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Summorum Pontificum: two years later September 14, 2009

Summorum Pontificum, the motu proprio with which Pope Benedict XVI encouraged wide use of the Roman Missal of 1962, took effect two years ago today: on September 14, 2007. At the time, the document was regarded as a move of enormous significance, particularly for the hopes of reconciliation between the Holy See and the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X and for the restoration of a deep sense of reverence in the Latin liturgy-- what proponents called "the reform of the reform."

Two years later, the fruits of Summorum Pontificum are evident in the latest dispatches from Rome. This week representatives of the Holy See will begin talks with the SSPX on doctrinal questions, hoping to narrow the differences between the Vatican and the traditionalist group on key teachings of Vatican II. The motu proprio, together with the Pope's decision to lift the excommunications of the SSPX bishops, eliminated the other major obstacles to reconciliation; only the doctrinal questions remain. While those issues are serious, the two sides remain far apart, and a quick agreement is unlikely, nevertheless the prospects for reunion are far better today than two years ago.

As for the "reform of the reform," the respected Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale recently wrote that the Congregation for Divine Worship has sent Pope Benedict a list of reform proposals for consideration: proposals for change in the Novus Ordo liturgy, reportedly including an end the practice of receiving Communion in the hand, and a return to celebrating Mass ad orientem. Although a Vatican official sought to downplay the significance of Tornielli's report, CWN has received independent confirmation that the report was essentially accurate.

The impact of Summorum Pontificum is evident, then, in contemporary Catholic affairs. As a service to readers-- and a means of putting this story in perspective-- we offer a list of the headline stories that CWN posted when the motu proprio originally took effect: