1 April 2017

The Bishops' Conference of England and Wales UPDATE

"The Bishops' Conference requests that the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei review the prayer Pro Conversione Iudaeorum in the Solemn Liturgy of Good Friday in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, in the light of the understanding in Nostra Aetate of the relationship between the Catholic Church and Judaism".

There appears to be no indication whether this resolution, passed last week by the English and Welsh Bishops, was unanimous; or how detailed and profound their discussion had been.

It expresses a suggestio falsi which is within a nanometre of being a Great Big Lie. Any normal reader not versed in liturgical minutiae would assume that the bishops were calling for an EF text dating from centuries before the Second Vatican Council to be brought into line with the subsequent teaching of that Council. Dishonestly, dishonourably, disgracefully, these bishops conceal the fact that the Prayer in the EF was composed four decades after the Council by somebody who, unlike any of these episcopal tricksters, was actually part of the Council: Pope Benedict XVI. There is also the bizarre, arrogant assumption in this passage that the bishops know exactly what Nostra aetate says and means, but that the writer of the Prayer, Benedict XVI, never quite got round to reading Nostra aetate.

Assuming that the bishops did not all wake up one morning with one identical thought in every head, it would be interesting to know where this concern originated; particularly, whether with one of the bishops or in some Liturgy Committee or other pressure group. Such open information is always available with regard to the deliberations of the American Episcopal Conference.

I find it extraordinary that whoever originated this move is unaware that the current (as from 2008) form of that Prayer comes directly from the pen of Benedict XVI himself, who was at the Council as a peritus and, it has always seemed to me, gives the impression of knowing some of the Conciliar documents really quite well. And, while aware that a lot of people viscerally loath Joseph Ratzinger, I have always found his writings, both as a theologian, and as Cardinal Prefect of the CDF, and as Successor of S Peter, cogent, convincing, and illuminating. I would like to be helped to understand where it is that I have gone wrong in this judgement.

Is this part of an attempt to get rolling a movement for dismantling the Magisterium (and dishonouring the memory) of Benedict XVI; and for derailing the current rather promising rapprochement, under the direction of Pope Francis, between the Vatican and the SSPX?

What I would like to have, as a concerned Catholic Priest who tries to understand the Church's Magisterium, is a lucid and unwoffly statement of what exactly it is in the Prayer which contradicts which precise affirmations of Nostra Aetate, a document to which, of course, I subscribe. Since the Prayer as composed by Benedict XVI in 2008 carefully follows, even verbally, the teaching of S Paul* (an author whom I spent three decades teaching), I would also be very interested to know what it is in S Paul's teaching that is deemed to fall under the condemnation of Nostra Aetate.

* Romans 11:25-26; this pericope has not yet been censored from the Novus Ordo Lectionary. 
The BC has now published a Note (see the thread) which does considerable discredit to whoever drafted it. He or she, indeed, appears to be unaware that the Prayer concerned was written by the Sovereign Pontiff himself ... or else wishes the fact not to be known. The Note gives no information about what it is in the text composed by Pope Benedict that contradicts Nostra aetate. It claims that "the Prayer produced in 2008 reverted to being a prayer for the conversion of Jews to Christianity", but fails to indicate which phrases in the text of the Prayer it deems objectionable. Whoever drafted it is clearly someone who believes, at all costs, in avoiding honest, or precise, dialogue.

At one point only does it come clean. "The Bishops of England and Wales have now added their voice to that of the German Bishops who have asked for the Prayer in the Extraordinary Form to be changed". 

So now we know what is going on. Kasper's belated revenge on Ratzinger, now that he can't answer back. 

Not in my name. 


motuproprio said...

On a more positive note they are following the Ordinariates and adopting the Revised Standard Version (2nd Catholic edition 2010) for the Ordinary Form Lectionary and Daily Office.

Ttony said...

Four days hard work summarised here.
"Plenary" sounds extraordinarily binding, doesn't it, as though the CBCEW were somehow an entity superior to the dioceses, if inferior to Rome.

Gillineau said...

I have often wondered if the current Christian wobble is in part caused by a general distrust of, if not outright rejection of S. Paul. Many influential types question his christology, suggesting he created Christ out of Jesus, and also a lot of his moral conclusions too. This would be another example.

John Vasc said...

Review the Prayer? It has already been reviewed and toned down, several times, since the 1950s. Like the prayer for muslims, it is already so anodyne as to be untruthful and pointless. Any further revision, and it will become a prayer for the conversion of Catholics to Judaism.
This sounds like a zeitgeisty attempt to curry favour with the idea - one I heard expressed on Radio 4 a few months back by a previous Archbishop of Westminster - that "of course we aren't supposed to try to convert anybody these days" - an
idea that seems to resonate opportunely with certain vaguely-worded statements emanating from Rome.
'These days' - what a wonderful, progressive, modern concept. And surely Good Friday itself might well be an occasion of offence to the offence-takers-by-Munchhausens who seem obsessed with what this person or that may 'take offence at.'
So why not 'review' Good Friday, and abolish all the prayers entirely? Or perhaps the whole ceremony?

Nicolas Bellord said...

Has any good ever come out of the CBCEW?

Athelstane said...

Well, if they want to restore the 1962 prayer, I wouldn't object.

I'm sure there's no whiff of Dual Covenant theology at work here.

John Vasc said...

It seems to have been Pope Benedict who on or after his visit 'suggested' to (then) Archbishop Nichols that penitential Fridays should be re-introduced.
Their abolition in E&W, as Mary Douglas pointed out, caused spiritual harm to English Catholics - but their restoration was tempered by the hierarchy's apparent reluctance to teach and preach on the subject, and by their tacit conflation of the terms abstinence and fasting. Sermons explaining fasting, abstinence, the distinctions, and their importance and relevance are thin on the ground - pastoral letters even thinner. As for fasting during Lent - the bishops seem mute on the subject.
All we get from CBCEW is the occasional announcement that such-and-such a day (eg St Stephen's Feast on Fri 26th December 2014) is not to be abstained on - a no-brainer that every Catholic knew without needing a reminder, fifty years ago.

Matthew Roth said...

The current prayer for the Ordinary Form is deficient if one's standard is the clarity of the teaching contained in Nostra Aetate. It's not heretical. Growing in love for the name of God can only mean one thing when prayed for in the Christian liturgy, as God gave Christ Jesus the name that is above all other names, at which every knee shall bend! But the prayer satisfies the sensibilities of those who don't wish to pray for conversion and who don't wish to acknowledge that he is the way, the truth, and the life for all. It's as if they wish to exclude people from God's mercy...and I thought that we weren't supposed to exclude people.

Besides, the covenant is not salvific without Christ... That teaching clearly seems to be rejected by those who wish for the prayer to change.

Highland Cathedral said...

A note on the Bishops’ Conference resolution on the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews
24/11/2015 4:00 pm
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In 1970, the Prayer for the Jews in the liturgy of Good Friday was revised so as to reflect and express the teaching on Judaism contained in the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate.

In particular it removed offensive references to the Jews and did not pray for the conversion of the Jews. This was in light of the fact that Nostra Aetate acknowledged the unique spiritual bond between Christians and Jews since it was the Jews who first heard the Word of God.

The 1970 Prayer, which is now used throughout the Church, is basically a prayer that the Jewish people would continue to grow in the love of God’s name and in faithfulness of his Covenant, a Covenant which - as St John Paul II made clear in 1980 - has not been revoked. By contrast the Prayer produced in 2008 for use in the Extraordinary Form of the liturgy reverted to being a prayer for the conversion of Jews to Christianity.

This caused great upset and confusion in the Jewish community since the Church seemed to be giving inconsistent messages.

The Bishops of England and Wales have now added their voice to that of German Bishops who have asked for the Prayer in the Extraordinary Form to be changed. Such a change would be important both for giving clarity and consistency to Catholic teaching and for helping to progress Catholic-Jewish dialogue.

Archbishop Kevin McDonald
Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations

So it's praying for the conversion of the Jews which is the problem. You can just imagine if Archbishop McDonald was present in the Upper Chamber at Pentecost. "Hang on a second Peter. You'd better not go outside and say anything about the local people following Jesus. It's a tad disrespectful. You might upset them. And didn't Christ say something about teaching all nations except the Jews?"

Highland Cathedral said...

These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Matt 10:5-7.
Oh dear, Jesus, what were you thinking?

Highland Cathedral said...

And you'd better not sing this, either: "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel..."

Highland Cathedral said...

Even St John got it wrong, it seems.
"Worthy are you O Lord, to take the scroll and to open the seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation." Rev 5:9
Just as well we have the BCEW to keep us right.

José Manuel Santos Ferreira said...

Interesting study:

Anonymous said...

Someone should post the blessing prayers that all Hebrews are supposed to say daily. There are I believe around thirty or so, There is a very interesting one about Christians towards the end. Change that blessing and admitting to their own shiftiness might be very welcome

Anonymous said...

And to think, this from those who are among the Remnant who resisted the threats and temptations of Henry VIII...

With English Catholics like that, who needs Anglicans?

But think not that this post hails from a jingoistic American. We are in pretty bad shape ourselves, tho admittedly the recent voting recommendations aren't too bad, beings that they {amazingly?} recognize that gay marriage and abortion are actual sins and all...

Matthew Roth said...

“In particular it removed offensive references to the Jews and did not pray for the conversion of the Jews. This was in light of the fact that Nostra Aetate acknowledged the unique spiritual bond between Christians and Jews since it was the Jews who first heard the Word of God.“

If that’s how the drafters view NA, I have no idea how they view the Great Commission. What Fr. Hunwicke wrote previously on NA sems to be correct to me.

Father, your comment to close the update is spot-on. Not in our names indeed!

Tee Pee Gee Eff said...

I never understand the problem some Jews have with Catholics praying for their conversion. Are they worried God might listen?

Nicolas Bellord said...

Perhaps the only good thing that came out of the Synod on the Family is that the split in the Church is very much clearer and in particular we can see on which side of the split individuals stand or sit. The phrase in the CBCEW's notice that struck me most forcibly is:

"The Bishops of England and Wales have now added their voice to that of German Bishops "

Of course that is just the CBCEW which I suspect is really run by its secretariat and is not representative of the Bishops themselves. And of course the "German Bishops" are their Bishops' Conference which seems to be totally beholden to heretics and again not representative of all German Bishops.

I was reliably informed that on one contentious uber-liberal issue one single Bishop (fortunately no longer with us) spoke in favour and the others just said nothing and it was passed by the CBCEW.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for standing up for Benedict. I miss him. Thanks, God, he is still with us.

Dom Bede Rowe said...

Ignoring the use of a statement from a speech by St John Paul II, thus having no specific theological content, and ignoring the rather strange argument that there is confusion over two different prayers, so let's use the 1970s one, rather than the one from a living Pope, the Bishops are doing strange things.

They are misrepresenting Nostra Aetate, ignoring Ad Gentes and the other Vatican II documents, defining Judaism by a Christian definition of the concept of 'covenant', ignoring differing voices within Judaism, proposing a dual covenant theology with no regards to the consequences, etc. ect.

And all because... hmmm that is the problem. If it was the offence caused to the Jews by the 2008 prayer, then they didn't mind sustaining that offence for the last seven years. So do they want to propose a change in theology? Hardly, because the implications of dual-covenant theology are so bonkers that I do not think that they seriously want to pursue that.

So, not being overly concerned with the stated offence to unspecified Jewish communities, and not proposing a change in theology, our Bishops want the removal of a prayer, specifically written by Pope Benedict, which is used in the Latin Mass in about half a dozen places in England and Wales per year.

And hang the consequences.

Pontiacprince said...

We must pray for these perfidious people who would do away with such prayer.
Has the cock crowed yet three times?

John Patrick said...

I'm wondering if this is just a way to try to undermine the increasing interest in the Extraordinary Form. Perhaps they see with alarm the growing interest in the TLM and see this as a way to discredit it. After all, can't have people participating in authentic Catholic worship, that would ruin all the "progress" we have made over the last 50 years!

Deacon Augustine said...

"The 1970 Prayer, which is now used throughout the Church, is basically a prayer that the Jewish people would continue to grow in the love of God’s name and in faithfulness of his Covenant, a Covenant which - as St John Paul II made clear in 1980 - has not been revoked."

This is a specious misrepresentation of what St JPII actually taught. He clarified his statement in Sydney to the effect that he was speaking about the Abrahamic covenants. This was quite correct because the Abrahamic covenants were unilateral covenants sworn by God and consequently are still in effect. Nevertheless all three covenants made with Abraham are fulfilled in Christ.

However, the testimony of Scripture is abundantly clear that the bilateral Mosaic covenant is fulfilled in Christ and is consequently now redundant, obsolete, kaputt. None of the OT covenants offered or were capable of offering salvation and eternal life. Why are these spineless bishops refusing to pray for the salvation of the Jews? Do they not merit the offer of eternal life too? Are our bishops antisemites?

IanW said...

What is the corresponding form of the prayer in the Ordinariate Use, Fr?

Unknown said...

Is this another case of Modernism? So often it is based on a caricature of Church history, especially in the Middle Ages. E. Michael Jones' The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History provides the facts. He points out that the papal states were often a refuge for Jews fleeing persecution in other Christian countries. The papacy's policy towards Jews was set by Gregory I's formula "Sicut Judeis non" which sought to guarantee Jews the right to build synagogues and worship in them free from harassment. Jones also shows that medieval Judaism, formed by the Babylonian Talmud which claimed Jesus was in hell buried in burning excrement, was consistently hostile to Christianity.

Anonymous said...

Father, I don't know if you allow commenters to post links, but LMS Chairman has posted the following on his site:

Rabbi Neusner on the Prayer for the Jews

This short article was published in response to the publication of the revised Prayer for the Jews, to be used in the Extraordinary Form Good Friday Liturgy, by Pope Benedict XVI, in 2008. The prolific American writer and translator, Rabbi Jacob Neusner, points out that Jews pray every day for the conversion and enlightenment of the gentiles, and have no reason to be offended if their charity is reciprocated.

The actual text by Rabbi Jacob Neusner can be found at http://www.lmschairman.org/2015/11/rabbi-neusner-on-prayer-for-jews.html which also links to the following post at Sandro Magister's blog: http://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/193041?eng=y

Here's my take: If the Jews pray for the conversion of gentiles, I doubt they will be offended by our praying for their conversion, as the Rabbi indicates. As such, in my view, the request to review the prayer by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales is more about thrashing Benedict XVI, than for real concern about Jewish/Catholic relations. Too, too bad. Personally, I think that one day Benedict XVI will be called a Doctor of the Church, while the bishops who make up the conference will all be forgotten.

Robert said...

Do we have any information on whether this decision by the Bishops' Conference was unanimous, or was it just a majority vote?

What does the Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, think of it? He's a member of the Bishops' Conference.

coradcorloquitur said...

We are witnessing the Great Apostasy. For Catholic shepherds to grovel to Judaism and to throw out the intercession for their salvation in Christ---through alone there is salvation---is nothing short of perfidy. What else do we need from them: a formal, written repudiation of the Nicean Creed and the entire Magisterium of the past two milennia to understand where their hearts and minds are? Hardly. The evidence is in.