Pope Benedict has ordered changes to a Latin prayer for Jews at Good Friday services by traditionalist Catholics, deleting a reference to their "blindness" over Christ, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

The Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano published the new version of the prayer in Latin and said it should be used by the traditionalist minority starting this Good Friday, March 21.

Apart from the deletion of the word "blindness," the new prayer also removes a phrase that asked God to "remove the veil from their hearts".

But the new prayer hopes that Jews will recognize Christ.

Jewish groups had protested against the old prayer and had asked the Pope to change it.

According to an unofficial translation from Latin, the new prayer says in part:

"Let us also pray for the Jews. So that God our Lord enlightens their hearts so that they recognize Jesus Christ savior of all men."

It also asks God that "all Israel be saved."

Jewish groups complained last year when the Pope issued a decree allowing a wider use of the old-style Latin Mass and a missal, or prayer book, that was phased out after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which met from 1962 to 1965.

Good Friday is the day Christians commemorate Christ's death.

Only some several hundred thousand traditionalists follow the old-style Latin rite and will use the Latin prayer.

The overwhelming number of the world's some 1.1 billion Catholics attend mass in their local languages.

They would use a post-Second Vatican Council missal, which includes a Good Friday prayer for Jews which asks that they "arrive at the fullness of redemption".

Benedict's decree, issued on July 7, authorized wider use of the old Latin missal, a move which traditionalist Catholics had demanded for decades but which Jews and other Christian groups said could set back inter-religious dialogue.

Implementation of the decree has been difficult. The Pope's number two, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said recently the Vatican was preparing a document on how it should be introduced around the world.

Before the Second Vatican Council, Catholic mass and prayers were full of elaborate ritual led in Latin.

Many traditionalists missed the Latin rite's sense of mystery and the centuries-old Gregorian chant that went with it.

Some denounced Council reforms that included a repudiation of the notion of collective Jewish guilt for Christ's death and urged dialogue with all other faiths.