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By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service

VATICAN CITY (RNS) A new prayer for the conversion of the Jews reflects no change in the Catholic Church’s commitment to “reconciliation” with the Jewish people, the Vatican said Friday (April 4), seeking to soothe feelings over a recently amended portion of the Old Latin liturgy.
But the Vatican did not meet critics’ demands that the church disavow proselytizing Jews, and the prayer could remain an issue during the upcoming U.S. visit of Pope Benedict XVI. The pontiff will meet with Jewish leaders and visit a synagogue in New York on April 18.
Interfaith principles espoused by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s “today continue to sustain the bonds of esteem, dialogue, love, solidarity and collaboration between Catholics and Jews,” the Vatican said Friday.
The statement responds to controversy over the so-called Latin Mass, which fell out of use after Vatican II made local-language Mass the norm, but which Pope Benedict revived last July.
Some Jewish leaders objected to a prayer in the Latin Mass’ Good Friday liturgy calling for the conversion of the Jews.
The Vatican published a new version of the prayer in February, removing references to Jews’ “blindness” and a request that God “take the veil from their hearts.”
The new prayer calls on God to “enlighten (Jews’) hearts so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men” and expresses the hope that “all Israel may be saved.”
The 1,600-member Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Rabbis issued a unanimous resolution stating that it was “dismayed and deeply disturbed” by the new prayer.
The Vatican’s statement on Friday “does not go far enough to allay Jewish concerns,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
“It is reassuring that the Catholic Church remains committed to the ideals” of Vatican II, Foxman said. “Yet it is troubling that the statement still does not specifically say that the Catholic Church is opposed to proselytizing Jews.”
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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