That Good Friday Prayer

Report that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone says the 1962 Good Friday prayers could be revised.

Update: Catholic News Service has more:

“It is a formula,” Cardinal Bertone said. “The problem can be studied, and it could be decided that all those celebrating the Mass in the Catholic Church, according to the old missal or the new missal, recite the same formula of the Good Friday prayers, which were approved by (Pope) Paul VI; this can be decided, and it would resolve all the problems.”

The Forward has a thoughtful commentary by Rabbi Michael Barclay, who teaches and serves as a campus minister at Loyola Marymount University.

According to the pope’s statement, permission to use the 1962 missal is not given until the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. On the day of the feast, which this year falls on September 14, Catholics who so desire can once again recite the prayers in Latin that were said in 1962, or they can choose to reject the implications of utilizing this liturgy entirely and continue to pray with the Roman missal that is presently used.

Every Catholic can choose whether he or she wants to pray in Latin or in the vernacular. And every Catholic can now choose whether he or she wants to pray utilizing liturgy that is associated with antisemitism, or cast away that practice entirely in favor of praying in a way that is more respectful of other faiths. Come September 14, the choice is theirs.

On that day, Jews, too, will have a choice. Those of us outside of Israel will be observing the second day of Rosh Hashanah. On the Jewish new year, we are enjoined to take an accounting of ourselves, to cast away our sins through Tashlich and to make repentance. We are enjoined to introspect, but no one forces us — it is a choice.

9 thoughts on “That Good Friday Prayer

  1. “Supposedly-controversial”? No, it is controversial–can’t be any doubt about that. And it was changed in the 1970 Missal, so clearly the Vatican at that time thought it needed to be changed.

  2. You’re right: it is controversial; it just shouldn’t be. But the fact that the prayer was changed doesn’t mean that it was antisemitic, or thought to be so… there are all sorts of reasons various aspects of the Mass were changed. It’s deeply unfortunate that today, praying for the conversion of the Jewish people is seen as offensive and antisemitic.

  3. That’s easy for you to say. “Jews–You shouldn’t be offended.” Fact was it was changed, just a very short time after one modification. And what happened in between was Vatican 2. There’s some cause and effect here. Hence, according to this quote from Bertone, the apparent willingness of the Vatican to continue talking about this.

  4. Yes, it is easy for me to say. If you told me that you were praying for my conversion to Adventism, not only would I not be offended, but I’d esteem you more, because it’d mean that you believe you’ve found something which is meaningful not just for you, but for me (and everyone else) as well, and that you want me to find it as well.

  5. You won’t get anywhere in interfaith dialogue if you don’t try to understand why Jews might find it offensive. You can’t tell them what they do or don’t, should or shouldn’t feel or think. All you can do is seek to understand why.

  6. I agree wholeheartedly, especially with your final sentence… it’s a perspective that my ecumenical studies inculcated in me, and which remains with me to this day; I think discussions in general would be more effective if people sought to understand why others think the way they do, even if I disagree with them.

  7. Gentlemen, thank you for your willingness to have dialogue about the Pope’s statement. Please understand that there are a few problems with the prayer for conversion of Jews… from a Jewish perspective 🙂

    First, the prayer has been historically used as the basis for many anti-semitic acts on the part of non-Jews; including pogroms, degradations, and even killings. All too often, people would leave their services on Good Friday, remember the liturgy they just read, and take out their anger at Jews through horrific actions.

    Secondly, the prayer is not just for the conversion of Jews per se. The prayer describes Jews as having veiled hearts; being blind; and needing to be “delivered from darkness”. How would you react if your beliefs were characterized in the same way?

    I have many devout Catholic and Christian friends and colleagues; some of whom, because they truly love me and believe that the only way for me to join them in heaven is to accept Jesus, pray for my acceptance of him. But while they may hope that I will do so, they do not in any way insult or degrade me for my beliefs. This prayer that is part of the liturgy is not only for Jewish conversion, but defines Jews in a way that is offensive. Again, how would you feel if you and your beliefs were described and condemned in the same way?

    Again, many thanks for taking the time to read and think about ecumenical needs and dialogue.


    Rabbi Michael

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