Of course this will send those traditionalists who dislike Pope Francis into a tizzy because it seems to contradict what Pope Benedict said about the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
But does it really?
This is what the Holy Father said as reported by Rorate Caeli:
In the visit, as it usually happens in such cases, other than the formal address, the Pope heard the questions and comments of the bishops. Archbishop Jan Graubner, of Olomouc, told the Czech section of Vatican Radio what the Pope told him:
Now, granted, Pope Francis in some of the things he writes and says makes you scratch your head wondering exactly what does he mean. He is not precise as Pope Benedict and opens himself up to being spinned by the right, the left and everyone else in between.[Abp. Jan Graubner speaks:] When we were discussing those who are fond of the ancient liturgy and wish to return to it, it was evident that the Pope speaks with great affection, attention, and sensitivity for all in order not to hurt anyone. However, he made a quite strong statement when he said that he understands when the old generation returns to what it experienced, but that he cannot understand the younger generation wishing to return to it. "When I search more thoroughly - the Pope said - I find that it is rather a kind of fashion [in Czech: 'móda', Italian 'moda']. And if it is a fashion, therefore it is a matter that does not need that much attention. It is just necessary to show some patience and kindness to people who are addicted to a certain fashion. But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us."
So here is my spin.
The most important thing he says is that young people are drawn to fads and fashions. There is no surprise here and I suspect some people do this with religion and liturgy, especially the styles of music in the Ordinary Form and some styles of creativity that make the Mass oh so horizontal and diminishes the vertical.
But the real import of what the Holy Father says is this: But I consider greatly important to go deep into things, because if we do not go deep, no liturgical form, this or that one, can save us."
And of course, how many times have I lamented those who turn the liturgy into some kind of idol? Progressives do it with the Ordinary Form of the Mass refusing to see the validity and beauty of the 1962 Roman Missal. And then there are those radical traditionalists who see nothing good in the Ordinary Form of the Mass as Pope Francis, Pope Benedict and many good and holy priests celebrate it according to the books and following the rubrics. The exclusive focus on the EF Mass can be a form of idolatry too!
So it seems to me that he isn't slamming those who prefer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass if it goes beyond pure liturgical style or some kind of fad or fashion, but asking that we go deep into the liturgy, whatever form, this or that, (meaning, EF or OF, and I suspect Eastern Rite or Orthodox could be thrown into the mix). The Holy Father wants everyone, in no matter what liturgy, this or that, to enter the Mystery of Jesus Christ, His word, His Sacrifice, His Sacrificial Banquet and His commissioning us to go out and Glorify Him with our lives.
We must go to the heart of the liturgy which is Jesus, no matter which form. And I would suggest to the Holy Father, that more people are into fads and fashions as it regards the Ordinary Form and forget precisely why we celebrate it which is, as Pope Francis has taught about Jesus on our altars: the Lord makes himself present on the altar in order to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world."
But didn't Pope Francis say the basically the same in a recent daily homily as just recently reported by Sandro Magister of Chiesa:
ROME, February 14, 2014 – Fifty years after the promulgation of the document of Vatican Council II on the liturgy, the Vatican is solemnizing the event with a three-day conference at the pontifical university of the Lateran, organized by the congregation for divine worship from the 18th to the 20th of this month.
So far the liturgy has not seemed to be one of the top priorities in the vision of Pope Francis. In the long interview-confession with "La Civiltà Cattolica" last summer he reduced the conciliar liturgical reform to this dismissive definition: " a service to the people as a re-reading of the Gospel from a concrete historical situation."
Not a word more, if not for the "worrying risk of the ideologization of the Vetus Ordo, its exploitation."
But on Monday, February 10, with no forewarning Jorge Mario Bergoglio broke the silence and dedicated to the liturgy the entire homily of the morning Mass in the chapel of Santa Marta. Saying things he has never said before, since he became pope.
That morning the passage was read from the first book of Kings in which during the reign of Solomon the cloud, the divine glory, filled the temple and "the Lord decided to dwell in the cloud."
Taking his cue from that "theophany," pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio said that "in the Eucharistic liturgy God is present" in a way even "closer" than in the cloud in the temple, his "is a real presence."
And he continued:
"When I speak of the liturgy I am mainly referring to the holy Mass. The Mass is not a representation, it is something else. It is living once again the redemptive passion and death of the Lord. It is a theophany: the Lord makes himself present on the altar in order to be offered to the Father for the salvation of the world."
Further on the pope said:
"The liturgy is the time of God and space of God, and we must put ourselves there in the time of God, in the space of God, and not look at our watches. The liturgy is nothing less than entering into the mystery of God, allowing ourselves to be carried to the mystery and to be in the mystery. It is the cloud of God that envelops us all."
And looking back on one of his childhood memories: (and recall this is the pre-Vatican II liturgy he is referring:)
"I recall that as a child, when they were preparing us for first communion, they had us sing: 'O holy altar guarded by the angels,' and this made us understand that the altar was truly guarded by the angels, it gave us the sense of the glory of God, of the space of God, of the time of God."
Coming to the conclusion, Francis invited those present to "ask the Lord today to give all of us this sense of the sacred, this sense that makes us understand that it is one thing to pray at home, to pray the rosary, to pray many beautiful prayers, make the way of the cross, read the bible, and the Eucharistic celebration is another thing. In the celebration we enter into the mystery of God, into that path which we cannot control. He alone is the one, he is the glory, he is the power. Let us ask for this grace: that the Lord may teach us to enter into the mystery of God."
The February 10 homily of Pope Francis in the summary provided by "L'Osservatore Romano":