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U.S. Jewish Body Lauds Pope’s Deletion of Negative Reference to Jews

Pope John XXIII’s order deleting negative references to Jews and Moslems in a Catholic prayer was hailed by the American Jewish Committee today as “another significant step by the Pontiff toward improving interreligious understanding and setting a new standard of achievement for religious leaders and educators. “

The Pope ordered the omission of the passage in the prayer which referred to “those who are still shrouded in darkness of idolatry or Islam.” He also ordered the deletion of the passage which referred to “the children of the people which was once the chosen people: may the blood already invoked on them descend on them too as a cleansing bath of redemption in life.”

This was the second time this year that Pope John had ordered the omission of negative passages concerning other groups in Roman Catholic liturgy. Last March, the Pope ordered a change in an ancient liturgical text used in Good Friday services which said: Oremus pro perfidis Iudaeis.” (Let us pray for the perfidious Jews.) This had been changed by the previous Pontiff to be translated as “Let us pray for the unbelieving Jews,” and Pope John struck the word “unbelieving” from the text.

Herbert B. Ehrmann, president of the American Jewish Committee, stressed that the Pontiff’s actions “might well augur the beginning of a new era in intergroup and interreligious relations. The Pope’s actions reflect a growing awareness concerning the barriers which stand in the way of harmonious group relationships. These barriers frequently are in the form of ancient negative references in religious texts which are destructive in effect and do not stem from the basic teachings of the religious groups. “

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