Today in Germany, the Central Jewish Committee announced that ties of dialogue with Benedict XVI have been severed. The restored and revived usage of the Good Friday prayer that calls for the conversion of the Jews is at the center of the controversy it seems. The Catholic Church has repeatedly indicated the prayer is not intended to offend Jewish believers, but calls for a conversion of all religious faiths to Christianity. Accordingly, the German organization that represents Jewish religious interests has decided to show its displeasure by announcing the organizations unhappiness with the Pope.

As a Catholic, one needs to raise the question of the Central Jewish Committee…do we tell you how and for whom Jewish believers should pray? The answer is obviously…NO…we do not. Why then is there a continued perception among the Jewish community that Catholics should even consider the editorial opinions of another faith when it comes to our liturgical and sacred prayer. Did we ask for the education opinion of the Jewish Council? Once again, it seems there is a concentrated effort on the part of Semite followers to manipulate Catholic prayers and initiate hostilities against our Pope because he is both German and the head of the Catholic Church.

Frankly, Catholics do not seem to consider the nationality or allegiance of any of the Jewish faith’s hierarchy. The same consideration should work both ways. The revised prayer authored by Benedict XVI for the conversion of the Jewish people on Good Friday is not a Jewish concern. It should be treated that way. The Jewish community consistently disregards the fact that John XXIII previously revised the prayer to exclude derogatory comments about the Jewish people. Our prayers are offered with the spirit of conversion as the central message and imply no sort of antagonism or hostility towards the Jewish people or anyone else for that matter. From a Catholic perspective, we have the right to pray for anyone we choose, without editorial suggestions from other religious denominations.

Catholics do not interfere with the religious observations of any other religious customs or beliefs. We do not offer suggestions towards the modification of the Seder meal as being anti-Egyptian in its historical portrayal, we do not suggest new translations of the Torah, and we do not dispute Jewish ancestry to our own Messiah. We respect the heritage and traditions of the Jewish community of faith. Catholics expect and deserve the same consideration. The Central Jewish Committee needs to, “Let it go!” There are too many positive things that unite Christianity and Judaism to permit an obscure translation of a Latin participle, in an extraordinary form of a revised Rite to destroy 40 plus years of Judeo/Christian ecumenical dialogue. As far as the allegations that Benedict XVI is anti-Semitic, that entire line of thought is completely unfounded and not true. As a Cardinal and as Pope, Benedict offered support to the victims of the Holocaust , visited and prayed at the Roman Synagogue and has called for renewed relationships with out Jewish cousins.

Perhaps it is really just time for Catholics to wince when there is a hint of anti-Catholic sentiments that are raised that call us anti-Semites. Catholics respect, revere and acknowledge the truly intimate relationship we have cultivated with the Jewish people , collectively as a Church. As Benedict embarks on an global campaign to strengthen unity between the monotheistic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism…the time is NOW to stop petty linguistic arguments among our three related faiths and look for our common theological interests.

Hugh McNichol is a Catholic author that writes on Catholic topics and issues. He writes a daily column @ http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com .

His new column “Nothing Left Unsaid!” is found at http://catholicnewsagency.com

Comments are always welcome @ hugh.mcnichol@trinettc.com

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