WASHINGTON, D.C., FEB. 7, 2008 (Zenit.org).- U.S. bishops voiced their support for Benedict XVI's change to the 1962 missal's Good Friday prayer for the Jewish people.
In a statement from Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba of Milwaukee, chairman of the U.S. episcopal conference's Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, the bishops note that the Pope responded to concerns raised by Jewish communities.
"The Holy Father has heard with appreciation the concerns of the Jewish community that the prayers of Good Friday should reflect the relationship between Jews and the Church put forward in 'Nostra Aetate,' and implemented by the late Pope John Paul II," the note said, recalling the Second Vatican Council declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions.
"As Vatican II states," Bishop Sklba continued, "'God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts he makes or of the calls he issues -- such is the witness of the Apostle.'"
The message added: "The Holy Father has chosen to omit from his revision any language from the various editions of the (Latin) Missal of 1962 that have long been associated with negative images of Jews. For example, there are no references to the 'blindness of the Jews,' to the 'lifting of a veil from their heart,' or to their 'being pulled from darkness.'
"Pope Benedict XVI has chosen to present the relationship of the Church and the Jews within the mystery of salvation as found in St. Paul's Letter to the Romans [cf. Rom 11:11-32]. Central to the concerns of the Holy Father is the clear articulation that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ and his Church. It is a faith that must never be imposed but always freely chosen."
"The Catholic Church in the United States," Bishop Sklba's message concluded, "remains steadfastly committed to deepening its bonds of friendship and mutual understanding with the Jewish community."