A commentor on The Cry of Peace...Peace..., Romanoz, raised an important question - why did the Pope ban the use of the name of the Hebrew God, YHVH, from its liturgy? Aside from deliberately blurring the distinction between Jesus and God, as Romanoz pointed out, could there be a reason other than the stated one - to avoid offending the religious sensibilities of Jews?
Let us consider one ongoing papal purpose and one recent event.
I admit to being puzzled initially as to the possible strategy behind Pope Benedict XVI's determination to elevate Pope Pius XII to sainthood.
But now, the Catholic News Agency has just reported that:
"Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunication of the four bishops from the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) ordained by Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 in a decision he hopes will lead to “real and final unity.”
A press release from the Vatican reveals that after dialogue between the Holy See and SSPX, represented by its Superior General, Bishop Bernard Fellay and his request in a letter on behalf of the other three bishops in the Society, Most Reverend Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Most Reverend Richard Williamson and Most Reverend Alfonso del Gallareta, the Holy Father has decided to lift “the excommunication which they had incurred twenty years ago.”
The statement, released in Italian, recalls that because the Episcopal consecrations of June 30, 1988 were performed by Marcel Lefebvre without pontifical mandate, “the four aforementioned Prelates had incurred the excommunication latae sententiae, formally declared by the Congregation of Bishops on date July 1st 1988.”
According to a March 2008 British Catholic Herald article entitled "Lefebvrists face crisis as bishop is exposed as ‘dangerous’ anti-Semite - SSPX refuses to distance itself from prelate who accuses Jews of doing work of the Anti-Christ" the now in-communicated bishop referred to, the Most Reverend Richard Williamson:
- "has endorsed the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious anti-Semitic forgery that enjoys widespread currency in neo-Nazi circles"
- said that he himself was not an anti-Semite, but didn't like "adversaries of Our Lord Jesus Christ".
- said that "In accordance with their false messianic vocation of Jewish world-domination, the Jews are preparing the Anti-Christ's throne in Jerusalem."
According to the London Times, the same Most Reverend Richard Williamson:
"claimed that six million Jews did not die in the Holocaust, merely a few thousand, and that the gas chambers did not exist" and that his previous utterances "have caused repeated deep offence to the Jewish community as well as many Catholics and other Christians who have heeded the message of Christian repentance towards the Jewish community as spelled out in the documents of Vatican II and elsewhere..."
I would urge readers to visit the Catholic Church Conservation website where they will find such truly remarkable statements such as:
"The tip of the Catholic traditionalist spear is not only pious, it is in parts also antisemitic..."
"The antisemitism of the leadership of the Society of Pope St Pius X showed itself to the representatives of the Pope just before Christmas, when the [German] District Head Father Schmidberger sent a circular letter to all 27 [German] bishops, in which he took the position,
“The Jews of our day.....share in the guilt of deicide so long as they don’t distance themselves from their forefathers through belief in the divinity of Christ and baptism”.
Father Schmidberger went on to say that:
"For those knowledgeable in the matter, the anti-Jewish excursions are however no surprise, reservations about Jews having a long history in the Catholic Church and considered only to have been overcome since the Second Vatican Council in the middle of the sixties. The Society with its rejection of all fashionable innovations are also inheritors of this tradition. Exactly their [the Society's ] fundamentalist convictions make them attractive to certain sorts of people, which is significant for the willingness of these people to donate money for the building of new churches."
Hmmm...anti-semitism is profitable for the Catholic Church, at least in Germany.
But aside from that, these two strategies of Pope Benedict XVI - the push to canonise Pope Pius XII and the excommunication reversal of the SSPX Bishops - have one thing in common. They have outraged Jewish groups worldwide and Israel's Chief Rabbinate has now severed ties with the Vatican despite the Pope's protestations of innocence.
So, to return to my first point, I don't see the papal ban on using the name of the Hebrew God, YHVH, as having anything to do with Jewish 'sensibilities,' but rather I see a shape emerging...a strategy...one which, instead of the isolation and destruction of former strategies, intends to subsume into the papacy all that was once Jewish, including its Capital, its religious symbols, its Messiah, its God...