You don’t have to know the whole modern history of the traditional Latin Mass to understand what lies behind the recent events of Pope Francis apostolic letter delivery guardsby claiming that the ancient rite threatens the unity of the Catholic Church and introduces strict new restrictions on its use.
All you have to do to understand what is happening now is attend the Latin Mass. There you will see full church pews full of young families and couples, meowing infants and naughty toddlers, single 20-year-olds and teenagers. The air will be full of incense and in some parishes the haunting beauty of the Gregorian chant.
Most of the women and girls will be veiled, most of the parishioners will follow the Roman Missal of 1962 and will respond in Latin to the priest or kneel as needed. In short, you will see a religious ritual that looks strange and shocking in modern society.
You will undoubtedly see the future of the Catholic Church.
How can it be? After all, only a small number of Catholics, only about 150,000 in the United States, regularly attend the Latin (Trentino) Mass. Less than 700 Catholic parishes in the United States, out of more than 17,000, even offer Latin Mass. The Latin Mass is the future of the Catholic Church, it is a harbinger of a church that has shrunk in size and prestige.
But it also foreshadows a more faithful church that is more committed to the teachings and teachings of Catholicism and the duties they impose. The vast majority of Catholics in America today do reject the central principles of the faith. AND Pew Survey 2019 found that nearly 70 percent of American Catholics reject the doctrine of transubstantiation, which says that the bread and wine used in Holy Communion become the body and blood of Jesus Christ during Holy Mass.
In contrast, opinion polls in recent years have shown that those who regularly attend Latin Mass adhere much more to Catholic teaching, including issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and contraception, compared to Catholics who attend New order a ritual established in the national languages in 1970, after the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
One national survey participants in the Latin Mass led by Fr. Donald Kloster in 2018 found that contraception was approved by only 2 percent, compared to 89 percent New order participants. After the abortion was approved, the distribution was 1 percent compared to 51 percent. 2% to 67% for homosexual marriages. The same survey found that parishioners at Latin Mass have an average of almost 60 percent more families, donate an average of five times more, and attend weekly Masses 4.5 times more often than Catholics. New order ceremony.
Next survey Kloster and others, conducted online last year, found that 98 to 39-year-olds attending Latin Mass reported 98 percent every Sunday. This is in stark contrast to the findings and Gallup Survey 2018, which showed a dramatic decline in weekly Mass attendance for all Catholics, with the sharpest decline in the 21-29 year old demographic group, from 73 percent in 1955 to 25 percent in 2017, the lowest of all age groups.
Even more striking is the fact that a survey conducted by Kloster found that 90 percent of these young Catholics were not raised in the Latin rite, and that the vast majority were attracted to it by forces of their own generation rather than their parents. Plurality, 35 percent, cited “respect” as what made them seek the Latin ceremony.
The seriousness of Catholics who attend the Latin Mass confirms something then – Fr. Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, said in an interview in 1969, a year before the Latin Mass was effectively replaced New order:
Out of today’s crisis will emerge the church of tomorrow – a church that has lost much. It will become small and will have to start again more or less from the beginning. She will no longer be able to live in the many buildings she has built in prosperity. As the number of her followers decreases, she loses many of her social privileges. Unlike earlier age, it will be much more perceived as a voluntary society in which only free choice enters. As a small company, it will place much greater demands on the initiative of its individual members.
Benedict understood that the church would shrink, but as it shrunk, the rest would be more zealous and more tied to Catholic teaching and doctrine than before. He also had to understand that beauty and reverence in worship played an important role in this smaller but more faithful church.
In 2007, when Benedict gave broad permission to perform Mass according to the Old Latin Rite, claiming that it was never forbidden and that it could never be, and encouraged bishops to allow their priests to offer it wherever desired, he began a movement within the church – not a split, but a revival that now shows the way forward for a church that is still in crisis and getting smaller. In the 14 years since, the acceptance of the Latin Mass among Catholic believers around the world has increased, attracting converts and the cradles of Catholics.
So why would Francis punish those who worship according to the Latin rite? Why would he distort, in brutal and authoritarian language, motives of these Catholics? In a letter to the bishops who accompanies him own word, Francis writes:
However, I am saddened that the instrumental use of the Missale Romanum of 1962 is often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the II. Of the Vatican Council, which, with unfounded and unsustainable claims, claims to have betrayed Tradition and “the true church. “
Now, we come to the part where we talk about the middle ground. Francis fears that Catholics attracted by the ancient rite somehow reject the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. In another passage, he writes that efforts to widen the Latin rite of both St. John Paul II and Benedict, “designed to restore the unity of the church body with different liturgical sensitivities, were used to widen gaps, reinforce differences, and encourage disagreements that hurt the church, block her way and put her in danger of division. “
Nothing could be further from the truth. Catholics attending Latin Mass seem to be least they are likely to encourage disagreements, increase gaps, or strengthen differences in the church. They are much more likely to follow Catholic teachings and accept the Church’s commitment to believers than Catholics who do not attend Latin Mass. Indeed, they are in sharp contrast to the nearly 70 percent of Americans who deny transubstantiation and the vast majority who support abortions and gay marriage, and feel no remorse for fulfilling their religious duties.
This is not to say that there are some very online traditionalist Catholics who boast of a Latin Mass, make outrageous claims of its superiority, and criticize Francis. However, they are not representatives of the visitors of the Latin Mass as a whole, and the divisions they could encourage are nothing compared to the divisions and the truly direct schism that bishops in Germanyfor example, they promoted the entire pontificate of Francis and sought to bless same-sex unions and the priestly ordination of women. The presumed contradictions caused by the traditionalists are also nothing compared to the great real contradictions that millions of ordinary Catholics commonly incite when they deny Catholic teachings, give false testimony against the church, and evade their religious duties.
In view of all this, we must conclude that there is some other motive in the Pope that is not expressed own wordfor targeting a relatively small group of devout Catholics who are attracted to the Latin Mass. It is difficult to get to this motive, but perhaps it is best understood as a generational conflict.
The clergy of Francis’ generation, who came up with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, imagined a very different future for the Church than the one that is now emerging. They envisioned a church that would not insult Protestants in its worship or doctrine. They envisioned a church that would be pliable, able to change over time and accommodate new and different morals. The so-called The “Spirit of the Second Vatican Council” was to lead the Church into modern times, to make it relevant and attractive to modern people, more accommodating and less strict.
They did not see what happened instead. It seems that modern people do not want the kind of church that Francis and the German bishops want to give them. Many fallen Catholics do not want anything to do with the church, even more advanced ones, and simply left it forever. Others would rather remain Catholics, at least nominally, but they could ignore or even disparage anything they might disagree with or which might offend their modern sensibilities.
However, the strong and devoted remnant longs for a church that proclaims and supports timeless and unchanging doctrines, given in physical form in ancient rituals and services. They want a church that takes the sacraments seriously, demands something from them, and in return gives them beauty and truth.
Among these Catholics, more and more people long for services according to the Latin rite. No matter what misleading and vindictive policies emanate from Rome, it seems that their numbers will continue to grow.
One feels that, above all, this is not what the Pope wished was not. When Francis looks over his shoulder to pass the baton to the next generation, he may see what Benedict saw in 1969: a smaller but more faithful church, young and vibrant, but with great power and prestige.
Maybe, unlike Benedict, he thought it wouldn’t turn out that way. But he has.