NEW TEXT FOR TRAD LATIN GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE (translation):
Let us pray for the Jews. May the Lord Our God enlighten their hearts so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men. / Almighty and everlasting God, you who want all men to be saved and to reach the awareness of the truth, graciously grant that, with the fullness of peoples entering into your church, all Israel may be saved.
PREVIOUS TEXT (1962 MISSAL) FOR TRAD GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE (translation):
Let us pray also for the Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us pray. [Let us kneel. Arise.] Almighty and eternal God, who dost also not exclude from thy mercy the Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
PREVIOUS TEXT (BEFORE 1959) FOR TRAD GOOD FRIDAY SERVICE (translation):
Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews: that Almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Almighty and eternal God, who dost not exclude from thy mercy even Jewish faithlessness: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The new wording for the petition in the traditional Latin Good Friday service brought criticism from both the Jewish and the traditionalist camps. I am not going to say much about the Latin traditionalists. I am all for a restoration of the old rites as an act of religious freedom and to enhance the organic development of the revised liturgy. However, I hold little hope that the majority of rigid (breakaway) Latin traditionalists will come home to full Catholic unity. There are serious issues that are not resolved: their intransigence toward the validity of the reformed rites, a practical dissent and lack of humility to the full authority of the Pope and the living Church, a general lack of respect and air of belligerence, bigotry toward Protestants and Jews, etc.
There is no winning this issue with the Jews. The Holy Father offers a decent Latin prayer that avoids pejorative language and he is still criticized. Abraham Foxman, the ADL National Director said:
We are extremely disappointed and deeply offended that nearly 40 years after the Vatican rightly removed insulting anti-Jewish language from the Good Friday Mass, that it would now permit Catholics to utter such hurtful and insulting words by praying for Jews to be converted. This is a theological setback in the religious life of Catholics and a body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations. It is the wrong decision at the wrong time.
It appears the Vatican has chosen to satisfy a right-wing faction in the Church that rejects change and reconciliation.
What he seems oblivious about is that he, himself, has slammed the Catholic-Christian faith. We believe that Jesus is “the way and the truth and the life”. There is no other way to the Father. His is the saving name. He is the universal redeemer. There is no other. Jews can disagree with this, but they have no right to dictate Catholic doctrine.
Passive bishops and liberal teachers who have worked in past consultations are partly to blame for this current situation. Some talk as if there is one covenant for Jews and another for Christians. This is absurd. Cardinal-priest Avery Dulles has rejected this notion as without merit. Christ is the fulfillment of the Messianic promise. The Catholic Church is the new People of God, the new Jerusalem, the new Zion. It is not the fragmented Jewish religion as such and despite the contentions of orthodox Jews, Protestant fundamentalists and Jews for Jesus, neither is it the modern political state of Israel. God has established one covenant, and while God has not forgotten his promises to the Jewish people, that covenant has been transformed and renewed in Christ.
Bishops have made all sorts of guidelines and restrictions regarding Christian outreach to Jews. They can come to us but we are generally forbidden (despite the Gospel admonition) to take the Gospel to them. This policy has upset me for many years because it inherently devalues the Good News and the desire of Christ for all men to know him and to be saved. Such a policy would have aborted or brought to miscarriage the primitive Church in Jerusalem. All the first Christians were Jews and the initial proclamation was not to the Gentiles but to other Jews.
References to Jewish fault for the passion and death of Christ are also regularly featured in the news. Modern translations and omissions seek to soften the blow of Scripture on this point. However, it is a serious error to absolve the Jews of all guilt for the death of Christ. The Council of Trent made very clear that Jesus was crucified by the accumulative sins of ALL MANKIND throughout ALL HUMAN HISTORY. We are all at fault. We are all guilty of deicide. We all have the blood of Christ on our hands.
The new prayer offered by the Holy See is far superior to the one currently used in the text and ICEL translation of the reformed liturgy. The English text talks about a generic love of God and the hope that Jews will “arrive at the fullness of redemption” but without mentioning Christ as the redeemer. It is implied, but so gently that it might be dismissed. It states:
Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. / Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption.
Foxman makes a serious mistake when he says that the Church has utterly rejected what he calls “supersessionism – the notion that Christianity supersedes Judaism as the true religion….” All we have said is that Judaism, as far as it goes, is a true religion. What God has instituted and revealed in the past has a lasting quality. However, whenever the Church speaks about the fullness of revelation in Christ, we are acknowledging the doctrine that Catholicism is also a true religion, and one that is built upon the promises first given the Old Israel. Technically, the Jews here want us to make claims for Judaism which they know full well they cannot make for Catholicism. They do not consider Catholicism a true religion, but one that deifies a Jewish man, violates dietary regulations and laws about such matters as circumcision, and which dismisses or subtracts from the Decalogue on both the Sabbath and the use of images. We think that Jews are wrong about Jesus. Jews think Christians are wrong about everything beyond the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures. Orthodox Judaism, not the reformed branches which are sometimes more secular than religious, are the spiritual heirs to Saul of Tarsus who approved of the stoning of the deacon Stephen. They see Christianity as a Jewish heresy.
To revise the prayer in question so that Foxman and others would approve means a repudiation of Jesus and the range of his saving work. The ADL is so concerned about bigotry against Jews that they are blind to their prejudice and slander against the heart of Christianity. They would make Jesus superfluous.
IMAGES from THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST