Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to clarify the Vatican’s position on the controversial Good Friday Prayer for the Jews, a Jewish interfaith official said.
The Vatican will issue a letter within a week aimed at easing Jewish fears that the Catholic Church wants to convert them, said the chairman of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, Rabbi David Rosen.
Rosen, who has seen a preliminary draft of the letter, said it will come from the pope via the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Last summer the German-born Benedict decided to bring back a Mass that includes the prayer that “our God and Lord may illuminate [the Jews’] hearts.” The change was poorly received by Jews, and German and Italian Jewish leaders threatened to cut ties with the Vatican.
Rosen said he thinks the pope’s letter, which Vatican spokesmen could not confirm to JTA, will help mend ties.
“If we have confirmation that it is an epistomological prayer and implies no change in Jewish-Catholic relations, then I think we should be content with that and continue dialogue as before,” Rosen told JTA.
Rosen said that Cardinal Waltar Kaspar, the head of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, recently explained in writing that the prayer from the Latin, or Tridentine, Mass, relates to theology concerning “the end of time,” not present-day proselytizing.
“It has no bearing on Jewish-Catholic relations, and certainly in no way compromises the Church’s total opposition to proselytizing,” Rosen said.