Revised prayer does not reverse Vatican II teaching

Pope Benedict XVI’s revised prayer for the Jews for use in the Tridentine-rite Good Friday liturgy does not indicate any form of stepping back from the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, the Vatican said.

“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,” said an April 4 statement from the Vatican press office.

In early February, the Vatican published Pope Benedict’s revision of the Good Friday prayer, which is used only in the liturgy celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal, or Tridentine rite. The rite is no longer widely used by Catholics but may be used by some church communities under recently revised norms.

Cardinal William H. Keeler, episcopal moderator of Catholic-Jewish Relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the April 4 statement from the Holy See addresses concerns “in a positive way.”

“The Good Friday Prayer for the Jews in the Missal of 1970 and the newly revised Prayer of the Missal of 1962 both recall the heart of the teaching of Nostra Aetate (no. 4), the Decree on Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council, which rejected ‘every attitude of contempt or discrimination against Jews, firmly repudiating any kind of anti-Semitism,’” said Cardinal Keeler in a written statement.

Cardinal Keeler noted that immediately after the council, the Catholic Church inaugurated a partnership in dialogue with international Jewish leadership.

“I recall with special gratitude the meeting that took place in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in 1992 between the Holy See and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC),” said Cardinal Keeler.

The cardinal added that in 2004 the same partner organizations gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in 2006 in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Such meetings have served to strengthen the concrete progress in our mutual understanding so necessary in the modern world,” he said. “It is the ongoing hope of both IJCIC and the Holy See that growth in mutual esteem will continue to develop worldwide between Jews and Christians.”

Added Cardinal Keeler: “At its 1992 Baltimore meetings, the dialogue between IJCIC and the Holy See brought together IJCIC’s in-depth historical study of the Holocaust with Cardinal Johannes Willebrands’ promise that the Catholic Church would undertake an examination of the role of Christians in that saddest chapter of human history known in Hebrew as the Shoah. This joint effort led to the issuance by the Holy See of the 1998 text “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah.”

Cardinal Keeler said it was his “sincere hope” that “whenever the possibility of a misunderstanding emerges between our two communities, our long history of bridge-building with one another will allow us to remain on the course which God in his providence has set before us.”

Catholic News Service contributed to this story.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.