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Despite denials, leading Vatican journalist insists 'reform of the reform' is under discussion September 01, 2009

Last week CWN passed along the report, originally made public by Andrea Tornielli of the Italian daily Il Giornale, that the Congregation for Divine Worship had presented Pope Benedict with a list of possible steps that could be taken to restore a sense of the sacred in the liturgy: to inaugurate the long-awaited "reform of the reform." The Vatican press office denied the accuracy of the Tornielli report, and CWN dutifully reported on that statement as well.

But we also pointed out to our readers that the Vatican denial was not really a denial. Father Ciro Benedettini, the assistant director of the Vatican press office, said that there were no "institutional proposals" for "modification of the liturgical books." As we pointed out in our own CWN comment on the story:

That statement does not directly contradict a report by Andrea Tornielli of Il Giornale, who reported that the Congregation for Divine Worship had presented the Pontiff with a list of proposals for further discussion. Some of the steps suggested mentioned in Tornielli's column-- such as the possible return to celebrating Mass ad orientem or the abolition of Communion in the hand-- would not require any "modification of the liturgical books," since they could be done on the authority of individual pastors, bishops, or episcopal conferences, without requiring Vatican action.

Now Tornielli has raised the stakes, insisting that his piece was accurate. He too notes that the proposals under discussion would not require changes in the liturgical books-- although they might require new instructions to complement those books. (The Hermeneutic of Continuity blog has provided a helpful English translation of Tornielli's new report.) Moreover, he observes, a matter that is merely a topic for discussion today could become an "institutional proposal" in the future. Tornielli sums things up:

Since I have been a vaticanista, I have committed many errors – and I will commit many in the future: but the article in question, believe me, is not among these.

Over the past few years, Andrea Tornielli has established a formidable reputation for accuracy in reporting on the inner workings of the Roman Curia. Now he has put that reputation on the line, insisting that his story is essentially accurate. That's one good reason to believe him.

There's another good reason. Our own sources at the Vatican have confirmed that Tornielli's story was right on target, and proposals for the "reform of the reform" are on the docket for discussion.