Jewish welcome for Vatican declaration about 'conversion prayer'

By Ecumenical News International
July 26, 2007

US-based Jewish groups have praised a Vatican declaration that it will consider the elimination of a prayer of conversion that exists in the church's traditional Latin Mass - writes Chris Herlinger from New York, for ENI.

In 1963, Pope Paul VI declared that, following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the Tridentine Mass, as the service is also known, would no longer be celebrated.

However, at the beginning of July 2007, Pope Benedict XVI announced measures that would make it easier for priests to celebrate the Latin Mass, which Pope Pius V established in the 16th century following the Council of Trent.

Holy See Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone told reporters on 18 July he thinks that concerns over the prayer, which is recited in the traditional liturgy during Easter services, can be resolved with further Vatican study. "This could be decided and this would resolve all the problems," Bertone said.

Jewish groups welcomed the comments, given concerns they had about the prayer, and which had already been struck from a Catholic prayer missal adopted in 1970.

"We look forward hopefully and with appreciation that the necessary steps will be taken to promote this qualification," said Rabbi David Rosen, chairperson of the New York-based International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations that represents world Jewry to other religions, and which has worked for 40 years with the Vatican on interfaith relations.

Rosen said such a qualification, "would be in keeping with the Pope's own commitment, and that of his predecessor John Paul II, to advancing Catholic-Jewish reconciliation and mutual respect."

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, also based in New York, said the cardinal's declaration showed that the Vatican was "listening to our concerns". He added that the prayer "contradicted 40 years of evolving Catholic teachings about the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, and the end of efforts to baptise Jews".

Foxman also commented, "We hope that Cardinal Bertone's public conjectures will shortly result in putting Catholic-Jewish relations back to the positive mode we were in before all this."

[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

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