Article by John Thavis, Rome correspondent of the Catholic News Service, the news agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service
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.
The pope will enunciate the new policy in a document to be released after more than a year of debate and discussion at the Vatican. The Roman Curia had mixed views on expanding the use of the Tridentine rite, and so did the world's cardinals and bishops -- all of which has lent a certain drama to the outcome.
From the outside, allowing the old Mass has been seen primarily as a concession to the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunicated in 1988 for his intransigence on liturgical and other reforms of Vatican II.
But some Vatican officials believe that aspect has been overblown. More than making peace with Archbishop Lefebvre's followers, they said, the pope is trying to make peace with the church's own tradition.
...knowledgeable Vatican sources say the pope's new document will no doubt aim to lessen pastoral tension between the Tridentine rite and the new Mass, rather than hand out a victory to traditionalists.
Under Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger conducted the unsuccessful negotiations with Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, before the archbishop broke off talks and ordained new bishops in defiance of the pope.
The role of the bishop in approving and overseeing use of the Tridentine rite has been a crucial issue in the recent debate. Last fall, when rumors were swirling that a bishop's permission would no longer be needed, the bishops of France issued a statement saying that the return of the pre-Vatican II Mass should be regulated and not left to "personal tastes and choices."
The French bishops also said traditionalist groups that use the Tridentine rite should be expected to give "an unequivocal gesture of assent to the teachings of the church's authentic magisterium," its teaching authority.
For these reasons, many will be looking at Pope Benedict's document not only for a liturgical verdict, but also for a sign of his reconciling skills.
Read entire article here.
Tip: Reader Jordan Potter
Tip: Reader Jordan Potter