Benedict XVI had been entertaining projects for a liturgical reform

Source: FSSPX News

In 1982, at the Vatican, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, organized a meeting with the main cardinals of the Curia, during which they unanimously agreed that the use of the ancient rite of the Mass had to be admitted in the Church, and that they were going to have to prepare people’s minds for this permission, promulgate a pontifical document to check abuses and rehabilitate the old rite, but also make a synthesis of both missals (the old and the new), this famous “reform of the reform” desired by a portion of the Church.

Some of those who observe the activities of the Holy See knew about this very private meeting, organized by the man who was then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But the minutes of the meeting, written in Latin, had never been made public. Le Figaro obtained a copy.

On November 16, 1982, five cardinals and one bishop met to study the dossier of the liturgy independently from the “Lefebvre case” which, six year before the excommunication of the four bishops illicitly consecrated, was nevertheless a real subject of concern.


“Reform of the reform”

These high Vatican officials unanimously affirmed that: “the Roman Missal, in the form in which it had been in use until 1969, must be admitted by the Holy See in the whole Church for all the Masses celebrated in the Latin language”. Until very recently, when some isolated cardinals of the Curia affirmed that the old rite certainly had its place in the Church, it was customary to consider it as proscribed since the 1969 reforms, and this in spite of the restrictive authorizations given by Paul VI in 1971, and by John Paul II in 1984 and 1988. This permission was nevertheless subject to conditions. The document thus indicated that the faithful attached to the old Missal must not attribute to the Mass of Paul VI, which came out of the reforms of the 2nd Vatican Council, “any suspicion of heresy or invalidity,” and also required them to follow the new liturgical calendar. A point upon which the Archbishop of Paris, Mgsr. André Vingt-Trois – who recently celebrated a Mass in the rite of Saint Pius V in the Parisian parish of St. Odile – strongly insists today.

The “second stage”, after these conditions, was “a pontifical document, the nature of which remained to be specified” in which “the essence of sacred liturgy would be exposed anew”, which would check “wide-spread abuses”, which would promote “a more profound participation in the sacred mysteries,” and especially would “deal with the intimate identity between the old and the new missals, and with the ordinary and allowed forms which are absolutely not contrary.” Nothing seems to have changed today.

This stage would be followed, according to this blueprint, by “a synthesis of the two Missals which would preserve what was gained by the liturgical restoration, but which would abandon some exaggerated innovations.”

Questioned last week about this possible “reform of the reform,” Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, considered “normal and understandable that almost forty years after 1969, we would wish to take stock and re-focus things to produce something enduring.”

Sophie de Ravinel, Le Figaro, December 12, 2006