Pope revives old Latin Mass, sparks Jewish concern

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Pope revives old Latin Mass, sparks Jewish concern

Pope revives old Latin Mass, sparks Jewish concern

By Phil Stewart 1 hour, 18 minutes ago

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, in a decree issued on Saturday, authorized wider use of the old Latin Mass and told the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics that his nod to Church traditionalists was nothing to be afraid of.

Jewish groups expressed concern because the decree revived prayers that say Jews are blind to the Christian truth and urge Catholics to pray for their conversion.

One senior figure of a U.S.-based Jewish rights group called the language "insensitive ... insulting" and expressed fears the decree could harm historic reconciliation.

In a letter to bishops, the German-born Pontiff rejected criticism within the Church that his long-awaited move could split Catholics and roll back the clock on reforms introduced in the 1960s, and which are opposed by many traditionalists.

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) replaced Latin with local languages in the liturgy, reached out to other religions and struck out texts that Jews found particularly offensive.

"This fear is unfounded," the Pope wrote. "What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be, all of a sudden, entirely forbidden or even considered harmful."

Catholics around the world will have the Pope's blessing to ask local priests to celebrate Mass in Latin or get baptized or married according to the old rite. Few are expected to want to return to the very formal rite in a language they do not speak.

If the priest refuses, they can appeal to their bishop who, the Pope said, "is strongly requested to satisfy their wishes." If still unsuccessful, they can go all the way to the Vatican.

Previously, bishops could authorize or deny use of the old Latin mass in their dioceses. Some did while others refused.

The Pope said he wants reconciliation with traditionalists, some of whom were so angered by the 1960s reforms that they broke from Rome, causing the first schism of modern times.

The traditionalists' major flag-bearer is the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), founded by the late French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and which claims about one million members. The Vatican estimates their following at about 600,000.

"Looking back over the past, to the divisions ... not enough was done by the Church's leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation or unity," the Pope said.


The decree made no change in the 1962 missal -- the main prayer book for the old Latin rite -- which includes prayers on Good Friday for the conversion of the Jews.

"The language is insensitive. The language is insulting," said Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a U.S.-based Jewish civil rights group.

"To placate them (traditionalists), they are willing to set the clock back on such a historic reconciliation?"

The Second Vatican Council repudiated the concept of collective Jewish guilt for Christ's death, highlighted the Jewish roots of Christianity and urged good relations with Jews. Relations improved further under Benedict's predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II.

French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, whose bishops were among the most outspoken critics of the plan for wider use of the old rite, said the Good Friday prayers could be changed in future.

"If we see that this or that point in this (liturgical) form creates difficulties today, maybe we'll have to modify it," he told journalists in Paris.

Benedict, in his letter, also chastised some Catholics for taking the reforms of the Second Vatican Council too far. But he also warned traditionalist priests that they could not refuse to celebrate mass according to the 1970 missal now in use.

(Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan in Paris)


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Looks like Benedict is

Looks like Benedict is going to end up causing all sorts of religious problems.

But, if it causes breaks within the catholic church and infighting, surely some will get disgusted and simply leave the church alltogether.

That can't be a bad thing, can it?


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What a shock!  The pope who

What a shock!  The pope who was once a nazi trooper is saying things that upset Jews!!  I bet if they elect a pope from the KKK that the African Americans would dislike somethings he would say too.  This is what the Catholic church gets for electing such a figure.

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Isn't that kind of stupid,

Isn't that kind of stupid, too? How many people understand Latin? For all the people in the church know the priest could be telling dirty jokes/stories!

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My town's paper made this

My town's paper made this story the front-page item when it happened.  Like the return of the latin mass was the most important news of the day.

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gee, who would have thought

gee, who would have thought that the vatican would be so out of touch? Eye-wink