A Radio Vatican commentary from Father Eberhard von Gemmingen SJ, Director of German Speaking Programmes. The aristocratic Jesuit is often on German TV and was granted an early exclusive interview with the new Pope, who he studied under at the University of Tübingen.
In all probability Pope Benedict will give the permission to celebrate again the traditional or Tridentine Rite. It would however be completely wrong if Catholics started to quarrel over this, some of them full of joy about this reversal, the others full of anger. It is to be noted that the Pope will not on any account reintroduce the old liturgy or even make it compulsory. He is only of the opinion that the prohibition of the classical Rite after the Council is in contradiction to Church tradition, because according to his conviction, Rites can be further developed but cannot be abrogated.
The whole thing is not about Latin and the celebration with the back to the people. The new Rite allows both. The exact differences between the old and the new Rite are minimal and are hardly recognizable if the new Rite, as permitted and when sought, is celebrated in Latin and with the back to the people.
In my opinion, our actual problem in Europe is that the Faithful find today’s Masses often banal with little mystery and at times also with arbitrary additions to the Rite. Christians with a sense of aesthetics wish for a more classical form and mystery. Behind this is probably also a longing for European language which links all together in a common culture. At that stage, one knew that a Catholic Mass in Lisbon was the same as the one celebrated in St Petersburg. One was spared any surprises. But let’s admit it, at that time millions took part in the Mass diligently and faithfully but have not understood anything and only prayed the Rosary. The German hand Missal, Schott was only known to German intellectuals because in other countries it did not exist (untrue!). The desire to assist at the Mass, actively and with understanding is good and very important. It is my opinion therefore that in todays world we priests should learn again to celebrate the mystery so that Faith, heart and reason are in used to equal measure. If we look at the growing Churches in Africa and Asia, the celebration of the correct Rite is a mere trifle. I can hardly imagine that anyone in these young Churches will want the old Rite.