Monday, April 02, 2007

Motu Proprio Expected Very Soon

Well, I've held out in publishing a story on this because I didn't want to get caught up in the hype and the rumor mills. However, it seems inevitable that Pope Benedict XVI is going to publish a Motu Proprio ("of his own accord") establishing wider use of the Pius V Mass under the rite of 1962. How this wider use will look is anybody's guess no matter what they may claim to know. One thing is certain though, it will be used more.

The USCCB run Catholic News Service has a fairly interesting story about the Motu Proprio:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sometime soon, Pope Benedict XVI is expected to broaden permission to use the Tridentine Mass, a long-standing request of traditionalists who favor the rite used before the Second Vatican Council.

The move is aimed at ending a liturgical dispute which has simmered for more than 20 years. In the process, it could clarify how the pope intends to implement what he once described as a "liturgical reconciliation" in the modern church.

They then go on to explain how some have thought that this move is an attempt to reconcile with the followers of Marcel Lefebvre but clarify by saying that some Vatican officials believe that the attempt is more aimed at retaining the church's liturgical tradition.

They continue by explaining what Benedict's liturgical thought has been over the years citing his work Milestones: Memoirs 1927 - 1977 and Spirit of the Liturgy. They state:

The almost total prohibition of the old missal, which had been used for 400 years, was unprecedented in the history of the liturgy, he said in the book.

In effect, he said, "the old building was demolished" and a new one put in its place. Thus the liturgy ceased to be a living development and was treated as something manufactured by experts, which has caused the church "enormous harm," he said.

Even before he wrote those words, then-Cardinal Ratzinger had caused a stir when he said it made sense for the priest to celebrate Mass facing the same direction as the congregation, in the pre-Vatican II style, although he also said it would be confusing to turn the altar around once again.

Over the years, he has sharply criticized what he sees as a tendency for the worshiping community to celebrate only itself.

These thoughts of Pope Benedict have understandably led many to believe that he would enact sweeping changes in the liturgy but this opinion may be a bit too hasty. For those who believe that the Pope simply wants to abolish the Paul VI Mass and usher in the Pius V Mass, the article also included statements he made as Cardinal Ratzinger providing positive comments on the new mass and negative comments on the old.

he said he considered the new missal a "real improvement" in many respects, and that the introduction of local languages made sense.

In one revealing speech to Catholic traditionalists in 1998, he said bluntly that the old "low Mass," with its whispered prayers at the altar and its silent congregation, "was not what liturgy should be, which is why it was not painful for many people" when it disappeared.

The most important thing, he said at that time, was to make sure that the liturgy does not divide the Catholic community.

And that, I think, is the most important thing at this juncture. Whether or not this widened use of the Old Mass will take away divisions that exist over the liturgy in the Church is still to be seen. Needless to say, I will be interested as to how this all plays out.

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