I’m not sure if the timing has anything to do with Pope Benedict’s U.S. trip, but the schismatic traditionalist Society of Saint Pius X chose this weekend to announce its disappointment in the pontiff and its decision not to seek closer ties to Rome now. SSPX leader Bishop Bernard Fellay wrote in a “Letter to Friends and Benefactors” (here in French) that Benedict had not budged in his support for the Second Vatican Council despite his decision last year to allow wider use of the old Tridentine rite Mass in Latin.
The Vatican has just posted the missal for the prayers at different events in Pope Benedict’s U.S. visit from April 15 to 20. We’ve covered the prayer at Ground Zero as a news story here. Now here’s the link for the PDF of the rest of the missal. The Vatican usually distributes small missals with the prayers for Masses and other services during papal trips (and major events at St. Peter’s). This is the first time we’ve seen the prayers posted in advance on the Internet.
Given the discussion about the new Latin prayer to be read at Catholic Good Friday services in the Tridentine rite today, I’ve tried to find estimates for how many people will actually hear it. Jewish groups have expressed dismay that the new version of the prayer, which drops references to the “blindness” of the Jews but still calls for their conversion. The leader of Germany’s Jewish community said she could not fathom how the German-born Pope Benedict could “impose such phrases on his church.” The Vatican rejects this criticism and sources there say it could soon issue a conciliatory note. So there’s a lot of talk about this issue, but how much is actually happening on the ground?
Pope Benedict’s decision to change a Latin prayer for Jews at Good Friday services has disappointed Jews who wanted more change. It has also left some traditionalist Catholics uneasy, because many wanted no change. Both groups were expecting the decision, because Good Friday is coming soon (March 21) and it will be the first Good Friday since the Pope authorised wider use of the old Latin missal. That missal speaks of the “blindness” of the Jews and asks God to “remove the veil from their hearts.” The new wording says “Let us also pray for the Jews. So that God our Lord enlightens their hearts so that they recognize Jesus Christ savior of all men.” It also asks God that “all Israel be saved.”