The press and pundits have been putting forward reasons why Pope Benedict might issue a new document to expand the use of the so-called "Tridentine" Mass. Since I lately was honored with the title "Vatican wonk" by a friend from Fox News Channel, I better play the role and jump in even deeper.
- You will hear some pundits say, "He is old and, like other old people, the old Mass would be a comfort to him."
- Some commentators will say, "Benedict wants to bring the Lefebvrites and that type back into the fold."
- Some insiders will say, "His Holiness is showing the Orthodox that the Roman Church will respect their liturgical traditions by embracing her own."
- Some analysts will say, "The Pope’s vision of Europe and Western Civilization, ever more estranged from its Christian roots, will benefit from the reclamation of an influential force that helped through history to shape them."
- Some observers will say, "Jospeh Ratzinger, now Bishop of Rome, has long understood that the wider use of the older form of Mass will help reroot how the Novus Ordo is being celebrated and will jump start the organic development liturgy perennially underwent."
- Some wackos will say, "Ratzinger is an ultra-conservative. He is against Vatican II!"
With the clear exception of the last one, which would be the raving of a lunatic on the fringe who has never opened one of Joseph Ratzinger’s books, I see no reason to reject any of those reasons.
Each of those (except the last) are good enough reasons to reinstate the status of the older Mass by means of a papal act.
This is not a zero sum equation. There need be no one single reason, among those I list. One solution can address many purposes.
Pope Benedict simply wants to do the right thing. This is the right thing to do.
I won’t say this is long overdue, though I am really tempted. The time is simply ripe. When and if the document comes, those who are motivated by common sense and charity will make the proper use of it and refrain from whining that it should have been done years ago or that it is not enough or that it is too late, blah blah blah.
Establishing the older form of Mass as an "extraordinary" rite, with a solid footing alongside the Novus Ordo, is the right thing to do.