As the Ecclesia Dei Commission meets today at the Vatican, reportedly to discuss the anticipated Motu Proprio to extend the use of the Tridentine Mass, Le Figaro reported today that the Pope's efforts to reform the Mass and to re-introduce acceptance of the Tridentine Mass, together with full acceptance of the Mass of Pope Paul VI, date to 1982.
According to Le Figaro, when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then Cardinal Ratzinger organized a meeting of the principal cardinals of the curia, in which they unanimously agreed that the Tridentine Mass should be allowed. Based upon the reported private November 16, 1982 meeting, attended by 5 cardinals and 1 bishop, Le Figaro states that there was a proposal to initially prepare people for the concepts behind that change, followed by a papal document to diminish abuses and to rehabilitate the old liturgy. According to that article, Cardinal Ratzinger also wanted to synthesize the old and new liturgies in a "reform of the reform."
Le Figaro reports that it has obtained a copy of the report of that private 1982 meeting, which was previously not made public. It is not clear when or how Le Figaro obtained the document, whether the Vatican now intends to make it public, or how certain its authenticity might be. The timing of the Le Figaro article, coming on the day of the previously reported meeting of the Ecclesia Dei meeting, after a few weeks with little news about the Motu Proprio that was mentioned in early November, raises questions in my mind (as I finish this post and hurry out the door). Was the document given to those attending the Ecclesia Dei meeting today and passed on to Le Figaro, or -- perhaps more likely -- has Le Figaro had the document for a while and published its story now as attention was drawn by the Ecclesia Dei meeting and rumors that a papal post-synodal document on the Eucharist is already in the hands of translators.
As reported by Le Figaro, the document does not specifically mention the LeFebvrists, although they were already a concern. The Society of St. Pius X had then existed for 12 years, although excommunications would not occur until 1988.
The document also reportedly stated that those who are devoted to the old Mass must not oppose the new Mass (Novus Ordo) and must not imply that the new liturgy is heretical or impaired in any way. Le Figaro mentions that Archbishop André Vingt-Trois, who just presided over a celebration of the Tridentine Mass in Paris this past Sunday, strongly insists that those who prefer the Tridentine Mass must not make such contentions.
The final stage is reported to have been a synthesis of the two missals, doing away with some exaggerated innovations that have developed since Vatican II, while preserving the Council's liturgical restoration.
Le Figaro quotes Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, questioned last week, as saying that 40 years after Vatican II, it is "normal, understandable and possible" that we want to make an assessment and to recalculate things, to last."