When Summorum Pontificum first came out in July, one of the biggest stinks raised outside of the Church was directed towards the Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews. And naturally, this point was latched onto by the guitar-toting solus-Novus-Ordo types who break out into hives and fits of violent convulsions at the mention of the word "Tridentine". Which is odd, because the people who are most likely to raise a high holy fuss about this wouldn't be caught dead in a TLM, anyway.
In the manner of Fr. Z's outstanding blog, let's take a look at the prayer in question. Many thanks go out to Baronius Press, who published the Summorum Pontificum edition of the 1962 Missale Romanum. It's an outstanding offering, and really a great service to the Church.
"Oremus et pro Iudaeis: ut Deus et Dominus noster auferat velamen de cordibus eorum; ut et ipsi agnoscant Iesum Christum Dominum nostrum.
Omnipotens et sempiterne Deus, qui etiam Iudaeos a tua misericordia non repellis: exaudi preces nostras, quas pro illius populi obcaecatione deferimus; ut, agnita veritatis tuae luce, quae Christus est, a suis tenebris eruantur. Per eundem... Amen.."
Let us pray also for the Jews: that the Lord our God might remove the veil from their hearts, so that they too might acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us pray.
Let us kneel.
Almighty and eternal God, who even repels not the Jews from your mercy: hear our prayers, which we offer on behalf of the blindness of that people; so that with the light of your truth, which is Christ, having been acknolwedged, they might be rescued from their darkness.
And here are the changes put forth by His Holiness B16:
Oremus et pro Iudaeis. Ut Deus et Dominus noster illuminet corda eorum, ut agnoscant Iesum Christum salvatorem omnium hominum.
Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, qui vis ut omnes homines salvi fiant et ad agnitionem veritatis veniant, concede propitius, ut plenitudine gentium in Ecclesiam Tuam intrante omnis Israel salvus fiat. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
My rough translation:
"Let us pray also for the Jews, that the Lord our God may illumine their hearts, so that they might acknowledge Jesus Christ, the Savior of all men.
Let us pray.
Let us kneel.
Almighty and ever-living God, who desires that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, give pardon propitiously, so that through the fullness of peoples entering into Your Church, all Israel might be saved. Through Christ our Lord. Amen."
There are a few subtle differences of note: in the first prayer, God is asked to remove the veil from the hearts of the Jews, whereas in the newer prayer, God is asked to illumine their hearts. There is a perceptible change: the removal of a veil does not necessarily connote the granting of light. So there's one slight shift of focus there.
The next major section of difference comes in the appositive phrase following "Omnipotens... Deus"; in the first prayer, we have "who even repels not the Jews from your mercy", and in the second "who desires that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth". Again, there is a subtle shift in the focus of the prayer, and in the second we see now a decreased emphasis on the Jews themselves in the prayer. It is difficult to see what exactly would be so offensive in the first prayer, wherein the emphasis on "etiam" would be important. "Who repels not even the Jews" might ruffle a few feathers, with the attendant connotation that those Jews are such a distasteful bunch. But Latin doesn't fit that neatly into modern English. Etiam is placed with qui, which would lead me to think that it modifies qui, God, more than it does "Iudaeos".
The reference to blindness in the Missale Romanum is itself eminently defensible. This is, after all, a prayer said in a Christian church. And it would not be much of a stretch to imagine that the Church would hold that those who do not confess Jesus Christ are spiritually blind. (Cf. Amazing Grace "was blind but now I see") I daresay that, in worshipping one whom they consider to be a false Messiah, the Jews would tend to think that Christians are similarly "blind". Bound up with this notion of "blindness" is "darkness" (suis tenebris). Once again, context is key here. Darkness need not mean the darkness of Hell (though it may lead there). In the case of this prayer, this darkness is to be understood in the spiritual sense, in the same sense as the blindness referenced above. We are told "the people in darkness have seen a great light", and it is this light, Christ, which dispels darkness/blindness. So again I can't see where "darkness" need be portrayed as insulting when predicated of the Jews. They don't have the faith, and so they are not illumined by it.
These notions of darkness, blindness, and light, however, are left out from the revision, somewhat sadly. What we have in the revised prayer is "plenitudo gentium", the fullness of peoples. This seems to be a nod towards ecumenism and "diversity"; but fear not! these things are qualified in an important way. Not only do we have "plenitudine gentium", but also "in Ecclesiam Tuam intrante"- i.e., entering into your Church. So the Church is still portrayed as the conduit of salvation, if less explicitly.
On the whole, it does not seem that there is a particularly great deal with which to get upset in the 1962 prayer. Nor is there anything objectionable in Pope Benedict's revision. What I will say of it, with all due respect and love towards our good and Supreme Pontiff, is that it is not as good a prayer as the original. The idea in the older prayer form a much more unified and beautiful symbolic picture of conversion and salvation: the removing of a veil, the taking away of darkness, the illumination of the soul through Christ, the light of faith. It need hardly be said that the concepts in those words are also more Scripturally grounded and in fact resonate better with the spiritual heritage of the Jews.
But His Holiness is a wiser man than I.