15 May 2011

Vatican tells bishops to allow Latin mass

8:36 am on 15 May 2011

The Vatican has instructed bishops to allow the celebration of mass in Latin if traditional congregations demand it.

The Tridentine mass remains rare, despite a 2007 papal decree ordering its wider use for Catholics uncomfortable with modern rites.

The rite was abandoned in most churches more than 40 years ago, in favour of services in local languages.

The BBC reports the move is part of an effort to bridge differences between traditionalists and progressives in the Church.

Traditionalists object to the fact that only a third of dioceses worldwide have implemented the 2007 decree, which correspondents say is partly due to a lack of priests trained in Latin.

Bishops are now instructed to make more space and time available for groups wishing to celebrate the Latin mass, adding that both the old and the modern rites are equally valid.

It also calls for Latin instruction for priests wishing to celebrate it, but as the BBC reports, with ever fewer priests having a working knowledge of Latin, this is going to be difficult in some parts of the world.