TLM published (scroll down to get to it) an interview with the secretary of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei. He was asked where the interest was greatest for the so-called old Mass. The secretary replied:
The greatest interest and the most requests are found in Europe, in the United States of America, and also in Australia. Much less in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
Places with decline of Catholicism and spread of secularism show the greatest interest in the old Mass. Places where Catholicism is strongest, or experiencing the greatest growth, have much less interest . Why is that, do you suppose? Is it because the old Mass is more tied to the culture and history of Catholicism in Europe, the U.S., Australia? Or is it because the old Mass is a response to the rising secularism in those lands? Or both, or something else? Let us know what you think.
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The November 20, 2010 issue of The Tablet ran the article “Bishops deny there is a surge in demand for old-rite Masses” by Sam Adams and Christopher Lamb. Seems that the diocesan offices and the Latin Mass Society disagree about the level of interest in the old Mass. Maybe both sides have a stake in pushing the data in a particular direction?
Dioceses in England and Wales say they have seen no surge in demand for the Mass in the Tridentine Rite since Pope Benedict XVI granted greater freedom for its use in 2007. Research conducted by The Tablet suggests that only a small number of additional churches across the UK have begun to offer regularly the Extraordinary Form of the Mass since Pope Benedict’s motu proprio three years ago allowed its wider celebration.
The responses from the dioceses contradict claims from the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales [LMS] that every diocese in England and Wales has seen a growth of interest and of Masses, with particular demand coming from younger Catholics since the motu proprio, Summorum Pontificum. Both the dioceses and the LMS this year sent their contrasting reports to Rome as part of a review on the effects of the document.
In its detailed report, the LMS complained of ignorance of the motu proprio’s provision and obstruction to requests of those Catholics who ask for Masses in the old rite.
But of the seven dioceses in England and Wales that responded to The Tablet’s request for figures, three reported no additional demand for its regular use while the rest say there have been only minimal increases in the number of churches where it is offered.
Neither Hexham and Newcastle, nor Hallam, have seen any more churches offering the Latin Mass since 2007. The Bishop of Brentwood, Thomas McMahon, said he was “not aware of any increase” in churches using the Extraordinary Form in his diocese.
In the Diocese of Portsmouth, Bishop Crispian Hollis said there has been “no new surge” in demand for the Tridentine Rite – where it is offered in three churches and occasionally in the cathedral. Only two churches in the Diocese of Westminster have offered extra Masses in the Extraordinary Form since 2007, while just “two or three” churches have done so in the Diocese of Lancaster according to the bishop’s secretary, Fr. Robert Billing.
In Wales, five additional churches have been regularly using the old rite in the Diocese of Cardiff since 2007, while in the Diocese of Liverpool only three churches out of around 200 currently offer the pre-conciliar Mass.
The Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, Seamus Cunningham, said priests in his diocese were not “scared” to use the old Mass if they wanted to, but that he personally would not choose to celebrate it. “I don’t feel that this would help me pray it. I’m happy celebrating the Mass in English,” he added.
John Medlin, spokesman for the LMS, said its claims of a surge of interest in the Tridentine Mass were based on “well-founded and accurate” figures received directly from the priests and congregations involved. “[There is] not a single diocese in England and Wales which has not seen a growth of interest and of Masses,” he said. “In fact, there is likely to be even more use of the Extraordinary Form than has been reported.”