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.”
But Felipe Alanís Suárez, president of Foederatio Internationalis Una Voce (FIUV), said that Pope Benedict had already revised the prayer in 2008 and that the new text was “clearly based on what is essential to Christianity: the acceptance of Christ as the saviour of the whole world, and the desire that all persons be saved.”
He continued: “Jews are mentioned because of their special role in the history of salvation, and the special concern we must have for our ‘elder brothers’ (as Pope St John Paul II called them).
“The prayer looks forward to the incorporation of the Jewish people, of which Our Lord Jesus Christ and His first disciples were all members, in the salvation won for the human race by Christ on the Cross, a reconciliation which, as St Paul teaches, will be fulfilled only towards the end of history.”
Felipe Alanís Suárez added that FIUV were “convinced that any possible continuing misunderstanding regarding the Good Friday prayer for the Jews can be resolved in the context of the Magisterium of the Church, without veiling the treasures of our Faith” and emphasised that the organisation rejects “hatred and hostility towards the Jewish people, and all forms of unjust discrimination.”
But 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of God’s name and in faithfulness of his Covenant, a Covenant which – as St John Paul II made clear in 1980 – has not been revoked.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.
The statement released by FIUV said: “In their daily prayers, Jews pray for the conversion of ‘all of the impious of the earth’. Rabbi Jacob Neusner, responding to criticisms of the 2008 prayer for the Jews, pointed out the parallel and remarked: ‘The Catholic prayer manifests the same altruistic spirit that characterises the faith of Judaism.’”