Friday, June 29, 2007

In the Beginning... Chronicle of the First Whispers of the Motu Proprio

With the Motu Proprio set to be released very soon now, I have been reflecting these past weeks on where and when this all began.

The answer to that, so far as I know, requires you to look all the way back to the earliest month's archives of this site.

It was on September 15th, 2005 (two years ago this September) that this story was posted:

Universal Indult rumours
posted by Shawn Tribe

Church historian sees end to restrictions on Latin Mass

Dublin, Sep. 15 ( - Pope Benedict XVI will take action soon to allow all Catholic priests to celebrate the Latin Mass, a Cambridge historian has predicted.

Speaking to a conference of priests in Ireland earlier this week, Eamonn Duffy said that it was "extremely likely that Pope Benedict will lift the restrictions on the celebration of the Tridentine liturgy," the Irish Independent reported.

The Tridentine ritual, which was the universal form of the Mass prior to Vatican II, is now celebrated only with the explicit permission, or "indult," of the diocesan bishop. Some Vatican-watchers speculate that Pope Benedict will announce a "universal indult," giving blanket permission for all Catholic priests to use the old ritual.

In remarks to the National Conference of Priests of Ireland, Eamonn Duffy said that he thought the Pope would make the policy change in October, during the meeting of the Synod of Bishops. The topic for Synod discussions is the Eucharist.

Very shortly after this came this story on the 25th of September, 2005:

Vatican official on the Latin Mass
posted by Shawn Tribe


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


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.


"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."

And so, here we sit today, almost 2 years after these initial whispers, with bottles of Moet, fine Ports and other vintages chilling as what were whispers turned to greater hopes, and what were hopes turned to confirmations of an unknown timeline, and finally, when the unknown timeline turned to the near present moment.

In this time, there's been much discussion, much speculation. Some have grown weary of this, while others have thrived on it and taken hope in it. One thing is universal, no one could ignore it. We have debated it back and forth and through it all, not only do we sit upon a greater freedom and de-marginalization of the classical Roman liturgy, we have, I think, progressed in bringing the liturgical question to a greater forefront than it had been before. Through this process, the hermeneutic of continuity is re-asserting itself.

No doubt, once the document is released, as with anything when there is so much expectation and anticipation, there can be a little let-down; after all, the wait is over -- just like when the gifts are finally all unwrapped for a child after Christmas morning. But rest assured, whatever comes in the next week, we shall all, reform of the reform and classical Roman rite adherents, be further ahead for tradition shall be further ahead as it becomes further clear that it was not to be and indeed, cannot be, abolished, even though it can and does develop and grow.

To that we can all say, Deo Gratias. We are witnessing a moment in our Catholic history. But we are not at the end, we are now at the beginning. We must work.

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