It has sadly become an established media narrative that references to the Church's relations with Jews, and the Vatican II document on the subject, Nostra aetate, must include an attack on the Traditional Mass. This was on display a few years ago in the disgraceful CTS pamphlet about 'Catholic Traditionalism' by Raymond Edwards (thankfully, no longer in print), but has been taken to new lengths in connection with the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate. A really deplorable article in the Jewish Chronicle makes an unambiguous connection between Pope Benedict, the Traditional Mass, and antisemitism - though the article displays such a poor knowledge of the issues that I am more inclined to see the author, the historian Dr Geoffrey Alderman, as a victim of misinformation, rather than as a perpetrator of it.
The Jewish Chronicle has chosen not to publish my letter in reply. I can't imagine they have any interest in the Traditional Catholic liturgy; instead, they may rather like the narrative of Jewish-Catholic reconciliation after Vatican II, which my letter questioned by stressing the elements of continuity.
Now Christopher Lamb, The Tablet's new Rome Correspondent, has found another Jewish commentator, Edward Kessler, the founder of the Woolf Institute, willing to describe the Prayer for the Jews as 'a problem'. As with Alderman, I don't blame Dr Kessler for his reaction: after all, even a specialist in Jewish-Christian relations wouldn't necessarily be well-informed about the details of Catholic liturgy. It is the question he was asked which is the real problem, since it is part of an attempt by liberal Catholics to fight their intra-Church battles using Jewish indignation as a weapon. This indignation is something they have themselves nurtured, protecting it, like a candle flame, from the gusts of information which, by setting things into a wider context, could too easily extinguish it.
The Tablet has published my letter (in the 2nd Jan issue): here it is.
It is an irony that Christopher Lamb reports (‘View from Rome’, 19/26 December 2015) at this time of year, on misgivings about the ‘Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews’ found in the Extraordinary Form Good Friday liturgy. Before the next edition of The Tablet is delivered, your priest readers will have prayed, fervently, I assume: ‘may the Jewish people accept you [sc. Christ] as their awaited Deliverer [Latin: Messiah]’, in the Morning Prayer of the Ordinary Form Liturgy of the Hours, on 31st December.
These same priests will redouble their zeal for the conversion of the Jews at Easter, praying every day for a week, starting on Easter Sunday’s Evening Prayer: ‘Let Israel recognize in you the Messiah it has longed for.’
The Christmas season would seem an appropriate time for readers to consider whether sauce for the Extraordinary Form goose is also sauce for the Ordinary Form gander.
Chairman, Latin Mass Society
And here is Christopher Lamb's original news item.
ANYONE wishing to describe the
changes brought about by the
Second Vatican Council ought to
have the Church’s more positive
relationship with Jews fairly high on their
Last Friday, the Vatican published a new
document on the topic to mark 50 years since
the council’s Nostra Aetate declaration. The
new text said the Church does not support
any “institutional mission” to the Jews, one
of the delicate points of Christian-Jewish
But if this is the case, why does the old rite
of the Mass still include a Good Friday prayer
titled “the conversion of the Jews”?
In 2008, Benedict XVI rewrote the prayer
for the Tridentine liturgy which asks God to
“illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge
Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all men”.
Speaking at the new document’s launch,
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical
Council for Promoting Christian Unity, admitted
the title of the prayer was a problem but
defended the content saying it must be understood
eschatologically (a prayer for the end
Edward Kessler of the Woolf Institute,
Cambridge, was less equivocal, describing the
prayer as a “problem”.
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