Italian prominent rabbis denounce new Good Friday prayer as ‘step backwards’

by: Daniel Mosseri
OME (EJP)—Italy’s two most prominent rabbis have criticised the Holy See’s announcement that the traditional Good Friday prayer in Latin will be modified by excising references to the “blindness” and “darkness” of the Jews.
The new Latin text reads: “May the Lord enlighten them (the Jews) so that they recognise Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all men”.

According to Rome’s chief rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, who leads Italy’s largest Jewish community, the new prayer represents “a grave step backwards that sets a major obstacle to the continuation of the Christians-Jews relations as it explicitly shows the aim of converting the interlocutor, thus bringing up for discussion again decades of progresses”.

“I am really disappointed”, the rabbi told the Italian daily La Repubblica.

“I will put off judging until I have read the text that L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican official journal, divulged, but my feeling is that the new wording is even worse than the one dated 1962,” the rabbi said.

Di Segni words were echoed by those of Rabbi Giuseppe Laras, the Milan-based chairman of the Italian Rabbinical Assembly and former chief rabbi of the second largest Italian Jewish community: “By re-proposing the theme of conversion,” he said, “the prayer will eventually strengthen the positions of those Jewish environments that oppose the dialogue with the Catholic Church”.

The Vatican press room stressed on Wednesday that the new prayer will probably be said “only in very few churches,”, namely those where the believers asked to adopt the traditional pre-Vatican Council II rite, sung and read in Latin.

“About thirty churches throughout Italy,” the Vatican said.

Elsewhere, Pope Paul VI’s missal – a text that doesn’t mention the word conversion but only asks the Lord to preserve his alliance with the Jews – will be used instead.

Giuseppe Laras, chairman of the Milan-based Italian Rabbinical Assembly and former chief rabbi of the second largest Italian Jewish community: “The prayer will eventually strengthen the positions of those Jewish environments that oppose the dialogue with the Catholic Church”.

Source: European Jewish Press

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