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 CNS Story:

JEWS-PRAYER Jan-18-2008 (420 words) xxxi

Italian newspaper says pope to change Tridentine prayer for Jews

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has decided to reformulate a Good Friday prayer in the 1962 Roman Missal that was offensive to Jews, according to an Italian newspaper.

The new prayer will drop all reference to the "blindness" of the Jews in refusing Christ as savior, the newspaper, Il Giornale, reported Jan. 18.

The Vatican did not officially confirm the report, but sources said privately that a rewriting of the prayer was likely and could be made public soon.

The issue arose last year when the pope liberalized use of the 1962 missal, known popularly as the Tridentine rite. The missal contains a prayer for the conversion of Jews, recited on Good Friday.

While the prayer would not be recited in most parishes, particular Catholic communities devoted to the old rite could use it in Good Friday liturgies.

The prayer for Jews in the 1962 missal is part of a series of prayers for the conversion of non-Christians. It reads:

"Let us pray also for the Jews that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, you do not refuse your mercy even to the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of your truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness."

Although the 1962 missal no longer contains a reference to "perfidious Jews," which was dropped in 1959, the text of the Good Friday prayer and the possibility of its wider use brought objections from Jewish leaders.

The chief rabbis of Israel sent a letter of concern about the prayer to the pope, and Abraham H. Foxman, U.S. director of the Anti-Defamation League, said it was disappointing and offensive to see "anti-Jewish language" return to the liturgy after its removal nearly 40 years ago.

Even as the pope issued his document on the Tridentine Mass, Vatican officials were suggesting that the Good Friday prayer could be revised.

Later, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, said the problem might be resolved by simply substituting the current missal's version of the prayer. That text describes the Jewish people as "the first to hear the word of God" and prays that they "may arrive at the fullness of redemption."

But Pope Benedict, according to the Italian newspaper report, opted to completely reformulate the prayer for the 1962 missal.


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