Friday, July 06, 2007

A Jewish Friend Enquires about Anti-Semitism in the Latin Mass

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?

6 Comments:

At Friday, July 06, 2007 6:35:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

David

The statements at the end of that email reflect the usual nonsense of those who opposed the traditional rite for ideological reasons.

But to focus on the question of those of Jewish faith. Fr Z is right. *The* "offending words" were removed from the 1962 Missale Romanum.

The substantive point is not whether the prayer is prayed by many of not. The real point is what does the prayer actually say.

To that end, before 1962 the prayer on Good Friday was:

"Oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferate velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus qui etiman Judaicam perfidiam a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illiu populi obcacatione deferimus; ut, agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur."

"Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that our God and Lord would withdraw the veil from their hearts: that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.

Almighty and eternal God, who drivest not away from They mercy even the faitfuless Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people: that acknowledging the light of Thy truty, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness".

Similarly, strong words were used were "heretics", "schismatics" "pagans" etc.

When considering what might seem harsh words, let us bear in mind their antiquity and that also that "faithless" is juxtaposed with the truth faith of Catholicism (something we maintain even today); and "blindness" and "darkness" as the literary opposites of Christ the Light celebrated the very next day and Easter Sunday.

However, it's the 1962 books are that are used today. Where the prayers read:

"Oremus et pro Judaies: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferate velamen de cordibus eorum: ut et ipsi agnoscant Jesum Christum Dominum nostrum. Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui etiam Judaeos a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostra, quas pro illius populi obcacatione deferimus; ut agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Christus est a suis tenebris eruantur.

"Let us pray also for the Jews: that our God and Lord would remove the veil from their hearts: that they also may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. Almighty and everlasting God, who drivest not away from Thy mercy even the Jews: hear our prayers which we offer for the blindness of that people: that acknowledging the light of Thy truty, which is Christ, they may be rescued from their darkness."

Meanwhile the hysterical nature and misrepresentation of the Jerusalem Post amongst others that Fr Z points to is a cause of sadness.

As the Holy Father will state, the purpose of liberalisation is:

1. to correct the injustice done by ignoring legitimate attachments to an ancient for of rite which the church should not and cannot abolish and was not intended to be abolished by Vatican II

2. as a gesture of reconciliation to the Lefebvrists for whom the old mass is a lightning rod, but probably the more insignificant of their problems

3. to ensure a great heritage is not lost forever

4. to influence in a positive way the modern liturgy has often come to be celebrated in many places, by emphasising the hermeneutic of continuity

 
At Friday, July 06, 2007 7:25:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Most of the attention focuses on the expression perfidis Judaeis, which used to appear in the Good Friday “reproaches” (which, of course, were never part of “the Tridentine mass”; there is no mass celebrated on Good Friday). There’s a couple of relevant points here:

- Perfidis was generally translated into English as “perfidious”, which is a somewhat archaic word, but is generally understood to mean treacherous, untrustworthy. In fact, perfidis doesn’t mean that; it means something more like “faithless” or “unbelieving” – not exactly a compliment, but not quite as bad as “treacherous”.

- Perfidis, apparently, was used in other liturgical contexts to refer not just to Jews but to non-Christians more generally, e.g. in rituals for receiving non-Christian converts into the Church.

- In 1955, Pius XII apparently directed that the word should be translated in all contexts as “unbelieving”, not “perfidious”. This of course had no liturgical effect, since liturgies were celebrated in Latin, but it should have affected the contents of prayer books, English-language missals, etc. Whether it did or not I cannot say.

- In 1959 John XXIII dropped the word entirely from the Good Friday liturgy which he celebrated in Rome (it’s not a liturgical abuse when the Pope ignores the Missal!), and in 1960 ordered it deleted from the Missal. It does not appear in the 1962 Missal, which is the one to be authorised by tomorrow’s Motu Proprio. Some (schismatic) traditionalist groups, who reject John XXIII, use earlier editions of the Missal which presumably still include perfidis, but the indult masses and, I think, the Lefebrvrists all use the 1962 Missal.

On the other hand . . .

Perfidis was perhaps the most spectacular example of troublesome language, but it was – and is – by no means the only one of concern to Jews. The 1962 Missal still contained prayers for the conversion of the Jews and - David, you will probably know more about this than I do – I believe that such a prayer, however expressed, is regarded by Jews as offensive, since it is in their terms a prayer that they should fall away from fidelity to the covenant – a prayer that they should, in fact, be “perfidious”.

And even in its toned-down 1962 form it wasn’t expressed particularly sensitively; it referred to the “blindness” of Jews, and to their continued fidelity to the Covenant as “darkness”.

In short, this is not a problem that revolves around a single word in a single prayer prescribed for a single day. This is a problem about the Christian attitude to Jews and Judaism, as expressed in the liturgy.

And this raises a wider point. Even those who feel that the liturgical reforms which followed Vatican II went completely off the rails cannot deny that

- Vatican II did mandate a liturgical reform, and

- the 1962 Missal does not embody such a reform

Accordingly, there is a strong argument that there is still a requirement for a reform of the 1962 Missal, now that it is once again a “form” of the Roman Rite. This would be a minimalist reform, not a maximalist reform, but at the very least it would involve reworking the liturgy so that it was not inconsistent with the doctrinal insights and understandings expressed by the Council.

Which, among other things, would mean that reworking any prayer referring to the Jews so that it is consistent with Nostra Aetate, which right now they aren’t.

I suspect, though, that there will be no appetite for any reform of the 1962 Missal. This would annoy both those who are devoted to what we must now learn to call the Extraordinary Form, and those who hope that this Motu Proprio will put the whole bl**dy row to bed once and for all.

 
At Saturday, July 07, 2007 2:33:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Peregrinus. Thanks.

 
At Monday, July 09, 2007 5:16:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Having now actually seen the text of the Motu Proprio, I think I need to modify the tone of the last paragraph of my previous post.

The MP itself does envisage amendments to the 1962 Missal; in fact, it effects some.

It provides that the prayers, etc, of the 1962 Missal can be combined with the readings from the current lectionary (and that the readings can be in the vernacular). This is immediately effective (or, at least, it’s effective when the MP comes into effect, which is in October).

It also envisages the addition of invocations to saints canonised since 1962, and the addition of the Eucharistic prayers found in the current Missal. This is to be dealt with by the Ecclesia Dei Pontifical Commission.

Hence the MP does envisage that the 1962 Missal will be modified by the insertion of inclusion, at least as options, of some features of the current Missal.

I think this falls short of the comprehensive liturgical review and reform envisaged by the Council, but it does indicate an openness to carrying some of the reforms already made in the current Missal through to the 1962 Missal.

It’s not impossible, I suppose, that other changes could also be made, perhaps after the three-year initial period envisaged by the MP. This could include a change to the Good Friday prayer for the Jews, and indeed any other prayers that may raise similar sensitivities.

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 12:59:00 pm , Anonymous Mike said...

Peregrinus makes some good points. The word perfidis was a good one to drop, but the rest of that prayer probably isn't something I'd put in a prayer meeting today.

At the same time, I think our modern equivalent seems rather gutless. Praying that the Jews remain faithful to their covenant seems to imply that they should be happy to remain there, and need not seek their Messiah in Jesus Christ. You could of course argue that remaining faithful to their covenant would imply following Jesus, but that's so subtle that it just sounds like a cop-out.

On the "reforms" of the '62 missal:

1) Can you clarify if Article 6 means you can use the new lectionary? Or does it mean you can use the "old" lectionary translated into English and approved by the Bishops? People have been debating this - and also it seems there would be some strange effects if you used the new lectionary. Propers of the Mass that don't entirely link up, and some differences in the whole layout of the calendar would make it difficult.


2) It was certainly the idea of Vatican II that that some form of reform was needed. Ironically I think that has been impeded by the dramatic reforms that did occur. Because the Novus Ordo was intended as a kind of replacement to the 1962 missal, it sort of "froze" the "old Mass" into what it was then. For example, new saints should be added as a matter of course in any living liturgy, as time goes on. But they can't be officially added, if it's not the official liturgy. Other aspects suffer from the same issues.

Now if the changes had been more limited - such as a changing of the Good Friday prayers and an introduction of a new Lectionary - I don't think everyone would quite see it as a "new Mass" and I doubt many traditionalists would really rally behind the old. Not too many cranks would insist on the pre-1962 missal over the 1962 today.

Now, if the Tridentine liturgy is recognised as "official" just as much as the Novus Ordo, you would think such reforms could be made . . . in theory. In practice, the ongoings of the past 30-40 years have made many traditionalists very suspicious of any "reform" and I doubt you could get much past them.

Just a few thoughts!

Mike

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 3:54:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

“The word perfidis was a good one to drop, but the rest of that prayer probably isn't something I'd put in a prayer meeting today.

At the same time, I think our modern equivalent seems rather gutless. Praying that the Jews remain faithful to their covenant seems to imply that they should be happy to remain there, and need not seek their Messiah in Jesus Christ. You could of course argue that remaining faithful to their covenant would imply following Jesus, but that's so subtle that it just sounds like a cop-out.”

I suspect myself that the modern prayer is cleverly crafted to be consistent with the diversity of theological perspectives with Catholicism on the nature of the church’s mission to Jews. I don’t think the view that the nature of the Jewish covenant calls them to an acceptance of Jesus as Messiah is all that subtle, myself, but I agree that it’s certainly not the only way to read that prayer.

“Can you clarify if Article 6 means you can use the new lectionary? Or does it mean you can use the "old" lectionary translated into English and approved by the Bishops? People have been debating this - and also it seems there would be some strange effects if you used the new lectionary. Propers of the Mass that don't entirely link up, and some differences in the whole layout of the calendar would make it difficult.”

On reflection, I think you are correct. The prayers and the lectionary connect, so using the 1962 missal but the current lectionary would make for some mismatches. And the wording of the Motu Proprio is focused on translations, not on scripture passages selected for reading.

Just one minor point; translations approved for use at mass need to be approved by Rome, not by national bishop’s conferences.

“It was certainly the idea of Vatican II that that some form of reform was needed. Ironically I think that has been impeded by the dramatic reforms that did occur. Because the Novus Ordo was intended as a kind of replacement to the 1962 missal, it sort of "froze" the "old Mass" into what it was then. For example, new saints should be added as a matter of course in any living liturgy, as time goes on. But they can't be officially added, if it's not the official liturgy. Other aspects suffer from the same issues . . . Now, if the Tridentine liturgy is recognised as "official" just as much as the Novus Ordo, you would think such reforms could be made . . . in theory. In practice, the ongoings of the past 30-40 years have made many traditionalists very suspicious of any "reform" and I doubt you could get much past them.”

Yes. And I think if the 1962 missal can’t continue to develop then it becomes a museum piece, which does not offer good prospects for its vitality as liturgy.

I do think we need more than just the addition of new saints. Liturgy should express the church’s beliefs, and as languages change and insights develop the church finds new says to express eternal truths.

Whatever its aesthetic qualities, nobody suggests that the Douay-Rheims bible is the clearest expression of scripture for today’s English speakers. By the same argument, a form of liturgy fixed four centuries ago cannot express the church’s teachings and insights into the eucharist, sacrifice, ecclesiology, etc since then. Unless we think that the church’s task of encountering and expounding God’s revelation has been completed, we have to believe that the liturgy not only may but must be constantly renewed. And this, as I say, calls for more than an up-to-date litany.

It would be ironic if the attitude of (some, but particularly vocal) traditionalists discouraged or prevented attention being paid to any kind of renewal of the 1962 ritual. They might end up being the extraordinary form’s worst enemy.

 

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