The Universae Eclessiae, the Instruction for implementing B-16’s Summorum Pontificum concerning the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, has been released and it looks like a win:

The most important point to carry away is that UE reveals something more of the mind, the mens, of the lawgiver, Pope Benedict XVI.

Questions will remain, but after the 3 year period following Summorum Pontificum (and the subsequent months which followed) the more pressing questions are addressed in this Instruction.  Some of us could have wished for a bit more strength, but this is a document from an office of the Roman Curia, not from the Pope himself.  It is not a Motu Proprio of the Pope.

I was initially worried that there would be some gassy rambling in the introduction upon which liberals could latch.  The introduction is rather more helpful than harmful.

The Instruction clarifies that the provisions of Summorum Pontificum were for all the faithful, not just followers of the SSPX, or old people who are nostalgic, etc.

The Instruction could have said that the Extraordinary Form is not to be used as often as the Ordinary Form.  It doesn’t.  It says that the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms are “one alongside the other” and that the Extraordinary Form is to be maintained with “appropriate honor”.

The fact that the older form was never abrogated is found in some subtle language which says that, after the Novus Ordo of Paul VI was released, legislation about the use of the older books didn’t seem necessary.  That left a hole or “lacuna” that the provisions of Summorum Pontificum resolved.

It restates with a direct quote what Pope Benedict wrote in 2007: “What was sacred for prior generations, remains sacred and great for us as well, and cannot be suddenly prohibited altogether or even judged harmful.”

This is wonderful.  As regular port-swillers will know, I am fortunate enough to belong to the only parish in my area that offers the Tridentine Mass weekly.  Indeed, in the past three-plus years now, this has easily become the single most important 90 minutes of my week.  Every time I have to attend a Novus Ordo Mass, I am again amazed that anyone ever considered abandoning the older form in the first place.

Here’s hoping that more and more people will now get to discover what I mean.

(A glass of wine with Damian Thompson.)