The Pope has finally issued "SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM"
Fr. Joseph O'Leary has the best relevant commentary here.
Not long ago, I read a book called The Reform of the Papacy, by the former Archbishop of San Francisco, John R. Quinn. It was written in 1999 as a reponse to the broad invitation issued by John Paul II in the encyclical Ut Unum Sint.
Archbishop Quinn made some interesting observations at the time on this topic.
(A) sign that (a certain) curial mind-set still exists is indicated in a more observable way by what may be called the restorationist direction of the Curia at the present time. This seems to be an effort to recreate the preconciliar situation of the Church. It is manifest, for instance, in the encouragement of a return to the preconciliar Latin liturgy. This began as a limited concession with the hope of avoiding a schism on the part of the followers of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre.* The concession did not in fact avoid schism, but it has led to the development of groups who rally around a return to the preconciliar liturgical forms. These groups now use not only the preconciliar Mass liturgy but also the preconciliar sacramental liturgies. ** From being a concession granted as an extreme measure to avoid schism, the return to the preconciliar liturgy has now become almost a campaign.
Cardinal Ratzinger, for instance, holder of one of the most important and influential offices in the Vatican Curia, was quoted in an interview as saying:
On the basis of my experience, I am convinced above all that we must do everything possible to form a new generation of prelates who can see that this is not an attack on the Council ... we must ... help priests and bishops of goodwill to see that celebrating the liturgy according to the old texts does not mean overshadowing.
This would seem to be a statement that the Curia has the role of teaching and shaping the episcopate on a matter that is not of faith. The assumption of such a role by the Curia seems to be quite in conflict with the understanding of the episcopate as taught in Vatican II and as taught in the divine tradition of the Church. The episcopate is not simply a secondary body to be shaped and formed to a certain point of view by the Curia, especially on matters open to free opinion in the Church. Admittedly the Curia has delegated authority. It is quite another thing when the Curia assumes a role of authority over the episcopate to shape its thinking in a matter open to legitimate debate in the Church. Not only has the cardinal expressed this need to form a new kind of bishop who will favor the preconciliar liturgy, but he himself at times publicly celebrates the liturgy in this form. For such an influential and central figure of the Vatican to invest himself in word and action to such a high degree in promoting the preconciliar liturgy and to declare that the Curia must form bishops who will follow his lead is a matter of great significance.
* Archbishop Lefebvre was a French Catholic archbishop who had been a member of Vatican II. He was leader of a movement that bitterly opposed the reforms of the liturgy at the council and sought to restore the use of the Latin liturgy as used prior to the council. The council itself had not forbidden the use of Latin in the liturgy as reformed by Vatican II. But the Pope did suppress the use of the Latin rite of the Mass as it existed prior to the council so that those who wished to use Latin should use the reformed rite of the Mass.
** This ranging beyond the Latin Mass reformed by the Council of Trent to the Tridentine form of the sacraments is surprising. After all, Pope Paul VI, by an act of the supreme apostolic authority, changed the form of several of the sacraments. Is another act of the supreme apostolic authority necessary to change the form of the sacraments back? Has this been done? Furthermore, the entire liturgical reform of the council was made on the basis of significant theological principles, among them giving new emphasis to the centrality of the mystery of Christ and opening this mystery more effectively to the people. The reform was not a superficial matter of introducing the vernacular or changing ritual. Can these theological principles now be simply set aside? What is to be said of the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults)? Is this required of those who return to the past forms? If not, how does such a return to the past respond to the deep theological and patristic developments which underlie a thing such as the RCIA?