Thursday, April 26, 2007

Text of Letter from the International Council of Christians and Jews to Cardinal Kasper

29 March 2007

Dear Cardinal Kasper,

I write in the name of the ICCJ Executive concerning the current discussion within the Vatican of expanding use of the 1962 Catholic Missal. The Executive has very serious concerns about the impact of such an expansion firstly on Catholic-Jewish relations but also on Catholic- Muslim relations. Likewise we feel it would also cause harm to inter- Christian relations. As an organization with an ecumenical Christian membership inter-Christian tensions would negatively impact our work.

Though the 1962 Missal is devoid of the old "perfidious" language with respect to the Jews its prayers for the Jews, Muslims and other Christians are profoundly demeaning.

The expanded validation of such prayers will rightly challenge Catholic integrity in terms of the proclamations of the past four decades. Non- Catholics can rightly ask which is the normative view when two conflicting visions are supposedly legitimized. Saying that the missal of Pope Paul VI remains the normative text, while true, does not solve the problem in our judgment.

We urge your office to raise these concerns with the respective persons within the Vatican who will make the final decision on this matter.

Our warmest personal regards and prayers for Holy Week/Easter.

Rev. Prof. Dr John T. Pawlikowski, OSM
Copies to:
Cardinal Arinze, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Cardinal Levada,
Cardinal Lehmann, Bishop Van Luyn

1 comment:

Londiniensis said...

While not daring to doubt the academic credentials of the Rev. Prof. Dr John T. Pawlikowski, I must question his sense of proportion.

The argument in its essentials is as expressed by the Discussion Group “Jews and Christians” of the Central Committee of German Catholics in Easter 2007, which I give below in full:

The Missale Romanum of 1962 contains the Good Friday Intercession “for the conversion of the Jews” (pro conversione Iudaeorum). Although this rite no longer includes the denigrating descriptions of the Jews as acting “perfidiously” (perfidus) and/or as “perfidious” (perfidia), the Good Friday Intercession otherwise expresses the overall [demeaning] perspective of the text as it has been prayed in the Liturgy of Good Friday since the Middle Ages. The intercession speaks of the “blindness” (obcaecatio) of the Jewish people and says that the Jewish people walk “in darkness” (tenebrae). This contradicts in a striking way the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate, which states in chapter 4:

Sounding the depths of the mystery which is the church, this sacred council remembers the spiritual ties which link the people of the new covenant to the stock of Abraham. […] the apostle Paul maintains that the Jews remain very dear to God, for the sake of the patriarchs, since God does not take back the gifts he bestowed or the choice he made. (see Romans 11,28-29; see Lumen Gentium 16). […] the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy scripture. Consequently, all must take care, lest in catechizing or in preaching the word of God, they teach anything which is not in accord with the truth of the Gospel message or the spirit of Christ.

To revive the 1962 Missal with the old Good Friday Intercession means the denial of a substantial theological paradigm change made by the Council: in fact, the biblically-justified new understanding of the relationship of the Church to Judaism with the accompanying change to Church’s own self-understanding. The traditional Good Friday Intercession still beseeched categorically that the Jews would acknowledge “our Lord Jesus Christ, the light of truth.” The post-conciliar revised version is more open: it recognizes the way of salvation of the Jews, founded upon God’s design, even if it asks that the Jews may “arrive at the fullness of redemption.”

For myself, I find the Novus Ordo prayers more in tune with my feelings, especially when expressed in the vernacular - however, I feel that it is a profound exaggeration to contend that the 1962 Good Friday Prayers "express (an) overall demeaning perspective" or, as Fr Pawlikowski prefers to put it, that they are "profoundly demeaning". In a few peoples' minds these sensitivities may well be real, but I do not feel they are validly grounded - they should be allayed by sympathetic explanation. In my view, these objections say more about the protester than about the one offering up the Prayers. It is perhaps a more valid objection that they do not express Nostra Aetate, but interstingly Fr Pawlikowski does not make it.

While not questioning the sincerity of the principal advocates, there remains the lingering suspicion that the bulk of their support comes from those wholeheartedly opposed to the Missa Tridentina and not for any other reason.