We Still Pray for Heretics, Schismatics and the Conversion of the Jews

Since our Holy Father has made it possible for some of us to celebrate the Traditional Mass according to the 1962 Missal, I thought I’d share something interesting.

Yesterday, I attended my first Good Friday liturgy as a Catholic.

I have heard many times on this forum that one is no longer to pray for the conversion of Jews nor is one to refer to people who practice other faiths as heretics or schismatics (except for maybe groups like the Old Catholics). Yet, we do pray these prayers in the EF.

Below are the English translations of the prayers of the Great Intercessions which occur during the Good Friday Liturgy:

Let us pray for the Jews: May our God and
Lord enlighten their hearts, so that they
may acknowledge Jesus Christ, Saviour of
all men

Almighty and Everlasting God, who desirest
that all men be saved and come to
the knowledge of the truth; mercifully
grant that, as the fullness of the Gentiles
enters into Thy Church, all Israel may be
saved. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Let us pray also for heretics and schismatics:
that our Lord God would be pleased to
rescue them from all their errors; and recall
them to our holy mother the Catholic and
Apostolic Church.

Almighty and everlasting God, who savest
all, and wouldst that no one should perish:
look on the souls that are led astray by the
deceit of the devil: that having set aside all
heretical evil, the hearts of those that err
may repent, and return to the unity of Thy
truth. Through our Lord. Amen.

Since the Holy Father does allow this liturgy, what are your thoughts on statements like we that we are not to consider Protestants for example, heretics?

What does this say about ecumenism?

First of all, Protestants are not heretics or schismatics. Their ancestors may have been, but they aren’t. See this from the CIC:

Can. 11 Merely ecclesiastical laws bind those who have been baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, possess the efficient use of reason, and, unless the law expressly provides otherwise, have completed seven years of age.

The crime of heresy or the crime of schism is an ecclesiastical law define in the CIC (Can 751). If the Protestant in question was not baptized in the Catholic Church or received into it, he/she is not bound to Canon Law. Therefore, the term “heretic” or “schismatic” could not, in a legal sense, apply.

Having said that, they are cheating themselves out of the fullness of truth held by the Catholic Church since the time of the apostles and they do not benefit from having access to the Sacraments, but they aren’t heretics and/or schismatics.

UNLESS: they were born / raised Catholic and subsequently decided to abandon the Faith. But I don’t think that exception is what you’re talking about here.

Actually we do still pray for the conversion of Jews in the OF. My OF missal is in Latin/French, but the translation I found on-line is here:

“Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. (Prayer in silence. Then the priest says…) Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

It is certainly more subtle than the EF version. One assumes as Catholics we understand that the “fullness of redemption” is through Jesus Christ.

As for “schismatics and heretics”, the intention in the OF is for the unity of Christians.

Okay, let me ask this a different way. Who are the heretics and schismatic we are praying for today?

Thanks for the correction.

However, we are not actually praying for conversion though are we?

In St. Faustina’s Diary, she record Our Lord’s words in 1937, long before Vatican II, for the fifth day of the Divine Mercy Novena. “Today, bring to Me the souls of heretics and schismatics and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy.”

From the Official Novena for Congregational use:

It was decided to adopt the designation “separated brethren” in place of heretics and schismatics because of Vatican II’s unambiguous designation concerning the relationshipo of Christians not in communion with the Apostolic See of Rome in the Body of Christ. The continuous and consistent use of that designation by every Pope since the Council reaffirms that decision.

However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation, those who at present are born into these communities, and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers. For men who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in some, though imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church.

It would be more accurate to refer to them as our separated brethren, which is what in fact they are.

A Protestant, brought up Protestant, and doing his or her best to conform to Christ’s teaching, isn’t a heretic or schismatic, but rather a Christian missing the fullness of Truth. The Church doesn’t teach that they’re automatically damned.

The sin, was the rupture, and for the most part that goes back several hundred years. Belonging to a Protestant denomination isn’t, in itself, sinful.

On the other hand, a Catholic who joins such a church is another matter and will have more to answer for. To whom much was given, much is expected. The Church teaches that they are still Catholics, though in error and outside of communion. We can perhaps interpret the prayer to refer to those Catholics who have left to join Protestant denominations, the JWs or whatever.

However the prayer for unity, IMHO, covers all that, although many here will no doubt object to the more subtle and respectful language. As a believer in civilized discourse, I prefer the modern language. After all we may be referring to our next-door neighbours.

Well I think we are. I think we Catholics all understand that the fullness of redemption is through Christ, and therefore by praying that they achieve the fullness of redemption, we are in fact praying that they accept Christ as the Messiah.

It’s logically, but just more delicately worded than asking for veils to be lifted from hearts, etc.

Protestants and Orthodox (respectively). Even though it would be improper to point your finger in a Protestant’s chest and call him/her a heretic, that doesn’t remove the fact that their beliefs are, to one degree or another, heretical.

I was giving you the legal definition and how legally we do not consider Protestants heretics or Orthodox schismatics. In other words, we would not attempt to take a Protestant to ecclesiastical court and charge him/her with the crime of heresy. We would not take a Russian Orthodox to court and charge him/her with the crime of schism.

One minor point, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (whom you presumably referring to when you say “JWs”) denies the Trinity. Therefore, it would be improper to identify them as “separated brethren” (a statement that implies that the separated brother is still a Christian).

Those who deny the Trinity are not Christians. (See, for example, CDF’s recent statement on the LDS a/k/a “Mormons”)

Actually TrueLight the EF language has changed since Vatican II. It used to say things in this prayer such as referring to the Jews as stubborn, etc in this prayer. So yes we do still pray for them but in a more ecumenical fashion. It is not sometimes what you say but how you say it. I apologize but I don’t have the old copy on me.

I followed along in the Angelus Press Roman Catholic Daily missal and it used the terms schismatics and heretics, as did the Celebrant.

Is there another missal that uses different language?

Now I’m really curious. Would the pre-1962 missals have different language?

Only a very unwise person, to put it mildly would do that. that. :stuck_out_tongue:

Having grown up Protestant and being around many holy protestant folks, including my dear grandmother, who lived a life dedicated to the Lord, I would obviously prefer the term “separated brethren.”

But actually does the Church today state that anyone is automatically damned? It seems to me that no one is wrong no matter what religion they are.

Indeed the JWs are not Christians (nor are the Unitarians). However Catholics who do join them are indeed becoming heretics.

But that would be covered in the OF by the prayer for those who don’t believe in Christ (the 7th intention in the OF), because the JWs do deny the divinity of Christ, and in the EF, it would be proper to include them in the prayer for heretics.

It would be accurate to say that their theologies are objectively heretical and their -]churches/-] ecclesial communities are objectively schismatic, although (most of) their members are not personally guilty of the ecclesiastical crimes of heresy and schism. I’m sure the Holy Father would say that the recognition of this distinction, and the corresponding softening of the in personam rhetoric which tended to dominate in the past, has been one of the positive fruits of postconciliar ecumenism. And certainly, although you can still find it from a few radicals, anti-Catholic whore-of-Babylon type sentiment is far, far less common from the Protestants than it was fifty or seventy years ago – another positive. Pretty hard to imagine, say, an Arkansas governor of the 1930’s expressing his solidarity saying, “We are all Catholics now.”

Of course, the counter-argument to the thesis you are putting forward here would run something like: “Typical modernism from this ‘pope.’ The modernist never hesitates to say one thing to one group of people and the opposite to another, to mix truth and falsehood indiscriminately, to sow confusion and contradiction wantonly. Therefore, far from showing that Ratzinger does not hold heretical views about ecumenism, what you are saying only proves just how deeply the modernist V-II rot is ingrained in his psyche.” I kid you not; that is exactly the argument (and rhetoric) I have seen made when, for instance, Bl. John Paul II is defended against the spurious charge that he believed in automatic universal salvation, based on a misreading of some quote he gave in a different context, by citing all the numerous things he said and did that would prove he did not. Some people can just never be satisfied.

As OraLabora stated, these prayers are not specific to the EF liturgy, but I’m really wondering where the prayers cited in the OP are quoted from. My MTF Roman Missal for the Ordinary Form has similar prayers, but not so harsh. We prayed these last night at the Liturgy of the Passion of the Lord.

The prayers for the Jewish People do not specifically ask for their conversion but that they be brought to the fullness of redemption.

For the Jewish People
***Let is pray also for the Jewish people,
to whom the Lord our God spoke first,
that he may grant them to advance in love of his name
and in faithfulness to his covenant. ***
Prayer in silence, then the priest says
***Almighty ever-living God,
who bestowed your promises on Abraham and his descendants,
hear graciously the prayers of your Church,
that the people you first made your own may attain the fullness of redemption.
Through Christ our Lord
Amen. ***

I also do not see any prayers which reference heretics and schismatics nor anything about being “led astray by the deciets of the devil.” There is a prayer addressed to God for those who do not believe in Christ which asks, “that, by walking before you with a sincere heart, they may find the truth” and one for those who don’t believe in God. The closest I could find to anything about heritics and schizmatics is a prayer for Christian unity.

Let us pray also for all our brothers and sisters who believe in Christ,
that our God and Lord may be pleased,
as they live in the truth,
to gather them together and keep them in his one Church.

Prayer in silence. Then the Priest says:
Almighty ever-living God,
who gather what is scattered
and keep together what you have gathered,
look kindly on the flock of your Son,
that those whom one Baptism has consecrated
may be joined toether by integrity of faith
and united in the bond of charity.
Through Christ our Lord.

Is it possible that the prayers offered in the EF were in Latin and the versions you post have been somehow translated a bit harshly? The prayers we prayed last night are a far cry from calling people heritics and schismatics.


I quoted from the Roman Catholic Daily Missal (1962) by Angelus Press.

The Latin is below: I googled a site that had the exact same wording that is in the missal except for one thing. The title of the prayer for schismatics and heretics is listed as “For the Unity of the Church”, but then it goes on to say the exact same prayer. In my missal it says, “For Heretics and Schismatics”.

Oremus et pro hæreticis et schismaticis: ut Deus et Dominus noster eruat eos ab erroribus universis; et ad sanctam matrem Eclesiam catholicam atque apostolicam revocare dignetur.

Oremus. Flectamus genua… Levate.

Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui salvas omnes, et neminem vis perire: respice ad animas diabolica fraude deceptas; ut, omni hæretica pravitate deposita, errantium corda resipiscant, et ad veritatis tuæ redeant unitatem. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum… R. Amen.


So I guess the title was changed to make it more palatable, but it is still the same prayer.

The prayers we prayed last night are a far cry from calling people heritics and schismatics.

I don’t see the prayers as harsh. They are a loving plea that God will convert souls.

That’s a good way of putting it.

Also, whatever has been said on CAF in the past, surely we have to pray for the conversation of the Jews and all the others, right? I mean, since Vatican II the Church has taught that they might be saved, but they’re taking their chances out there.

Tim, your 1970 missal has the 1970 Good Friday collects. It’s a different prayer even in the original Latin, not a difference in translation.

That said, I believe that after issuing SP, the Holy Father also composed a new Good Friday prayer for the Jews to replace the 1962 one (which was already toned down from the 1955). Angelus Press is connected to SSPX and may not include the 2007 Good Friday prayer (neither does my 1962 missal, being 50 years old). So, depending on what missal people have, three different Good Friday prayers may have been read last night (although perhaps only two were actually said if it was a diocesan Mass).


But since the EF is celebrated according to the 1962 missal, then that is what is read.

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