Canadian Anglican Church removes prayer to convert Jews

Its replacement is called the prayer “For Reconciliation with the Jews.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Canadian Anglican Church officially removed on Friday a prayer in its liturgy calling for the conversion of the world’s Jews in a procedure that began four years ago.

The prayer will be replaced by one called “For Reconciliation with the Jews,” which was written with input from the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus (CRC). The text asks God to forgive the worshiper “for violence and wickedness against our brother Jacob” due to “the arrogance of our hearts and minds,” requests the removal of all “prejudice,” and acknowledges that the Jews are still God’s people.

The church had almost unanimously approved the deletion of the longstanding original prayer in its General Synod in 2019, leading the CRC to call the decision “a milestone in Anglican-Jewish relations.”

Friday’s ratification was the final step in the process to take out of the Book of Common Prayer the discretionary prayer that pleads with God to “hasten the time when all Israel shall be saved” and “open their hearts” to acknowledge Jesus as “their true Messiah.”

The chief proponent for the change, Bishop Bruce Myers of Quebec, had pushed for it due to the sharp rise in global antisemitism, including in Canada, and the historical Christian persecution of Jews that was largely based on the belief that the Jews were guilty of killing Jesus and of not acknowledging that Christianity had superseded Judaism.

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Altering the prayer, Rev. Myers said in a statement at the time, will push Anglicans “to acknowledge and repent of the church’s participation in anti-Semitism, to stop singling out Jews as a target for our evangelistic efforts, and to assume a humble and reconciliatory stance with our Jewish elders in the faith. It also invites Anglicans to be ever mindful of Christianity’s deep Jewish roots.”

Rabbi Adam Stein of Congregation Beth Israel in Vancouver, who had addressed the 2019 convention as a CRC representative and worked together with Myers, congratulated the Synod for the move.

“Authentic interfaith dialogue requires respect,” he said. “Any attempt by one to convert the other is the antithesis of respect.”

Other rabbis repeated the idea that the vote represented a milestone in interfaith relations, with Rabbi Reuben Poupko of Montreal saying on CRC’s behalf that the Anglican Church “has sent a strong signal to the Jewish community that it stands with us against anti-Semitism – both past and present.”

The largest branch of Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church, formally began the rethinking of the canonical beliefs that were the source of many conversion attempts, as well as periodic pogroms, when the Second Vatican Council issued the famed 1965 “Nostra Aetate” declaration that rejected what is known as “replacement” theology.

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The last several Popes, including current Pope Francis, issued several reconciliatory remarks of respect for Judaism as Christianity’s “elder brother,” which would obviate the issue of encouraging or forcing Jews to abandon their faith.