... In which I explain to you recent news from the Holy See in terms that non-Catholics will understand.
First, let's consider this Latin Mass thing. After the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church translated its liturgy into local languages. On the one hand, it was great that some bishops and cardinals realized that despite their best(ish) efforts at education, many of the planet's Roman Catholics couldn't make heads or tails of Latin. Attending masses in one's own language meant that even if one still didn't understand what was going on, one could at least understand the words being used (ha ha). In addition, the move from Latin to whatever vulgar alternative language was in many cases forced upon clergy and laity from the top down, which was apparently a pastoral disaster that ranked a 8.5 on the Righter Scale (Episcopalians will get my little joke).
Rules of liturgical revision:
2. No, really. Don't do it. Put the pen down.
3. If you really really must absolutely, unavoidably revise a liturgy because the very voice of our Lord is entreating you, do it slowly and carefully.
So up to this point, the celebration of Masses in Latin has required the special permission of diocesan bishops. I understand that many would not permit this, which makes old people very sad. And everyone knows that bishops should not make people sad.
Now the Pope has said that priests can say Latin Masses if they want. Traditionalists hope that this means hippie folks masses, or masses said while in a Barney costume, will decline. One can only hope. Stupid traditionalists are relieved to know that they can go back to praying in a language that Jesus will actually understand.
Some Catholic liberals fear that English Masses will disappear overnight. I doubt that.
Watch this video Fr. Richard passed onto me for an idea of what this is about:
Now, as for this whole "Protestants are outside the Church" thing. It's probably not what you think.
What people (and stupid media people) think the document said: "Protestants are not Christians." If you think that, smack yourself on the nose. Right now.
What the document really said: "Ecclesial communities out of communion with Rome are indeed instruments of salvation, but not Churches in the fullest possible sense, because to be Churches in the fullest possible sense requires communion with Rome."
Ecclesial communities? Instruments of salvation? That language is very loaded with good things, theologically, and it is much, much more generous than what I hear many Protestants say about each other or the Roman Catholic Church. If you don't get that, smack yourself on the nose right now. Then read Peter and Alan's take on it.