Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Pope Benedict XVI's expected decision this week to ease restrictions on a traditional Mass that includes a reference to Jewish conversion could damage Catholic-Jewish relations, interfaith leaders say.

The pope is said to have authorized the broader use of the Latin-language Tridentine Mass, which was widely supplanted more than 40 years ago by a less formal Mass in the local vernacular.

When celebrated in the traditional format that is favored by some conservative Catholics, the Good Friday liturgy contains a passage stating that Jews live in "blindness" and "darkness" and asking God to "remove the veil from their hearts." A reference to Jews as "perfidious" was excised from the liturgy in 1969.

"At a time when anti-Semitism is rising around the world, there's symbolism in permitting a wider reading of a prayer to convert the Jews," the associate director for interfaith affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, Eric Greenberg, said. "We're monitoring it very closely."...

An adviser on Catholic-Jewish relations to various church and civic organizations, Philip Cunningham, said the traditional Good Friday liturgy contradicts the belief statement of the Second Vatican Council.

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