Apostolic Letter Not a Reversal, Says Aide

Notes That Pope Is Leading Church Forward

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- With his apostolic letter "Summorum Pontificum," Benedict XVI isn't intending to bring about liturgical revolution, says a Vatican spokesman.



In comments to Vatican Radio on Saturday, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said that the Pope's letter on the last Vatican-approved missal prior to the post-conciliar reforms "does not intend to bring about any revolution in respect to the modern liturgical usage renewed by the council."

The spokesman said that the Pope "is not imposing any reversal; he does not desire any weakening of the authority of the council, nor of the authority and responsibility of the bishops."

"The Pope," continued Father Lombardi, "simply wants to offer to those who feel a deep desire, an easier possibility of celebrating the liturgy according to the form of the Roman rite previously in use, to do so serenely, sensing it benevolently welcomed and inserted into the great Catholic community."

The Jesuit priest added, "The Pope wishes that the coexistence of the two forms of the rite will lead both, not to oppose each other, but to mutually enrich each other, on one side through a greater depth of sacrality, and on the other side through a greater variety and expressiveness of elements."

Father Lombardi said that there is a message in the letter for all: "The liturgy must be celebrated with care and respect precisely because through it we communicate with the mystery of God.

"If this respect is lacking, it is not only the individual but the whole Church that suffers, because abuses are always the seed of division."

Addressing fears that the expanded use of the 1962 missal will lead to more division, the Vatican spokesman said: "Benedict XVI feels deeply responsible for unity, and is naturally thinking of those who still today find themselves outside of ecclesial communion, but also of those who find themselves in a state of tension within it, and he invites all to a reciprocal openness within the unity of the same faith.

"He indicates that just as it is not possible to consider the most ancient liturgical books prohibited and dangerous so also no one has the right to regard the renewed books negatively.

"So, whoever wants to appeal to the 'motu proprio' to ignite tensions, instead of cultivating the spirit of reconciliation, will radically betray it."

Regarding concern that the document detracts from the authority of Vatican II, the priest recalled that in Benedict XVI's recent post-synodal exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," he underlined "the beneficial influence on the Church's life of the liturgical renewal which began with the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council."

"Moreover," continued Father Lombardi, "we see the Pope continually celebrating in a solemn way according to the renewed rite."

The spokesman continued: "Therefore, we have no reason to fear. Benedict XVI will not move us backward but leads us forward, keeping us well inserted in the continuity of the historical path of the Church.

"It is a going forward that aims above all to make progress -- as persons and as community -- into the depths of the encounter with God."