Catholic Culture Solidarity
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Catholic World News News Feature

Ecclesia Dei commission to meet as new rumors swirl December 11, 2006

The pontifical Ecclesia Dei commission will meet in a plenary session on Tuesday, December 12, to discuss plans to allow broader use of the traditional Latin Mass.

The meeting of the Ecclesia Dei commission-- which was set up in 1988 by Pope John Paul II to address the pastoral concerns of traditionalist Catholics-- has revived speculation that Pope Benedict XVI is on the verge of releasing a motu proprio expanding use of the traditional Tridentine rite.

The I Media news agency-- which broke the story of this week’s meeting of the Ecclesia Dei commission-- had reported in October that the release of the papal motu proprio was imminent. But early in November, Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, a member of the papal commission, assured his fellow French bishops that they would have time to discuss the papal initiative before any document was released.

During the month of November, the discussion of a forthcoming motu proprio slowed, as Vatican observers saw that the Pope’s efforts were concentrated on plans for his visit to Turkey. But with the Pontiff’s return from that trip, speculation has resumed. Informed sources at the Vatican insist that the document is now ready for the Pope’s signature.

The use of the traditional Latin Mass is a key concern for traditionalist Catholics, including (but by no means limited to) members of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), the group that broke with the Holy See after its founder, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, ordained bishops in defiance of Vatican orders.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the president of the Ecclesia Dei commission, has been the Vatican’s key representative in talks with the SSPX during the past several years. On October 31, Pope Benedict accepted the Colombian’s resignation from his post as prefect of the Congregation for Clergy; but the Pontiff stipulated that Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos should remain in place as chairman of Ecclesia Dei.

In November the Genoa archdiocese posted a public notice about the traditional liturgy, pointing out that the Pope has the authority to issue new liturgical norms. That statement was widely interpreted as a means of preparing the faithful for the Pope’s directive; analysts noted that the Genoa archdiocese was until recently headed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is now the Pope’s top lieutenant as Vatican Secretary of State.