Monday, July 9, 2007

The Old Latin Mass and Anti-Semitism

Pope Benedict XVI's announcement that the old Latin Mass (the Tridentine Mass) can be used has generated some strong words from the Anti-Defamation League. Why would the ADL be concerned about the version of the Latin Mass used by the Roman Catholic Church? Well, the version of the Latin Mass approved by the Pope (the version approved by the Pope is the Latin Mass as revised by John XXIII in 1962) includes this Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews:

For the conversion of the Jews. Let us pray also for the Jews that the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: Almighty and everlasting God, You do not refuse Your mercy even to the Jews; hear the prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people so that they may acknowledge the light of Your truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness.

By way of comparison, here is the version of the prayer that had previously been approved (this version is the Roman Missal modified by Pope Paul VI in 1969, and put into effect in 1970):
Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant.

Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Abraham Foxman, national director of ADL said: “We are extremely disappointed and deeply offended that nearly 40 years after the Vatican rightly removed insulting anti-Jewish language from the Good Friday Mass, that it would now permit Catholics to utter such hurtful and insulting words by praying for Jews to be converted. This is a theological setback in the religious life of Catholics and a body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations. It is the wrong decision at the wrong time. It appears the Vatican has chosen to satisfy a right-wing faction in the Church that rejects change and reconciliation.”

Seems like the ADL has a legitimate beef, doesn't it? Wrong. The ADL missed a critical fact--the Old Latin Mass is not approved for use during Holy Week, and thus the parayer for the conversion of the Jews is not approved. Only the Roman Missal modified by Pope Paul VI in 1969, and put into effect in 1970, can be used during Holy Week. Father Richard Neuhaus explains:
In the 1570 form of the Roman Rite for Good Friday there was this: “Oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis” (Let us pray for the perfidious Jews). On the first Good Friday after his election to the papacy in 1959, Pope John XXIII eliminated the adjective “perfidious” from the prayer. That same year, he also eliminated from the rite of baptism the phrase used for Jewish catechumens: “Horresce Judaicam perfidiam, respue Hebraicam superstitionem” (Disavow Jewish unbelieving, deny Hebrew superstition). Also eliminated were similar formulas for those converting from idolatry, Islam, or a heretical sect.

. . .

The 1962 Missal does not say what Mr. Foxman says it says. And, if he had read Benedict’s apostolic letter before attacking it, he would know that it explicitly says that the Missal of 1970 will be used exclusively in the Triduum of Holy Week, which of course includes Good Friday

Read it all here.


I tracked down a translation of the Pope's statement on the 1962 Latin Mass, and Father Neuhaus is indeed correct that the 1962 Mass cannot be used during Holy Week (the Easter Triduum):

Art. 2 In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum. For such celebrations, with either one Missal or the other, the priest has no need for permission from the Apostolic See or from his Ordinary.


Ormonde Plater said...

I may be wrong about this, but my understanding is that the 1962 Missal is not approved during the Triduum for masses with the people. It is approved for masses with the people.

Chuck Blanchard said...

I believe that the 1962 Mass was approved for masses with the people, but not for the Triduum. since the offending prayer is only in the Good Friday mass, this should mean that the offending prayer will not be used. Again, I am relying on Father Neuhaus for this.

Steven Carr said...

Hundreds of millions of Catholics have been praying for hundreds of years for the conversion of Jews?

I am reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:19 '"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.'

Anonymous said...

The typical Latin Mass, celebrated on Sundays and weekdays, makes no reference to Jews.

Why can't Foxman separate Latin Masses from the Good Friday liturgy, which he wrongly described as a "Mass"?

Anyway, the pope said the 1970 Missal will be used for Good Friday in Latin.

Can you the outrage if a Catholic leader were to tell Jews to shun Hebrew when praying in their synagogues?

Anyone who wants to see what goes at a Latin Mass can watch one on You Tube.