Good Friday Prayer for the Jews

Good Friday Prayer for the Jews

The Good Friday Prayer for the Jews is a controversial prayer in the Christian, particularly Roman Catholic, liturgy.

Alleged antisemitism

In the form used before 1955 it ran like this:: Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that Almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts )." [ [ Covenant and Mission,] originally published in [ America magazine] ]

The tradition of praying for various groups and purposes dates back to the Early Church (bibleverse|1|Timothy|2:1-5). Catholics believe that on Good Friday in particular, they must acknowledge their common fallen nature, and that Jesus died for all (bibleverse|1|John|2:2). Catholics have long prayed for many classes of people, both inside and outside the church: for the Church as a whole, for the Pope, for the Hierarchy and the People (regular and lay), for the Emperor, for Catechumens, for Various Needs, for Heretics, for Schismatics, for the Jews, and for Pagans, wishing that all be called to conversion in Christ.

For the forms that the prayer for the Jews has taken during the last hundred years, see under "Alleged antisemitism'’, above. As pointed out by Dr. John Newton, the editor of Baronius Press, the prayer, in the form included in the 1962 Missal, for whose use the motu proprio gave greater freedom, draws heavily on 2 Corinthians, chapters 3 and 4. The invocation for God to "take the veil from their hearts" is a direct quote from bibleverse-nb|2|Cor|3:15, while later images of "blindness" and "light" are drawn from bibleverse-nb|2|Corinthians|4:3-6. [ "Catholic Herald", May 11 2007.]

Given that, according to the rubrics of both the 1962 and the 1970 Missals, there can be only one celebration of the Good Friday liturgy in each church, [Article 2 of "Summorum Pontificum" confirms this rule by excluding private liturgical celebrations, using either Missal, during the Easter Triduum, which includes Good Friday ( [ "Summorum Pontificum", article 2).] ] the ordinary form of the Roman Rite (i.e. the post-1970 form, which omits the images of the veil and of blindness) is the one to be used almost everywhere. In practice, then, the 1962 wording can be used in only a very few parish churches. [ "Pope broadens access to 1962 Mass"] , "Catholic World News", July 7 2007.]

American Jewish Committee

The American Jewish Committee (AJC), on the other hand, expressed "its appreciation to Pope Benedict XVI for his confirmation that the positive changes of Vatican II will apply to his recent decision regarding the Latin Mass, which has been reinstated by the Church". Rabbi David Rosen, the AJC’s international director of Interreligious Affairs stated: "We acknowledge that the Church’s liturgy is an internal Catholic matter and this motu proprio from Pope Benedict XVI is based on the permission given by John Paul II in 1988 and thus, on principle, is nothing new". The statement by the Committee, after acknowledging the said quote from its president, affirmed: "However we are naturally concerned about how wider use of this Tridentine liturgy may impact upon how Jews are perceived and treated. Pope Benedict XVI, in a decree issued on Saturday, authorized wider use of the traditional Latin Mass, which in some liturgy contains language offensive to Jews. We appreciate that the motu proprio actually limits the use of the Latin Mass in the days prior to Easter, which addresses the reference in the Good Friday liturgy concerning the Jews (...) However, it is still not clear that this qualification applies to all situations and we have called on the Vatican to contradict the negative implications that some in the Jewish community and beyond have drawn concerning the motu proprio." [ [ AJC press release] ] Technically, Mass is not celebrated on Good Friday. The Roman Catholic Good Friday service can more properly called a liturgy (see Good Friday).]

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

In the May/June 2007 issue of its newsletter, the Committee on the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) published an unofficial English translation of "Summorum Pontificum" and its cover letter, together with commentary in the form of footnotes and 20 questions and answers. Answer # 14 addresses the question of anti-Semitism:

14. Does the wider use of the extraordinary form of the rites of Holy Week reflect a change in the Church’s teaching on anti-Semitism ?

No. The 1962 "Missale Romanum" already reflected Blessed John XXIII’s revision of liturgical language often construed as anti-Semitic. In 1965, the watershed statement "Nostra Aetate", of the Second Vatican Council then repudiated all forms of anti-Semitism as having no place within Christian life. When Pope Paul VI issued the "Missale Romanum" of 1969, the only prayer for the Jewish people in the Roman liturgy was completely revised for Good Friday to reflect a renewed understanding of the Jews as God’s chosen people, “first to hear the word of God.”

Throughout his papacy, John Paul II worked effectively to reconcile the Church with the Jewish people and to strengthen new bonds of friendship. In 1988, Pope John Paul II gave permission for the Mass to be celebrated according the "Missale Romanum" of 1962 only as a pastoral provision to assist Catholics who remained attached to the previous rites, thereby hoping to develop closer bonds with the family of the Church.

By this new Apostolic Letter, Pope Benedict XVI is merely extending such permission for wider pastoral application, but remains committed to “the need to overcome past prejudices, misunderstandings, indifference and the language of contempt and hostility [and to continue] the Jewish-Christian dialogue…to enrich and deepen the bonds of friendship which have developed.” (Pope Benedict XVI, On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, October 27, 2005.) [ [ Apostolic Letter on Use of the Preconciliar Liturgical Forms] "Newsletter", Committee on the Liturgy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Volume XLIII. May/June, 2007.]

2008 Vatican decision to amend the 1962 prayer for the Jews

On 6 February 2008, the Holy See's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published a note [ "Publication under the head" Nota della Segretaria di Stato. ] by the Vatican Secretariat of State, announcing that, with reference to the dispositions of the Motu Proprio "Summorum Pontificum", Pope Benedict XVI had decided to amend the Good Friday prayer for the Jews contained in the Roman Missal of 1962, and decreeing that the amended text "must be used, beginning from the current year, in all celebrations of the Liturgy of Good Friday according to the aforementioned Missale Romanum".

The new prayer reads as follows:

"Let us also pray for the Jews: That our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men." ("Let us pray." "Kneel." "Rise.") "Almighty and eternal God, who want that all men be saved and come to the recognition of the truth, propitiously grant that even as the fulness of the peoples enters Thy Church, all Israel be saved. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen." [ "Oremus et pro Iudaeis: Ut Deus et Dominus noster illuminet corda eorum, ut agnoscant Iesum Christum salvatorem omnium hominum." "(Oremus." "Flectamus genua." "Levate.") "Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vis ut omnes homines salvi fiant et ad agnitionem veritatis veniant, concede propitius, ut plenitudine gentium in Ecclesiam Tuam intrante omnis Israel salvus fiat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen".]


ee also

*Christianity and antisemitism
*Christian-Jewish reconciliation

External links

* [, « Benoît XVI et la "prière pour les Juifs". Retour sur une polémique judéo-chrétienne récente », by Pierre Savy]
* [ Jewish-Christian Relations]

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