A recent comment from Pope Francis, at an Italian ad limina visit, has been taken to mean that he will not touch the “traditional Mass” or change the status quo ushered in by Summorum Pontificum. The comment was reported on by the journalist Sandro Magister on his blog at l’Espresso, under the category “rumors.” It comes from the bishop of Conversano-Monopoli, Domenico Padovano. In response to those bishops of Apulia who complained to the Pope about the divisiveness of Summorum Pontificum, the Pope reportedly “urged them to be vigilant over extremism of some traditionalist groups, but also to build on the tradition and make it live in the Church with innovation.” As an example of this the Pope cited his own decision to keep Fr. Guido Marini as his master of ceremonies, drawing on his traditional sensibilities even as Fr. Marini learns from the Pope’s own more “emancipated” training.
TradiNews greeted this report with jubilation, saying in bold face type: “Do not touch the traditional Mass! Pope Francis surprises everyone.” “The message is clear,” the report exults, “thank you, most Holy Father!” The Hermeneutic of Continuity blogspot has also jumped on the bandwagon, announcing that “Pope Francis rejects attack on the old rite and says he ‘treasure tradition.'”
Meanwhile, at the blog Rorate Coeli (as Fritz Bauerschmidt pointed out on Pray Tell in an earlier post) concern was raised about some details of the parish liturgy at which the Pope presided on Trinity Sunday, including the Pope’s decision to give communion to those standing, and other matters. They justified reporting on such details in this way:
When Pope Benedict XVI reigned, every little “restoration” of traditional elements to the papal liturgy was often trumpeted as yet another momentous step in the restoration of the liturgy for the whole Church. It strikes us as absurd and inconsistent that now that another Pope reigns, “papal example” in the liturgy is suddenly treated in some “conservative” quarters as “irrelevant” and as being of little or no concern, something best ignored and needing no comment.
This post was tagged (among other things) as “the end of the reform of the reform.”
Rorate Coeli also is not buying the notion that Pope Francis has voiced a personal commitment to preserve Summorum Pontificum.
So which is it? Has Pope Francis proved himself a stalwart friend of Summorum Pontificum or are we seeing “the end of the reform of the reform”?
Potentially, of course, both could be true. He could be determined to protect the older rite, while having no great interest in changing the newer rite, which is the focus of reform of the reform.
However, it seems to me that the few words we have from the Pope on this subject (at second or third hand) are at best inconclusive. In this respect, I’m with Rorate Coeli.