July 14: Why worry about others' prayers?

This 16th-century liturgy was often tinkered with, and the last approved text of 1959 did not include the objectionable references to Jews.

letters good 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters good 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Why worry about others' prayers? Sir, - Once again hysterical Hebrews are rending their garments over what other people might or might not utter in prayer ("Pope's revival of Latin Mass described as 'body blow' to Jewish-Catholic relations," July 8). Pope Benedict XVI brilliantly assisted Pope John Paul II through the theological minefield of reconciliation with the Jewish people, culminating in the pope's visit to Yad Vashem and the Western Wall. Now he is trying to reconcile the conservative wing of his church, which is still distressed over the radical liturgical changes of Vatican II, especially the ban on use of the hallowed Tridentine Mass. This 16th-century liturgy was often tinkered with, and the last approved text of 1959 did not include the objectionable references to Jews. The Society of St Pius X is much more influential than its small numbers because it plays on feelings of tradition and nostalgia; a return to the good old ways, much like certain extremist groups among us. They are certainly anti-Semitic, and on occasion quote the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion in their communications. They are not, however, to be taken too seriously. One of their excommunicated leaders, Bishop Williamson, still objects to women wearing slacks, and claims that the most dangerous cultural opus of the 20th centurywas the The Sound of Music, in which a nun, a Bride of Christ, abandons her divine betrothed for the carnal embraces of marital love, Hollywood-style. The society's main attraction is the practice of the Latin Mass. By allowing more general use of it, the pope is taking away the society's monopoly on this popular rite, more attractive to some because it was forbidden. By the way, the Old Mass is a magnificent text, made even more beautiful when accompanied by some of the most inspired music ever composed. Let us remember that there are a few prayers in our own liturgy that others might find offensive. I am sure the same hysterical Hebrews would shout "Anti-Semitism!" if the pope demanded the removal of the "Pour out Thy wrath" (Shfoch hamatcha) prayer from the Haggada. Benedict XVI is trying to heal the ruptures in his church caused by rapid and extreme modernization. I wish our own religious leaders would imitate him and work for more internal conciliation instead of the divisions they encourage. The pope is the most influential Christian leader in the world, and he has openly challenged Islamism. He wants to unite his church in order to stand up to the dangers that threaten all of us. Let us get our noses out of other people's prayers. JOSEF GILBOA Jaffa Sir, - I welcome Pope Benedict XVI's decision to loosen restrictions on the use of the Latin Mass. Vatican II never called for the elimination of Latin, the official language of the Catholic Church. It is a "dead" language that prevents church liberals from translating words into the vernacular using ambiguous terms that undermine church doctrine, such as the use of inclusive language. Perhaps the greatest advantage of the Latin Mass is that it is not open to the abuses regularly experienced with the new Mass. The universality of Latin makes it conducive to all believers experiencing more fully the mystery of the Mass. It imbues a heightened reverence and sense of the sacred. It compliments well the Latin rites. Traditional Gregorian Chant with its moving meditative cadence touches the depths of the soul. I hope the pope's new directive will encourage bishops to actively and aggressively promote the Latin Mass throughout their dioceses, and beyond. PAUL KOKOSKI Hamilton, Ontario