NEWS: September 25, 2009
Bird’s Eye View of the News
Atila Sinke Guimarães
CONSERVATIVE BY NECESSITY - The Parisian daily Le Monde ordered a poll on religions in France and their tendencies, which came to light last August. The organization that made the survey was IFOP [acronym for French Institute of Public Opinion], and its lengthy survey spanned the years 2005 to 2009. Regarding Catholics, these recent data are quite embarrassing to the French Catholic Hierarchy, especially when compared to figures from previous polls.
Below, I list some of the most significant conclusions:
- In 1972, 87 % of the French population identified themselves as Catholics; today only 64 % do so;
- In 1972, 20 % of the Catholics were assisting at Mass every Sunday, today this figure dropped to 4.5 %;
- Today 65 % of the churchgoers are over 50 years-old, 46 % of them are retired, only 23 % of those who attend Mass are under age 35;
- 31 % of the churchgoers cast their ballots to the right; 14 % to the extreme right; and only 21 % to the left (The Tablet, August 29, 2009, p.28).
If a short elaboration is permitted based on these data, we see that:
Empty pews - a familiar sight at Novus Ordo Masses
* First, what is happening in France is not just a French phenomenon. Almost everywhere the data of the faithful abandoning the Church are similar. For example, in England the same issue of The Tablet reports what it calls the “rise of the super-parish” (p. 12). This is simply the merger of five Catholic parishes into one for the Sunday Mass at Hampshire Downs. With great effort the five parish priests involved bring together only 350 people every Sunday… I could quote countless examples in the United States that corroborate this same tendency.
* Second, these attendees are participating in the New Mass, which paradoxically was created by Paul VI under the pretext of attracting more and more people to the Church and Masses, especially the youth;
* Third, most of these persons who go to Mass are oriented toward the center or right in politics and are conservative in their private lives. That is to say, they do not like too much modernization in their church.
These initial conclusions drawn from the recent French poll data are new neither for the Catholic Hierarchy nor the Vatican. For a long time now, through much more accurate and sophisticated means than a poll, they had come to the conclusion that Progressivism, the New Mass and the Liturgical Reform of Paul VI have lost their power of attraction.
In the opposite sense, they have also noted that Traditionalism enjoys a steady growth. I offer the example of a parish that I know personally and may be compared to the mentioned English “super-parish.” It is Our Lady Help of Christians, run by three independent priests in Orange County, California.
By the fact of being independent priests - standing in open opposition to the legal structure of the Diocese because of its many progressivist errors coming from Vatican II - the three priests and their flock are often harassed by the Bishop and priests of the Orange County Diocese, who campaign against them. These priests only say the Tridentine Mass according to the Missal previous to 1955; the Mass is versus Deum; their choir sings only traditional pious songs; in their sermons they preach anti-Progressivism in doctrine and anti-Liberalism in customs.
With this anti-modern platform, what is the Mass attendance of this chapel? More than 1,000 Catholics attend their Sunday Masses. Their small chapel - I believe it cannot hold more than 250 seated persons - is filled to capacity and exploding. If you don’t arrive at least 15 minutes early, you will not find a place inside the chapel, even to stand, and must go to another large room close by with a screen to follow the Mass.
People fill the churches for the traditional Latin Mass
Likewise, several other traditionalist Masses that I know in the Los Angeles area have a high number of attendees. Are they mostly old people? No, they are not. Since traditionalists do not practice birth control, they have large families. Consequently the attendance at Mass is well-balanced with children, youth, adults and the elderly all present together.
I am sure that the Vatican is perfectly aware of the attraction that both tendencies – the progressivist and the traditionalist – are presently exerting over the average Catholic faithful.
So, after 40 years of the application of Vatican II we witness this ironic paradox: on the one hand, we have the Mass adapted to the modern world with pop music, guitars, people hugging, clapping, talking and laughing, participating in the ceremony, with some heretics and schismatics invited to deliver “ecumenical messages of love.” This Mass does not attract. The people are increasingly fleeing these modern Masses, heading toward a complete desertion. As a matter of fact, isn’t the 4.5% attendance rate in France already the expression of a total failure?
On the other hand, we have the traditional Mass, said as it always was in Latin, turned toward God, with the Communion rail and pulpit, solemn chants and silence and without the participation of the people. This Mass is attracting multitudes.
How to save the New Mass? Return the solemnity of the old...
What should the Vatican do to save the New Mass? I believe it would need to take the following steps:
* First, stop creative innovations and outrageous abuses regarding modernity;
* Second, introduce some more conservative parts into the New Mass - some prayers in Latin, times of silence, Communion on the tongue and kneeling;
* Third, rubberstamp the Tridentine Mass as another accepted rite;
* Fourth, introduce as much dialogue, participation and ecumenism as possible into these allowed Tridentine Masses;
* Fifth, merge both Masses into just one. Viewed from one side it would be a conservative New Mass, by the other, a liberal Tridentine Mass. From either perspective, the result would be a hybrid Mass.
These steps of a strategic maneuver – which would be in keeping with the Vatican’s proverbial shrewdness – have actually been applied for some time in order to save the New Mass, the Liturgical Reform and Vatican II.
Therefore, Benedict XVI and some Vatican Prelates are assuming a more conservative look by necessity. If they were not to do this, the New Mass and the Liturgical Reform would run the risk of falling into complete bankruptcy. In this case, it would be difficult to avoid a domino effect that would push Vatican II into the collapse as well.
For me it is curious to see how myopic conservatives ignore this panorama in order to drug themselves with the illusion that Benedict XVI is converting and becoming a sincere conservative.
It is really difficult to cure this addiction. Perhaps the testimony of Card. Tarcisio Bertone may help them.
‘Ruminations and whispers are pure invention’
In late August news was being spread by Il Giornale that Benedict was planning to reverse the Liturgical Reform of Paul VI coming from Vatican II. In response to these reports, Card. Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, declared in an interview to L’Osservatore Romano that those “ruminations and whispers about presumed documents of reversal are pure invention.”
Bertone: Don't you understand?
On the contrary, he affirmed there were a number of aspects of Vatican II that the Pope had “constantly promoted with intelligence and profundity of thought.” Benedict’s actions have led to “developments of Vatican II never before realized,” he continued, especially in better relations with the Schismatics, Jews and Muslims (The Tablet, September 5, 2009, p. 30).
Bertone was trying to pacify those progressivists who had “reservations and fears” that the Pope would be going against Vatican II. He assured them that the reality is precisely the opposite (CNA, August 28, 2009, online edition).
What did Bertone mean when he affirmed that Benedict is “promoting Vatican II with intelligence and profundity of thought”? The only explanation I can find is that he is telling his progressivist grassroots: “Open your eyes, please. The Pope is taking a more conservative approach to save our reforms, not to destroy them.”
The progressivists, I believe, will get the message. The problem is how to make conservatives and – alas! – also traditionalists open their eyes to the clear reality they do not want to see.
Related Topics of Interest
Heading to a Hybrid Mass
The Latin Mass Is To Be “Tolerated,” Nothing More
The Motu Proprio, After the Emotions
The Laws of Thought and the Heresy of Progressivism
Vatican II Turnaround on the Church-State Relation
Conservatives, Traditionalists and Counter-Revolutionaries
Saint Wojtyla? Not so Fast...
The Canonization of Wojtyla, the Moral-Free Pope
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