The technical advancement that was one step to far for my mother. There are cultural, spiritual, and psychological advancements that result in the same kind of backlash and sometimes this is called the 'reform of the reform'.
According to Britain's Tablet--I'd link but it's subscriber only--Benedict is definitely going retro when he visits Britain this September. This quote is making the rounds of various blogs, so I'm trusting those who say it's from a Tablet article.
"Significant parts of Masses celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI during his trip to Britain in September will be said in Latin. The Eucharistic prayer of the Mass will be said or sung in Latin by the Pope at the liturgies at Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, and at the beatification of Cardinal Newman in Cofton Park, Birmingham. Congregations will respond to the dialogue preface in Latin and the consecration [sic] will be said in Latin. It is believed the Mass at Westminster Cathedral will follow a similar pattern. Mgr Paul Conroy, General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference in Scotland and part of the planning team for the liturgy, said that the decision was a requirement of the Vatican. “This helps to show the universality of the liturgy and helps Catholics from various different countries, who may be listening on the radio or watching on television, to follow the Mass,” he said."
I'm sure it will help in the Vatican City States, various SSPX and Pius X parishes, and maybe with those Traditional Anglicans Benedict is courting. As far as the rest of the world--not so much. Unless the Vatican concept of universality is to be found in cloaking sacramental mystery in linguistic incomprehension. There is truth in the notion that which you can't understand is truly a mystery and this approach does seem to have worked for the Church for a millenia or so.
When I read the above I seriously wondered if it's true that Benedict and his curia are totally tone deaf to secular society and somehow believe the they can 're evangelise' enough of Western society to accept their definition of Mystery and their right to control it's expression. If they truly believe this, they had best understand that modern laity now see that the form the message is delivered in has a lot to do with the psychology behind the message. It seems to me the hierarchy is on some kind of role misunderstanding this form/content paradigm. Tom Beaudoin writing in America puts this more succinctly:
The Vatican and its defenders can argue that so closely associating women's ordination and sexual abuse does not make them the same. But Catholics in secularizing countries, many of whom understand that the form of the message is part of its content, will be at liberty to be critical -- when they are not exhausted already into indifference over the slow-motion implosion of an archaic clericalist structure. Just as the Second Vatican Council said that Christians share responsibility for making modern people atheists, those in Catholic power today share responsibility for making people secular Catholics. It is as if the more the purity and authority of Catholicism is defended from on high, the less Catholicism actually matters as a social and spiritual phenomenon. (This is similar to the point I made recently that one of the things the Vatican is accomplishing is to force otherwise complacent true believers into serious reevaluation, precisely because the form of the message is so jarring.
This is far, far beyond a public relations issue. To cast things as a problem of public relations mistakes separates too cleanly the "content" of Catholicism from its "form" or "communication." Instead, the very form of communication should be thought of as a kind of theological content. It is not only that official Catholicism does not know how to communicate well in the contemporary media world. It is that too often what it has to communicate, and the way it does so, is not persuasive to an increasingly educated, worldly, and pluralistically-aware public. The victims, and the Catholic structures that created victimization, should have been the irreparable center of official Catholic focus. But the form and content of official communication about abuse and its structures shows that we have yet to witness that conversion of consciousness.
No, we have not witnessed any real conversion of consciousness. Instead we are witnessing a group of older celibate men desperate to validate the choices they made a long long time ago about the direction of their lives. To convince first themselves and then the rest of us that those long ago made choices are still valid, but more importantly the reasons they made those choices are still valid. The trouble is society doesn't agree with them, doesn't support their reasoning, and has moved in consciousness beyond them and their rationales. They are essentially promulgating teachings for the rest of us, but really talking to and affirming themselves.
This all reminds me of an incident that happened with my mother a couple of years before she died. We kids had all gone in together and bought her a VCR. It turned out to be the new modern technological invention that was one too many for her security level. She went ballistic about her children jamming our techie stuff down her throat and expecting her to like it. She was not going to be forced into learning one more thing period. The VCR went home with my eldest brother and was never mentioned again. My parents home remained barren of any more 'techie' stuff. They accepted micro waves, portable phones, and satellite TV, but not much more. I guess those particular things were viewed as logical extensions of changes they had already accepted, but the VCR was the step too far. When we stayed at their house we all knew, it was their house, their rules, their world. We accommodated them, they did not accommodate us.
It is becoming apparent that Benedict's Vatican is demonstrating this same sort of thing. As long as Benedict is in charge, Catholicism must accommodate his view and validate his choices from his original reasoning. He will not accommodate in the other direction perhaps because to do so would be to disavow his life and his life choices.
I suspect that's why the form of some of these messages is so jarring and the PR is so bad because to this Vatican none of that matters. It's validating themselves to themselves that matters and the forms they choose for their messages certainly do that. If this is true it makes perfect sense to link the sins of clerical abuse and women's ordination in the same document as both are sins against the male celibate priesthood. It makes sense to underline their authority as bishops and denigrate ecumenical notions of sharing the Eucharist.
These norms are about clerics talking to clerics and underlining their own world view. There is no way they would have begun to compute how badly this form of communication and it's linked content would fail in today's world.
I guess I don't find it at all surprising that Benedict's Vatican would think that Masses in Latin in Britain is a form of helping the universal church understand the Mass. To me it's just another sign of the hierarchy talking to and affirming themselves. So much for all the other less spiritually lofty People of God. Those would be the people who not only get to 'hear Mass' in Latin, but at English venues they also have to pay for the privilege.
I'm sorry but I no longer believe this is how Jesus always intended the Church to be--or ever intended it to be--and I am hardly alone. It is a conversion of consciousness which will not be re evangelized or latinized away anymore than my mother's tantrum over a VCR reversed her children's conversion to a technological world view. My mother did not delude herself into thinking her tantrum was going to effect anything other than her own fortress house. I truly wonder about Benedict, who is in a very different position than my mother. Does he really believe his preferences are going to reverse the movement in consciousness in the Church? If he does, that is truly sad.