The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has responded to Pope Benedict XVI’s revision of Good Friday prayers in the Latin-language 1962 Roman Missal.
The revisions were made in response to Jewish leaders’ protests of the negative imagery used to describe Jews in the old rite, including references to the “blindness of the Jews,” petitions asking for the “lifting of a veil from their heart,” and prayers asking that the Jews “being pulled from darkness.”
Auxiliary Bishop of Milwaukee Richard J. Sklba, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said in a statement that Pope Benedict had “heard with appreciation the concerns of the Jewish community.”
Bishop Sklba said that Pope Benedict’s revisions reflected the relationship between Jews and the Church as taught in Second Vatican Council document Nostra Aetate. The bishop cited a passage from the document, which reads: “God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues - such is the witness of the Apostle.”
According to Bishop Sklba, Pope Benedict’s revisions present the relationship of the Church to the Jews as taught in St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans.
“Central to the concerns of the Holy Father is the clear articulation that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and his Church. It is a faith that must never be imposed but always freely chosen,” Bishop Sklba commented.
The bishop reiterated the commitment of the Catholic Church in the United States to deepening friendship and mutual understanding with the Jewish community.