18 February 2010

Pro Iudaeis

This concludes the subject raised in two previous posts.
It is not so very long to Good Friday; when we shall probably be reminded of the controversy last year about the Prayer for the Jews. Incidentally, nobody ever replied then to my request for information about whether SSPX did obey the Holy Father's imposition of a rewritten Collect.
It would be easy to enter a technical defence of those original references in the Orationes Sollemnes to Jewish perfidia; since the Jews were those to whom the Messiah was long promised and then finally sent, it seemed particularly terrible to the early Christian centuries that so very many of the Jewish people abandoned their Faith in their ancient Covenant God by refusing to accept his Messiah. But there can be no doubt that the phrase sounds very nasty nowadays and I believe it was completely right to eliminate any causes that any reasonable person might have for taking offence. Undoubtedly, the original phraseology bears a considerable risk of sounding as though it is suggesting that Judaica perfidia, taken as meaning dishonesty and perjury, is some sort of congenital failing of all those who are racially Jewish (despite the fact that it really means something like "those of the Jews who have remained unbelieving"). And that would be a nasty and improper slur. It is essential unconditionally to repudiate it.

But even after the Sovereign Pontiff had composed a new prayer, solidly based upon the theology of the last part in the Letter to the Romans of the Rabbi from Tarsus, this replacememt prayer was heavily criticised. I think we must be quite clear about why this was. The guilt of the Holocaust is felt to hang heavily over all of Western society and seems to be felt most strongly by the liberal elements in it. It has become an orthodoxy among these people and in the Interfaith Dialogue industry to raise one's hands in horror at any suggestion that the Christian Gospel might have a claim on people of Jewish origin*. And this instinctive modern orthodoxy has been given conceptual expression in the the assertion that their original covenant and promise remain valid for the Jews in such a way that the New Covenant is not for them. Readers of the posts leading up to this one will have read my explanation of why this is a flawed piece of logic. Or you could reread Romans, helped, perhaps, by E P Sanders' exegesis.

Frankly - and this is to put my head upon a very uncomfortable block - I do sometimes wonder for how many more generations people are to be disciplined with the whip of the Holocaust for any word or deed with which some admirers of Zionism choose to disagree.

*In fact, I suspect that these people are really opposed to any idea that the Gospel has a claim on anybody; but the Jewish question is the most plausible area in which to establish their bridgehead of repudiating the universal explicit claim of Christ.
I would be grateful if readers would refrain from comments which are, or could be misrepresented as being, anti-semitic or anti-judaic; or as constituting 'Holocaust denial'.


tubbs said...

"...for how many more generations..."
Goood Heavens, Vicar. At least consider your carbon footprint before giving yourself up to a Smithfield style barbeque!

Marshmellows, anyone?

Rubricarius said...

My understanding, and I may be wrong, from reading various internet sources, is that the SSPX continued with its usual praxis: i.e. some chapels followed the John XXIII changes and sang Oremus pro Judaeis with Flectamus genua; some chapels used the Pius XII version and had Oremus pro perfidis Judaeis with Flectamus genua; and yet some chapels retained the unreformed version of Oremus pro perfidis Judaeis without Flectamus genua.

I have not heard of any SSPX celebration that used the latest version.

JamesIII said...

This bit of the liturgy in its earlier form has always bothered me. Jesus certainly antagonized the Sanhedrin and Herod feared him as we see from scripture. Scripture also tells us that he was much loved by the populace and was referred to as Master and Rabbi.

His execution was at Roman hands with what was surely some influence from the Jewish governmental and religious establishments, but to blame the people for the Crucifixion is simply illogical.

We can cite many contemporary examples of governments acting in manners that are contrary to public sentiment and "seeding" a crowd at a gathering is an easy task.

The attitude engendered over two thousand years from that misconception has fostered an unwarranted bigotry.

Proaying for the conversion of all of Israel is a noble thing but blaming the Jews for the Crucifixion is quite another.

Joshua said...

Let's be ecumenical, and pray for Jewish folk, and persons of other persuasions also - using the Patrimony's BCP:

O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou hast made, nor wouldest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live: Have mercy upon all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Hereticks, and take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy flock, that they may be saved among the remnant of the true Israelites, and be made one fold under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Adrian2010 said...

I know that it's one of the ancient Good Friday solemn prayers but I'm not comfortable praying the 1662 words for "Jews, Turks, Hereticks and Infidels." Personally I always use the 1928 re-rendering which is rather less harsh.

Adulio said...

Rubricarius - I think you will find that the majority of SSPX chapels use the Oremus pro perfidis Judaeis with Flectamus genua, with very few actually using the John XXIII change and definately none of them using the Benedict XVI change.

GOR said...

I always felt the term “perfidious Jews” smacked of visiting the sins of the fathers on the children, especially as Our Lord’s crucifixion was instigated by only some in the Jewish authority of the time and was not called for by the Jewish race in toto (Our Lord’s followers were Jewish also, as was He!).

Granted that some in the Jewish faith take umbrage at our concern for their conversion to Christianity (“We’re fine just as we are, thank you very much. Chosen People and all that, y’know…”), since Vat II there has been an aversion to praying for or evangelizing those not of the fullness of the Catholic Faith. And some Vatican II documents may be unwittingly responsible for this.

While Vat II affirmed that certain elements of the Faith may exist in other religions and that pace ‘extra Ecclesia, nulla salus’, it is possible for others not of our Faith to be saved, some took this to mean that “all religions are the same”. So, why bother with all this preaching the gospel and evangelizing and stuff…?

We have always known that someone who did not come to know Our Lord through invincible ignorance, could still be saved ex desiderio and a life lived morally correct according to their lights – but it would be more difficult for someone like that. But we, who have the fullness of Faith and all the means that the Faith gives us to facilitate our salvation, should still be concerned to offer that advantage to others not so gratuitously blessed. Our desire and efforts for the conversion of the world is not about numbers or influence. It is about affording to everyone the blessings we have received – even if they don’t initially perceive them or think they don’t need them.

Rubricarius said...


Thank you for the clarification.

AP said...

"Rubricarius - I think you will find that the majority of SSPX chapels use the Oremus pro perfidis Judaeis with Flectamus genua, with very few actually using the John XXIII change and definately none of them using the Benedict XVI change."

I've heard of SSPX chapels that don't do the Flectamus genua.

Charles said...

A world that continues to allow genocide requires ethical remediation. We must insist that religious, racial, ethnic, gender and orientation persecution is wrong; and that tolerance is our progeny's only hope. Only through such efforts can we reveal the true horror of genocide and promote the triumphant spirit of humankind.

Charles Weinblatt
Author, "Jacob's Courage"