Rabbinical Assembly of Italy
Italia 06/02/2008With regard to the new liturgical text issued by Pope Benedict XVI for the Good Friday liturgy: the expression in the old rite (the “blindness of the Jews”) has been replaced by another (“may God enlighten them”) which is conceptually equivalent, the result of which is that the Jews are, nonetheless, “blinded” as regards the truth, even if the whole idea is expressed in a way which is less strong, but only in appearance.
Having said this, the more serious issue is that, in this same context, what is introduced is an invitation to the faithful to pray, in order that the Jews might finally recognize “Jesus Christ as Saviour”.
While the Pope, as regards his own Church and his own faithful, is free to express himself as he judges best, the adoption of such a liturgical formula is, nevertheless, in clear and dangerous contradiction to almost forty years of Jewish-Catholic dialogue, often difficult and painful, which, however, seems not to have achieved any concrete results.
From the Jewish perspective, this decision of the Pope is viewed as a defeat for the very underpinnings of this dialogue, since it legitimates—and now transposes into liturgical practice—an idea of “dialogue” which aims, in reality, at the conversion of the Jews to Catholicism, something which is obviously unacceptable to us.
With regard, therefore, to the continuation of the dialogue with Catholics, a pause for reflection is called for, which will allow [us] to fully understand what the actual intentions of the Catholic Church are concerning this dialogue.
N.B. We wish to point out that this Communiqué concerns exclusively Jewish-Catholic dialogue, and not Jewish-Christian dialogue in general, since Christianity is made up of more than simply the Roman Catholic denomination.
Rabbi Dr. Giuseppe Laras, President
[Translation: Murray Watson]
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