All hands on the Roman deck

ConsecrationAttention everyone who cares about MSM coverage of debates in modern Catholicism: Please help us watch, in the next 48 hours or so, how major newspapers cover a big story that is breaking right now. In fact, this story may run through the weekend because the visuals should be interesting, which may even lead to television coverage. What's the story? Here we go, starting with the Catholic News Service report from Rome:

Pope Benedict XVI is preparing to expand permission to use the Tridentine Mass, the pre-Vatican II rite favored by traditionalist groups, said an informed Vatican source.

The pope is expected to issue a document "motu proprio," or on his own initiative, which will address the concerns of "various traditionalists," said the source, who asked not to be named. The source said the new permission, or indult, was a papal decision, but was being done in cooperation with agencies of the Roman Curia. ...

The Tridentine rite is currently available to groups of Catholics who ask and receive permission for its use from their local bishops. The old rite is celebrated in Latin and follows the Roman Missal of 1962, which was replaced in 1969 with the new Roman Missal.

Let me emphasize that this is a very hot, symbolic story for the Catholic left as well as for traditionalists. The big change would be removing bishops on the left from the decision-making process. They are going to howl, with good reason.

Now there is going to be a very interesting vocabulary issue in coverage of this issue, and we can see hints in the early Associated Press coverage by Victor L. Simpson. Note, in the following, the use of the word "reforms." Reforms are, of course, good and anyone who overturns or weakens said "reforms" must, therefore, be doing something bad. Thus we see:

Pope Benedict XVI has decided to loosen restrictions on use of the old Latin Mass, making a major concession to ultraconservatives who split with the Vatican to protest liberalizing reforms, a Vatican official said Wednesday.

And there is this:

The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the Swiss-based Society of St. Pius X in 1969 in opposition to the reforms of the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, particularly allowing Mass to be celebrated in local languages instead of Latin. The Vatican excommunicated Lefebvre in 1988 after he consecrated four bishops without Rome's consent.

Ah, so there is a chance that newspapers that view this story from a strictly modernist point of view -- there are, I imagine, few high-Mass Catholics in the typical newsroom -- may even say that Pope Benedict XVI is "dividing" the modern church or bowing his knee (or words to that effect) to schismatics.

So what would the opposite be? They could say that liberalized use of the Latin Mass represents a nod to diversity. It can even be a sign of unity in multilingual parishes. No, honestly.

So help us watch this story in the days ahead. And, of course, you can cruise over to Catholic blogger Amy Welborn's Open Book for all the updates there.

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