The text of a "Motu Proprio" (papal decision) regarding the revival of a controversial Latin mass will be made public this week, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Vatican officials stressed that the current text, which formerly called Jews "perfidious," contains no derogatory reference to Jews.
The text is based on the Tridentine Mass promulgated by the Council of Trent in the 16th century. Originally this mass contained a Good Friday prayer for the conversion of "the perfidious Jews."
But in the 1960s, after his historic meeting with the historian and Holocaust survivor Jules Isaac, Pope John XXIII ordered this terminology removed, and the version that will be used dates back to 1962, when this phrase had already been eliminated.
Yet controversy continues over Benedict XVIth's decision to "facilitate and clarify" the possibility of performing mass in this Latin version. After the Second Vatican Council, the Latin mass was abolished in favor of using local languages, for the sake of improved communication. Only 2,000 to 3,000 people, following Cardinal Lefebvre in France and in Italy's Piedmont region continued using the Latin version. They ordained their own bishops, who were subsequently excommunicated by John Paul II. Benedict is apparently attempting to reintegrate this group into the church.
Now, any parish with at least 30 members will be able to request permission from their bishop to perform the Latin mass.
Some Catholic circles, particularly those most open to interfaith dialogue, are concerned this change will divide Catholics and undo some of the good work of the Second Vatican Council.
Jewish groups are upset that the mass contain a prayer for the conversion of the Jews.
While the Tridentine Mass contained a Good Friday prayer asking that God "lift the veil covering the hearts of Jews so that they may recognize Jesus Christ our Lord," the 1965 version states: "Let us pray for the Jews, that the face of the Lord our God may shine on them so that they too recognize the redeemer of all, Jesus Christ, our Lord."
The prayer continues: "Listen to your church so that those who were once your chosen people may reach the fulfillment of redemption."
Contemporary Good Friday prayers no longer ask for the conversion of Jews, and in contrast to the old version, the Jewish covenant with God is presented as eternally valid.
During Easter celebrations one can hear these words in the modern version: "Lord our God, who chose the Jews before all other men, to receive his word, help them to continue progressing in the love of your name and faithfulness to your covenant." The prayer continues with wishes that Jews may reach "the fulfillment of redemption."