Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Vatican Sources confirm: Pope will Broaden use of Tridentine Mass

[I keep saying it, and I'll say it again and again until I hear something definitive otherwise, though I keep hearing the opposite: there are things happening behind the scenes on this whole question. The matter is not dead and, as I said at the time, Holy Thursday was pure internet speculation with no basis in fact.

I would also recommend, however, that before people get too worked up about what this document may or may not be juridically, to simply wait and see is actually produced. Will it be everything that those attached to the classical liturgy want? Hard to say. I would recommend however that people pray. Pray for all involved. This document, by the sound of it -- and only naturally -- is under scrutiny, and there will most certainly be pressure to not completely liberalize the 1962 Missal, or to maintain the status quo. But that liberalization, if it juridically does in fact happen, will be a source of grace and benefit not only for "traditionalists" but also as a leaven, an animus, for the reform of the reform. This matter, if it finally comes to pass, effects everyone in the Latin rite, make no mistake about it. Pray.]

Vatican, Oct. 11 ( - Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to release a motu proprio extending permission for priests to celebrate the traditional Latin Mass, Vatican sources have confirmed.

The new papal document-- for which a publication date has not yet been set-- would give all priests permission to celebrate the Mass of St. Pius V. This permission, a "universal indult," would replace the existing indult that dates back to 1988, when Ecclesia Dei authorized use of the Tridentine rite until more restricted conditions, requiring the permission of the local bishop.

Pope Benedict has long favored moves to accommodate traditionalist Catholics, and to integrate the Tridentine rite into the regular liturgical life of the Church. The motu proprio that he has prepared-- which, according to informed sources, is now in final form-- addresses other liturgical questions as well as the issue of the traditional Mass.

Vatican sources say that the papal document affirms the principle that there is only one liturgical rite for the Latin Church. But this rite has two forms: the "ordinary" liturgy (the Novus Ordo, celebrated in the vernacular language) and the "extraordinary" (the Tridentine rite, in Latin). These two forms have equal rights, the text indicates, and bishops are strongly encouraged to allow free use of both forms.

Pope Benedict is reportedly waiting for the best moment to release the new document, which is currently circulating among Vatican dicasteries. Speculation in Rome is that the indult will be announced at the same time that the Pope releases his apostolic exhortation concluding the Synod on the Eucharist. That document is expected soon, perhaps in November.

There is significant opposition to the indult among Vatican officials, and the papal text has been the subject of serious debate and criticism. But Pope Benedict has made it clear-- notably in his meeting with the College of Cardinals in March-- that he will move forward with efforts to accommodate traditionalists.

In 1988, with his own motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, Pope John Paul II allowed the celebration of the old Mass in parish settings, provided that the local bishop gave his approval. The Ecclesia Dei commission was created to supervise implementation of that policy. Despite the urging of Pope John Paul for a "broad and generous" use of the indult, many bishops have been reluctant to allow the traditional Mass, or have severely restricted its use.

The papal document is likely to take the form of an apostolic letter, with the added status of a motu proprio-- a document that carries the force of canon law. The document has been reviewed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the president of the Ecclesia Dei commission, as well as the Pope; it is now in at least its third draft.

[Further to this story, Catholic News Service, the news agency of the USCCB, has taken the first step of publishing their own story on this. If memory serves, they may not have published a significant story on this previously. I should note that Archbishop Weisgerber's understanding of the situation seems off the mark when you take into account the Pope's thought about this rite and its further relation to the liturgical reform, the reform of the reform, or the deeper motivations and concerns which have driven those movements. I think this is likely to do with lack of familiarity however.]

Vatican source says pope to expand use of Tridentine Mass

By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to expand permission to use the Tridentine Mass, the pre-Vatican II rite favored by traditionalist groups, said an informed Vatican source.

The pope is expected to issue a document "motu proprio," or on his own initiative, which will address the concerns of "various traditionalists," said the source, who asked not to be named.

The source said the new permission, or indult, was a papal decision, but was being done in cooperation with agencies of the Roman Curia. He would not elaborate on the extent of the indult, when it would be established or how it would work.

The Tridentine rite is currently available to groups of Catholics who ask and receive permission for its use from their local bishops. The old rite is celebrated in Latin and follows the Roman Missal of 1962, which was replaced in 1969 with the new Roman Missal.

Among those who have strongly pushed for wider use of the Tridentine rite are the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunicated in 1988.

Canadian Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Manitoba, told Catholic News Service Oct. 10 that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Congregation for Clergy, had spoken briefly to Canadian bishops about the expected step.

"It sounded to me like it was a sort of concession somebody has made," the archbishop said.

Archbishop Weisgerber said the new indult was apparently motivated by a desire to bring comfort to older people who may miss the old rite. But in his archdiocese, he said, the few people asking for it are "young people who never experienced it."

Pope Benedict has made new efforts to reconcile with leaders of the Lefebvrite religious order, the Society of St. Pius X. In a meeting last year with the pope, Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the society, asked for the restoration of the Tridentine rite as a sign of good will.

Bishop Fellay later told CNS that he thought the Vatican should simply declare that the Tridentine rite can be used freely because it was never really abrogated. Bishop Fellay also said wider use of the Tridentine Mass would not solve all the problems the Lefebvrites have with the Second Vatican Council.

The pope discussed potential reconciliation terms with the Lefebvrites in two meetings earlier this year, one with heads of Vatican curial offices and one with the world's cardinals. In both meetings, sources said, there were mixed views on wider use of the Tridentine Mass.

In 1984, Pope John Paul II first made it possible for groups of the faithful to worship according to the old rite under certain conditions. In 1991, the Vatican established more liberal guidelines, encouraging bishops to grant permission and retaining just one basic condition: that those seeking the old Mass form must also accept the validity of the new rite.

Pope Benedict has long questioned the wisdom of the liturgical changes made after the Second Vatican Council. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he was sometimes outspoken about what he considered the dismantling of the church's liturgical tradition.

"I was dismayed by the ban on the old missal, since such a development had never been seen in the history of liturgy. The impression was given that this was completely normal," he wrote in a 1997 book.

In the same book, he said it was important for the faithful to understand that for liturgy and other areas, Vatican II was not a break but a "developing moment."

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