A rabbi from Monsey, New York, has lauded Pope Benedict XVI for reinstating the Latin Mass and affirming that only Catholic Church qualifies as the one, true Church.
In an article titled The Pope’s Got A Point and published in the July 18 issue of The Jewish Press, Rabbi Yerachmiel Seplowitz says he is “not at all put off by the fact that the leader of another religion sees that religion as primary.”
“I’ve always found it curious that people of different religions get together in a spirit of harmony to share their common faiths,” he writes. “By definition, these people should have strong opposition to the beliefs of their ‘colleagues’ at the table. The mode of prayer of one group should be an affront to the other group.
“What the pope is saying – and I agree 100 percent – is that there are irreconcilable differences, and we can’t pretend those differences don’t exist,” he states. “I can respect the pope for making an unambiguous statement of what he believes.”
While all people, created in God’s image, and their beliefs are worthy of respect, “we don’t need to play games of ‘I’m okay, your okay’ with beliefs we find unacceptable,” he writes.
Rabbi Seplowitz notes that the original form of the Latin Mass included a prayer for the conversion of the Jews. When the Latin Mass was reinstated, the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations wrote to the Vatican, requesting that the conversion prayer not be reintroduced.
“I ask you, does this make sense? Where do we Jews get off making demands of Catholics that they only say prayers that meet with our approval?” he asks. “The audacity of Jews dictating to Christians how they should pray is simply mind-boggling.”
“Should we allow the Vatican to dictate what we say in our prayers? Or should we, perhaps, do a line-by-line analysis of the Talmud to make sure there is nothing there that people may find offensive?” he writes.
The rabbi says he is not suggesting Jewish leaders should not talk with Catholic leaders. “The pope needs to know, for example, that it is good to encourage his millions of followers to support Israel and that it is bad to hate Jews,” he writes.
But the dialogue need not be theological, he suggests. “There needs to be careful dialogue, but it needs to be a secular, common, needs-based dialogue. We should not be studying Talmud together and we should not be discussing prayer.”