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Pope Benedict XVI's recent letter to bishops authorizing wider use of the 1962 Roman Missal, commonly referred to as the Latin Mass, has provoked strong reactions from Jews and Catholics worldwide who are committed to furthering the historic work of reconciliation begun at the Second Vatican Council with the “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” (Nostra Aetate, 1965). Many are concerned that some language in the missal harkens back to the Adversus Judaeos tradition within Christianity, which for some 18 centuries saw Jews as a threat to Christian society. This tradition was forthrightly and courageously rejected at Vatican II. Yet we and many others in the interfaith community believe these issues can be addressed while still honoring the pope’s laudable desire to reach out to those Catholics who feel a special connection to the Latin rite. There is much to learn from the present controversy. Indeed, it is a crucial moment in the history of Jewish-Catholic dialogue, a test of how far our relations have progressed.



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