Ultra-"progressive" religious journalist Marco Politi in today's edition of La Repubblica:
Three years after his election, the Pope has accomplished his historic dream: to celebrate Mass while turned towards the altar, showing his back to the faithful, as the shepherd who guides his flock towards the Christ. The place is symbolic: the Sistine Chapel, there where Benedict XVI was elected. It is from there that the German Pope sends the signal for his Counter-Reformation. It is certainly only a gesture, there is nothing compulsory about it, and those who wish to do so will keep celebrating Mass around the world as it has been for forty years.
Yet the centuries-old history of the Church is made of gestures, of signs, of symbols, and when Joseph Ratzinger ... solemnly elevated the host and the chalice in the direction of the crucifix situated on top of the ancient marble altar, not looking at the faithful, but staring at the Christ of the Universal Judgment on the wall, all understood. The pontiff will not deviate from the chosen path: to review the application of Vatican II.
For he does not believe in the "spirit of the Council", as the most coherent reformers do. He said it from the beginning: the Council was not "rupture", but reform within "tradition", and even as a Cardinal he professed that arranging the post-conciliar rite with the celebrant turned towards the faithful is a betrayal. Because everyone - faithful and priests - must face the East, towards the Resurrection.
And therefore the thirteen couples who, on this January Sunday, took their newborns to have them baptized by the Pope witnessed a grandiloquent return to the past. With the post-conciliar altar eliminated, Benedict XVI did not make the turn around the post-conciliar table anymore, but, slowly entering the Sistine, knelt before the marble altar, leaving to the faithful only a view of the back of his vestments.