Vat­i­can seeks to ‘clar­ify’ altered con­ver­sion prayer

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY TOBY AX­EL­ROD BER­LIN

THE VAT­I­CAN has is­sued a clar­i­fi­ca­tion of the amended “Prayer for the Jews” in re­sponse to Jewish con­cerns over the rein­tro­duc­tion of ref­er­ences to con­ver­sion.

Is­sued by the Vat­i­can Sec­re­tary of State Car­di­nal Tar­ci­sio Ber­tone, the state­ment makes no men­tion of chang­ing the prayer, which Pope Bene­dict XVI ad­justed last sum­mer.

But it in­sists that the “progress of friendly re­la­tions be­tween the Jews and the Catholic Church over the last 40 years” should con­tinue un­abated.

There has as yet been no of­fi­cial re­sponse from the Cen­tral Coun­cil of Jews in Ger­many, which had threat­ened to re­duce its con­tact with the Vat­i­can over the prayer’s word­ing.

The storm of con­tro­versy was trig­gered last sum­mer when the Ger­man­born Pope de­cided to bring back the Latin, or Tri­den­tine, Mass — in­clud­ing its prayer that “our God and Lord may il­lu­mi­nate [the Jews’] hearts”. Char­lotte Knobloch, head of the Cen­tral Coun­cil, told Reuters on March 21 that the new prayer “im­plies a sub­tle charge to mis­sion­is­ing the Jews, which I must de­scribe as in­sult­ing, ar­ro­gant and as a clear back­slid­ing in Chris­tianJewish di­a­logue”. Rabbi David Rosen, chair­man of t h e I n t e r n a - t i onal Jewish Com­mit­tee on In­ter­re­li­gious Con­sul­ta­tions (IJCIC), told the JC that he hoped the state­ment would help calm the fears of Jews that the Church is out to con­vert them. He said that Car­di­nal Wal­ter Kas­par, his co-chair at IJCIC and head of the Vat­i­can com­mis­sion for re­li­gious re­la­tions with Jews, re­cently ex­plained in writ­ing that the prayer re­lates to the­ol­ogy con­cern­ing “the end of time”.

“It has no bear­ing on Jewish-Catholic re­la­tions, and cer­tainly in no way com­pro­mises the Church’s to­tal op­po­si­tion to pros­e­lytis­ing,” Rabbi Rosen con­tin­ued, para­phras­ing Car­di­nal Kas­par.

The newly re­leased Vat­i­can state­ment says that the un­a­mended prayer of 1970, which does not di­rectly speak of Jewish con­ver­sion, “con­tin­ues to be in full use, and is the or­di­nary form of the prayer of Catholics”.

Car­di­nal Ber­tone’s ex­pla­na­tion ac­knowl­edges Jewish con­cerns but stresses that there is no at­tempt be­ing made by the Vat­i­can to un­der­mine in­ter­faith re­la­tions that have “evolved from the ba­sis of the Sec­ond Vat­i­can Coun­cil”.

It also em­pha­sises the Jewish roots of Chris­tian­ity and the Church’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to com­bat an­tisemitism, and pledges to con­tinue in­ter­faith co-op­er­a­tion along the lines of the 1965 “Nos­tra Ae­tate” dec­la­ra­tion of Vat­i­can II.

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