Summorum Pontificum, 5 Years Later
Summorum Pontificum is, no doubt, the great accomplishment of this papacy (and will probably remain the only one). His reach is certainly of historical significance, and I would not be surprised if in 100 years the 7 July 2007 were to be still remember as the day the Church symbolically started to march towards sobriety.
The problem with Summorum Pontificum, though, is that for such a great theoretical accomplishment not much has been accomplished. The intention to “free” the Traditional Mass from the freeze in which it had been kept prisoner for more than 35 years was not accompanied by the desire to really use it. Rather, the Traditional Mass was moved more or less from the freezer to the fridge, and left there.
Following a typical mark of this pontificate, Summorum Pontificum is a good example of Pope Ratzinger’s way of thinking: continuation of progressive policies, whilst being perceived to be a friend of those of traditional inclinations.
In my eyes, with it the Pontiff had the following objective:
1. link his name with a policy which would ensure his name remains respected when the tide turns.
2. give the traddies some fodder, so they can think he is his friend.
3. avoid any enforcement in practice, and
4. continue undisturbed with more or less scandalous and very often mediocre appointments, once the reputation of “conservative Pope friend of the tradition” has been established.
Immediately after Summorum Pontificum, many bishops started to openly oppose it. Year after year, the Pope did nothing to allow a decent implementation of his great historic initiative, and one of those bishops who was most active in the opposition to traditional liturgy was now, by his own choice, moved to the Congregation for Divine Worship. You can’t have better evidence that Pope Benedict never wanted Summorum Pontificum to be implemented.
Summorum Pontificum will remain, I am afraid, a symbol of what this pontificate could have been, and at the same time a good example of the Pontiff’s rather duplicitous policy of giving conservative Catholics some cookies in theory, so that the thus won reputation coud allow him to continue to protect the liberal V-II old guard (of which he is integral part) in practice.
Look on the internet at the way the newly appointed head of the Congregation for the Divine Worship, Roche, arranged his own chapel/prayer room, and tell me whether ever Bugnini would have tolerated something like that.
Pope Benedict does not seem to have a problem with it.