The Triduum and the Jews

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus recently chastised Abe Foxman for misreading Summorum Pontificum with respect to the Good Friday prayers for the conversion of the Jews in the 1962 Missal:

“The 1962 Missal does not say what Mr. Foxman says it says. And, if he had read Benedict’s apostolic letter before attacking it, he would know that it explicitly says that the Missal of 1970 will be used exclusively in the Triduum of Holy Week, which of course includes Good Friday.”

Unfortunately it is Fr. Neuhaus who appears not to have read Benedict’s apostolic letter before defending it. Mr. Foxman is actually correct: the document does not say that “the Missal of 1970 will be used exclusively in the Triduum of Holy Week”.

Bishop William E. Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut repeats the error here:

“Concerns were also voiced in the media about the effect the Motu Proprio might have on Roman Catholic-Jewish relations. Prior to the Missal of 1962, the Good Friday Liturgy contained prayers which, lamentably, were indeed anti-Semitic. ‘Are we returning to such forms?’ it was asked.

As just indicated, such references were already removed in the Missal of 1962; furthermore the older usage cannot be used at all during the Triduum, that is, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday”

Bishop Lori’s letter is otherwise very encouraging, but it is disappointing to see prominent churchmen make public statements about a fairly simple document without comprehending its contents. Here’s what Summorum Pontificum actually says:

“Art. 2. In Masses celebrated without the people, each Catholic priest of the Latin rite, whether secular or regular, may use the Roman Missal published by Bl. Pope John XXIII in 1962, or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, and may do so on any day with the exception of the Easter Triduum …

“Art. 3. Communities of Institutes of consecrated life and of Societies of apostolic life, of either pontifical or diocesan right, wishing to celebrate Mass in accordance with the edition of the Roman Missal promulgated in 1962, for conventual or ‘community’ celebration in their oratories, may do so. If an individual community or an entire Institute or Society wishes to undertake such celebrations often, habitually or permanently, the decision must be taken by the Superiors Major, in accordance with the law and following their own specific decrees and statues.”

“Art. 10. The ordinary of a particular place, if he feels it appropriate, may erect a personal parish in accordance with can. 518 for celebrations following the ancient form of the Roman rite, or appoint a chaplain, while observing all the norms of law.”

The only restrictions on the 1962 Triduum pertain to “masses celebrated without the people”. It is worth noting that there are no masses on Good Friday in either missal. Neither is this some kind of censure for the 1962 rite alone: the same restriction pertains to masses celebrated without the people according to the 1970 missal. All private masses cease during the Triduum.

Article 3 permits religious orders to adopt the 1962 missal for their own use. Many such religious orders are already established. There is no mention of a new rule imposing the 1970 missal on these orders during the Triduum.

Article 10 allows for the establishment of personal parishes using the 1962 books, and indeed, we find that these too have existed for years. I belong to one such parish, and the Good Friday prayers are never omitted. There is nothing in this Motu Proprio requiring these prayers to be replaced with those of the 1970 missal.

In short, the Triduum restriction in this Motu Proprio pertains exclusively to private masses celebrated where the 1962 missal is not established for public use. In such places, all private Masses cease, and the public liturgy is offered according to the Ordinary Form.

I’ve been very encouraged by some of the bishops’ responses to the Holy Father’s initiative. But it would be even more encouraging to find a bishop who, instead of side-stepping the issue, would actually defend the holy prayers in the 1962 missal for the conversion of the Jews. It is simply right that the Church pray for the conversion of the Jews along with everyone else. Indeed it is scandalous that the prayers of the Pauline Missal are now widely interpreted to mean that the Church does not desire their conversion!

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