I found an enquiry on my email when I arrived in the office this morning from an Orthodox Jewish friend about this news report:
U.K. Catholic Clergy Criticizes Pope’s Plans to Resurrect Mass with Anti-Semitic References
The Independent is reporting a rift between the United Kingdom’s senior Catholic clergy and the Vatican over the resurrection of an old Latin mass replete with anti-Semitic references. The plan originates with Pope Benedict XIV himself. At issue is the 16th-century Tridentine Mass – which includes material such as references to “perfidious” Jews; a statement that Jews live in “darkness” and “blindness”; and a prayer that “the Lord our God may take the veil from their hearts and that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.” According to The Independent, clergy fear reverting to the old mass – which was discontinued in 1969 – will drive a wedge into relations between the Church and Jews and Muslims. The report cited an expert who said the problem goes beyond the actual liturgy, but that proponents of the old Mass “tend to oppose the laity’s increased role in parish life… collaboration with other Christians and its dialogue with Jews and Muslims.”
Here is my reply:
There will be an announcement some time this weekend, I think, on this matter.
The concern should be minimal. The press has not understood (or attempted to understand) what is happening, and have (for their usual purposes) tried to create controversy were there should be none.
There is not a “return” to the “old mass” (strictly speaking the 1962 missal) but rather a legalisation of its use in the place of the current ban. For comparison, consider if tomorrow a (hypothetical!) world-wide Jewish authority declared the Orthodox prayer book illegal and imposed a Progressive prayer book. Unhappiness would no doubt ensue in some quarters! For Catholics, those who desire the old mass are a very small minority, but they have rightly seen it as an injustice that this ancient rite has simply been banned. Benedict XVI agrees.
The occasions on which this rite would be used will be rare (although not quite as rare as currently–there is one parish in Melbourne currrently licenced to use the old rite), and the rite would always be done in Latin.
The single prayer referred to in this press story as “anti-semitic” would in fact be even rarer, and quite likely never used at all (depending on the details of the expected announcement). It comes from the lengthy Good Friday liturgy. Because Good Friday is a major Catholic feast, and the liturgy on Good Friday must be done at a set time (3pm in the afternoon), it is inconceivable that any parish (except the aforementioned one which currently exists and which uses only the old rite) would schedule the old-rite, latin prayers instead of the usual, popular demand, new rite English prayers.
To say that those who love and appreciate the old rite neccesarily are opposed to interrelgious dialogue is like saying that Orthodox Jews are necessarily opposed to dialogue. Some may well be, but it is ridiculous to say that it is a rule. I am an example of one who loves the old rite and promotes dialogue, just as you are Orthodox and also promote dialogue. The problem is not the rite–but the thinking of those who use the various rites.
So I do not think there is any reason for concern in this quarter.
Important footnote: After posting this blog, I read something on Fr Z.’s blog which suggests that in fact the offending prayers were removed from the 1962 missal in any case. Can anyone advise me on this?