Friday, April 04, 2008

Conversi ad Concilium

Following continued controversy over the revision of the 1962 Missal's Good Friday prayer for the Jewish people, this morning's Bollettino of the Holy See Press Office contained the following statement:
Following the publication of the new Prayer for the Jews for the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, some groups within the Jewish community have expressed disappointment that it is not in harmony with the official declarations and statements of the Holy See regarding the Jewish people and their faith which have marked the progress of friendly relations between the Jews and the Catholic Church over the last forty years.

The Holy See wishes to reassure that the new formulation of the Prayer, which modifies certain expressions of the 1962 Missal, in no way intends to indicate a change in the Catholic Churchs regard for the Jews which has evolved from the basis of the Second Vatican Council, particularly the Declaration Nostra Aetate. In fact, Pope Benedict XVI, in an audience with the Chief Rabbis of Israel on 15 September 2005, remarked that this document has proven to be a milestone on the road towards the reconciliation of Christians with the Jewish people. The continuation of the position found in Nostra Aetate is clearly shown by the fact that the prayer contained in the 1970 Missal continues to be in full use, and is the ordinary form of the prayer of Catholics.

In the context of other affirmations of the Council - on Sacred Scripture (Dei Verbum, 14) and on the Church (Lumen Gentium, 16) - Nostra Aetate presents the fundamental principles which have sustained and today continue to sustain the bonds of esteem, dialogue, love, solidarity and collaboration between Catholics and Jews. It is precisely while examining the mystery of the Church that Nostra Aetate recalls the unique bond with which the people of the New Testament is spiritually linked with the stock of Abraham and rejects every attitude of contempt or discrimination against Jews, firmly repudiating any kind of anti-Semitism.

The Holy See hopes that the explanations made in this statement will help to clarify any misunderstanding. It reiterates the unwavering desire that the concrete progress made in mutual understanding and the growth in esteem between Jews and Christians will continue to develop.
On a related note, the Pope's schedule in New York later this month was amended yesterday to include a 20-minute stop at a synagogue as the Jewish community around the world prepares to celebrate Passover.

Announced by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, the pontiff's "personal and informal" visit to the Park East Synagogue on Manhattan's 67th Street was intended to convey Benedict XVI's "good will toward the local Jewish community." Given the coincidence of Passover with the the New York leg of the 15-20 April papal visit, the absence of the Jewish community from the pontiff's schedule there had previously come under some criticism.

The stop -- on the Pope's way to the previously-announced ecumenical prayer service at St Joseph's parish on the Upper East Side -- will be the third-ever papal visit to a synagogue, and the second of this pontificate.