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Is antisemitism on Christian Holy Friday coming back through Benedictus XVI?

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2007-07-17 17:39:50

This question refers to a special prayer used in the Roman

Catholic Tridentine Mass on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter

Sunday. The reason it is said that day is because that is the day

the Church teaches that Christ died of crucifixion. The prayer

petitions God for conversion of Jews to Christianity. Since, from

the point of view of the Catholic petitioner this would be a

blessing, it could hardly be considered "anti-" anything in

its intent. But frankly it does mean that the Christian petitioner

regards the continuing practice of Judaism to be unfruitful in

obtaining salvation. Or more correctly, that Holy Church

(Catholicism) is the only path to salvation, since Catholics

believe that the Church is the living body of Christ on

Earth, and since Christ said that no one enters the Kingdom of

Heaven except through Him. Holding those beliefs then, it would be

more correct to say one is "anti-Semitic" if they deliberately

didn't pray for the conversion of Jews. It would be like

saying, "They don't deserve it!", as would be true for any other

group of non-Catholics, of course. In a sense, you could say that

prayer is the opposite of persecution, since God would

answer with, presumably, something that is only helpful to

the subject of the prayer. Finally, the willing conversion of Jews

is how Christianity began. So a prayer continuing in that tradition

does not seem inappropriate. The intent is beneficial and

the precedent is there. This is not something new, then, that Pope

Benedict is introducing, but rather reaffirming an ancient,

successful practice.

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