Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to expand permission to use the Tridentine Mass, the pre-Vatican II rite favored by traditionalist groups, said an informed Vatican source.
The pope is expected to issue a document "motu proprio," or on his own initiative, which will address the concerns of "various traditionalists," said the source, who asked not to be named.
The source said the new permission, or indult, was a papal decision, but was being done in cooperation with agencies of the Roman Curia. He would not elaborate on the extent of the indult, when it would be established or how it would work.
The Tridentine rite is currently available to groups of Catholics who ask and receive permission for its use from their local bishops. The old rite is celebrated in Latin and follows the Roman Missal of 1962, which was replaced in 1969 with the new Roman Missal.
Among those who have strongly pushed for wider use of the Tridentine rite are the followers of the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who was excommunicated in 1988.
Canadian Archbishop James Weisgerber of Winnipeg, Manitoba, told Catholic News Service Oct. 10 that Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, head of the Congregation for Clergy, had spoken briefly to Canadian bishops about the expected step.
"It sounded to me like it was a sort of concession somebody has made," the archbishop said.
Archbishop Weisgerber said the new indult was apparently motivated by a desire to bring comfort to older people who may miss the old rite. But in his archdiocese, he said, the few people asking for it are "young people who never experienced it."
We have no idea what the nature of this document is, but I'll just clarify something - the present Indult requires the express permission of a bishop. Apparently what this new step would do would be to declare that any priest who wanted to could offer the Tridentine Mass. There are sorts of potential complications, of course, ranging from...could a priest ditch the Novus Ordo totally in his parish? Two Masses in one parish on two different calendars (which happens of course in the Indult parishes anyway...). It will be interesting to see how these little points are sorted out.
And as for the developing story line that this is all about the Pope trying to appeal to "ultraconservatives" - no.
The Pope knows better than you or I that there is an element of the Traditionalists movement that would totally indifferent to this move, because, as we discussed before, the issue of the Mass is only a small part of their larger beef. My (uniformed) opinon is that this (unknown) move is about 1)principle - that whole knotty question of whether the '62 missal was ever "abrogated" or not - clearing that up. 2) principle - that it makes no sense for the Mass, offered for centuries, not be widely available 3) a hope that those involved in SSPX, etc., who do feel a pull to be in full communion with Rome might return. (and we're not talking the opposite of schism, here - a lot of conversation and controversy about that as well, but just say that the general opinion is that your ordinary person who attends an SSPX chapel out of a desire to practice their Faith is not in schism - certain bishops might be, but that's another story) 4) a genuine belief in the organic development on the liturgy, the inadequacies of the post-Conciliar reforms, their disconnect from much of 1900 years of church practice, and the faith that the availibility of this Rite will affect some kind of "cross-pollination" and improve and focus the practice of the Novus Ordo.
Oh, there's much more. And there are many others who know a lot more about this. But it worth saying, since there seems to be certainty that "something" is coming, that is not about wrenching the Church back into the past to please a certain group of people. The Pope knows that a lot of those people won't be pleased anyway.