Two and a half years after the name “Josephum” came booming down from the balcony of St Peter’s, making liberal Catholics weep with rage, Pope Benedict XVI is revealing his programme of reform. And it is breathtakingly ambitious.
The 80-year-old Pontiff is planning a purification of the Roman liturgy in which decades of trendy innovations will be swept away. This recovery of the sacred is intended to draw Catholics closer to the Orthodox and ultimately to heal the 1,000 year Great Schism. But it is also designed to attract vast numbers of conservative Anglicans, who will be offered the protection of the Holy Father if they covert en masse.
… The liberation of the Latin liturgy, the rapprochement with Eastern Orthodoxy, the absorption of former Anglicans – all these ambitions reflect Benedict’s conviction that the Catholic Church must rediscover the liturgical treasure of Christian history to perform its most important task: worshipping God.
One might recall this passage from a prophetic letter to Pope Paul VI written by Cardinals Ottaviani and Bacci, on the eve of the promulgation of the Novus Ordo Missae:
The Apostolic Constitution makes explicit reference to a wealth of piety and teaching in the Novus Ordo borrowed from Eastern Churches. The result – utterly remote from and even opposed to the inspiration of the oriental Liturgies – can only repel the faithful of the Eastern Rites. What, in truth, do these ecumenical options amount to? Basically to the multiplicity of anaphora (but nothing approaching their beauty and complexity), to the presence of deacons, to Communion sub utraque specie.
Against this, the Novus Ordo would appear to have been deliberately shorn of everything which in the Liturgy of Rome came close to those of the East.
Moreover in abandoning its unmistakable and immemorial Roman character, the Novus Ordo lost what was spiritually precious of its own. Its place has been taken by elements which bring it closer only to certain other reformed liturgies (not even those closest to Catholicism) and which debase it at the same time. The East will be ever more alienated, as it already has been by the preceding liturgical reforms.
By the way of compensation the new Liturgy will be the delight of the various groups who, hovering on the verge of apostasy, are wreaking havoc in the Church of God, poisoning her organism and undermining her unity of doctrine, worship, morals and discipline in a spiritual crisis without precedent.