Listening to the 10pm news on Radio 4 last night, I heard a report from Robert Pygott, the BBC's Religious Affairs Correspondent, that suggested that Pope Francis had given an interview in which he had indicated that the Church's teaching on a range of subjects, including abortion, contraception, gay marriage and women priests, was up for discussion, and likely to be changed. By the morning, the report had been withdrawn, and replaced by something much less sensational.
It seems to be yet another case of the BBC misunderstanding or misrepresenting the news in a way calculated to embarrass the Catholic Church.
So What did the Pope actually say in the interview. In the absence of reliable translations, it may be best not to comment at the moment. However, Rorate Caeli has the following extract in translation:
"I think the decision of Pope Benedict to allow wider use of the Tridentine Mass was prudent, and motivated by a desire to help people who have this sensitivity." He goes on to say, "What is worrying, though, is the risk of ideologisation of the vetus ordo, its exploitation."
How do we interpret this? The phrase, "people who have this sensitivity" would seem to suggest that Pope Francis thinks that the usus antiquior is really only there for the benefit of a reactionary minority. This would seem more in line with the concept of an indult rather than the parallel ranking of the two forms of the Roman Rite. The use of the words idealogisation and exploitation would suggest to me that Pope Francis does not much like the idea campaigning for wider availability of the usus antiquior.
Having noted that the words of Pope Francis are less than enthusiastic about the Latin Mass, something that most people suspected anyway, there does not seem to be anything in the interview which indicate restrictions might be placed on it.
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