Pope Francis recently allowed the liturgy to be conducted in two indigenous languages within the Mexican state of Chiapas. This is undoubtedly exciting news for the Catholics in that region, but it also bodes well for the universal Church.
While approval of these two languages cannot be equated with greater allowances for adaptation, it does not hurt the cause of those in Latin America, Asia, and Africa who have long called for further adaptation and inculturation. Since language is fundamentally a product of culture, there can be no doubt that this will fuel calls for even greater liturgical allowances beyond the language in which the text is spoken.
The allowance for greater adaptation of the Roman Rite largely ground to a halt beginning in 1970 with Liturgicae instaurationis and in 1973 with Eucharistiae Participationem. Their restrictions against experimentation were further affirmed in the Declaration on Eucharistic Prayers and Liturgical Experimentation by the Congregation for Divine Worship in their March 1988 issue of Notitiae. Ironically, the typical edition of Le Missel Romain pour les Dioceses du Zaire was promulgated in the July 1988 issue of Notitiae – the same year! Only the Zaire Usage (1988), now the Congolese Usage, managed to squeak by the hardening position of Rome and find a permanent place among the geographical rites in the West (i.e. the Roman, Ambrosian, Braga, and Mozarabic Rites). See my paper on the Zaire Usage. Other more minor allowances include the Eucharistic Prayer for Australian Aboriginals which was created ahead of the 1973 Eucharistic congress in Melbourne.
While Pope Francis might not be willing to open the door to further adaptation, or perhaps more realistically he hasn’t given it a thought, his allowance of new languages in which the Roman Rite can be celebrated will only lead to more discussion about adaptation.
I for one eagerly await where all of this might be headed.