I have a lot of thoughts on the recent developments regarding Summorum pontificum, issued motu proprio by Benedict XVI this past weekend. The ones that are coalescing first are about language.
For me, I have no problem with liturgy in Latin. What doesn't make sense is what you always hear about "going back to Latin." Vatican II affirmed Latin as the ordinary language of the Roman rite, while at the same time opening up the possibility of translating the liturgy into local languages. Therefore, to celebrate the Latin rite in Latin (shocking!) is not to "go back" to anything.
Even more, I have some hermeneutic suspicion about Vatican II and the vernacular liturgy. The more I read Vatican II, especially Gaudium et spes, the more I see, as a basic framework, an admission of the ideas of the European Enlightenment. It's like (just when it was getting to be too late), the fathers of the Council are going to admit that the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries happened. So therefore you end up with a theology that incorporates all of these good Enlightenment ideas like historical optimism and confidence in the human role in historical progress. And one of the most powerful ideas of the Enlightenment was the nation-state.
Therefore, my interpretation of Vatican II and the vernacular liturgy is that it was about "full, conscious and active participation" for sure, but I think it's also about the affirmation of the particularity of peoples and of national character.
Now this makes sense when you have Italians in Italy praying in Italian and Germans in Germany praying in German. But in our time the nation-state is breaking down, especially in the sense of a certain people, an ethnos, making up a homogeneous country. On the contrary, ours is a time of migration and ethnic diversity. Only once in my life as a friar have I been part of a parish with only one language, and often there have been three or even five.
It seems to me that Latin might be part of the answer to the multi-lingual parish question. Not that it would be a full solution, but it might be part of a plan. With many languages in a congregation you can either have separate services, which tends to produce parallel congregations, or you can try to do multi-lingual liturgies.
Now the latter celebrate diversity for sure, and are a beautiful sign of the many peoples processing to the Lord, as Isaiah prophesied. But they are also awkward by nature and difficult to plan and execute. Might there also be a place of the ordinary language of our liturgy, Latin, as a sign of unity?
Of course, Summorum pontificum is not about the supposed "restoration" of Latin at all, but about liberalizing the use of the Roman rite as it was before 1970, which used to require special permission.