During the tenure of George W. Bush, aka the Smirking Chimp, when he didn't like a law passed by the Congress of the United States, he simply signed a statement saying he would not necessarily follow the law. If what he wanted to do was against the law, he would ignore the law.
That's a neat trick if you can get by with it.
George W. Bush has gotten by with it many times, and in fact has signed more signing statements than all of our other presidents put together.
Pope Benedict XVI plays that same game. Maybe he learned the rules from Bush? Nah. Popes have been playing the "signing statement" game for hundreds of years.
Benedict has in mind to reinstate the Latin or Tridentine Mass. He intends to issue a decree that would declare the Latin Mass an "extraordinary universal rite." The vernacular mass, now in use today, would continue as "an ordinary universal rite."
Whatever else that means, it certainly symbolizes that the former Cardinal Rat is bent on overturning some of the reforms instituted by the Second Vatican Council of 40 plus years ago.
Here's the thing. A number of "senior cardinals" are opposed to this move by Benedict. It is a regression, they think, to when the church was even more dictatorial and totalitarian than it is now. It symbolizes priestly authority even as the faithful are clamoring for more real involvement in the life of the church.
But Benedict doesn't care about what the faithful think or what the cardinals wish. So, as new editions of the Latin missal go to press, Benedict is considering issuing a papal "mou proprio" (which means, literally, on his own initiative), in order to bypass the need for approval by various church bodies.
A mou proprio is like a signing statement.
Mou Proprio is Benedict giving the middle finger to the "modernist" cardinals.
Hail Mary and welcome to Bushdom!