Saturday, May 03, 2003

Universal Indult for the Tridentine Mass?

A report in the British Catholic weekly The Catholic Herald claims that the Pope is soon going to grant a Universal Indult for the Old Mass. According to the report by Simon Caldwell:

John Paul II is understood to be ready to grant a "universal indult" by the end of the year to permit all priests to choose freely between the celebration of Mass in the so-called Tridentine rite used up to 1962 before the disciplinary reforms of
the Second Vatican Council and the novus ordo Mass used after 1970. It will mean that a priest who wants to celebrate old rite Masses will no longer need to apply for an indult to Ecclesia Dei...

This report has, as of now, not yet been confirmed by any Vatican officials. And given the recent furor over the false rumors of reconciliation with the schismatic traditionalists of the Society of St. Pius X, this report has to be taken with a grain of salt. But the Catholic Herald is sober and reliable, and Britain's national Catholic weekly. Caldwell seems to have access to some inside information, as he cites Vatican inquiries of Scottish and English bishops regarding their provision of the Old Mass.

Rome has given the Old Mass a higher profile in the last year or so: The holy father celebrated a Tridentine Mass last year, Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos will celebrate a Tridentine Mass at St. Mary Major in Rome on the 24th of this month, and the Pope just issued an instruction granting permssion for any priest possessing the indult to celebrate the Mass of St. Pius V at St. Peter's. All of these things taken together make the granting of a Universal Indult quite plausible.

What would the effects of such a grant be? Well, it would certainly cause great consternation among those more "progressive" types who have been attempting to redefine the Mass as a "celebration of community" or a "sacred meal" for the last 30 years. The grant of such an indult, with the Pope's most recent encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, could only be seen as a ringing re-affirmation of the Church's traditional understanding of the Mass as first and foremost the re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice on the Cross. Conversely, such a move would be a great source of consolation for many Catholics who have been discouraged and dismayed by the perceived "dumbing-down" of the Mass in recent decades.

The grant of a universal indult would also end the "second-class citizen" status of the Old Mass and its adherents. It would put an end to the efforts of a few still-hostile bishops to thwart the "generous" application of the Ecclesia Dei indult by obstructing the Old Mass. This would probably, over the course of time, help to further stem the tide of liturgical abuses. It may also further efforts toward a "reform of the reform" of the post-conciliar liturgy.

Finally, it would in all likelihood be a big step towards reconciliation with the Lefebvrists and other traditionalist schismatics. As such, it would help us to fulfill Our Lord's prayer that "they all be one."