Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Thomas E. Woods: Benedict's Revolution

Benedict's Revolution: The Return of the Old Latin Mass
by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

When the secular media suddenly start talking about Catholic liturgy, something is afoot in the life of the Church. By the second year of Pope Benedict XVI's pontificate, that's exactly what happened. The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report -- the subject was everywhere.

The reason for all this attention was the pope's long-awaited motu proprio that would make the traditional Latin Mass of the pre-conciliar Church (or the 1962 Missal) more widely available. That used to be considered a dangerous idea. It's now mainstream.

The consensus today -- which echoes the conclusion of a blue-ribbon commission of cardinals in 1986 -- is that although Pope Paul VI had devoutly wished that the new missal would supplant the old, no action officially suppressing the traditional liturgy was ever taken, and thus the old missal, even if largely eclipsed in practice, has continued to be a living part of the Church these past four decades.

This is the view of -- among other Vatican officials -- Darío Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos, president of the Ecclesia Dei Commission and former prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, and Jorge Cardinal Medina Estévez, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. It also happens to be the view of Benedict, who noted in his recent letter to bishops that "this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted." The 1986 Commission added that any priest ought to be able to choose which missal he wanted to use. Initially sympathetic, Pope John Paul II ultimately shelved the idea.

What We Lost

With the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, the idea of freedom for the old missal -- and not just the Mass but all the sacraments, and even the old Breviary -- is back.

The secular media, so often wrongheaded and hostile when it comes to the Church, were correct to sense that Benedict's desire to bring back the traditional liturgy was something momentous. Still, some managed to get the issue entirely wrong: Some people want "Mass in English," they report, but others want "Mass in Latin." But the issue at stake has never been merely one of language. It is a question of two different liturgical books and two different ways of saying Mass.

Read the Entire Article: InsideCatholic.com - Benedict's Revolution: The Return of the Old Latin Mass (PDF)

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