Pope Francis, Cardinal Sarah, and the “reform of the reform”

The news has been making the rounds today that Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has called on priests to begin celebrating Mass ad orientem beginning on the first Sunday of Advent this year. In and of itself, this is fairly interesting, and the usual sources have gone ballistic at the suggestion. However, Cardinal Sarah said something else that is even more interesting: the Holy Father has asked him to study the so-called reform of the reform, which was a major topic between 2005 and 2013. Matthew Hazell, at New Liturgical Movement, has some good coverage of Cardinal Sarah’s whole speech. According to the story, Cardinal Sarah said:

When I was received in audience by the Holy Father last April, Pope Francis asked me to study the question of a reform of a reform and of how to enrich the two forms of the Roman rite. This will be a delicate work and I ask for your patience and prayers. But if we are to implement Sacrosanctum Concilium more faithfully, if we are to achieve what the Council desired, this is a serious question which must be carefully studied and acted on with the necessary clarity and prudence.

(Emphasis supplied.) Given the scanty information in Cardinal Sarah’s comment—and recalling what the Holy Father thinks of commissions and “studies”—it is hard to offer much commentary; however, we recall Cardinal Sarah’s essay in L’Osservatore Romano from about this time last year, in which he suggested that the penitential rite and offertory from the Forma Extraordinaria might one day make their way into the Missale Romanum as an appendix or option.