Jewish Journal

Cardinal: Jews should change Talmud

by Brad A. Greenberg

October 5, 2007 | 10:33 am

Cardinal Francis George, who will soon take over as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently sat down for a candid interview with John L. Allen Jr of the National Catholic Reporter. It’s a wide-ranging Q&A, but I found what George had to say about Judaism and the Latin Mass to be the most interesting:

A related issue with the old Missal is the Good Friday liturgy, and specifically the prayer for the conversion of the Jews. Where do you think we are with that?

First of all, we have to clarify something, because there are two opinions and we’ve asked the Holy See to clear this up. During the Triduum [the end of Holy Week] you may not have a private Mass. So the first reaction is, well, that means you can’t use the old Missal for the Triduum, so that’s the end of that. Others come back and say no, that if you have a parish that is only Tridentine, then they would also have the Holy Week ceremonies from that Missal. I’m not sure that’s permitted, and that’s what we’re asking.

If it is, would your preference be to use the language of new Missal for this prayer on Good Friday, even when people are celebrating the Tridentine rite?

If you’re celebrating the 1962 Missal, that would involve changing the text of the prayer.

That can be done, yes?

Of course it can be done, and I suspect it probably will be, because the intention is to be sure that our prayers are not offensive to the Jewish people who are our ancestors in the faith. We can’t possibly insult them in our liturgy … Not that any group has a veto on anybody’s prayers, because you can go through Jewish texts and find material that is offensive to us. But if we’re interested in keeping the dialogue strong, and we have to be, we should be very cautious about any prayer that they find insulting. ‘They,’ however, is a big tent. What my Jewish rabbi friend down the block finds insulting is different from what Abraham Foxman [national director of the Anti-Defamation League] finds insulting. Also, it does work both ways. Maybe this is an opening to say, ‘Would you care to look at some of the Talmudic literature’s description of Jesus as a bastard, and so on, and maybe make a few changes in some of that?’


Here’s Jeffrey Weiss’ reaction on the DMN religion blog:

My 2 cents: Exclusivist faiths inevitably make negative claims in their theologies about other religions. Jews want to say that Jesus was a fraud? Catholics (or Baptists) want to say that Jews got real problems in the hereafter of they don’t accept Jesus as Savior? Well, it’s what their religion teaches...I’m not sure I understand why members of the “other” religions bother to complain. Where we get problems, however, is when the theology leads to, say, pogroms or the Inquisition.

I agree that this shouldn’t be much of a surprise. Remember what the pope said about there being “one true church?”

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