Pope Benedict uses older ritual for his private Mass
Vatican, Jul. 16, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news), who recently issued a motu proprio allowing all Catholic priests to celebrate the old Latin Mass, uses the older ritual himself for his private Mass, CWN has learned. Informed sources at the Vatican have confirmed reports that the Holy Father regularly celebrates Mass using the 1962 Roman Missal. In his motu proprio Summorum Pontificum the Pope says that the older form-- the form in universal use before the liturgical changes that followed Vatican II-- was never abrogated. Since becoming Roman Pontiff, Benedict XVI has always used the new ritual-- which he identifies in Summorum Pontificum as the "ordinary form" of the Roman rite-- for public celebrations of the Eucharistic liturgy. However few people have witnessed the Pope celebrating his private daily Mass. Unlike his predecessor John Paul II, who regularly invited visitors to attend the Mass that he celebrated each morning in his private chapel, Benedict XVI has made it his regular practice to celebrate Mass with only a few aides. The Pope's closest associates have established a reputation for preserving confidences. Shortly after his election in April 2005, Pope Benedict ordered renovations of the Redemptoris Mater chapel in the apostolic palace. The changes included replacing the free-standing altar at which Pope John Paul celebrated Mass facing the congregation with a longer altar, closer to the rear wall of the chapel and with a tabernacle in the center. The new arrangement allows for the Pope to celebrate Mass in the ad orientem posture required for the older ritual. Pope Benedict has long been known as an ardent defender of the Catholic liturgical tradition. In the early 1990s he raised eyebrows in Rome by writing a laudatory preface to the book The Reform of the Roman Liturgy, in which Msgr. Klaus Gamber decried many of the liturgical changes of the past few decades. Then-Cardinal Ratzinger also traveled to Wigratzbad, in Bavaria, to ordain priests for the Fraternity of St. Peter, a group devoted to the use of the traditional liturgy. He performed those ordinations, as well as Mass on Easter Sunday in 1990, using the 1962 Roman Missal.
UPDATE. 17.07.07 CWNews has removed the part about John Paul II and has added this note:
Editor's note Several CWN readers have pointed out that Pope John Paul II could and did celebrate Mass ad orientem in the papal chapel before the renovations that Benedict XVI commissioned. Because the paragraph on the renovations was confused, and added nothing to the substance of this story, we have removed it from this report.