Saturday, July 07, 2007

Magister on the MP today

Sandro Magister offers a commentary today in his piece Benedict XVI Liberalizes the Ancient Rite of the Mass – And Explains Why

ROMA, July 7, 2007 – The highly anticipated papal “motu proprio” on the rite of the Mass prior to the reform of 1970 was made public today, together with a letter of explanation from Benedict XVI to the bishops.

The two documents were sent a few days earlier, in secret, to all the presidents of the episcopal conferences and to all the nuncios, who saw to sending them along to all the bishops of the world.

The “motu proprio” is in Latin, but the Vatican has made “unofficial” versions available in various languages. It will come into effect on September 14, 2007.

The new rules fixed by Benedict XVI widen the permission to celebrate the Mass according to the liturgical books published by John XXIII in 1962, while leaving in place as the “ordinary” form of celebration in the Catholic churches the one established by Paul VI in 1970.

The Mass according to the liturgical books of 1962 is celebrated in Latin, but with the option of reading the Gospel and the other readings in modern languages. Nothing is said in the 1962 missal about the orientation of the altar and the celebrant, whether these should face the people or not. [NLM Comment: evidently in the classical use, that tradition of ad orientem will continue, as is normative for it. In fact, one can hope that this is precisely one of the things about that can help inform the practice in the modern Roman use.]

The two forms of the Mass, the “ordinary” one of 1970 and the “extraordinary” one of 1962 follow slightly different calendars. The selections from the Gospel and the other readings also do not coincide. But such differences are not unusual in the Catholic liturgy. The Ambrosian rite used in the archdiocese of Milan also has a its own calendar, lectionary, and ritual. For example, Advent begins six Sundays before Christmas, instead of four, as in the Roman rite. The sign of peace is placed before the offertory, instead of before communion.

The missal of 1962, the only one authorized for those who wish to celebrate the Mass according to the ancient rite, does not contain the prayer “pro perfidis Judaeis” – which properly means: “for the Jews who do not believe [in Jesus Christ]” – nor other formulas that have today become objects of criticism, these having been modified already by John XXIII. Nor do these formulas exist in the baptismal ritual preceding Vatican Council II: this ritual, too, is authorized by the “motu proprio.”

In the accompanying letter, Benedict XVI asks the bishops to provide an evaluation after three years, in order to seek out solutions if “serious difficulties” surface.

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: