USCCB statement on the new Good Friday prayer for Jews

The USCCB has released a statement about Pope Benedict’s new prayer for the 1962 Missale Romanum Good Friday Prayer for the Jews.

Shall we have a look with my emphases and comments?

Response To The Publication Of Pope Benedict XVI’s Revision Of The 1962 Good Friday Prayer For The Jewish People    

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).  [In a way, this states that the main point of concern was not so much what the Jews thought of the old Good Friday prayers, but rather what Nostra aetate said, though I could be wrong.]

“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.’  [Well... maybe this isn't quite accurate.  It is true that the words "blindness" and "veil" and "darkness" are not in the new prayer, but the obvious reference to Romans 11:25-26 must inevitably pull the reader to read that Scripture and find that language.  I would say that Pope Benedict's prayer in fact retains the concepts which are claimed to have been omitted.]

“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.  [Well put.  However, central to the concerns of St. Paul, all too well-known to the Holy Father, is also the mystery of the "blindness" of those of his Jewish brethren who did not come into the Church in those days and what will happen with the return of the Lord.  I will suppose that the Holy Father shares St. Paul's concerns about the Jews, as well the peoples who even now are entering the Church.  His revision of the prayer expresses those concerns very gently, but with insistence.]

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

I hope the Catholic Church in the United States is also steadfastly committed to implementing the provisions of Summorum Pontificum and the use of the entire 1962 Missale Romanum.

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16 Responses to USCCB statement on the new Good Friday prayer for Jews

  1. Scott Smith says:

    So when is the Holy Father going to change the third nocturn’s readings for Good Friday which are from Augustine wherein he comments on how the Jews put Christ to death? Though I do not think that this is incompatable with Nostra Aetate.

  2. schoolman says:

    I feel another “instruction” from the CDF coming on — no doubt already in the works. The first one dealing with the meaning of “subsistit in” and the Church in her relations with other Christian confessions. The second document dealing with the necessity of Evangelization to all peoples. Finally, I think we will get an instruction dealing specifically with the Jewish question including the authentic meaning of God’s “irrevocable covenant”. The Holy Father himself recently stated that these CDF documents were intended to help ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue by giving them a realism and clarity about the Catholic identity. Yet those documents have yet to address some of the key mysteries involved in relations with the Jews — as found in St. Paul’s teaching to the Romans.

  3. Derik Castillo says:

    Where in the document it says specifically that the
    prayer was changed due to the insistence of the
    Jewish community?

  4. Tom says:

    [Well… maybe this isn’t quite accurate. It is true that the words "blindness" and "veil" and "darkness" are not in the new prayer, but the obvious reference to Romans 11:25-26 must inevitably pull the reader to read that Scripture and find that language. I would say that Pope Benedict’s prayer in fact retains the concepts which are claimed to have been omitted.]

    The Pope changed the prayer but not really? The “negative” language was omitted by not really?

    I am sorry, but none of this…the changing of the prayer to the interpretation of the prayer…doesn’t make sense to me.

    The prayer was changed, but not changed. The prayer was changed to omit “negative” language, but the “negative” language remains.

    What a situation!

    But then, when an ancient and traditional prayer gives way to a novelty, what else can we expect?

    No wonder, as Monsignor Klaus Gamber indicated in his book on the Roman Mass (forward by Josef Cardinal Ratzinger…our Pope) that the Roman tradition is to view liturgical tinkering with great suspicion, if not outright hostility.

    Various posters have insisted that Catholic “traditionalists” must display humility by accepting without question the Holy Father’s decision to discard an ancient liturgical prayer.

    Here is an act of humility:

    An announcement from the Holy Father that he has restored the ancient and venerable prayer to the Roman Liturgy.

    “Many Catholics who worship via the Extraordinary Form have reacted negatively to my novel Good Friday prayer…many Jews have responded negatively to my decision. Upon reflection, and particularly to comfort my flock who worship via the Extraordinary Form, I will restore the traditional prayer in question.”

    The latest liturgical tinkering from Rome proves once again that discarding traditional Roman liturgical prayers is not a healthy practice.

    Dear Rome…please, please, please stop tinkering with the Church’s great Roman liturgical tradition.

  5. Fr Z,

    Excellent fisking.

    You have an excellent usage of “isn’t quite accurate” and, then, of “however”.

    And you’ve done up some good fisking in the other entries of the comboxes.

    Wikipedia has this on “fisking”:

    The British newspaper The Observer defined fisking as “savaging an argument and scattering the tattered remnants to the four corners of the internet.”

    God bless you.

  6. Perhaps a citation of this bit from Hilaire Belloc on irony — again would be appropriate here, but as read as if it were written by the Holy Father:

    To the young, the pure, and the ingenuous, irony must always appear to have a quality of something evil, and so it has, for […] it is a sword to wound. It is so directly the product or reflex of evil that, though it can never be used – nay, can hardly exist – save in the chastisement of evil, yet irony always carries with it some reflections of the bad spirit against which it was directed. […] It suggests most powerfully the evil against which it is directed, and those innocent of evil shun so terrible an instrument. […] The mere truth is vivid with ironical power. […] The mere utterance of a plain truth labouriously concealed by hypocrisy, denied by contemporary falsehood, and forgotten in the moral lethargy of the populace, takes upon itself an ironical quality more powerful than any elaboration of special ironies could have taken in the past. […] No man possessed of irony and using it has lived happily; nor has any man possessing it and using it died without having done great good to his fellows and secured a singular advantage to his own soul.

    Hilaire Belloc, Selected Essays (2/6), ed. J.B. Morton; Penguin Books (1325): Harmondsworth – Baltimore – Mitcham 1958. See the essay “On Irony” on pages 124-127.

    As cited in the disclaimer of the Trilogy.

  7. Jonathan Bennett says:

    Scott Smith:

    “So when is the Holy Father going to change the third nocturn’s readings for Good Friday which are from Augustine wherein he comments on how the Jews put Christ to death? Though I do not think that this is incompatable with Nostra Aetate.”

    Shhhh! We dont want Abe Foxman to know about that!

  8. Chironomo says:

    Tom;

    I think there is a great difference between the kind of tinkering done by liturgy committees, laypersons, priests and Bishops that intentionally DISREGARDS established norms, and a move by the Supreme Pontiff which establishes those norms. This is a move of the latter sort, and doesn’t, I believe, constitute “tinkering”. If such were true, the very liturgy that you are setting out to ardently defend would amount to nothing more than the product of “tinkering” throughout the centuries. As we traditionalists are oft too fond of saying.. “Obedience is not always easy..”

  9. Scott Smith says:

    Jonathan Bennett, I would assume that Abe Foxman is also aquainted with the Gospel accounts which are read on Good Friday with the explicit statement that Jews were involved with the Crucifixion.

    Why not also decry that?

    But, and perhaps this is too obvious: why is an uninitiated Jew concerned with our religion?

    Perhaps instead of revising the prayer, we should reintroduce the Office of Porter and have him secure the doors lest anyone who is not in Communion attempts to profane the Sacred Mysteries.

  10. schoolman says:

    Nothing about this statement from the USCCB really bothers me. They have not taken the approach of Kaspar who would reserve the prayer only for Jews living in the end-times.

  11. Gee, I wish we could use that revised prayer in the vernacular ORDINARY form of the Good Friday liturgy! BTW, I wonder if any Jews pray for OUR conversion and salvation. While I would politely say “No, thank you,” to an invitation to become a Jew, I would be touched to think they cared enough about me to wish me what they must consider their very best. You could have some serious dialogue with people like that.

  12. Neil Mulholland says:

    At the risk of sounding like a flip-flopper, the above quote from the USCCB has caused me to re-examine Mr. Ferrara’s argument.
    I infer from his previous writings that he is neither hopelessly naive nor a pseudo-trad, unlike some other posters who have chimed in on this thread.
    My initial reaction to his hypothesis was that it was, at best, wildly over-optimistic; Bp. Sklba’s above statement (a man who, I understand, is no friend to Trads) seems to confirm at least part of Ferrara’s hypothesis.
    I hope and pray that the course of events in the near future bears him out. The last thing the Trad world needs is a “civil war” over this issue – that would be handing victory to the enemy.

    BTW – to “Fr Michael” – please send us the recipe for whatever it is that you’ve been smoking. I’m sure I can sell it for big bucks…

  13. Tommy says:

    I wonder how many people have actually read Nostra Aetate. Like the U.S. Constitution, everyone references it, but few have read it.

    It’s only a few paragraphs and what it said was hardly new!

    http://romancatholicreport.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/NostraAetate1105.mp3

  14. Jbrown says:

    Glad to see that Bishop Sklba is able to repeat a cental dogmatic tenet of the Catholic Faith, namely that, yes, Christ is indeed God and, as such, is the Savior. Other than that, not much else worthwhile in this statement. The flippant attitude of these prelates towards those who actually do use the 1962 Missal, and actually DO pray this on Good Friday, is, of course, very annoying. Apparently the doctrine of the veil over the Jewish hearts, constantly taught by the Fathers based on the explicit words of St Paul, is too negative for the modern Church’s view of Jews. Which view, apparently, is STILL deeply offensive to Jews, so we need Cardinal Kasper to reassure them that, no, we don’t REALLY want them to become Christian at all…it’s just for show, this prayer, it’s not ACTUALLY a prayer to God. Here’s a real question: can Cardinal Kasper bring himself to say this revised 2008 prayer, or would he refuse it? Can he honestly pray to God that the hearts of Jews be enlightened to acknowledge Christ, overcoming the veil on their hearts as St Paul says, and to which the new prayer obliquely alludes? Or is the answer to revise St Paul who, after all, was certainly an anti-Semite of the worst sort…just read some of his Epistles-he actually wants Jews to become Christians! As one of the few Catholics on earth to be affected by this change (after all, how many Catholics attend Tridentine Triduum services?) I demand that every prayer formally included in the Jewish liturgy which is “offensive” to Christians be removed immediately, preferably before Passover. It’s only fair after all!

  15. John R. says:

    The prayers of the old Roman rite for Good Friday are nothing compared to what is still used among Byzantine-rite Catholics. They explicitly point the finger at the Jews for the Crucifixion. And they weren’t changed after Vatican II.

    They are identical to those used by the Orthodox, which various Jewish groups have also been trying to get changed. I think the essence boils down to the fact certain Jews hate the central tenet of Christianity: that Jesus is the Messiah and faith in him is necessary for salvation.

    Anti-Christian bigotry is as much of a problem in certain segments of the Jewish community as any lingering anti-Semitism is.

  16. JML says:

    Quote Fr. Z: “I hope the Catholic Church in the United States is also steadfastly committed to implementing the provisions of Summorum Pontificum and the use of the entire 1962 Missale Romanum.”

    NOT! :( The ADW remains committed to the supression of this ridiculous document and its antiquated liturgy.