Pope Benedict XVI will modify the Good Friday prayers used in the Tridentine Mass that generated protests from Jewish leaders who found the prayers offensive, the Jerusalem Post reports.
In July Pope Benedict widened the use of the 1962 Latin Tridentine missal in a “Motu Proprio” edict. This missal included Latin prayers for Good Friday that asked Catholics to "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," asking God not to "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."
After the Pope permitted the wide use of the Tridentine Missal, Abraham H. Foxman, United States director of the Anti-Defamation League, criticized the prayers. In July he said he was “extremely disappointed and deeply offended” by the use of what he called “insulting anti-Jewish language” that would "now permit Catholics to utter such hurtful and insulting words." According to the Jerusalem Post, Foxman said the reintroduction of the Latin prayers was a “theological setback in the religious life of Catholics and a body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations.”
The Chief Rabbinate of Israel also wrote the Pope expressing concern.
In a July interview with the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, Archbishop Angelo Amato denied the Good Friday prayers were anti-Jewish. The archbishop said Catholics pray first for their own conversion “And then we pray for the conversion of all Christians and of all non-Christians. The Gospel is for all."
On January 18 the Milan newspaper Il Giornale reported that the new text of the prayers would drop all references to the “blindness” of the Jews. The Pope has reportedly drafted a new prayer that will be released in time for Holy Week in March.
Rabbi David Rosen, chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, told the Jerusalem Post that the removal of references to the “darkness” and the “blindness” of the Jews for refusing to recognize Jesus as the messiah was a sign Pope Benedict was "deeply committed to advancing the relationship with the Jewish Community."
Rabbi Rosen said the July Motu Proprio had nothing to do with Jews, saying there was confusion about the concept of conversion. “Used in the sense that Archbishop Amato uses it, it does not mean the acceptance of the Christian Faith by a non-Christian," he said, according to the Jerusalem Post. Rosen said that his Vatican sources indicated that the new text does not call for Jews to accept the Christian faith. Like a common 1970 prayer used by the Church, he said it “prays for the physical and spiritual well being of the Jews.”
The Vatican would not confirm the Il Giornale report.