From John Allen’s 1999 profile.
Ratzinger is also, by most accounts, genuinely pious. Those who have traveled with him tell stories of watching him steal away to pray the breviary. The liturgy is an abiding concern for him. Ratzinger raised eyebrows when he said in 1997 that the way Paul VI imposed the new Mass after Vatican II created a “tragic breach” in the tradition.
“I am convinced that the crisis in the church that we are experiencing today is to a large extent due to the disintegration of the liturgy …” he wrote, arguing that too much about the new rite had been dreamed up at the desks of experts and forced on the church. In a 1998 interview, he said he hoped for a new generation of bishops who would restore Latin to the liturgy and curb the “wild excesses” of the post-conciliar era.
Such plain-spoken comments outrage some, but Vaticanologists give Ratzinger credit for having the courage of his convictions. It is a refreshing contrast, they say, from the ambiguous diplomatic language in which curialists normally couch their pronouncements.
His bluntness is more than a matter of personal style. It reflects Ratzinger’s deep commitment to — some might say, obsession with — truth.
Yes, by all means, let us pray…MORE…and let us recover some of the beauty of the liturgy, lost all these decades to the stubborn idea that anything “new” must be better than what came before.