Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Vatican official on the Latin Mass


Rome, Sep. 26 (CWNews.com) - An influential Vatican official
believes that Pope Benedict XVI could soon expand permission for
priests throughout the world to celebrate Mass using the Tridentine

However, Cardinal Jorge Medina Estevez cautions that serious
doctrinal issues, as well as liturgical questions, must be resolved
before the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) can be fully
reconciled with the Holy See.

Cardinal Medina, the former prefect of the Congregation for Divine
Worship, is a member of the Ecclesia Dei commission, set up by Pope
John Paul II to serve the needs of Catholics who cling to the Latin
Mass. In an interview with the I Media news service, the Chilean-
born prelate said that the Pope could act soon to liberalize Church
regulations, allowing all priests to use the Tridentine rite.

Questioned about the outcome of the Pope's August 29 meeting with
Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the SSPX, Cardinal
Medina observed that the meeting was preceded by "many other
contacts" between Vatican officials and representatives of the
Lefebvrist group. Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the prefect of
the Congregation for the Clergy, had met repeatedly with Bishop
Fellay, he said. And the Chilean prelate added that he, too, had met
with the traditionalist leader during his term as prefect of the
Congregation for Divine Worship.

Consequently, the cardinal said, "you could not say that they
meeting with the Holy Father was unexpected." He added that SSPX
leaders are well aware that Pope Benedict "is concerned about full
communion among all Catholics-- all Christians-- and particularly
those who uphold the decisions and positions of Archbishop

Reconciliation between the Vatican and the breakaway traditionalist
group, the cardinal continued, would require "addressing a list of
doctrinal difficulties." He said that a working group could be set
up to discuss those problems.

"But within the Society [SSPX], there are different currents,"
Cardinal Medina observed. While some members of the traditionalist
group are "inflexible," others are more inclined toward dialogue
with Rome, he said. He said that when some traditionalists refer to
the Novus Ordo Mass as "heretical" or "invalid," they create "an
extremely difficult situation." The Vatican will insist that SSPX
members acknowledge the validity of the post-conciliar Mass, he
said; they will also be required to accept the teachings of Vatican

After his meeting with Pope Benedict, Bishop Fellay suggested that a
first step toward reconciliation could be a Vatican recognition of
the right for all priests to celebrate the Tridentine-rite Mass,
using the liturgical form codified by Pope Pius V after the Council
of Trent. Cardinal Medina saw "no difficulty" in expanding access to
the Latin Mass. But he reiterated that such a step 'would not
resolve the fundamental problems with the SSPX."

Questioned on whether Vatican II intended to abolish the Tridentine
rite, Cardinal Medina said that the arguments were inconclusive on
that point.

However, he said, each rite is valid, and "the missal of St. Paul V
and that of Paul VI are both perfectly orthodox." He observed that
each ritual appeals to "different sensibilities," and noted that the
Offertory prayers of the old rite are particularly useful in their
emphasis on "the sacrifical character of the Mass: an essential
aspect of the Eucharistic celebration." The restoration of universal
permission to use the Tridentine Mass would involve canonical and
liturgical questions, but no major theological concerns, the
cardinal said. "So I hope that, little by little, the possibility of
celebrating the old form of the Roman rite will be opened," he said.

As a member of the Ecclesia Dei commission, Cardinal Medina
reported, he is sometimes asked to celebrate a Tridentine-rite Mass.
When he receives such a request, he said, "I do it, without asking
anyone's permission."

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