Benedict XVI has made a clear gesture to traditionalists so that division does not become irreparable schism, says a French cardinal.
Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon and the primate of France, wrote this in "An Invitation for Reconciliation," a reflection on Benedict XVI's liturgical document, "Summorum Pontificum."
"To understand the Pope's decision" to write this letter, explained Cardinal Barbarin, "we remember what he shared with the cardinals just after his election."
"While the doors of the Sistine Chapel were still closed," the cardinal said, "Benedict XVI explained the choice of his name. Referring to Benedict XV, the great craftsman of peace, he said, 'I would like to live, above all, a pontificate of reconciliation and peace.'
"Today, the Pope thinks that if we don't make a gesture now, the division with the traditionalists will become an irreparable schism."
"He confirms, therefore, John Paul II's preparations in this regard: If they want to stay faithful to Rome, they know the doors are open to them and that their attachment to the older liturgy is not an obstacle."
Cardinal Barbarin says the only new element in "Summorum Pontificum" "is the decision to comply with the wishes of the faithful, depending henceforth on the priests' authority."
He explained: "As John Paul II had done for the bishops in 1988, Benedict XVI invites priests to welcome 'voluntarily the requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal edited in 1962.'
"Additionally, the Pope invites traditionalists to recognize the value and the sanctity of the Roman Missal instituted by Paul VI.
"The priests attached to the liturgy from before Vatican II, such as those of the Institute of the Good Shepard, the Fraternity of St. Peter, or in the Society of St. Pius X, will certainly be touched by this strong demand of Benedict XVI."
"Bishop Felley, himself, responsible for the Society of St. Pius X, said it was impossible to be Catholic and continue to be separated from Rome," added the 56-year-old prelate.
Cardinal Barbarin continued: "This will be, therefore, true progress for the unity [of the Church] if they agree to recognize 'the value and the holiness' of Paul VI's Missal, that with which I have celebrated Mass every day since my ordination.
"Benedict XVI asks everyone to penetrate the divine and sacred dimension of the Eucharist. For my part, I hope that all will reread attentively the constitution of Vatican II on the liturgy. This will be the best way to bring unity, always fragile in the Church."
Expression of faith
"In effect," the cardinal explained, "the liturgy is an essential expression of the faith of the Church according to the well known principle, 'lex orandi, lex credendi.'
"The celebration of the Eucharist gathers together all of the paschal mystery.
"We always pass it, but it is the time of joy of Holy Thursday -- communion; the drama of Holy Friday --sacrifice; and the mystery of the Resurrection on Easter morning -- presence. In sum, it is essential for our faith."
"My hope," he remarked, "is that this clear gesture of the Holy Father will lead the reticent to rediscover the texts of the Council."
Cardinal Barbarin concluded, "We always need to go deeper into these teachings. I regard them as the source for renewal and unity in the Church."