The bishops of England and Wales have appealed to Rome to change the Good Friday prayer for Jews as it is said in the Extraordinary Form.
The prayer reads: “Let us also pray for the Jews: that our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all men.”
The prayer was revised by Benedict XVI in 2008 after he permitted wider celebration of Mass in the older form with his apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum. Previously the prayer had included references to the “blindness” of Jewish people and their “immersion in darkness”.
But the prayer remains different from the Novus Ordo version introduced after the Second Vatican Council, which reads: “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.”
Archbishop Kevin McDonald, chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations, said the difference had caused “great confusion and upset in the Jewish community”.
He said: “The 1970 prayer which is now used throughout the Church is basically a prayer that the Jewish people would continue to grow in the love of God’s name and in faithfulness of his Covenant, a Covenant which – as St John Paul II made clear in 1980 – has not been revoked. By contrast the prayer produced in 2008 for use in the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy reverted to being a prayer for the conversion of Jews to Christianity.”
He said the English and Welsh bishops had “added their voice” to that of the German bishops, who had already asked for the prayer to be amended.
Archbishop McDonald said: “Such a change would be important both for giving clarity and consistency to Catholic teaching and for helping to progress Catholic-Jewish dialogue.”
Joseph Shaw, president of the Latin Mass Society, said: “It is surprising that the bishops are unhappy with a prayer composed by Pope Benedict as recently as 2008, which, like the prayer it replaced, though in more measured language, reflects the theology and imagery of 2 Corinthians 3:13-16.”
Blogger Fr John Hunwicke said he hoped the bishops would clarify “what exactly it is in the prayer which contradicts which precise affirmations of [Vatican II document] Nostra Aetate.”