There are factors in Italy and in the Church at large which are probably influencing the release date.
Let’s move toward this with a not irrelevant tangent.
In the Italian daily Libero there is today an article by Marcello Veneziani in Latin. It isn’t good Latin, but it’s readable Latin. There is a rather amusing typo of the name Caesar in the very first sentence, for example. First, and second part.
Veneziani argues for the return of the use of Latin in two phases, first, in his Latin letter, then, in a postscript in Italian. The former for the use of Latin to help Italians understand who they are, recover what they have lost, and to help Europe be whole. The latter, argues for Latin in church. I will focus on the latter.
In the second part, the postscript in "the vulgar tongue", Veneziani shares memories of a solemn Mass he attended as a child. He has never forgotten.
"Seeing as this is Easter, I would like to call to mind a Mass in Latin during my childhood, in the cathedral of my city, with an offering of 20 lire to sit in the choir with my father. I still have it before my eyes, in my nose, in my ears, the beauty of the rite, the scent of incense, the mystery of the words. It seemed to me I was truly linked to the Lord’s own network. The priest addressed himself to God and didn’t turn his back on Him in order to humor the faithful. The words, whispered and ancient, the mystery of those phrases, exuded the sacred and drew you closer to God.
Because Mass is not a soap opera, it in not necessary to understand the words; it is a rite of communion with God and not an instruction sheet for installing a washing machine. Whoever says that the mystery of those words only made power inaccessible to the people, isn’t taking into account all the obscure, esoteric, incomprehensible jargon used today in the fields of technology, economy, and physics to make them impenetrable and necessitate a caste of mediators. No. Better to have Latin, which above all wouldn’t be obligatory, but a free choice, as if by a democratic committee (the request of 30 devout souls, the Cobas* of the faith, would be enough). And so it is wonderful to think about the Resurrection of Latin at Easter of 2007, 30 years after the savage attacks on it by "Cursore Vespertino"’s (alias Corriere della Sera‘s) Giorgio Manganelli, now reprinted in the book Mammifero Italiano (Adelphi, 2007). Let’s reinstate Latin also in view of the dies familiae – which sounds better than "family day"** (though "gay pride" sounds bad even if you translate it as idem sexus amator superbia)."
* "Cobas" – "Comitati di base" are radical trade unions which control nearly everything in Italy.
** "Family day" is a demonstration, a confrontation really, schedule for May about legislation proposed on civil unions, homosexual marriage, taxation rates for families, etc.
Veneziani deftly slides into the discussion of Italian politics and the influence of the Church in public life. There are references to Italian political life all through the pieces he wrote. For example, the reference to "mani pulite", or "clean hands" isn’t just about what the Pope told young people in his homily on Palm Sunday. It is also a reference to the Italian political scandal in the 90′s (and still going on) of corrupt government officials receiving kick-backs for favors. When the Pope speaks about anything, it has a big impact on the press in Italy, and the intertwining of Church and state here is more tangled than a plate of long spaghetti.
These factors are of huge importance to anyone who wants to understand how decisions are being made about the life in the Church, both in Italy and abroad. Remember, the Pope is the Bishop of Rome. He has the good of the whole Church to consider, but he is also a bishop here in Italy, the Primate of Italy. As I have tried to explain to people for years, you have to grasp what is going on in Italian Church/State relations to really get what is happening even with decisions and documents of global importance.
The "Family Day" reference is crucial right now even, I think, for the date of the Motu Proprio.
Very bad legislation has been introduced in Italy about homosexual marriage, taxation rates for families, etc. The Pope and CEI (Italian Bishops Conference) have said clearly and repeatedly that Catholics must oppose this bad legislation every way possible. They have been very vocal about this and the lefties all going completely bananas. In their view of things, the Church is supposed to be a silent partner in reshaping society (after all… that’s the purpose of the Church, right? an instrument of social activism and change?).
Various Catholic groups suggested a demonstration, against these legislative projects, in favor of the family properly understood. Tension is building. The simmering hostility toward Benedict and the Church is starting to boil. I posted in another entry about posters put up in Genova, which is where the new president of the CEI, the Italian Bishops Conference is the Archbishop and soon to be cardinal.
In light of the importance of "Family Day" in resisting the evil legislation, it was decided by the Pope and the CEI that bishops should not participate in the May demonstration, though priests could.
"But Father! But Father!" you are saying with furrowed brow, "Why no bishops? Shouldn’t they be out there in the front lines?"
This is probably a good decision. In Spain on a similar occasion the leftists emphasized the conflict among the bishops on these matters, and that seriously undermined the Church in Spain, took away it’s voice. They are trying to rebuild their moral capital there. So, in Italy it was decided that LAY PEOPLE had to make themselves the force for change in the public square. The Family Day demonstration would not be led by clergy. It is better than lay people do this themselves, to test the wil of lay movements. Having bishops step aside is not going to be the best scenario in all social issues, but on this one, in ITALY, it probably is. People are divided on this, but there it is.
In Italy, Pope Benedict is making a huge splash. Since he was elected, the left-wing has gone nearly insane with confusion and rage. The main-stream press is waging a bitter campaign against him and the Church. The problem is that he is hugely popular especially among young people who are beginning to ask questions of their teachers and others about things they are not supposed to question (the left-wing agenda). Since the education system in Italy has been run by Communists for decades, this question asking trend is a very bad development. And… it is the Pope’s fault! If John Paul captured the imagination of young people and drew them in, they are now listening to Benedict with rapt attention. He is the only great public figure saying anything new or that makes sense. While the secularists are all shrieking about "thinking outside the box", the Pope is the only one really doing it.
Benedict XVI is handling a great number of very difficult issues both in Italy itself, in larger Europe, and within the Church. There is huge tension now because he just isn’t doing what every splinter group thinks he ought to be doing. Instead the Pope is being the Pope. When you thnk about why we haven’t seen the Motu Proprio yet, consider that when he released Sacramentum caritatis it wasn’t enough for some people and it was ignored by others. He increases the use of Latin and it isn’t enough. If he releases the MP, it won’t be enough for many who will be the chief beneficiaries of what the Pope is trying to accomplish. I think if I were the Pope, I too would be very careful with the release of this document.
The Motu Proprio will be interpreted in a larger context of what Benedict is doing on many levels in Italy and Europe.
When Benedict does this, he must get it as right as he possibly can. The stakes are high in other sectors of the life of the Church.