From the LMS Chairman:
"We've heard from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales that they would like to get rid of the Prayer for the Jews used in the Extraordinary Form Good Friday Liturgy. Bishop Kevin McDonald, who is in charge of Catholic-Jewish relations, says this about it:
“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of God’s name and in faithfulness of his Covenant, a Covenant which – as St John Paul II made clear in 1980 – has not been revoked.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.”
The 2008 prayer replaced one expressed in rather strong language, language used by St Paul in 2 Corinthians 11. Pope Benedict thought it best to express its central idea, and even its central image - of light overcoming darkness - in a slightly different way.
Pope Benedict's prayer reads as follows:
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 Novus Ordo Prayer is this:
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.
So what, exactly, is the suggestion? That people of Jewish extraction (or is it just Jews who practice their religion?) are saved by something other than Christ? But that can't be right, at least according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
846 Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.
848 "Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men."
It should be noted that these passages come immediately after the Catechism's treatment of the Jews, and of Muslims, so they'd not been forgotten. Everyone who is going to be saved, is going to be saved, whether through Baptism or through a 'way known only to God', by reference to Christ's blood which was shed for the whole of mankind.
This is made explicit by Vatican II's Declaration on Non-Christian Religions, Nostra aetate, whose anniversary was the occasion for this discussion by the Bishops' Conference (section 4):
Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation. It is, therefore, the burden of the Church's preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God's all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.
The idea that Christ did not die for the Jewish people is evidently absurd. (How about Matthew 15:24? 'I was not sent but to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel'.) The idea that the Jews, before or after the Passion, received the grace of God in any other way than through the 'cross of Christ' would be a fundamental mistake.
Bishop McDonald refers us to something Pope St John Paul II said in 1980. He must mean a very short speech (a speech- not a very heavyweight exercise of magisterial authority) to the Jewish community of Berlin on 17th November that year. It is not available in English on the Vatican website, but you can read it here. The relevant passage is this:
The first dimension of this dialogue, that is, the meeting between the people of God of the Old Covenant, never revoked by God [cf. Rom. 11:29], and that of the New Covenant, is at the same time a dialogue within our Church, that is to say, between the first and the second part of her Bible.
What does this reference to the Old Covenant mean? Pope St John Paul refers us to Romans 11:29. (These kinds of references are part of the official text, notwithstanding the square brackets; the same passage of St Paul is cited by Nostra aetate to the same effect.) St Paul tells us this:
For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance."
Read the whole of the excellent article HERE
This also reminds me of something I saw on St. Peter's List upon the resignation of Benedict XVI:
“Benedict XVI has profoundly bolstered the positive trajectory of Catholic-Jewish relations launched by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II. Benedict, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, worked closely with John Paul during his 26 year papacy, developing a historic new relationship between Catholic and Jews as “loving brothers and sisters” after centuries of tragedy.
In his tenure as pope, Benedict pledged that he would always stand with the Jewish people against anti-Semitism. He strongly condemned Holocaust denial. He made it a point early in his papacy to visit Israel, going to Yad Vashem and the Western Wall, thus cementing the historic act of his predecessor for future generations and strengthening the relationship between Israel and the Vatican. He became the first pope to visit a synagogue in the United States. And he also visited the synagogue in Rome, institutionalizing these visits.
Pope Benedict XVI reconfirmed the official Catholic position that God’s covenant with the Jewish people at Sinai endures and is irrevocable. He said that the Catholic Church should not try and convert Jews.
There were bumps in the road during this papacy – the rewriting of the old Good Friday prayer for Jews making it more problematic for Jews, starting negotiations with the anti-Semitic group the Society of St. Pius X, and moving World War II Pope Pius XII one step closer to sainthood while the Secret Vatican Archives are still under wraps. But he listened to our concerns and tried to address them, which shows how close our two communities have become in the last half century, and how much more work we need to do together to help repair a broken world.
In his trilogy on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict re-interpreted problematic passages in the Gospels of Matthew and John that dismisses the negative images and false charges against the Jewish people which has led to millennia of persecution and death against Jews.He importantly declared the validity of the Jewish reading of the Hebrew Bible, or Tanach.” – Abraham H. Foxman ADL National Director, The Jerusalem Post, 2-12-13
So just incase you thought this pandering only happens today there are a few counterpoints.
I for one will continue to pray for the jews because if they persist in their rejection of Christ until the end they will only gain eternal Hellfire, which does not worry about interreligious dialogue.
Oh and tomorrow is Friday: