POPE BENEDICT XVI plans to bring back the celebration of mass in Latin, overriding a rare show of protest from senior cardinals.
With a papal decree said to be imminent, Catholic publishers in Rome are preparing new editions of the Latin missal. They have sent proofs to Vatican authorities for approval, the Rome newspaper La Repubblica reported yesterday.
Vatican sources said Benedict, who is fluent in Latin, is considering publication of a papal “motu proprio” (literally, on his own initiative), which does not require the approval of church bodies. This would enable Benedict to ignore opposition from several cardinals.
The decree would officially declare the Latin, or Tridentine, mass an “extraordinary universal rite”, and the vernacular mass, with which most Catholics are familiar, an “ordinary universal rite”.
The late French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was excommunicated for opposing changes in the church agreed by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, including the replacement of the Tridentine mass with updated liturgy in local languages. The pope’s proposal will be cheered by Lefebvre’s traditionalist followers, said to number about 1m. A special Vatican commission, appointed to examine the demands of traditionalists, met in December to help draft the decree.
Today celebration of the Tridentine rite is limited. Bishops can allow it, but only on the condition that the celebration is deemed a sign of “affection for the ancient tradition” and not a criticism of the reforms.
Benedict wrote in his memoirs, My Life: Memories 1927-1977, published when he was still a cardinal: “I was stunned by the ban on the ancient missal.”