Joseph Ratzinger has written a piece for the Polish bishops about Pope S John Paul II. It is wise to take seriously what such an eminent scholar says. Although he does not enjoy the Petrine Magisterium (there can only be one Pope, FULL STOP), his auctoritas is immense. And, of course, he is still qua bishop a Successor of the Apostles, and, should we wish to express ourselves in Irenaean terms, it must be added that he is a powerful witness to the authentic Tradition of the Roman Church.
I particularly draw your attention to this passage:
" After consultation, the Pope [S John Paul II] chose the Second Sunday of Easter [for the feast of the Divine Mercy]. However, before the final decision was made, he asked the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to express its view on the appropriateness of this date. We responded negatively because such an ancient, traditional and meaningful date like the Sunday 'in Albis' concluding the Octave of Easter should not be burdened with modern ideas. It was certainly not easy for the Holy Father to accept our reply. Yet he did so with great humility and accepted our negative response a second time. Finally, he formulated a proposal that left the Second Sunday of Easter [i.e. Low Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter] in its historical form but included Divine Mercy in its original message. There have often been similar cases in which I was impressed by the humility of this great Pope, who abandoned ideas he cherished because he could not find the approval of the official organs that must be asked according to established norms.".
I am not going to have or host a discussion about whether Novus Ordo Low Sunday is quite in its 'historical form', because there are so many important points to liberate from this passage.
(1) Observe the contrast between the 'humility' of S John Paul II and the behaviour of PF, seen particularly the way way PF kept bullying Cardinal Sara over the question of the admission of women to the Maundy Thursday foot-washing ... "an idea he cherished". And, even after he had eventually forced the poor man to change the rubrics, he then went boldly on to disobey in his own praxis the new rubrics (by including non-Christians among those whose feet he washed)!! His behaviour, as so often, speaks for itself. And it is neither attractive nor principled.
When a man is so arrogantly self-confident that he advocates changing the words of the Prayer attributed to the Lord Himself, whatever would he not consider himself competent to do?
(2) The call for a Feast of the Divine Mercy resulted from the visions of S Faustina. Observe how Ratzinger describes this devotion as "modern ideas" which would be a "burden" to Low Sunday. He makes clear that "ancient Tradition" trumps new devotions, even when they do have heavenly sponsorship!! This is precisely the correct and necessary starting point for a proper oversight of the Liturgy.
(3) It is significant that Ratzinger has been prepared to write to Poles in a way that sets a very popular modern devotion of Polish origin in a theologically and liturgically limited context.
(4) His boldness in emphasising the greatness of S John Paul alongside a reiteration of his enormous humility compels sober reflection upon any combination one might notice of ungreatness with unhumility.
(5) The Ratzinger who wrote this is clearly the same Ratzinger, who, as Cardinal, wrote so scathingly about the post-Conciliar error that "the pope really could do anything in the liturgical matters, especially if he were acting on the mandate of an ecumenical council".
(6) And this Ratzinger is no fool. I have little doubt that he has devised an oblique way of drawing PF's attention to the inherent limitations of the papal office.
In other words, an oblique knife!
Ad multos annos Domne!!