Since the Last Supper the Catholic Church has been greatly influenced by our close cousins in faith the Jewish People. It is disturbing that in this era of theological reconciliation and ecumenical dialogue there is even a suggestion of anti-Semitism on the part of Catholics worldwide. Recently, Benedict XVI permitted the restoration of the Tridentine liturgy in the Church. There were anti-Semitic parts of the Good Friday liturgy prior to Vatican II. However since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council the Catholic Church has been instrumental in pioneering a new and restored relationship with the Children of Israel. Our Catholic liturgy now reflects the ancient relationship with the Jewish people as one of evolving theological revelation through both the Old and New Testaments and the secular events of the past two thousand years. Catholic-Jewish dialogue exists today in a social, cultural and theological environment quite different from the pre-Vatican II Church. Any suggestion that derogatory roots of our old misunderstandings and misinterpretations of theological beliefs between Catholicism and Judaism are just plain wrong, and need to be dispelled.

In the period since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has made great progress towards developing positive relationships with our Jewish cousins. John-Paul II was the first pope in history to visit the synagogue of Rome, he offered prayers and requested harmony at the Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem and proclaimed contrition on behalf of the Church for sins committed against the Jews. His successor Benedict XVI has visited the notorious concentration camp at Auschwitz, prayed at the synagogue in Cologne, Germany and repeatedly called for interfaith dialogue with all faithful peoples.

The speculation in the secular press that the permission to restore elements of the Tridentine Rite that implies a restoration of anti-Semitism is completely unfounded and just plainly erroneous. The Holy See has been quite clear in this message, and all Catholics should protest any suggestions that indicate the Holy Father suggests otherwise.

Our liturgical Liturgy of the Word has as its foundation the ancient synagogue services of Judaism in the first century a.d. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is rooted in the ancient celebration of the Passover meal. Our Catholic altars and even our tabernacles are based upon the sacred altar of the Temple of Jerusalem and the presence of God in the Old Testament, Holy of Holies. We Catholic are dedicated to a deepening understanding and participation in faith with the first called People of God more today than perhaps anytime since the Apostolic era.

It is our prayerful obligation and responsibility as both Catholics and Jews to work together in mutual cooperation towards a deeper relationship in faith between our 2 faiths. Any notion by the media or the secular press, or indeed any religious groups that the embers of anti-Semitism are freshly ignited in the Catholic Church are wrong. Lets all take this period of Lenten self-examination to realize the great common heritage we Catholic faithful and the Jewish people share in our profession of monotheism in light of both the Old and New Testaments.

Hugh McNichol is a freelance Catholic author that writes on Catholic topics and subjects. His blog: http://catholicsacredarts.blogspot.com can be read almost daily. He can be reached with comments at hugh.mcnichol@trinettc.com

 

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