Today Pope Benedict released an indult scrapping the restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass. In fact, Benedict seems to prefer the older and more mystical Mass.  He has written that the litrugy was « deformed » in parts by the creative revision of the Second Vatican Council.

     Many conservative Catholics hailed the Pope’s decision.  But a British bishop, the Rt Rev Kieran Conry, warned that the move could prove seriously divisive.  It might send out an unfortunate signal that Rome is no longer fully committed to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and might encourage those who want to turn the clock back throughout the Church.

       Today’s indult would seem to further weaken the authority of the local bishop.  Parishoners will be able to petition a Roman body if they are blocked from celebrating the Tridentine Mass.  Bishop Conry said:  « Unless the bishops retain their powers to control the use of the rite it will lead to confusion in the parishes.  Some traditionalist priests might want to use {the Mass} almost exclusively, excluding those members of their congregations who want the New Mass.  If we are not careful, it could all become a bit of a mess. »

      Some feel this indult is an attempt to reach out to the Lefebvrists who refused to accept the New Rite mandated by the Second Vatican Council.  If so the attempt has failed.  Bishop Bernard Fellay, the current leader of the Lefebvrists, said the situation was « practically unchanged » after the indult.

         It is difficult not to conclude that this restoration of the Latin Mass is  a step backwards, that it will sew division in parishes and will all end up in « a bit of a mess. »



  1. 1
    Barbara Says:

    If there is one thing I have learned from living in Quebec, it is that reality rarely comes up to frightening expectations. Let’s wait and see.
    Read the actual letter of the Pope explaining the motu available on Zenit. Groups of individuals whose liturgical needs are not satisfied in their local parishes may address the local bishop and, if the local bishop can find no reasonable resolution, he may address the appropriate commission at the Vatican for suggestions. The local bishop is the key player here.
    I read somewhere that no one may use the 1962 version of the Tridentine Mass ALL the time. The reformed rite is still the standard.
    Is it appropriate to engage in win/lose rhetoric in the context of a Christian faith community? If there are problems of divisiveness, the motu’s provisions are subject to revision in a few (three, I believe) years’ time.

  2. 2
    Barbara Says:

    Better yet, go to Whispers in the Loggia which has the actual letter the Pope wrote to the Bishops along with the motu itself.

  3. 3
    Lee Verallo Says:

    I think Catholics in a typical Sunday Mass can be divided into these rough groupings:
    1. The Faithful – Those who are already hearing Mass daily, rain of shine, regardless if the Mass is in Chinese or Swahili, even if deaf or even blind. To them, the language used is immaterial.
    2. Faith Seekers – Those who, by God’s grace, are undergoing transformation, those suffering from disease, financial loss, or other heavy trials. They hear mass more than once a week, trying to understand their trials or find consolation for their pain; in short, building up their faith. They need all the help in understanding everything going on in the Mass. Any gibberish will hinder them.
    3. One-Hour Catholics – Those who attend Sunday Mass only because it’s an obligation. Half of their mind would be outside the church. The remaining half that’s paying attention would be decreased further by any unintelligible phrases or hymns.
    No advantage is added to #1 while #2 & #3, collectively the overwhelming majority, are disadvantaged. It seems to me Pope Benedict XVI is unilaterally undoing the wisdom of Vatican II, a COUNCIL of Spirit-guided minds…
    The Mass is just as holy in English or in Martian, so why not choose the more understandable one?

  4. 4

    Lee Verallo – Your three rough groupings of those who attend Sunday Mass make a great deal of sense. As you probably know many liturgists do not understand overthrew the spirit of Vatican 11 and restored the Latin Mass to an equal status with the vernacular. As you say, whom does it help? Thanks for your contribution to the discussion.

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