Recent survey concerning the TLM: 2-1 of those with opinions favor a TLM option

A reader alerted me – mired as I was in the midst of computer battles – about a survey recently conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate of Jesuit run Georgetown University about the availability of the older, Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The survey found that those Catholics in the United States having any opinion at all on the topic favor the availability of the TLM by a two to one margin, with the majority having no opinion.

When asked “Do you favor as an alternative to the newer Mass, bringing back the older Latin Tridentine Mass for those who would prefer this option?”

25% favor the option, 12% oppose it, and 63% have no opinion.

Support for the extraordinary form option is higher among older Catholics, those who attend Mass weekly, political independents, and those with graduate degrees.

A similar survey conducted in 1985 found that Catholics favored the option by a 40%-35%

What is interesting here is that of those who have an opinion, the majority favor the availability of the TLM by 2-1.  That doesn’t mean they would go to it, but they favor the option.

What is also to note here is that we have the opportunity to shape the opinion of those who have no opinion.

Another point, let’s just consider demographics.

Were we to consider the number of Catholics in the USA, …

Let’s guestimate the Catholic population of the USA at about 65,000,000 by the research of that same institute that did the survey.

Let’s say about half of those are old enough to have an opinion that matters, say… 32.500,000 people.

Let’s say about 25% of that 32.5 million would favor the option of having the TLM available, say…  8,125,000.

The Cara Poll suggests that USA Mass more or less weekly Mass attendance is 36%.

Watch how the liberals will try to spin this.

They will say that a small minority want the option of a TLM made available.

In fact, of those who have an opinion, the majority favor the availability of the TLM by 2 to 1.

Remember… higher among those who go to Mass regularly, who have more education and who are political independents.

Again, we have the opportunity to shape the opinion of those who have no opinion.

I will direct you once again to my trusty old Rules of Engagement.

Remember: YOUR ARE KEY PLAYERS with people who don’t have an opinion or who are shaping their opinion about whether or not there should be a TLM even available, or are wondering about whether they would like to give it a try.

They will form impressions of the people involved in the whole TLM thing.  I can pretty much guarantee that if you are sour jerks, argumentative, hyper-critical, and frowning at newcomers who don’t fit your dress code or who don’t know what to do, this group will be lost.

Instead… if they see your joy, get a sense of welcome, have some resources to help them through their first experiences, it is likely… especially if they are regular Mass goers, are well-educated and independent thinkers, they will probably think that it is a good idea at least to have the option.

Think about this.

Think about this.

What can you do, concretely, to be a good opinion shaper, a good example and influence in the matter of availability.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. TJM says:

    I saw this somewhere the other day, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the strong support for the TLM. I think that most American Catholics
    (other than hardcore liturgical “progressives”) are eminently fair-minded and receptive to Tradition. In my experience it’s those “progressives”, i.e.
    readers of the NCR and Tablet, whose minds are closed like a trap and wedded to the 60s such that you cannot have a reasonable discussion with them.
    And never bring up Sacrosanctum Concilium. That’s when they really go ballistic. But your Rules of Engagement are very wise and should be followed.

  2. tzard says:

    Interesting poll.

    Interesting that political affiliation seems to matter little.

    I note that while of the supporters of the TLM, the older support it by a greater percentage, Those who are opposed are the inverse – the youngest (essentially younger than 50) are the least opposed (only 6-7%!). Those 2 groups make up 2/3 of the US population!

    And the highest “no opinion” category (almost 80% among them) is the millenial generation!!

    What also struck me is that great “no opinion” and how big it’s grown. I wonder if the release of the MP and the subsequent bricklaying has tempered those who objected out of ignorance.

  3. Dave N. says:

    This is certainly congruent with my experience. Most people don’t have a problem with TLM, but on the other hand don’t really know much about it–thus “no opinion”–and are generally open to the OPTION. The statement that “only a tiny minority” (now) wants TLM I’d say is true as far as it goes, but that doesn’t mean this will always be the case. As Fr. Z points out, this poll underscores that the immediate future of the TLM lies in following the Rules of Engagement. If people start associating TLM with old, bitter crabs (or self-righteous college students for that matter) things will not go well.

  4. Jack Hughes says:

    Did the survey include SSPX Catholics ? If it did ……….. well you can guess the potential impact on the the figures.

  5. chironomo says:

    As with all polls… statistics can be a tricky thing from which to draw truth. The salient fact here is that there are twice as many who feel that the TLM should be an option as those who feel that it should not. These are the two “extremes” of the poll. The great majority has no opinion…for whatever reason. Familiarity with the subject would tend to make me think that of those “undecideds”, a greater number should be favorable towards the TLM than opposed to it since those with strong objections are more likely to respond in that way than are those who might favor or not really care enough to give an opinion.

    I use this same reasoning when fielding parishioner comments about our parish music and liturgy. If you get two “positive comments” and two “negative” comments, I conclude that there are likely far more favorable since those who feel positively are less likely to comment than those with strong negative feelings. This aspect of human nature is often missed in polling. The opposite of this is the person who laments that “everybody hates the music” at this parish because of one or two negative comments.

  6. Aaron says:

    Yes, I’ve already seen this spun as “fewer Catholics care about the TLM than used to,” which supports the “it’s just for stubborn old people who will die soon” myth. But of course people who have never had the opportunity to attend will have no opinion about it.

    If you do the math, 36% of weekly-Mass-attending Catholics say they would attend a TLM if one were at a convenient time and place. If a third of practicing Catholics would like to have the TLM, I think it’s safe to say they’re being drastically under-served.

    Only 20% are opposed to the TLM. So you could make the case that if the TLM were made the “ordinary” Mass again tomorrow (if there were enough trained priests to do so), and the Novus Ordo were allowed in a few scattered places as an indult for that small minority of the faithful “who adhere to the [other] liturgical tradition,” that would meet the people’s needs better than the current situation.

    (Not that the Mass should be about meeting people’s needs, of course, but that’s the way the anti-TLM argument is generally framed.)

  7. AlexE says:

    Well of course the number who favor it has dropped. I dont mean to sound flippant caviler or anything along those lines but in 1985 there many more Catholics, who were alive to miss the EF Mass. How soon the number of those who favor it will be increaed! In fact if it were something that all Catholics were exposed to, as they should be, those numbers would still be higher. I know every “type” of Catholic that is just about possible ( e.g. Charismatics, liberal, moderate, etc etc) and only those who wish to remain in their ignorance do not appercaited the EF

  8. JPG says:

    The poll does not surprise me. Although many would not run to a TLM. They are not hostile to it since at some level that which was held Sacred for generations must still be so. Likewise I know of no John and Mary Catholic who is profoundly pleased with the OF as it is celebrated every Sunday even in Parishes where it is celebrated with great reverence. What I do here repeatedly is that the OF needs to be more reverent or sacral. People , self included, like the three readings , although not happy withe the translations. Most really do not care for the prayer of the faithful and not a few would like the sign of peace to go away since it detracts from the Solemnity of the moment. Keep in mind many of us were led to think, coming of age in the 70’s 0r 80’s that the TLM was inferior if not bad thus for many to be indifferent of objectively favor is an achievement.

  9. Gary says:

    Polls and how to interpret them are always tricky. As I was perusing a more liberal Catholic blog I noticed the same article with the conclusion that the survey proved that nobody wanted the Extraordinary form!

  10. Seraphic Spouse says:

    Here’s what I did!

    Not to toot my own horn, but I think my series on the EF shows that EFers are
    fun and friendly people.

  11. Seraphic Spouse says:

    “Secrets of the Tridentine Mass” has to be read backwards. That is to say,
    scroll down to the bottom and then read to the top.

  12. petrusbarjona says:

    “I can pretty much guarantee that if you are sour jerks, argumentative, hyper-critical, and frowning at newcomers who don’t fit your dress code or who don’t know what to do, this group will be lost.”

    Pot, meet Kettle. Kettle, meet pot.

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