At the heart of the decision is the Old Latin Mass, which ceased to be used in the 1960s but was revived by Pope Benedict XVI last year.
In the old version of the prayer, Jews were described with the word “blindness” and Catholics prayed that God would “take the veil from their hearts.”
A new version published by the Vatican last February removed the word “blindness” and instead prayed for God to “enlighten (Jews’) hearts so that they may acknowledge Jesus Christ, the savior of all men” and voice the hope that “all Israel may be saved.”
Despite the change, the new and arguably less offensive version of the prayer drew complaints from Jewish leaders around the world, including the U.S.-based Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Rabbis.
On Nov. 18, Italian Jewish leader Laras explained that while dialogue over the Good Friday prayer is ongoing, the problem has not been resolved since last February so the leaders have decided not to participate in the interreligious event.
Catholic leaders, in response, have said they will continue to celebrate the “Day of Jewish-Christian Reflection” on Jan. 17 even without the Jewish leaders’ participation.
"The day is a bit wounded this year, but it's a wound that we hope will help to deepen the indispensable link and relationship between Christians and Jews," Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Italian bishops' ecumenical commission, told Vatican Radio on Nov. 20.
Currently, talks are underway for Pope Benedict XVI to make his first trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories next year, Vatican and Israeli officials confirmed this past Thursday.
Pope John Paul II was the first to make an official papal visit to Israel in 2000, during which he also visited Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem.