Religion & Beliefs

Bad Friday: The Pope Still Wants to Convert Jews

A few years ago he pissed off Muslims around the world when he suggested that Islam was a religion of the sword. Today, Pope Benedict XVI has enraged the rest of the monotheistic family. In a move that must have … Read More

By / February 8, 2008

A few years ago he pissed off Muslims around the world when he suggested that Islam was a religion of the sword. Today, Pope Benedict XVI has enraged the rest of the monotheistic family.

In a move that must have given both Ann Coulter and Mel Gibson hard-ons, the Pope has re-sanctioned an ancient Good Friday prayer which calls on God to illuminate the hearts of the Jews that they might recognize their savior Jesus Christ. To his credit, the Pope did choose to remove passages from the ancient Latin rite which referred to Jewish "blindness" and the need to "remove the veil from their hearts."

To the surprise of nobody, Jewish groups have got their knickers in a twist. The Italian Rabbinical Assembly has suspended its decades-long dialogue with the Church. And the Anti-Defamation League issued a statement which read:

"While we appreciate that some of the deprecatory language has been removed … we are deeply troubled and disappointed that the framework and intention to petition God for Jews to accept Jesus as Lord was kept intact."

Walter Kasper, the Cardinal in charge of the Catholic Church's relations with Jews, has vigorously defended the Pope's decision. Kasper (who happens to be German) is perplexed by Jewish touchiness:

"I must say that I don't understand why Jews cannot accept that we can make use of our freedom to formulate our prayers. We think that reasonably this prayer cannot be an obstacle to dialogue because it reflects the faith of the Church and, furthermore, Jews have prayers in their liturgical texts that we Catholics don't like."

To those of us less naive about Jewish sensitivities, it is obvious that reintroducing this prayer into the liturgy would reopen old wounds. It harkens us back to a time when Christians looked at Jews the way Tom Cruise looks at a car accident.