Pope John Paul II had great pastoral concern and compassion for all the faithful. Because of this concern, in October, 1984, he granted permission for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to be offered again in Latin with approval of the local Bishop. This is the traditional Latin Mass as it was offered in Catholic churches around the world until after Vatican II.
In a more recent Apostolic Letter, Ecclesia Dei (July 2, 1988) His Holiness expanded these earlier directives, calling for their “wide and generous application.” Pertinent excerpts include:
“To all those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition, I wish to manifest my will to facilitate their ecclesial communion by means of the necessary measures to guarantee respect for their rightful aspirations. In this matter I ask support of the Bishops and of all those engaged in the pastoral ministry in the Church.
“By virtue of my Apostolic Authority I Decree . . . Respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of this who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives already issued some time ago by the Apostolic See, for the use of the Roman Missal … of 1962.” (Emphasis added)
The Catholic faithful are free to ask their bishop that the Traditional Latin Mass be offered every Sunday in their parish or other nearby churches. Pope Benedict XVI, while Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, consistently showed his support for those Catholics who wish to worship in the old form of the Mass of the Roman Rite.
In his 1997 book Salt of the Earth, then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote wrote: "I am of the opinion that the old rite should be granted much more generously to all those who desire it. It’s impossible to grasp what could be dangerous or unacceptable about that. A community that suddenly declares that what, until now, was its holiest and highest possession is strictly forbidden makes the longing for it seem downright indecent, calls its very self into question.”
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to the Bishops of Chile, given 13 July, 1988, in Santiago, Chile.
"…we ought to get back to the dimension of the sacred in the liturgy. The liturgy is not a festivity; it is not a meeting for the purpose of having a good time. It is of no importance that the parish priest has cudgeled his brains to come up with suggestive ideas or imaginative novelties. The liturgy is what make the Thrice-Holy God present amongst us; it is the burning bush; it is the Alliance of God with man in Jesus Christ, Who has died and risen again. The grandeur of the liturgy does not rest upon the fact that it offers an interesting entertainment, but in rendering tangible the Totally Other, Whom we are not capable of summoning. He comes because He wills. In other words, the essential in the liturgy is the mystery, which is realized in the common ritual of the Church; all the rest diminishes it. Men experiment with it in lively fashion, and find themselves deceived, when the mystery is transformed into distraction, when the chief actor in the liturgy is not the Living God but the priest or the liturgical director."
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SUGGESTIONS - What you can do
For approved Traditional Latin Masses being offered in the US and Canada as of May 10, 2007 go here:
Listings of Vatican Appoved Latin Masses