I [Mrs. Anselm] originally wrote this piece about Pope Benedict's new prayer for the conversion of the Jews in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite for our personal blog which we use mostly to keep in touch with our family, but Anselm insisted that I post it here as well. Boniface had a few words to say (here) about this while it was still a rumor.
Sorry, this is coming very late, as it is most definately yesterday's news. However, as we haven't yet commented on it, [Anselm] and I thought we would post about the changes Pope Benedict made to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite's prayers for Good Friday. For those of you who do not follow the news regarding the Traditional Latin Mass as closely as we do, and have no idea to what I am referring, here is a summary:
Until the 1950s, the Good Friday intentions for the Jews said (of course, in Latin):
"Let us pray also for the perfidious Jews: that our God and Lord would remove the veil from their hearts: that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise. Almighty and eternal God, who does not repel from your mercy even the Jews: hear our prayers, those which we offer for that blind people, that by acknowledging light of your truth which is Christ they will be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord."
In the 1962 missal, the word "perfidious" had already been removed. In the Novus Ordo missal, the Good Friday prayer says (ICEL translation):
"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. Let us kneel. Let us stand. 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."
Note that in the Novus Ordo missal, we are not explicitly praying for the conversion of the Jews. We pray that they may be saved, without any reference to Jesus Christ being the way of their salvation, which is one explanation as to why so many Catholics (and the USCCB) today believe the Old Covenant to be salvific for the Jews. Curiously, this seems quite contrary to everything that St. Paul says in the New Testament.
Since the Motu Proprio, many Jews (and specifically the Anti-Defamation League led by Abraham Foxman) have been pressuring Pope Benedict to change the Good Friday prayers, because the prayers in the 1962 missal are considered "anti-semetic". This "anti-semetism" of the Extraordinary Form has been one reason bishops cited for refusing to allow the older form, regardless of the fact that this is in direct opposition to Summorum Pontificum. When we first heard rumors that the Good Friday prayers were to be changed, we were most upset. Allowing those who are not even Catholic to dictate how we pray is absurd. I've never gotten into a tizzy that many Orthodox Jews thank God, not only once a year, but each and every day, that He did not make them a woman or a Gentile. Why should they care if I pray that they be converted? However, care they do.
Over a week ago it was announced that the prayer was changed. Here is the new Good Friday prayer for the Jews in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (what a mouthful!), translated by Fr. Z at What Does the Prayer Really Say?
"Let us also pray for the Jews: that our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men. Almighty and eternal God, who want that all men be saved and come to the recognition of the truth, propitiously grant that even as the fullness of the peoples enters Your Church, all Israel may be saved. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen."
Now, there are a lot of traditionalists who are unhappy about this change, and there are a lot who are either content, or even happy with it, and both sides offer good points. However, this post is getting long, and I won't go too much into that debate. He is the Pope, he has the authority to change the prayers (having the authority to do something does not always mean that what you do is prudent, but I digress), and there have been many positives since this change was announced, and here are just two: Traditionalists can no longer be considered "nostalgic," or "stuck-in-the-mud," as we now use the 2008 Roman Missal, while the Novus Ordo missal is practically medieval, dating back to 2002. And, most reassuring of all, Abe Foxman is very upset.
Since the change, many Jewish leaders (as well as many Catholics) have complained that while it's great that we no longer refer to the "blindness" of the Jews in our Good Friday prayers, the new one still prays for their conversion to Christ. Jewish leaders have even stated that they will no longer continue dialoguing with us. Which begs the question, if all this "dialogue" since Vatican II has been so wonderful and enlightening, why are they so incredibly shocked that, gasp!, the Church actually wants them to become Catholic? Well, Catholics are partly to blame, since so many Catholics are shocked that the Church still teaches that outside the Church there is no salvation! Pope Boniface VII infallibly declares in the Bull Unam Sanctam:
"Furthermore, we declare, we proclaim, we define that it is absolutely necessary for salvation that every human creature be subject to the Roman Pontiff."
If you really think about it for more than a second, it would be quite anti-semetic if we did not pray for the conversion of the Jews, since we pray for the conversion of everyone else, beginning with ourselves.