp was that Rome should “channel” and “control” this instead of invoking authority. I just thank God that Pope Paul VI didn’t go so far as to approve Bugnini’s marshall plan of empowering the local conferences to compose and/or approve new Eucharistic prayers et cetera with virtually zero interference from Rome.

  66. jack: I just thank God that Pope Paul VI didn’t go so far as to approve Bugnini’s marshall plan of empowering the local conferences to compose and/or approve new Eucharistic prayers et cetera with virtually zero interference from Rome.

    Right… Pope Paul didn’t approve those things. So, what you have tossed onto the floor here is simply a red herring.

  67. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    Once again, I ask that people who wish to enquire about the sitatuion of the I.C.R. (not ‘I.C.K.’: there’s no such thing), contact me off-list. If this discussion continues, I will be forced to publish information on this blog which all of us, including me, may come to regret. I am trying to be restrained about this. I am trying to be cautious and polite. Fr. Z.’s comments about the I.C.R. do not take into account its situation–at least from what I have heard. But there is also something to be said for the F.S.S.P. and other traditionalist societies and orders. Notice how they have not made public statements so far?

    Once again, my e-mail address is pkperkins@telus.net. If Fr. Z. would prefer that I not have his e-mail address, he can always contact me through an intermediary.

    I think that, for prudential reasons, no more discussion of this particular topic should be allowed by Fr. Z. Why? Because it could harm certain parties.

    P.K.T.P.