From the opening speech of Cardinal Ricard to the assembled bishops of the French Episcopal Conference (which he presides), delivered today in Lourdes:
...I wish to make three remarks:
1. The decision to liberalize, for the priests, the possibility of celebrating the mass according to the missal of 1962 has not yet been made. The announced Motu proprio has not been signed. Its project will be the object of various consultations. We will be able to convey, from this moment, our fears and desires [regarding it].
2. This project is not part of a wish to criticize the Missal said of 'Paul VI', nor to proceed to a reform of the liturgical reform. The liturgical books written and promulgated following the Council are the ordinary, and thus habitual, form of the Roman Rite. This project originates, above all, from the desire of Benedict XVI to do all which is within his power to put an end to the Lefebvrist schism. He knows that, the longer the years pass by, the more the relations weaken and [the more] the positions harden.
Watching the history of the great schisms, it is always possible to ask if there could not have been lost occasions of rapprochement. The Pope desires to do his utmost so that the hand be stretched and that the welcome be made clear, at least to those who are of good will and who display a deep desire for communion. It is within this spirit that this project of Motu proprio must be understood.
3. The welcoming of a few to ecclesial communion would not put in question the pastoral work of the whole. No, the Church does not change course. Contrary to the intentions which some ascribe to him, pope Benedict XVI does not wish to turn back from the course which the Second Vatican Council gave to the Church. He has solemnly pledged to it.
From [the day of] his election, he affirmed: "Pope John Paul II rightly pointed out the Council as a 'compass' by which to take our bearings in the vast ocean of the third millennium (cf. Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte, nn. 57-58). Also, in his spiritual Testament he noted, 'I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this 20th-century Council has lavished upon us' (17 March 2000). Thus, as I prepare myself for the service that is proper to the Successor of Peter, I also wish to confirm my determination to continue to put the Second Vatican Council into practice, following in the footsteps of my Predecessors and in faithful continuity with the 2,000-year tradition of the Church." (Message at the end of the Mass in the Sistine Chapel, April 20, 2006)
In his speech to the Roman Curia where he criticizes a false "spirit of the Council", the Pope declares: "Forty years after the Council, we can show that the positive is far greater and livelier than it appeared to be in the turbulent years around 1968. Today, we see that although the good seed developed slowly, it is nonetheless growing; and our deep gratitude for the work done by the Council is likewise growing." These words must be heard.
I believe it is not necessary to be governed today by aprehension and by fear. Let us also live in confidence. Why should not recent events be an occasion, for us in France, to make a calm reappraisal of our reception of the Council, to read again its great foundational documents, to grasp anew its great intuitions, and to seek its aspects which are still worthy of consideration? We are not called to an ideological reading of Vatican II, but rather to a spiritual reading, in thanksgiving for what the Lord has given us to live on and in a renewed responsibility for the mission.
Many important words by Cardinal Ricard, who seems to speak as a direct representative of Pope Benedict before the assembly. The Motu proprio is still an unsigned "project"; it may well be influenced by decisions taken by the French Episcopal Conference itself. The main motivation behind the document also seems quite clear.