Now it is being read, studied, commented on and examined for possible consequences. The Motu proprio of Pope Benedict XVI. which is supposed to revive the Latin Rite, which was last promulgated by Pope John XXIII. in 1962 in the official Missale Romanum and whose basics were defined by the Council of Trent (1545-1563), is making its way through the global Church. Especially through those parts in which the Tridentine Mass is a topic because they have religious institutes with an indult for the use of the old Missal or because the faithful are asking for Masses according to the old Missal.
In the Vatican it is well known where the champions of the "old" Mass are. The commission Ecclesia Dei takes care of that. It is supposed to build bridges to priests and religious who are sticking to the Tridentine Rite but, as opposed to the Lefebvrite SSPX, want to remain in full communion with Rome. To facilitate this, John Paul II. established Ecclesia Dei almost immediately after the illicit ordinations by Lefebvre. In the time since, the commission has acquired a very good idea of the "map" of traditionalists faithful to Rome.
A group of bishops from bishops conferences and dioceses that are on this "map" had been invited to the Apostolic Palace by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, to get more detailed information on the Motu proprio. Germany has friends of the "old" Mass, too, so Cardinal Lehmann, head of the German bishops conference, was there as well on Wednesday afternoon.
The Vatican hasn't published a list of the participants, but from within the Curia it has been said that among the participants were the president of the French bishops conference and Archbishop of Bordeaux, Cardinal Ricard and the Archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Barbarin. Especially bishops from France and Germany had, in recent months, let the Pope know that they thought this liberalization of the Tridentine Mass was a step prone to sow confussion and possible splits among the faithful.
Further present were the vicar general of Rome, Cardinal Ruini, the president of the Italian bishops conference and archbishop of Genua, Bagnasco; the archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Cardinal O'Malley, the archbishop of Boston and Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis. Cardinal Pell of Sydney, Australia, Archbishop Toppo from India. Archbishop Engone of Gabon, Africa.
... That Pope Benedict spent an hour talking to the bishops about the Motu proprio shows that it is an issue very dear to his heart, that he wants it to be received positively and that it shouldn't be misunderstood. The Motu proprio is three pages long, the Pope's accompanying letter even a page longer.
As soon as all bishops of the global Church have received the documents, it can go into effect and will be published. Most observers think this will happen in a week (July 7th). The path taken by the Vatican in the publication of this Papal text is unusual. The danger is great that it will fall into journalists' hands before the official publication - it would then depend on the good faith and knowledge of the journalists, whether it will be quoted and described accurately.
Pope Benedict does not want to undo the liturgical reforms after the Second Vatican Council. He also does not want to kick out so-called people's altars and re-install communion rails. With the Motu proprio he simply wants to free a Rite which should not have been abolished with the stroke of a pen. As a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger continually advocated the return of the Latin language to the Mass, that Gregorian Chant be sung and that the congregation does not stand around the altar fixated on the priest but rather face, together with the priest, towards East, looking towards God. Above all he wants that this liturgy, that was celebrated for centuries, expressing the holiest that the Church possesses, the Eucharistic sacrifice, lives again and continues to develop, accompanying the life of the faithful through time.
The greates point of criticism of the change of the Missals almost forty years ago for Pope Benedict: That an organically grown Rite was struck like some paragraphs in a law and that it was replaced by a new one that, although it included elements of the old one, was a construct, a fabrication that came in force by an act of ecclesial legislation. The old Rite was frozen. Now it is supposed to thaw. The return of the Tridentine Mass into the life of the Church is to him an enrichment, not a curtailment. It is a liberalization in the best meaning of the word, also with the goal to let new things grow. The Pope explicitly states the unity of the Roman Rite. But, this rite can from now on be celebrated in ordinary and in extraordinary form, whereas both are supposed to inspire one another.
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