This just in:
Vatican to issue conciliatory note to Jews
Mon Mar 17 12:26:06 UTC 2008
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict has approved a conciliatory statement for Jews upset by a Good Friday prayer that many saw as a call for their conversion, Catholic and Jewish sources said on Monday.
The statement, likely to take the form of a letter from Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to the chief rabbi of Israel, is expected to be released soon but perhaps not in time for this Good Friday on March 21.
Bertone is second only to the Pope in the Vatican hierarchy, meaning the clarification is coming from the highest levels, as had been requested by the Jews, the sources said.
The Vatican last month revised a contested Latin prayer used by a traditionalist minority on Good Friday, [later the "minority" issue will be repeated] the day marking Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, removing a reference to Jewish "blindness" over Christ and deleting a phrase asking God to "remove the veil from their hearts".
Jews criticized the new version because it still says they should recognize Jesus Christ as the savior of all men. It asks that "all Israel may be saved" and Jews say it keeps an underlying call to conversion that they had wanted removed.
But Cardinal Bertone will say in the letter that the new prayer is not a call for conversion or proselytism and that there was no turning back on dialogue between the two religions.
The letter is expected to stress the concept that all salvation, including that of Israel, is in God’s hands and that the prayer is not a call for missionary activity. [Hmmm…]
Jewish groups complained last year when the Pope issued a decree allowing 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.
They protested against the re-introduction of the old prayer for conversion of the Jews and asked the Pope to change it.
Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee and the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations criticized the new version of the Good Friday prayer. [This makes it sound as if the change in the prayer for Jews on Good Friday was, definitively, because some Jewish groups complained. I don’t think that is the entire story.]
According to sources familiar with drafts of the letter, it will say that the Vatican still takes as its reference point the landmark 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate (In our time).
This repudiated the concept of collective Jewish guilt for the killing of Christ and urged dialogue with Jews. [Yes… but is that really what this controversy is about? I don’t think so.]
Rabbis around the world had asked the Vatican to clarify the new prayer. Italy’s Jewish community was particularly tough, saying the new prayer was a serious step backward that posed a fundamental obstacle to continued Catholic-Jewish relations.
Sources on both sides said they hoped Bertone’s letter to the chief rabbi would end the controversy. [Yah… right… This will escalate until Good Friday. And it will happen again nest year.]
They said it would say that the Church had no intention of returning to what one source called "the language of contempt" [I reject that the earlier version of the prayer expressed "contempt".] it had used in the past and wanted to stress mutual respect.
The prayer will be heard only by a tiny minority [2nd time] of Catholics who attend services on Good Friday that are held in Latin rather than in their local languages as usual. [Again… this is lousy homework. For example, the Good Friday services in Latin with the Novus Ordo, the revised prayer will not be used. It is amazing that, after all this time, reporters convering the Holy See can seem to get this into their heads. CLARIFICATION: I mean the equation of "Mass in Latin" with only the older form of Mass. I am not talking about the "tiny minority" phrase, which I hear as rather dismissive.]
(Reporting by Philip Pullella, editing by Tim Pearce)