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Singing Yahweh Offends the Jews

Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.

Yesterday, my friend Jan sent me an article from Catholic News Service with the headline “No ‘Yahweh’ in songs or prayers at Catholic Masses, Vatican rules” (August 12, 2008). She indicated this was another conservative liturgical move of Benedict XVI and, therefore, something for traditionalists to celebrate. A sign of hope for the future, I believe she said.

Unfortunately, Jan had not read much further than the headline, a habit, I might note, that is increasingly common among Internet visitors. The web itself predisposes a person to speed. The massive amount of information available, clicking instead of page-turning, a reading screen vs. paper-in-the-hand - all incline a person to a quick gulp of bytes vs. careful analysis. For this reason, Internet headlines frequently offer an easy means to spread misinformation.

Franciscan friars singing

Conventual Franciscans friars sing the now forbidden Yahweh I Know You Are Near at a meeting
So, my friend Jan read that songs such as "I will Bless Yahweh" and "Rise, O Yahweh" will no longer be part of the Novus Ordo “worship experience” in the United States. The most popular hymn in the whole OCP repertoire (Obligatory Contour Principle publishes Church missalettes and songbooks) is “Yahweh, I know you are near.” – This gives you some idea of the nadir liturgical music has reached. At the very least, these songs will be edited to remove the word Yahweh – “a name of God that the Vatican has ruled must not be used or pronounced in songs and prayers during Catholic Masses” (CNS, August 12, 2008).

Read further, dear Jan. On page 2, one click further, we learn that the rationale for the change is not a more appropriate liturgy, but another progressivist concession of Pope Ratzinger to Jewish demands. The directive made in his name is based on “sensitivity to concerns among observant Jews about pronouncing the name of God.”

For the unenlightened, Jews consider it irreverent to speak or write the name Yahweh. I remember when I was teaching Western Civilization at the University of Kansas, I was called on the carpet for writing Yahweh on the board during a class on the Old Testament. This offended the sensibilities of one of my Jewish students. According to her, I should have written YHWH, the four consonants called the Tetragrammaton used to signify Yahweh - a practice that the Catholic Church never adopted.

The letter to Bishops further tells us that the Yahweh directive will be a return to the “Church’s tradition” of never pronouncing “the sacred Tetragrammaton.” Clearly, here we are returning to a Jewish tradition of the Old Law, not to any Catholic tradition of the New Law of Christ, which replaced the former.

These ecumenical concessions are always one-sided. First, progressivists start singing Yahweh instead of God or Our Lord to please the Protestants. Now, they stop singing Yahweh because it offends Jewish tradition. Progressivists don’t have to worry about offending Catholic traditions because this is what they do all the time. Since Vatican II, Progressivism always adapts the Catholic doctrine to the doctrines of the false religions.

Commitment to Vatican II ecumenism

Benedict at the synagogue giving a legal manuscript

At the New York synagogue Benedict gives a legal manuscript, implying the Jews always acted within the Law
This new concession to Jewish sensibilities regarding the name Yahweh follows a long procession of such compromises in doctrine made by Joseph Ratzinger as Cardinal and as Pope.

I will not delay my friend Jan too long by listing them all. But I will note some highlights to demonstrate his unceasing commitment to conciliar rapprochement with this false religion. Perhaps it will help lay to rest the stubborn notion that Benedict XVI wants to reverse the Conciliar Revolution. The opposite seems to be true. He promoted the Conciliar Revolution as Cardinal and continues to do so in the See of Peter.

What follows is not my personal judgment of him. It is a list of facts and acclamations taken from an article titled “Biography of Pope Benedict XVI” on the Jewish Virtual Library. Among many other eulogies, I highlight the ones below. (My own comments are in maroon; everything else is from the Jewish site, as the reader can confirm here.)
• His personal preparation during the pontificate of JPII of the 1999 document Memory and Reconciliation apologizing for the Catholic Church’s "historical errors" in the treatment of Jews.

• His authorization of the 2002 publication, “The Jewish People and the Holy Scriptures,” prepared by the Pontifical Biblical Commission. It stated (against Catholic doctrine) that “The Jewish messianic wait is not in vain.” It also stressed the importance of the Torah for Christians (affirming Catholics have much to learn from it).

• His repeated emphasis on Christianity’s roots in Judaism. In a Vatican sermon marking his installation as pontiff, Benedict XVI extolled Jews for sharing a “spiritual heritage” with Christianity, and affirmed his purpose to implement the new teaching of Vatican II Nostra aetate, which absolved Jews of collective guilt in the death of Jesus Christ.

A photograph of Fr. Leon Dehon

Fr. Leon Dehon's beatification blocked for his supposed anti-Semitic writings
• His decision to temporarily block the beatification of Leon Dehon, a French priest who founded the Priests of the Sacred Heart Institute, after learning the founder made “disparaging remarks” about the Jews. For example, in several texts Fr. Dehon suggested Jews were “thirsty for gold” and also called the Talmud “a manual for the bandit, the corrupter, the social destroyer.”

• His drafting of a new Latin prayer for Good Friday that dropped all references to the “darkness” and “blindness” of the Jews.

• His visit to the Synagogue in Cologne, Germany (and his recent visit to the Synagogue in New York).

• His affirmation on October 27, 2005, the 40th anniversary of Vatican II’s document Nostra aetate, of his “firm determination to walk in the footsteps traced by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II. The Jewish-Christian dialogue must continue.”

• In May 2008, Benedict congratulated Israel on its birthday and described Israel’s 60th Independence Day as a sign of God’s beneficence toward the Jews. “The Holy See is united with you,” he told Motti Levy, Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, “and thanks God for the full realization of the Jewish people’s aspirations to live in its homeland, the land of its forefathers.”
It might be good to memorize just a few of these concessions to recall to mind the next time you are tempted to think we have a conservative Pope who wants to return the Church to pre-Vatican II days.

Posted on August 13, 2008

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