SecState: on the good Friday prayer for Jews

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Following the publication of the new Prayer for the Jews for the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, some groups within the Jewish community have expressed disappointment that it is not in harmony with the official declarations and statements of the Holy See regarding the Jewish people and their faith which have marked the progress of friendly relations between the Jews and the Catholic Church over the last forty years.

The Holy See wishes to reassure that the new formulation of the Prayer, which modifies certain expressions of the 1962 Missal, in no way intends to indicate a change in the Catholic Church’s regard for the Jews which has evolved from the basis of the Second Vatican Council, particularly the Declaration Nostra Aetate. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI, in an audience with the Chief Rabbis of Israel on 15 September 2005, remarked that this document "has proven to be a milestone on the road towards the reconciliation of Christians with the Jewish people." The continuation of the position found in Nostra Aetate is clearly shown by the fact that the prayer contained in the 1970 Missal continues to be in full use, and is the ordinary form of the prayer of Catholics.

In the context of other affirmations of the Council – on Sacred Scripture (Dei Verbum, 14) and on the Church (Lumen Gentium, 16) – Nostra Aetate presents the fundamental principles which have sustained and today continue to sustain the bonds of esteem, dialogue, love, solidarity and collaboration between Catholics and Jews. It is precisely while examining the mystery of the Church that Nostra Aetate recalls the unique bond with which the people of the New Testament is spiritually linked with the stock of Abraham and rejects every attitude of contempt or discrimination against Jews, firmly repudiating any kind of anti-Semitism.

The Holy See hopes that the explanations made in this statement will help to clarify any misunderstanding. It reiterates the unwavering desire that the concrete progress made in mutual understanding and the growth in esteem between Jews and Christians will continue to develop.

Meanwhile… from Reuters:

Vatican seeks to reassure Jews on Good Friday prayer

By Philip Pullella 46 minutes ago

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican tried to reassure Jews on Friday that a new prayer that some saw as a call for their conversion did not indicate a change in the Church’s high regard for Jews or its contempt for anti-Semitism.

A statement which Vatican sources said Pope Benedict had approved and partly drafted stressed that the new prayer used in some Good Friday services "in no way intends to indicate a change in the Catholic Church’s regard for the Jews."

Catholic and Jewish sources said the statement had been delivered to the secretariat of the chief rabbinate of Israel.

The Vatican had been keen to try to defuse the controversy with Jews over the Good Friday prayer before Pope Benedict’s first trip to the United States as pontiff later this month.

The German pope will meet American Jewish leaders and make a brief visit to the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan.

In February the Vatican revised a contested Latin prayer used by traditionalist Catholics on Good Friday, 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 said it kept an underlying call to conversion that they had wanted removed.

Friday’s Vatican statement said the Church’s relations with Jews were still based on the landmark 1965 Second Vatican Council statement Nostra Aetate, which repudiated the concept of collective Jewish guilt for Christ’s death and began dialogue.

"Nostra Aetate presents the fundamental principles which have sustained and today continue to sustain the bonds of esteem, dialogue, love, solidarity and collaboration between Catholics and Jews," the statement said.

The Church "rejects every attitude of contempt or discrimination against Jews, firmly repudiating any kind of anti-Semitism," it added.

Rabbi David Rosen, chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) and a leading Jewish interlocutor with the Vatican, welcomed the statement but said he had hoped for an explicit reference to proselytism.

"It is implicit in the statement that esteem and solidarity imply that proselytism is inappropriate but I would have been happier if this had been said explicitly," Rosen, who is based in Jerusalem, told Reuters. 

The Vatican said it "hopes the explanations made in this statement will help to clarify any misunderstanding. It reiterates the unwavering desire that the concrete progress made in mutual understanding and the growth in esteem between Jews and Christians will continue to develop."

(Editing by Jon Boyle)

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