UPDATE: At the blog Finding Pasture there is a very funny reaction to the howler in the statement in the AP article (which I treat below) about the Pope’s celebration ad orientem as being a "break with tradition"
The breathless "it’s a break with tradition!" thing is just too funny. It’s got some of us laughing our apses off.
Let me say from the onset to say that a priest has his "back to the people" when he celebrates ad orientem, is a cliche gleened from usually innocent ignorance, in the case of most people, and thick laziness on the part of journalists.
They should do some homework.
That said, our good friend Zadock alerts us to a piece in the International Herald Tribune about Pope Benedict celebrating Mass ad orientem in the Sistine Chapel today.
This is an AP piece with my emphases and comments:
VATICAN CITY: Pope Benedict XVI baptized 13 babies in the Sistine Chapel during a Sunday Mass celebrated at the altar at the foot of Michelangelo’s "Last Judgment" wall fresco. [In other words the main altar, but you get the idea of where it is.]
In a departure from tradition, [ROFL! This is rich. Celebration on table style altars (usually more like picnic tables or ironing boards than altars) is the "tradition" in the mind of this writer.] Benedict did not celebrate the Mass at a small altar [Ooops... he used a big altar.] set up to face the congregation. Instead, he celebrated it with his back to the congregation, which included the children’s parents, godparents, grandparents and siblings. [Here is what I object to in this bit: It seems like the writer is suggesting that Pope Benedict didn't care that anyone was present. Also, very often people think that some Mass which concerns a sacrament conferred on children, such as baptism or confirmation, etc., is really all about the worship of the little darlings present and not so much about the worship of Almighty God.]
Decades ago, priests routinely celebrated Mass at altars with their backs to parishioners, [Absolutely no depth or discernment at all in this piece.] but after the modernizing [A key word. Watch what happens next.] changes of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, it became common practice for the celebrant to face the congregation.
The 80-year-old [OLD] pontiff said it was a special joy for him to baptize the babies, the children of Vatican employees. He asked to families to raise the children with "faith, hope and charity."
As he was leaving the chapel at the end of the ceremony, the pope suddenly looked at his hand, glanced toward the floor and turned to an aide, apparently to say that his papal ring had slipped off. An aide found the ring near the altar and handed it back to the pontiff. [Does it strike you that the writer wants to leave the impression that the OLD Pope, who doesn't care about the people present and doesn't do modern things is also getting a little dotty?]