Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some Italian Jews and Catholic Liberals gang up to criticise Pope Benedict XVI

As Sandro Magister has shown a number of prominent Italian Jewish leaders have ganged up with some liberal Churchmen in Italy to attack the teaching of the Catholic Church about its prayer for the conversion of the Jews.

Giorgio Israel, an Italian Jewish commentator (and Math professor at the University of Rome - La Sapienza), writes in Il Foglio about the attacks of the Italian rabbinate against Pope Benedict XVI. Liberal Judaism, he says, have acted together with the leaders of the "Progressive" Italian Church (especially those in the Archdiocese of Milan) to undermine the reputation of Pope Benedict XVI.

According to Damian Thompson and CNS, the Vatican has called on the Italian Jewish leaders to calm down a bit and see sense.

A large part of the dispute centers around the Good Friday prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass.

The post 1955 text of the Good Friday Prayers can be found here. The later version correctly translates perfidius as faithless.

Oremus et pro perfidis Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum.

Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that our God and Lord would remove the veil from their hearts: that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.

S. Oremus. Priest: Let us pray.
V. Flectamus genua. Deacon: Let us kneel.
R. Levate. Subdeacon: Arise.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui etiam iudaicam perfidiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcaecatione deferimus; ut, agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per Dominum nostrum, Iesum Christum, filium tuum, qui tecum vivat et regnat in unitate Spiritu Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.

Almighty and everlasting God, who drivest not away from Thy mercy even the faithless Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people: that, acknowledging the light of Thy truth, which is Christ, they may be rescued from their darkness. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. R. Amen.

Some Jewish leaders have attacked Benedict XVI for his approval of TLM and its attendant Good Friday Prayers.
This is a bit selective, because the Novus Ordo Mass repeatedly calls for the conversion of Jews, but no-one says a thing.
One can also note the 1962 breviary speaks about the Jews on Ember Wednesday in Lent. Compared to 'Judaeorum plebe damnata' a prayer for their conversion is positively benign.

As we get started, please understand I don't think Jews are in a worse position that anyone else, and believe the Church should pray for the conversion of all to faith in Jesus Christ and their entry into His Church. To be Catholic is to preach the Gospel to all people in all places at all times, as Jesus Himself commanded us to do. (see Mark 16:15)

There have been a number of changes to prayers for conversions of Jews on Good Friday. This is a scholarly critique by someone whose views of the papacy I don't share - but this exposition of facts on this issue seems essentially accurate.

Most interesting he points out that the reference to the veil on their hearts is directly from St. Paul (2 Cor. 3: 13-16 NIV):

13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.
14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

Pope Benedict asked that the 1962 Prayers on Good Friday be slightly amended. [ I don't agree with this particular apologists views on a number of issues - just on issue of Good Friday prayers.]

It is as plain as day that there is a battle going on among Catholic theologians about the status of the Old Testament Covenant and the Church's relationship with the Jewish people.
Though I don't agree with him on many important issues this American apologist points out important issues and even managed to get the American bishops to change and correct their adult catechism: here The following sentence had to be expunged from the book's text: "Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them."
In a round about way we return to the essential point that if the Catholic Church wishes to call itself apostolic it must continue to preach and pray for the conversion of all non-Catholics into the Catholic Church and a flowering of faith in Jesus in their hearts. For the Church to do otherwise would be to declare itself not Catholic, and throw away its duty of mission given by Jesus Christ the Saviour.
The Catholic Church, as the commissioned herald of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is the New Israel which fulfills and supersedes the Old Covenant with the the New Covenant. This is sometimes called supersessionism or Replacement Theology.

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece of research. A very important issue.
    There are not two means of salvation - one by faith in Jesus and membership of the Church, and another by adhering to old testament laws. Church leaders need to return to preaching the doctrines they were given rather than getting round tables with those who detest the Church and try to come to an agreement for the sake of a mis-understood ecumenism