Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Is Tradition in crisis? In the West, you bet!

The Latin Mass Society's magazine (ironically) entitled "Mass of Ages" reports some interesting statistics (by Paix Liturgique 2010) regarding the availability of the 1962 Mass around the world and in England and Wales since the publication of Benedict XVI's Summorum Pontificum [2007].
"It counted a total of 1,444 places where the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated: 340 offer a weekday Mass at best; 313 offer at best a Sunday Mass but not regularly and not weekly; 324 offer Mass every Sunday but at a nonfamily-friendly time; lastly, 467 offer a weekly Sunday Mass at a family-friendly time."

A "nonfamily-friendly" time I suppose means an untraditional time in the afternoon or evening rather than on a Sunday morning? Literally about 50% of the 1'444 venues offer a weekly Mass on Sunday. The FSSPX has 690 venues offering the 1962 Mass on Sundays and weekdays, according to the report there are two "Roman" venues for every FSSPX one. All in all we might say that Mass offered according to the 1962 Missal is available on Sundays ("Roman"+FSSPX) in only 1'412 venues (only 66%) of a possible 2'134 around the world.

However, consider that globally the Roman Catholic Church had in 2009 (latest official statistics in the "Annuario Pontificio 2011") 410,593 priests. Only one priest is required for a Mass to be said, so roughly only 0.17% of Roman Catholic Priests offer the 1962 Mass on a Sunday. 0.17%. It's not a lot is it? Of all the '62 "Roman" Masses offered weekday and Sunday, only 0.3% of Rome's priests offer them. If the 529 Society priests (Society HQ website's current statistic) were reconciled to Rome, the average would increase to 0.4%.

Interesting isn't it? Of course, the number of priests and venues offering the actual Mass of the Ages (i.e. pre 1955 reforms) is far far less and statistically, at present, completely unverifiable. Though there is at least one venue, here in Brighton, where the Traditional Mass is offered daily by yours truly!

So, remembering the sage maxim "lex orandi, lex credendi" when people talk about "crisis" and "states of necessity or emergency" in the Western portion of Catholic Christendom regarding a battle for "Tradition"... they are not exaggerating! Though its worth remembering that the true Tradition of The Church i.e. sans exaggerated Papal claims, whilst held by a very small minority of Western Catholics (ORC's/orthodox OC's etc), is nonetheless still represented by the second largest number of Catholic Christians in the world - all the Orthodox Eastern and Oriental Churches. So all is not completely lost, however challenging we may often think things are!

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