Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, who heads the Vatican commission, Ecclesia Dei, said that Benedict wanted to give all Catholics greater access to the so-called Tridentine Mass because of a "new and renewed interest" in the rite, NC Times reports.
Benedict is also acting in a bid to reach out to an ultraconservative schismatic group, the Society of St Pius X, and bring it back into the Vatican's fold, Castrillon Hoyos said Wednesday, according to a copy of his speech posted on the meeting's website.
The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the society in 1969 in Switzerland, opposed to the liberalising reforms of the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, particularly its reform of the Tridentine Mass into the modern liturgy celebrated today in the vernacular.
The Vatican excommunicated the archbishop in 1988 after he consecrated four bishops without Rome's consent. Benedict has been keen to reconcile with the group, which has demanded freer use of the old Mass as a precondition for normalizing relations.
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos stressed that Benedict's plans to revive the Tridentine rite did not represent a "step backward, of a regression to times before the reforms."
Rather, it is an offer to the faithful to have greater access to what he said was a "treasure" of the church.
"For this reason, the Holy Father intends to extend to the entire Latin church the possibility of celebrating the Holy Mass and the sacraments" according to the latest version of the Tridentine Mass, from 1962.
The pope would decree it an "extraordinary form of the unique Roman rite," Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos said.
He noted that the Tridentine liturgy had never been abolished. Currently, local bishops must grant permission for priests to celebrate it - a bureaucratic obstacle that fans say has greatly limited its availability.
Cardinal confirms pope's plans to loosen restrictions on celebrating old Latin Mass (NC Times, 19/5/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Intervention of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (Spanish)
The Holy See - Archive - Documents of the II Vatican Council
Experts concerned over Latin Mass slight to Jews (CathNews, 24/4/07)
"Personal parish" for French Latin Mass Catholics (CathNews, 7/2/07)
French clerics warn against return of Latin Mass traditionalists (CathNews, 24/10/06)
Benedict expected to restore wider availability of Latin Mass (CathNews, 12/10/06)
Pope to discuss reconciliation with rebels (CathNews, 3/2/06)
Pope's fresh attempt to build bridge with rebels (CathNews, 24/8/05)
Schismatic society lobbies Australian priests on Tridentine rite (CathNews, 3/2/05)
Schismatic group expels its own rebels (CathNews, 14/9/04)
Traditionalist leader attacks Popeï¿½s ecumenical vision (CathNews, 4/2/04)
Tridentine rite Mass for Roman basilica this month (CathNews, 5/5/03)
Vatican olive branch to Lefebvrist rebels 'not working' (CathNews, 26/3/02)
Ratzinger calls Lefebvrist schismatics narrow-minded (CathNews, 5/4/01)
21 May 2007