VATICAN CITY, JULY 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's apostolic letter concerning the Roman Missal promulgated by John XXIII in 1962, will not reinstate a prayer for the conversion of "perfidious Jews."
The Vatican press office announced today the Pope's letter issued "motu proprio," on his own initiative, is titled "Summorum Pontificum," and will be released Saturday at noon, accompanied by an explanatory letter.
Several media reports erroneously contend that the letter could in effect reinstate a prayer offensive to Jews from the Good Friday liturgy of the Tridentine Mass, which dates back to 1570. The prayer stated: "Oremus et pro perfidies Judaeis" (Let us pray for the perfidious Jews).
On the first Good Friday after his election to the papacy in 1959, Pope John XXIII eliminated the adjective "perfidious" from the prayer. Since then the expression "Let us pray for the Jews" has been used.
That same year, he also eliminated from the rite of baptism the phrase used for Jewish catechumens: "Horresce Jusaicam perfidiam, respue Hebraicam superstitionem" (Disavow Jewish unbelieving, deny Hebrew superstition).
Also eliminated were similar formulas for those converting from idolatry, Islam or a heretical sect.
The 1962 missal was promulgated with an apostolic letter issued "motu proprio" by John XXIII "Rubricarum Instructum." The missal does not make reference to "perfidious Jews."
On Good Friday in 1963, John XXIII underlined the importance of this decision when the old formulation of the prayer for the Jews was read. The Pope interrupted the liturgy and asked that that the liturgical invocations begin again from the beginning, following the new text.
The Roman Missal adopted by Pope Paul VI in 1969, and put into effect in 1970, reformulated the prayer. It reads: "Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant.
"Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption."