Rorate Caeli

Prayer for the Jews:
Bertone tells Jewish leaders: "We ask for reciprocity"
- and other news on Moscow and Encyclical

At the end of his voyage to Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, granted an interview to Italian news agency ANSA - released yesterday and republished today by Italian Catholic website Korazym. On the issue of the reformed Prayer for the Jews, Cardinal Bertone had some stern words - and ANSA also heard the opinion of the Chief Rabbi of Rome:


Reciprocity: the Cardinal asks for it regarding the controversy in the Jewish world surrounding the change of the Good Friday prayer of the Tridentine Rite for the conversion of the Jews. The matter refers only to "a very specific portion of the Catholic world", Bertone explained and, nonetheless, "prayers which might or should be modified" exist "for both parties". According to the Cardinal, "nobody wishes that one party change its own identity or be forced to perform acts, gestures, or to say prayers which do not conform to its own tradition, even to its own faith. And, therefore - he continued - it is an attitude of reciprocity which is asked, of respect for the affirmation of one's own identity, without desiring the forced conversion of anyone, but proposing one's own faith with maximum respect".

Immediate reply from the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, according to whom "the Jewish prayers have already been 'self-censored' centuries ago". "The essential information - Di Segni observes - is that today there is not any reference to Christians in our prayers, which have already been the object of repeated interventions of censorship and self-censorship. The Hebrew texts were modified centuries ago, long before the [Second Vatican] Council." "Another fundamental difference is that regarding the use which is made of the prayer"- the rabbi still adds. "No Jew in the world has never asked anyone to convert, while, instead, the principle of faith of a prayer which asks for the conversion of the Jews has been constantly accompanied by a missionary pressure."

Bertone also had interesting words on other matters: the time of a meeting between Pope Benedict and the Patriarch of Moscow "is approaching". On the release of the Pope's third encyclical, Bertone reveals that it shall "not be published before the Pope's summer vacation" - in Bressanone (South Tyrol), from July 28 to August 11, 2008.