Jul. 14, 2007 22:56 | Updated Jul. 15, 2007 9:04
Mix realism with humility
By DAVID ROSEN
The directive issued this week by Pope Benedict XVI concerning the use of the traditional Catholic Latin (Tridentine) Mass has led to some extreme reactions. As a result there have been suggestions, echoed uncritically in the media, that there is some kind of new Catholic initiative for the conversion of Jews, and that Jewish-Catholic relations are regressing.
This is completely incorrect.
To begin with, the pope has reiterated time and again his commitment to close, respectful relations with Judaism and the Jewish people, which he has reemphasized as unique for the church, as Judaism and the Jewish people are its very foundations. He has already received numerous Jewish leadership groups, and began to do so even before receiving Protestant groups, let alone delegations from other religions.
The Catholic Church has rejected proselytism and since the second Vatican Ecumenical Council in the sixties has abandoned any institutional "mission to the Jews."
The church has not changed its position on these matters ...
We [at the American Jewish Committee] received reassurances in the course of the past months from the Vatican, and in the Pope's guidelines there is in fact a restriction on the use of the Latin Mass during the days preceding Easter, which is when the prayer for the conversion of the Jews was recited. Yet it is not clear how extensive this limitation is, and we have accordingly asked the Vatican to issue a clarification that we hope will confirm that there is no official warrant whatsoever for reciting that text ...
THE CATHOLIC Church has a commission to promote relations with World Jewry. Its primary partner is the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, which I chair. It also has a Bilateral Commission with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, which meets regularly and has further strengthened ties between Israel and the Vatican. Next year's Synod of Bishops will focus on the way Scripture should be taught and preached in order to avoid any anti-Semitic or anti-Judaic prejudices.
All this shows that we have made enormous strides in these bilateral relations ... (Rabbi David Rosen, International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, Jerusalem Post July 14, 2007)