Some of you will recall that there was a hot rumor last week that something was going to be released on Holy Thursday regarding the Tridentine liturgy. Obviously that didn't happen. Since then, various blogs have recalibrated and are thinking through things. What follows is a summary of links. Most agree that something is up, and the bloggers opining are laying out their evidence with great clarity.
But before the links...what is it we are talking about, you ask? This is not exactly my area, and I welcome correction in the comments, and I apologize ahead of time for any misstatements, but here goes.
We are not talking about some decision of Pope Benedict "allowing" the use of Latin in the "Novus Ordo" Mass. That was never, ever "disallowed" in the first place, and we can say with a fair amount of confidence that the majority of Council Fathers never intended or anticipated the wholesale abandonment of Latin we saw after 1965.
(There is, of course, no shortage of accounts of the liturgical changes right before and after Vatican II. I usually don't recommend Wikipedia, but to be honest this entry is not too bad of an introduction to the chronology of changes, and it seemes to be objective)
We are also not talking about a replacement of the Novus Ordo liturgy with either the 1962 or 1965 missals.
What seems to be afoot is a decision to allow more widespread use of the Tridentine liturgy (again, there are many different ways to refer to this - I'm sure someone will quibble with my useage, but there it is). The Tridentine liturgy may be used today, but only by an "indult" issued by Pope John Paul II in 1984. Text here.
Since, however, the same problem continues, the Supreme Pontiff, in a desire to meet the wishes of these groups, grants to diocesan bishops the possibility of using an indult whereby priests and faithful, who shall be expressly indicated in the letter of request to be presented to their own bishop, may be able to celebrate Mass by using the Roman Missal according to the 1962 edition, but under the following conditions:
a) That it be made publically clear beyond all ambiguity that such priests and their respective faithful in no way share the positions of those who call in question the legitimacy and doctrinal exactitude of the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970.
b) Such celebration must be made only for the benefit of those groups that request it; in churches and oratories indicated by the bishop (not, however, in parish churches, unless the bishop permits it in extraordinary cases); and on the days and under the conditions fixed by the bishop either habitually or in individual cases.
c) These celebrations must be according to the 1962 Missal and in Latin.
d) There must be no interchanging of texts and rites of the two Missals.
As I understand it, the sticking points for many are a)the necessary approval of the diocesan bishop and b)the sense that the 1962 missal is "illegal" in a way, since it requires special permission to be used. (Permission which is granted not only by many bishops, but also for religious orders like the FSSP and the Institute of Christ the King)
What many are hoping for and, even further, predicting, is that what Benedict is planning is to make clear that the 1962 Mass was never actually abrogated, and therefore, any priest who wishes to may celebrate it - no episcopal permission necessary.
Am I okay so far?
This is a complicated issue, with many objections waiting to be made. Some suggest there does not seem to be a demand for this liturgy, so why bother? Others cite the more serious objection that this is not simply a Mass issue - that for many, the Tridentine liturgy is just one element of a bigger picture, a picture in which one can find any number of attached views - from the rejection of the Second Vatican Council, most frequently the Declaration on Religious Freedom to near-Sedevacantists (I say "near" because a real Sedevacantists would not care what the Pope does. But an awful lot of the more rabid Traditionalist conversation seems pretty Sedevacantist to me. In all of the post-JPII commentary, the secular media never once picked up how this supposedly "conservative" Pope was absolutely despised by the really Far Right of the Roman Catholic Church. No, that's not sedevacantist - to despise the Pope. But sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.) .
The wariness of bishops to permit the Tridentine liturgy is undoubtedly tied, in part, to fears of appearing to give approval to these views, as well as questions about unity, diversity and so on - from all sides. Just as much wariness is due to the influence of professional liturgists, as well as the question of "Who wants this? Who's going to say Mass?"
This is just a small taste of the discussion. It's not even one forkful.
So why do people think that Benedict might "do something?" Because of his previous writings, that's why. If anyone has a link to a page that gathers the high points of Benedict's thinking on the liturgy in one place, please post. Perhaps there's something at the Ratzinger Fan Club.
In short, it is very clear that Benedict believes that the intended reforms of the Second Vatican Council were botched and did great harm to the Church. It was not "organic" development" we saw - and anyone with a modicum of historical knowledge knows that the liturgy has, indeed developed over the centuries, with elements added and dropped and various rites celebrated in the West beside the Roman Rite - but rather a liturgy designed by a committee. There are rumors - none of them substantiated at all to my knowledge - that Benedict celebrates the Tridentine liturgy when he says Mass in private. There is no sense that Benedict wants to turn back the clock completely and throw out the Novus Ordo, but he does want to restore what was lost, and part of the way to do that is - it is thought - permit for greater celebration of the Tridentine liturgy.
There is also the practical issue of the SSPX, and the question of mending that breech, but in my completely uninformed opinion, I am not sure that weighs as heavily as the more general questions. Perhaps they are equivalent. I'm not sure.
So, with that in mind, here are the pertinent links. These are the blog sites that I'm aware of (not exhaustive) that are not at all schismatic, that accept the authority of Pope Benedict, but are deeply interested in the restoration of the Tridentine liturgy. These are the places that you should keep on your bookmarks over the next few weeks if and when "something" should happen.
The New Liturgical Movement blog, run mostly by Shawn Tribe, it seems, collects a lot of information and does some analysis, for example here, in whiich he sorts out how this all might look in the future.
Rorate Caeli seems to have its own sources and here, by laying out a chronology of events of the past year, takes issue with John Allen's statement in last week's "Word From Rome" that all of this discussion over the past week was nothing more than blogosphere speculation
The Vaticanisti (linked over on the left - and there are more who are Italian speaking and writing, but I don't have them linked) have been fairly silent on this - Allen's only comment was last week and Magister hasn't said a word - and liturgy is something he's interested in. Rocco had one cryptic post. But keep an eye on them.
If and when something happens, expect exploding heads and high drama from all quarters. But in the midst of it, ask the hysterics a simple question. If this is okay:
(Both images from the infamous LA Religious Congress liturgies)
Why not this?