Pope's reform of liturgy will continue

Cardinal Kurt Koch

Cardinal Kurt Koch

May 23, 2011

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict's easing of restrictions on use of the 1962 Roman Missal, known as the Tridentine rite, is just the first step in a "reform of the reform" in liturgy, said the Vatican's top ecumenist.

The pope's long-term aim is not simply to allow the old and new rites to coexist, but to move toward a "common rite" shaped by the mutual enrichment of the two Mass forms, Cardinal Kurt Koch said May 14.

In effect, the pope is launching a new liturgical reform movement, said the cardinal who is president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Those who resist it, including "rigid" progressives, mistakenly view the Second Vatican Council as a rupture with Church liturgical tradition, he said.

Koch made the remarks at a Rome conference on Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict's 2007 apostolic letter that offered wider latitude for use of the Tridentine rite.

Koch said Pope Benedict thinks the post-Vatican II liturgical changes have brought "many positive fruits" but also problems, including a focus on purely practical matters and a neglect of the paschal mystery in the Eucharistic celebration.

Koch said the aim of the pope's new reform movement is to revisit Vatican II's teachings in liturgy and strengthen certain elements, including the Christological and sacrificial dimensions of the Mass.

Koch said the 2007 letter is "only the beginning of this new liturgical movement."

"In fact, Pope Benedict knows well that, in the long term, we cannot stop at a coexistence between the ordinary form and the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, but that in the future the Church naturally will once again need a common rite," he said.

"However, because a new liturgical reform cannot be decided theoretically, but requires a process of growth and purification, the pope for the moment is underlining above all that the two forms of the Roman rite can and should enrich each other."