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Poll: almost half of Mass-goers would attend older form

By on Friday, 3 September 2010

Priests studying the Extraordinary Form at a training conference organised by the Latin Mass Society

Priests studying the Extraordinary Form at a training conference organised by the Latin Mass Society

Almost half of English and Welsh Mass-goers would attend Masses in the traditional form of the Roman Rite if it was celebrated in local parishes, a new study has shown.

The survey, which used a sample of 800 people who identified themselves as Catholic, showed that 66 per cent of practising Catholics would be happy to attend the traditional Latin Mass once a month if it were celebrated in their parishes.

Commissioned by the French group Paix Liturgique, the survey also showed that Britain had a higher percentage of regular Mass attendance than France, Portugal and Germany.

Although only 13 per cent of Britain’s population identifies itself as Catholic, 32 per cent of Catholics attend Mass at least once a month, if not more often, compared with 19 per cent of French Catholics and 10 per cent of German Catholics.

According to the survey, 43 per cent of those Catholics who practice regularly would attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form once a week. Fifty per cent of the Catholics questioned said that they would find it normal if Mass were celebrated in the Extraordinary Form alongside the Ordinary Form in their parishes. The survey also found that 60 per cent of Catholics were unaware of Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum which lifted restrictions on the traditional Latin Mass in 2007.

John Medlin, general manager of the Latin Mass Society, said: “Broadly speaking these results are the same across Europe. They indicate that among Catholics who take interest in their faith, although there is great ignorance, once people are made aware of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum there is a willingness for people in large numbers to accept the Extraordinary Form.

“Once it is explained, there is a willingness on the part of Catholics attached to the Ordinary Form for the two forms of the rite to exist quite happily side by side in the parishes, just as most of those attached to the Extraordinary Form are quite happy to accept the right of those attached to the ordinary form to have Mass celebrated in this way.”

In a statement Paix Liturgique said: “In Great Britain as elsewhere, the argument resting on the lack of interest among the faithful for the application of the Motu Proprio is unfair. When their point of view is solicited in an opinion poll the results are quite different to those obtained when one merely speaks in their name.”

  • Kennyinliverpool

    Statistics should always be taken with a pinch of salt?

  • Christopher

    I completely agree with Kenny. Although the survey was commissioned by Paix Liturgique (a well known advocate of the Extraordinary Form) who conduct it, what was the age range of respondents and – most importantly – what questions were asked? Surveys are notoriously easy to manipulate. I have no problem, whatsoever, with people wanting to attend the EF but I seriously doubt that 43% of practising Catholics would attend an EF Mass every week.

  • nytor

    “I seriously doubt that 43% of practising Catholics would attend an EF Mass every week”

    I disagree, I think they would if it was available in their own parish and they didn't have to go elsewhere for it. In my experience people are very attached to their own parishes and will not easily change even for a better liturgy a couple of miles away.

    On another note, 19% of the UK population are Catholics? The highest estimate which I have heard previously has been 11%. Where did this figure come from?

  • Rebekah Ok

    I wonder which parishes were surveyed? The parish where I worship and the Catholic organisations to which I belong would have a very few people who would want to return to the traditional form. However the question was would you attend, not 'be full active and conscious participants' as we are called to be by Sacrosanctum concilium. Had that been the question it may have promted a very different response.

  • http://www.catholictruthscotland.com EditorCT

    nytor and everyone else,

    the sole reason for the bishops of the UK failing to inform the people of Summorum Pontificum is precisely because they do not WANT to risk upwards of 50% of the laity choosing the TLM.


  • Paul

    Given that the Catholic Herald is a serious newspaper, it is surprising that it would publish the results of a survey without detailing the survey method. No self respecting secular newspaper would do this.
    In my own parish, some years ago, we had a Tridentine mass and approx 50 parishioners out of 1500 attended. The figures seem genuinely dubious.

  • Paul

    I live in a central London parish and the traditional form is said about a mile away every week. To my knowledge 3 of our 1500 parishioners attend that mass (and far more of that parishes laity go to other churches to avoid it).

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/RU3RAMOJBFDP7EWXQD3QJEFVVE Dominique

    Google for this:

    The Case for the Latin Mass by Dietrich von Hildebrand

  • Edward

    A decade of large scale Latin American imigration to the UK would likely explain the 19% Catholic number. Did you know that Spanish has replaced Italian as the third most spoken language in Switzerland?

  • Dork

    It's the Traditional Latin Mass. Stop using this “Extraordinary Form” nonsense!!!

  • Mendezjb

    Rebekah, it is quite easy to be an active and conscious participant in the EF of the mass. It happened for 1900 years prior without issue.

    You mistakenly equate “full active and conscious participation” to be singing banal, self absorbed hymns, and offering some responses at key points of the mass. I also suspect that you consider physical gestures and verbalizations to be “proper” ways to be “full active and conscious participants”. However, neither the faith nor the mass were created with the innovations of Vatican II. For the entire history of the church, uniting ones intentions to the priest and praying the mass were the forms of participation required. Now, with a watered down mass that obscures the reality of what is happening on the altar I'd say that no amount of singing/responding/waving our hands around like protestants during the our father will yield true active and conscious participation.

  • Stu

    Well, it is a nice thing to be a formalist, but if your heart is not seeing Jesus and giving Him all your love and thanksgiving, there's no point for formula's.

    The Last Supper: Jesus takes a loaf of bread, places it on the Chalice, blesses it, breaks enough morsels to hand to each of the Apostles and says: Take this and Eat It. This is My Body. Do this in remembrance of Me. Then the Chalice: Take this and Drink It. This is My Blood. This Chalice is the New Testament in My Blood, and Through My Blood, which will be shed for you, to remit your sins and give you the Life, Do this in remembrance of Me.” They Eat they Drink and Jesus gives a few words. They then gather around Jesus closely, contemplating Him while looking at Him. And the Breaking of the Bread is over. They all go and relax. How long did this take? Not more than 10 minutes.

    The Catholic life is about, sharing love to God and man. That's' it. Love. We love and we love, and we love.

    Going to Mass is sweet because I look forward to Eucharist. John 6 says why.

    A prayer, reading, sermon, communion, time to contemplate blessing then leave. Shouldn't take more than 30 minutes. Daily at every other hour even into the night up to 9PM. 30 minutes.

    The reason we go to Mass is to receive the Life Giver. That's the true reason. Read the Last Supper. Do this in remembrance Me. Now if I go to Mass and sing all that, and then when I receive Communion, I do not reflect that this is Jesus,(which is why many people go) then my faith is in vain. Christ is the center and will always be the Center of Mass. Not our human egoe of what it wants. It wants bells and whistles, fancy dressing, thrills and frills. So forth and So on. Christianity is about Salvation which is what Communion is part of: Regenerating our souls back to the proper state before Sin entered into man's body.

    Heaven is the Destination not the Earth. Too many Catholics who putter in the pond. Christianity is straight forward, man is crooked. Thus God gives man the means to become straight.

    Nothing else.

  • PJF

    I wholeheartedly disagree, the Latin Mass is undoubtedly growing in popularity, even here in the United States.

  • Paul

    Why do proponents of the traditional form have to propose that all masses they don't approve of are banal. I served in the pre Vatican II church for over 10 years. The vast majority of the laity said their rosaries and ignored the mass (unless sung). They were spectators at best but rarely participants. People went to mass not because it was beautiful, but because it was compulsory.
    It was the Holy Father's hope that by liberating the traditional rite the tendency of its proponents to undermine the reforms of Paul VI might come to an end, such seems not to be the case.

  • Paul

    Would you care to elucidate which of the statements Rebekah makes you are contradicting. It would appear she is better placed to understand the mind of the faith community of which she is a member than someone posting from America. Even in those London parishes where the Traditional Rite is offered, attendance is much less than 20% of parish congregation and in some cases below 10%.

  • Snodgrass

    Paul, Would you please tell us whether your final phrase 'genuinely dubious' is a tautology or an oxymoron

  • Jewells17

    Google….”Father Kloster Latin Mass Youtube”…..it's really good and it explains this.

  • Marypat747

    Patricia I attend the Traditional Latin Mass every Sunday at a nearby parish. This pastor generously responded to the Holy Father's lifting of the restrictions and made it available to his parishioners. Surprise, but really no surprise, the young altar boys are generously and enthusiastically, signing up to learn the Latin to serve the Mass. There are at least 8 or more altar boys involved in every Latin Mass, serving or observing, all ages, too. This beautiful Mass has captured their hearts and minds. It is so inspiring to see many young families and young adults attending. If every parish offerred the Traditonal Latin Mass on Sunday, I believe the mystical experience of the Holy Sacrifice would touch many people, young and not so young.

  • Pedro

    A person praying thr Rosary at Mass can be actively participating because participation in the Holy Mass is spiritual. “External” participation (e.g. singing the responses) is not required to be spiritually united to the Sacrifice.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2KTW5APE2X5KOOLDEV4PARRX6U Joseph

    Well, the number and percentages of Catholics who attended the TLM years ago far outnumber those who attend the Novus Ordo of today. So I would think the compulsory statement is invalid.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_HBWIIW35WTZRAQL5CF5GNXBJVU AAGREEN

    How I would hate going back to the latin Mass, with Mass being celebrtaed by the priest with his back to us. The laity excluded again by the clergy. The celebration of Holy Mass should be an all encompassing joy. Although now in my mid 60's and was brought up with the latin Mass, neither my children nor my husband were . I have been present at a Latin Mass over recent times and feel it is not for me or mine. I agree that within an area, the availability of such a Mass could be an occasional choice.

  • http://www.catholictruthscotland.com EditorCT


    I'm delighted to learn of your attendance at a local parish Traditional Mass but I think you probably know that your experience is exceptional. There are, even up here in Gloomy (in terms of the Faith) Glasgow a couple of priests who offer Traditional Masses, although not, to the best of my knowledge, on Sundays. They've get to find the courage to do that. So, you are very blessed indeed.

    The very fact is that it is exceptional to find a Sunday Traditional Mass in any UK diocese, apart from those offered by the SSPX, and I believe the bishops want to keep it that way. Hence, if you ask most Catholics exiting any parish church today, if they've heard of Summorum Pontificum, they're reply: “Some more what?”

    There's no question about it, that the bishops do not want to encourage people to attend the TLM, so your “pastor” (presumably in the USA, because we don't generally refer to our priests as “pastors” in the same way that Americans tend to do) is to be warmly congratulated and cherished.

    God bless him!

  • http://www.catholictruthscotland.com EditorCT


    I wonder if you realise that you have just insulted and denigrated the Catholic Faith, and particularly our heritage of wonderful martyrs, who died a painful death, often after enduring terrible torture, for what you describe as “bells and whistles, fancy dressing, thrills and frills.” And all to defend the Vatican II experiment, the new (and ever fewer) Mass which, even in the highest corners of the Vatican, has been acknowledged as a failure and will disappear within 20-25 years. Cardinal Ratzinger said the Vatican II had led to a “crass and faddish liturgical revolution,” that Vatican II had done “great violence to the Mass and the divine office” and that the Mass facing the people was a “calamitous mistake.” (Tablet, a couple of weeks ago.) So, please, get a grip.

    Because, Stu, if you think you have a Catholic soul, think again. Your post could have been written by any Presbyterian who'd just finished reading the lives of Martin Luther and John Knox (they also hated the Mass as you appear to do and mocked it in much the same way.)

    For the record, there are no “whistles” at the ancient Mass, just the bell to herald the descent upon our altars of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. And the problem with that is?

    You, Stu, have an entirely Protestant understanding of “Eucharist.” Typically of modernist Catholics, who are, by definition, Protestants, you make absolutely no mention of the Mass as the Sacrifice of Calvary, Given that the (new, of course) Catechism expresses the traditional belief that the Sacrifice of Calvary is at the heart of the Mass, that is a whopping omission.

    Whatever, lay off the mockery of the Mass which has been cherished by Catholics throughout the centuries until the current crisis of Faith robbed weak souls of any semblence of what we used to call the “Catholic sense” to the point where they are now indistinguishable from Protestants in their beliefs about many key doctrines, not least the Mass.

    Get educating yourself, Stu. Without delay. Start with the Ottaviani Intervention, which you'll find linked to our website. Or Google it. Whatever. Just get reading.

  • Tiggy

    I have no doubt that only a minority would be happy to attend the Mass which sustained the Church for 1500 years. This can only be born of lack of knowledge.

    We here in the Diocese of Paisley(Scotland) are consistantly denied the Extraordinary Rite by the Bishop. While he proports to be faithful to The Holy Father.

    Catholic Rite

    Catholic Church

    Catholic Priest

    Catholic People……. What can the problem be?

  • http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/ The Catholic Herald

    Thanks for raising the question about the 19 per cent figure. It should be 13 per cent. We have now corrected it.

  • Tiggy

    When In London I attend The Oratory at 9am.

    Usually about 150-200 people there, a couple of miles away another Tradional Mass @9.30 in Spanish Place. You lucky people in London!

  • Thomas

    Sorry but the Holy Father disagrees with you, read the Motu Proprio. The ordinary form of the Roman Rite is the Missal of Paul VI, therefore anything else is extraordinary (i.e. out of the ordinary).

  • Johnny Canuck

    Well, I haven't seen a comment from Canada yet, so will weigh in. The TLM is doing OK here, supported by some (too few) bishops, and congregations are growing organically, methodically and with committed younger members with lots of children. It probably gives the chanceries pause to look over a congregation and see that the hair colour (under the mantillas of course) is not uniformly grey. As our former tongue-tied Prime Minister Jean Chretien purportedly used to say, “If this thing starts to snowball, it could really catch fire!”

    Sacrifice and pray for more growth and pray for the Holy Father, especially on September 14th, the Motu Proprio's third anniversary.

  • Athelstane

    I agree that mendez's reference to “banal” hymns was an unfortunate rabbit hole. There *are* banal hymns in use in E&W (and North America), God knows, but that's beside the point.

    The Latin phrase in Sacrosanctum Concilium is “actuosa participatio.” The most common English translation of this has been “active participation.” But that is not wholly faithful to the Latin. “Actuosa” carries also a connotation of “actual” or “real.” This is important because too often, the reception of “active participation” has been read as an external participation – i.e., making verbal responses, making bodily gestures, singing, taking part directly in the sanctuary by serving as lectors, EMHCs, etc. If you do all this barrage of external stuff, the thinking went (among reformers) that, by gum, you'd be participating internally as well.

    But what the Council Fathers wanted was simply to participate, internally. What matters it if one makes 18 rote responses and innumerable gestures but doesn't internalize, doesn't actually receive and believe and mean it? Can't a dialogue mass be just as rote and mechanical as a silent traditional mass? How is this really any better than the old widows praying their rosaries during the canon in the bad old days? If you polled people after a typical mass in E&W (or anywhere in W. Europe or America), how many could even tell you what the readings for the day had been, or what Eucharistic prayer was chosen, or even what the homily had been about? How far have we really come since 1962?

    Now, dialogue masses have a long and ancient provenance, as you'll discover if you ever attend a Divine Liturgy in an Eastern rite. Some of the reformers wanted to capture more of this in the Roman rite. That was a legitimate aspiration. But too often what we have ended up with doesn't necessarily result in real, “actuosa participatio.” That's why I find it ironic that there is, arguably, a lot more active participation (or call it what you like) in traditional masses I have attended than in most typical ordinary form ones.

  • Athelstane

    It is not really correct to think of the traditional mass as being celebrated with the priest's “back to us.” The theology behind this posture has always been that the entire congregation, priest included, is facing our Lord together. Cardinal Ratzinger discusses this in his pre-pontifical book, “The Spirit of the Liturgy.” (I also recommend Uwe Michael Lang's recent work, “Turning Towards the Lord.”)

    And this is the way the mass was always celebrated, East and West, going back to the Early Church. There was some scholarship earlier in the last century suggesting that perhaps the patristic practice had originally been facing the congregation (versus populorum), but subsequent research has not really borne that out.

    At any rate, there's no reason an ad orientem posture can't result in an all encompassing joy – and one can't help but think of the many great saints of the Church through the centuries who experienced mass in just this way even as the priest celebrated ad orientem.

  • Kenny

    My girlfriend is not Catholic and has no interest in converting. However, she has attended mass with me a few times recently. Once, she commented “there should be more Latin.” I was amazed at the thought, coming from a “thoroughly modern” sort of girl. Then, more recently, we attended a solemn mass with all the parts of the mass sung in Latin. As we left, I said “there was some more Latin for you.” She said “yeah, but they should do the bit…you know, with the blessing of the bread and wine…that bit should be in Latin. It seems like that's the most important bit, yeah?” I nodded. She went on “your Church sells itself on having all these traditions and how it goes back 2000 years and everything. It's even CALLED the Roman Church. Why not make use of all that history?”

    You couldn't make it up: an atheist telling us what so many Catholics don't even seem to realise…

  • Mephistophiles

    I agree with the sentiment that there should be more Latin in Mass. The more people understand Catholicisml, the less they believe in it.

  • Mephistophiles

    …or less than half. Like so much of religion, it's all about personal perspective.

  • Deesis

    I think it would be better to say the deforms of Paul VI. There were banalities before Vatican II. The Liturgy however was ancient! What Paul VI did was to use authority to undermine the authority and antiquity of the Liturgy. Instead we have a manufactured construct. The traditio was twisted!

    The changes Paul VI and Bugnini made were not mandated by Vat II. All it asked for was a wider range of readings in the vernacular during Mass.

    But of course if Paul VI told us then it must be the will of God! or don't you see that authority was used in a way that it should not…to attack one of the foundations of the Faith!

    Now however we are stuck with a sad reality what are we to do? Admit it and undo the damage, pretend it never happened when facts contradict and condemn the very process of how the New Mass and lit was made. How can a few popes contradict over 200 others by changing an approach of respect and organic development? Well they cannot!

  • Deesis

    With all due respect Mass is not about the priet gazing at you, or you at eachother, or you at the same thing. It is about Christ and you looking towards he other. It is about the priest interceding for you and you both facing Christ.

    The Mass is not l afternoon coffee or a chit chat. It is not about being excluded. Do you want the priest to turn his back on God, on Christ on the God out there so you get a look in?

  • Deesis

    The supper into which this narrative was inserted was long and there are many details you miss. The central meaning is the abolition of the sacrifices of the temple and repalcement with Christ's soon to happen sacrifice. It was also the institution of the Priesthood. Notice the 12 Apostles were present not all believers. It followed a ritual that was laid out by Jewish custom. Christ and the Apostles dressed appropraitely. No they were not in street clothes but the full dress of a Jewish male.

    Do not project onto the past an imagined scene from a picnic or the like! That is your contemporary culture or lack of it. Not the Church's or that of Biblical Judaism!

  • tradcat

    In my diocese there is only one (Sunday) Latin Mass per month, and it's a 66 mile round trip to attend it. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a regular traditional Mass in every parish, which is what the Pope seems to have intended. I think parish priests are too afraid of their liberal parishioners to give it a try.

  • Elainebiggerstaf

    First, the “Latin Mass” the “pope” has authorized is not the “older form” but a revised and heretical form of the true Catholic Mass, just as the mass of Vatican II is heretical.

    The doctrines and mass of Vatican II are a mish-mash of Protestant, Catholic-hating doctrines and practices that are closer to a political leftist ideology than anything one can consider religious.

    If anyone is really interested in learning about what the true Catholic Church teaches, they should research what it taught prior to Vatican II. By the way, the SSPX is not a traditional group either and they are close to trading in what little they have left of true Catholicism for 40 pieces of silver. In other words, becoming the same traitors to Christ as those who made up the new religion created during Vatican II.

  • Jhammer

    Holy Mass is richer in meaning and embodies mysteries beyond my grasp. I was at Pope Benedict's vigil and went to mass next morning in the Brompton Oratory where the Latin novus ordo was celebrated. The dignity and reverence of that service brought tears to my eyes. For more of that I would also gladly attend the extraordinary form, it somehow feels right to receive kneeling at the alter rail etc.. Yet, growing up with Vat II I appreciate the 'participation' aspect of the novus ordo (this can work beautifully in Latin) – but hasn't Pope Benedict himself shown the way by celebrating participative masses in Latin and the vernacular? I'd like to see the extraordinary form and/or the Latin novus ordo (with gregorian chant!) return big time for at least one mass on Sunday.

  • Emilyjohnson720

    Wow patronising answer there.

  • tradcat

    I agree. Wherever EF Masses do take place, they have to be squeezed in at odd times in an afternoon. Why can't they be part of the weekly parish schedule? Most parishes have two Sunday Masses; surely one of them could be a Latin Mass. We traddies don't want to be isolated, we want to be part of our parishes. Why isn't this happening?

  • Chris Lee

    I am not surprised by the results of the survey. The Tradtional Latin Mass is absolutely beautiful. I fell in love with it ever since I had my first contact with it. The current vernacular Mass pales in comparison to the grandeur and aura of mysticism of the Traditional Latin Mass. The Traditional Latin Mass will renew the very heart of Catholicism which has been left to rot by the current vernacular Mass.

  • Franciscun

    Have just attended a tridentine mass in the City of Rapallo, Italy. it was a truly uplifting experience brought about by the sacredness and solemnity of the celebration.  

  • Gonzalo Vásquez

    If the Holy Father says that the Sun is square, it will not mean it is true. The mass of all ages is the true Catholic sacrifice; the modern mass is a novelty; an experiment of the last 40 years that has proved a complete failure… Nobody can honestly claim that the modernist reforms have made any good to the Church’s life.

  • WG Grace

    Of course they would. Unlike the Novus Ordo, the Mass of Ages is Catholic.

  • WG Grace

    Because the Bishops belong to, and believe in, “nu-Church”. 

  • WG Grace

    Why patronising?

  • WG Grace

    Excellent post.