“How far will Benedict go?” asks Robert Moynihan, the editor of Inside the Vatican (August-September).
According to the Catholic magazine, Benedict XVI is currently preparing his first encyclical, which will deal with the subject of liturgy. The encyclical is expected before the end of the year. The recent meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the head of the Society of St. Pius X in order to attempt to solve the traditionalist schism has once again drawn the attention of the media to the lasting tensions within some sections of Roman Catholicism as a consequence of the liturgical reforms of the 1960s and their subsequent implementation (and sometimes adaptations not always favored by Rome).
The opposition of the Society of St. Pius X goes beyond the liturgical issues. While it would like the pope to allow any priest to celebrate according to the pre-Vatican II liturgical practices (Tridentine Mass, also called Rite of St. Pius V), the society also objects to current attitudes of the Roman Catholic Church regarding ecumenism and religious freedom. However, there are indications that major decisions regarding the future of liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church are on their way. The new Pope has never made a mystery of his sympathies for traditional litrugical practices; for instance, he prefers the priests to face the East rather than to face the people.
Regarding the expected encyclical, nobody knows for sure if some major decision will be taken regarding the use of the Tridentine Mass. According to Inside the Vatican, the main aim of Benedict seems to be “to reform the new Mass.” The encyclical may put a renewed emphasis on the sacrifical character of the Mass (contrasted with a Protestant style of worship), Moynihan suggests. Restrictions may also be introduced regarding practices such as dances or various types of music in the liturgy. But nobody knows at this point with certainty what the content of the encyclical will be.
An article by Andrea Tornielli in the same issue of Inside the Vaticannotices that Masses celebrated by the new Pope show “a return to simplicity, greater use of Gregorian chant, and the use of the Roman Canon.” Tornielli wonders if the current Master of Papal Ceremonies, Archbishop Piero Marini (in office since 1987), will soon be replaced, as expected by a number of “Vaticanologists.” The selection of his successor by the Pope will also be seen as an indication regarding the liturgical orientations of the current pontificate. –
— By Jean-Francois Mayer
(Inside the Vatican, http://www.insidethevatican.com)