When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI two years ago, we pointed out that he had been the Vatican’s pointman on dialogue with the “Traditionalist” schism that rejects the Vatican II reforms. Now it seems he may be ready to give the Traditionalists what they want—healing the breach with the schism, but making Catholicism more obscurantist and less appealing at a time when it is under assault from Islam and Protestantism (not, alas, from secularism and rationalism, as His Holiness seems to think). From AP, May 28:
VATICAN CITY – It was one of the most radical reforms to emerge from the Second Vatican Council. The Mass, root of Roman Catholic worship, would be celebrated in the vernacular, not in Latin.
Now, more than a generation later, Pope Benedict XVI is poised to revive the 16th-century Tridentine Mass.
In doing so, he will be overriding objections from some cardinals, bishops and Jews, whose complaints range from the text of the old Mass to the symbolic sweeping aside of the council’s work from 1962-65. Many in the church regard Vatican II as a moment of badly needed reform and a new beginning, a view at odds with Benedict, who sees it as a renewal of church tradition.
A Vatican official, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, confirmed earlier this month that Benedict would soon relax the restrictions on celebrating the Tridentine Mass because of a “new and renewed interest” in the celebration – especially among younger Catholics.
In recent decades, priests could only celebrate the Tridentine Mass with permission from their bishop. Church leaders are anxiously awaiting Benedict’s decision, to see how far he will go in easing that rule.
Castrillon Hoyos denied the move represented a “step backward, a regression to times before the reforms.” Rather, it was an attempt to give the faithful greater access to a “treasure” of the church.
The Tridentine rite differs significantly from the New Mass that emerged after Vatican II. In addition to the Latin prayers, which are different from those in the modern liturgy, the priest faces the altar, so that he is seen as leading the faithful in prayer. The rank-and-file don’t participate actively in the service.
See our last post on the Vatican.