Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

Resolution On The Revised Latin Text On The Jews

Adopted by the Board of Trustees - June 2008
Central Conference of American Rabbis

WHEREAS the past 43 years since the conclusion of Vatican Council II and the issuance of Nostra Aetate have been marked by fruitful dialogue between Catholics and Jews, and

WHEREAS remarkable progress has been made in implementing the new theological stance of the Catholic Church towards the Jewish people, and

WHEREAS Vatican II has been conventionally understood by Jews and many Catholic scholars as affirming that God’s covenant with the Jewish People has never been revoked

WHERE AS our teacher Professor Abraham Joshua Heschel met in the Vatican with Cardinal Bea and urged the Council to remove a passage in the proposed text of Nostra Aetate calling for the conversion of the Jews, and

WHEREAS Pope Paul VI revised the Good Friday Prayer for the Conversion of the Jews in 1970 to read: “Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the Word of God, that they may continue to grow in love of His name and in faithfulness to His covenant. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption,” and

WHEREAS the late Pope John Paul II spent much of his pontificate teaching that Jews are “the elder brothers” of Christians, and that both faiths should be “a blessing to each other so that they might be a blessing to the world,” and

WHEREAS Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews, announced publicly on several occasions that the Catholic Church no longer maintains an office which focuses specifically on the Jewish People in the spirit of Nostra Aetate and subsequent documents that comprise the Magisterium (official teachings) of the Roman Catholic Church, therefore

We, the Central Conference of the American Rabbis, joined in this position by the Rabbinical Assembly, are dismayed and deeply pained to learn that Pope Benedict XVI has revised the 1962 text of the Latin mass.“  The rubric remains “For the Conversion of the Jews.” This new prayer is to be recited on Good Friday: “Let us pray also for the Jews that our Lord and God may enlighten their hearts, that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ as the savior of all men…” We view this new composition as a retreat from the existing 1970 prayer and inconsistent with the past forty years of improved relations between Jews and Roman Catholics.

We therefore ask for a clarification about the status of the new text for the Latin mass in relationship to the vernacular prayer which will be heard in most Catholic Churches on Good Friday. The new Latin text, although it is not the ordinary liturgy may cast a harsh shadow over the spirit of mutual respect and collaboration making it more difficult for Jews to engage constructively in dialogue with Catholics and to co-operate with them in the array  religious and social action activities that has characterized our relationship in the recent past.