Rorate Caeli

If the Traditional Latin Mass is Banned, Many Attendees Will Simply Leave the Church


In discussions of the suppression of the Traditional Latin Mass, it is typically assumed that those who lose the TLM will simply move elsewhere-- to the Novus Ordo first and foremost, but perhaps also to the SSPX or the Eastern Churches.

Thus, John Cavadini, Mary Healy, and Thomas Weinandy, citing nothing, describe TLM attendees as "a self-selected group of highly motivated, attentive worshippers, many of them (ironically) nurtured on Vatican II sensibilities about full, conscious, active participation." Of course such super-Catholics are best plugged into the Novus Ordo, where (it is assumed) their worship may take "outward expression in word, gesture, and song" instead of the "purely silent, passive participation" elicited by the TLM (the authors ignore, of course, the beautiful Latin choirs and soaring hymns of the TLM, which contrast with the half-hearted mumbling so typical of a modern Novus Ordo). 

Andrea Grillo, the academic described as "the mind" behind the recent restrictions, also urges that TLM attendees should be forced to relinquish the TLM and commit to "work at a single table" and "contribute to enriching the only ritual form in force." 

Pope Francis, in his letter accompanying Traditionis Custodes, states that the goal of his restrictions is to force TLM worshippers to "return in due time to the" Novus Ordo.

Some TLM attendees indeed fit the stereotype of "super-Catholics" who will happily go wherever their shepherds tell them to go. But most do not. My discussions reveal that TLM attendees face the same pressures towards secularization that the rest of the Church does. Many TLM attendees, especially the old-timers, have seen their friends and family fall away from the faith. They themselves have struggled with the burdens of the post-Vatican II Church-- irreverent liturgies and sex scandals (especially McCarrick, which hit hard in Washington, D.C.) The TLM is the only thing that keeps them going spiritually each week. They have no interest in being part of a Church that ignores and bullies them, or participating in imagined discussions around making the Novus Ordo more reverent that are unlikely to ever occur. If the Mass goes, they will go as well.

The model of the Church in which the restrictions succeed is not the Church of today, shrinking and besieged in the secularized West. Most people alienated by Latin Mass restrictions won't magically resurface as leaders of the "reform of the reform." They will simply flee the grotesque spiritual abuse that is being inflicted upon them and their children.