John Allen on Summorum Pontificum: “Most Catholics who wanted access to the older Mass already had it”

Over at CRUX (now perhaps Crux 2.0? – the Boston Globe ended its life support – Zombie Crux? – the KofCs support it now, which I can’t get my head around… but I digress…), editor John L. Allen made an odd statement about the traditional form of the Roman Rite and those who desire it.

Allen’s piece is actually about the possibility that Francis’ upcoming Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia (“The Joy of Love” or, variably, “The Pleasure of Lust/Sex” – I guess we have to wait for the rest of that sentence before indulging in too much hijinx), much discussed in anticipation, will really turn out to be much ado about nothing and will have little influence… just like Summorum Pontificum!

Here’s Allen:

On that landscape, here’s another category I’ve long felt would be useful: Documents that cause a huge fuss in the media, but change little on the ground.

As a classic for-instance, take Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 decree liberalizing permission for celebration of the older Latin Mass. It sparked widespread debate, with many liberals seeing it as an attempt to roll back the clock on the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and traditionalists predicting it would transform Catholic worship in the direction of sobriety and reverence. [Time will tell.  It has only been in force since 2007.  Also, while it takes but a moment to destroy, it takes a long time to build.]

Almost a decade later, however, its practical effect has been fairly limited. Most Catholics who wanted access to the older Mass already had it, [HUH?!?] and neither the apocalypse nor the renaissance suggested by overheated commentary ever occurred.

If Mr. Allen really believes that most of the people who wanted to be able to attend Holy Mass in the traditional form already had it before Summorum Pontificum, he is sorely deluded.

First, the older Mass is celebrated in far more places now than before, although many people are still having problems.  Growth is steady. Second, in 50 years I wonder how many people will still be attending the Novus Ordo.

Perhaps a few of you might chime with your experiences about how easy it was before Summorum Pontificum to obtain celebrations of the older form of the Roman Rite.  Maybe some of you have tales to share about the open generosity of bishops during the days when only Ecclesia Dei afflicta was in force.

The moderation queue is ON.

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  1. 21stCentury Anglican says:

    I live in a State Capital…. and the Extraordinary Form is still not available within an hour’s drive. I will have to disagree with Mr. Allen.

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I did a double-take at the title, too.

  3. Haec Dies says:

    Your comment concerning whether in 50 years who will be attending the Ordinary Form of the Mass is interesting. I offer this as additional reason to believe that in 50 years it will be difficult to find attendance at the new mass. In my diocese there are currently 160 parishes administered by 120 priests. by the year 2025 there will be 60 priests and by the year 2035, 35 priests. This is not my assumption but came from the chancery office and was communicated to the Catholic population of the diocese as it seeks ways to resourcefully determine what to do with buildings and the priest shortage. From a practical standpoint if the Mass isn’t there, and convenient, the people wont go nor will they travel. I have heard that in certain European countries the seminarians training for the Traditional Mass far out number those in the new seminaries. It si not hard to believe that we are in the midst of a cultural shift in the church.

  4. Phil_NL says:

    That statement goes against a long, long, long litany of anecdotal evidence.

    Nevertheless, in an other sense Mr Allen might not be too far wrong: it is likely that quite a few people without access didn’t want it (back then), simply because they didn’t know what they were missing! It has been 40 years, and that means the majority of people will have had no or only very vague recollections of the traditional form. You don’t know what you miss if all you ever saw were guitar Masses.

    In short, for a big part, he has his causality wrong. Demand brought some supply (but not enough in many places), but never forget economics can work the other way too: supply can cause demand!

  5. majuscule says:

    I came back to the church in 2007, so I don’t have personal experience in the era from the ’60 until then. It was only a couple of years ago that I was able to attend the TLM regularly. But people I’ve met can attest to the struggle before Summorum Pontificum. A group with a willing priest had to jump around from church to church for Sunday Mass.

    Even today in a diocese with a bishop who supports (and celebrates) the TLM one must walk on eggshells if the parish pastor is not TLM friendly. Yet most parishes in our area have Spanish language Masses and all our seminarians must now be able to speak Spanish. (I have heard, though, that currently three seminarians are interested in the TLM!)

    Right now in my parish we are in a holding pattern. Private TLMs at odd hours in an inconvenient location. Certainly we could push for more. I’d love to see how many would attend a regular Sunday TLM. The email alert list for our Masses has two dozen people on it but only a few can attend an early morning or late afternoon weekday Mass. If our current priest is transferred I believe those of us who love this Mass will take further steps to get a regular Mass. Right now we are thankful for what we have and we’re working on gathering more interest.

    It’s interesting that the letter to the bishops that accompanied Summorum Pontificum mentions the word “fear” six times.

  6. BenjaminiPeregrinus says:

    Before SP in my parish, in my diocese (at that time under Mathew Clark) unthinkable. Now a semi-regular occurrence. (and there was lots of infantile toddler-like foot stomping temper tantrums from certain persons, including a cleric the first time we exercised our rights. They were told “sorry, we can’t do anything to stop them”.)

  7. TWF says:

    Here in Vancouver there was an FSSP community prior to SP, but it was a “quasi-parish” that had to take inconvenient slots after the regular parish masses were done. Post-SP they have their own parish / church where the EF is offered 7 days a week. There are also now regular weekly EF masses celebrated by a couple diocesan priests in other parishes. And perhaps most excitedly, we had a solemn high mass at the cathedral last summer for the first time in decades. In regards to general reverence in the OF, I think many dioceses have seen an improvement. I remember visiting a parish in the very northern Diocese of Prince George a decade ago and was appalled- no kneeling during the consecration and such. When I was last up there, in a small town parish, kneeling had been restored and they were even starting to experiment with a little chant. The new bishop was previously vicar General in Vancouver where, EF or not, reverence is the norm.

  8. Mike says:

    Allen’s remark is of the nature of the tone-deaf condescension one expects from Democrat (and, these days, Republican) politicians and merits only contempt.

    A more thoughtful assessment—which, to be fair, is outside the scope of the subject his column discusses—would properly consider how many have been attending their weekly Novus Ordo not from commitment, or even contentment, but simply having given up on finding any alternative. And if we who love the timeless liturgy of the ages don’t support it, promote it, embrace it (and those new to it), and live it, what cause have we to complain?

    That is a swell new bloghead, by the way, Father.

  9. pelerin says:

    Reading ‘Most Catholics who wanted access to the older Mass already had it’ made me splutter into my coffee.
    Here in my part of Southern England I only found out about a weekly TLM in the region after buying a computer and only later quite by accident discovering the Catholic blogosphere. I learnt that there was a Saturday mid-day Mass in a nearby town and joyfully used to take a couple of buses to get there – about an hour and half each way. I took a regular national Catholic paper and diocesan one and yet this had been unknown to me. In fact for all those years I had actually believed that the TLM had been superseded never to return.

    Today I am able to attend three TLMs each week including Sunday at two different churches in my own town. However because the Parish Priest of the other town has moved to another parish they have lost their regular TLM. So plus three but minus one.

  10. Thorfinn says:

    How easy was it to obtain celebrations of the older form? I had read about it in historical novels but didn’t know it still existed, at least for the public. I may have had a fleeting wish for the older form of the Mass just like I wished once or twice that I could use carrier pigeons instead of the postal service.

  11. moon1234 says:

    I suppose it depended on where you lived prior to SP. In the upper Midwest we have been blessed to have not just one, but almost all of the more traditional orders within a few hours drive: SSPX, ICRSS, FSSP. Then add St. John Cantius in Chicago. Not to mention a few local Priests who bucked the party line and offered the TLM “without permission”.

    I really feel for those people who did not have access to the TLM before SP. My wife and I suffered through guitar masses, football homilies, etc. for many, many years. It was very depressing.

    Post SP we have additional traditional orders that have sprung up as well. If you look at the demographics of those attending the TLM, they are not the old and nostalgic. They are the young, young families and children. These children will be brought up with the TLM as their primary Mass. Will it be any wonder that they choose this Mass as their primary obligation as adults?

    The Bishop came to our parish for a low Mass, which he was the celebrant, and remarked at the number of children. This was just after SP had been issued. There were about 30 adults and 60-70 children at an 11am Sunday Mass (not a convenient time for hungry children.).

    I still hold a very dear place in my heart for the ICRSS. We were married in an oratory they run in 1999. We had received all of our instruction from a parish priest who had been moved to a very remote parish. We assume his move was because he was too traditional. We asked him to say a private TLM (since he was from that era), but he declined saying he worried that if the Bishop heard he would be transferred to an even more remote location. So we were happily married by the ICRSS and to this day we can’t thank them enough.

  12. Nathan says:

    I hope this helps, Father:

    When I first came into the Church in 1980, I would drive to a TLM offered then by SPPX priests (it was pre-excommunications): 171 miles each way, 3 hours 15 minutes.
    From when I went to college the TLM was unavailable until I found a non-SSPX TLM within driving distance; this was from 1982 until 1996, 14 years.
    Then we had Ecclesia Dei Afflicta.
    From 1996 until 1999, I would drive to a TLM: 46 miles each way, 51 minutes.
    From 1999 until 2000, I would drive to a TLM: 30.8 miles each way, 39 minutes.
    From 2000-2006, I would drive to a TLM: 15.4 miles each way, 25 minutes.
    After Summorum Pontificum, I have been able to attend a TLM 3.9 miles away, 10 minutes.

    In my life, Pope Benedict’s document made a tremendous and lasting effect. Deo Gratias!

    In Christ,

  13. Elizabeth M says:

    Oh yes, it was easy to attend the older form! Our bishop, whom we prayed for at every Mass, didn’t try to stop us from attending these locations at all. (sarcasm)

    Be sure that you drive one or more hours one way in the early morning to the nearest location for the best experience.
    My favorite locations were – a converted multipurpose hall (where in the early ’80’s I made my First Communion and then said my First Confession with father sitting behind a set of stairs); the converted upstairs of a home where the windows were often opened in the winter when the incense became too thick and snow would blow in or an occasional bird would want to join us; a charming warehouse in the sketchy gang-filled side of town while the Chapel was being built; having Confirmation in a parking lot behind a house and kneeling on the asphalt for 2.5 hours, part of that in the rain, after the local Bishop flat out declined our request for the Sacrament in the older form.
    When attending Mass at any other location in the state, be sure to wear your mantilla. Because no way is a sister going to tell you – to your face in front of the Tabernacle – that you need to read Church Docs and learn the new way.
    In truth though, loved all these Crosses. I felt a closeness to the English Martyrs & first Christians and my youth was filled with sacrifices so I could understand the importance and heart of Mass.

    The Bishops who tried to prevent, with or without the right to do so, our attending the now EF Mass were doing what they thought was best and what they were trained to do so I do not have any bad feelings or thoughts toward them. All the tears, the broken knees, the ridicule, the threats, only served to make us study our Faith more. I think that without these trials I may not be Catholic today. For the other battles – I leave those for The Father to see in secret. We did not have the worst of assaults nor did we have the easiest time.
    I remember the day Summorum Pontificum took affect. It was as if the whole world experienced a moment of Peace. My heart & soul felt peace that it had never had before.
    When the people of God take something for granted, He sends them to the desert. How many priests had to endure this desert for us! May Our Lady defend them!

  14. JimRB says:

    I live within 20-30 minutes of almost 7 parishes and still have to drive 45 minutes to a reverent Novus Ordo mass. The closest place to participate in the Extraordinary Form on a regular basis is a parish 1.5 hours away. It is filled with parishioners who drive 2 hours to be there.

  15. Sword40 says:

    I have respectfully “battled” many parish priests over the years, trying to get the TLM, only to be told that “I was going to hell” if I persisted in asking for the old Mass. Honest. But I did persist. Now after many a false start we have our own parish with a fulltime FSSP priest.

    Be respectful but persistent.

  16. Gregg the Obscure says:

    Trying to give Mr. Allen the benefit of the doubt, I note that he has said that he lives in the Denver area. When I came into the Church (2001) TLM was available under the auspices of the FSSP at three or four locations. Those have now been consolidated into one bustling FSSP parish, its physical plant having been bought from a moribund protestant group in the suburbs and renovated quite well.

  17. Clemens Romanus says:

    Those who did not know they desired it, through it’s increased access, were able to be forever changed by the experience.

  18. TimG says:

    Here in Eastern Iowa, prior to SP, one would have to travel to the Basilica in Dyersville. Now, presumably encouraged by SP, Fr P offers EM at St Wens in CR.

  19. OrthodoxChick says:

    Talk about the desert…I only found out what the EF really was when I was led to this blog. I, too, thought it had been abolished by Vatican II, just as another comment above mentioned. I also learned about SP at this blog. I have learned so much here and my faith has deepened considerably because of it. Thank you for all that you do with your blog, Fr. Z!

  20. JesusFreak84 says:

    Chicago didn’t really change much, before or after, (but Cardinal George was also fairly friendly to the EF, IMHO, even celebrating it himself to dedicate an altar for the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest. We also have a number of Eastern Rite Sees with either an Eparchy or their entire American jurisdiction here, so I suppose between the two we’ve been a bit spoiled, at least until the Cardinal passed away. ++Cupich….yeah….I don’t think I have to say much, with his record towards the FSSP in Spokane, WA.

    I was actually living in Grand Rapids, MI just before and just after SP. There was one “indult” noon Mass at Sacred Heart, and after SP St. Isadore’s added a 9am Monday Mass, and according to Ecclesia Dei’s website, that hasn’t changed one iota since then. Problem is, far as I can tell, the same priest does both of the aforementioned Masses and he may be the last priest in that See who is both willing AND able to offer it, and he was getting “up there” in years 10 years ago =- (With a very brief exception c. 2003, that See’s had one weak-spined Bishop after another, so I doubt there’s much encouragement to LEARN the EF, especially when the Diocesan seminarians all go to Chicago, which is now under ++Cupich.)

  21. Joseph-Mary says:

    A local parish has a priest come in now every Sunday at noon to offer the TLM; this was not the case pre SP.

  22. HighMass says:

    What world is Mr Allen living in???? Surly not ours!!! Since when has it always been available??????????

    In our area we went from having one Latin High Mass per month from 2008 on…….to NONE, for four years!!!!!!!!!!!
    We asked and asked and were denied, until we received a new Pastor last year !!!!!!!!!!

  23. Imrahil says:

    Most Catholics who wanted access to the older Mass already had it.

    He might have a point (in some regions) if if he considered attending SSPX masses (in the pre-2009, not post-2009 state) legitimate.

    Somehow I have a feeling, though, that this is not precisely what he means.

  24. Joe Magarac says:

    Here in Pittsburgh, the traditional Mass has been consistently available since the 1980s at a parish that is about as centrally-located as a parish could be: it’s right off one of the major highways near downtown, which means you can get to it from all parts of the diocese. It’s also an old, grand, beautiful building. The traditional Mass parish has grown a bit – it now has daily Mass and not just weekly Mass – but I’m not aware of any priests or laity who have asked for additional traditional Masses elsewhere in the diocese.

    I hear stories from other people in other places about how hard the Latin Mass can be to find, and I am grateful that our Bishops (Wuerl, and then Zubik) have always made it available. Sort of like how I hear stories from other people in other places about how priests were re-assigned following credible allegations of child abuse, and I am grateful that those same Bishops have taken a hard line with such priests.

  25. Bruce says:

    In the liturgical wasteland that is eastern Canada there is no extraordinary form Masses. If anyone has found one please let me know. Once a month the SSPX is in NS. There has been some Anglican Ordinariate masses lately. I am sure there are plenty of people here who would love to go to Mass in the extraordinary form, but the hierarchy is not friendly to the idea.

  26. Kathleen10 says:

    Not in our neck of the woods. We had one Latin Mass about 45 minutes away. We recently found out there is one priest who offers a Latin Mass locally. (Sadly, because it was not mentioned in the parish bulletin, it was in our own parish for a year and we did not know it.) Now, it is mentioned, but under “Tridentine Mass” and I bet many folks don’t even know what that is. So no, it has not been readily available at all.

  27. Gregorius says:

    Mr. Allen clearly does not take into account the large groups of young people who wanted/want the EF. They were still teenagers before SP was promulgated! I’m sure there are other readers here who have felt the isolation of being in love with the EF while most of the adults above them were actively disapproving of it, their parents (for good or bad) not willing to spend the resources to get to it, and the rest of their peers not even knowing it exists.

    At least the ecclesiastical environment now requires the faithful to grudgingly tolerate it. To say nothing about the reintroduction of various traditional practices in the OF thanks to the subliminal effects of SP.

  28. Ed the Roman says:

    I’m pretty sure I won’t be attending the NO in fifty years.

  29. akp1 says:

    Still no TLM or a priest willing to learn it in the small diocese where I live. Top of my list for the new Bishop when we get one.

  30. Peco says:

    No difference before or after Summorum Pontificum. No older form/EF Mass in this diocese for the entire 30+ years that I have been in this diocese. I sincerely doubt that there has been an older form/EF Mass in this diocese for a lot longer than that.
    To get to and older form/EF Mass is a 5 1/2 hour drive.
    It is a challenge to live in such a spiritual desert.

  31. Nan says:

    I spent a year singing at a tridentine Mass at a time I had no idea there was more than I form of Mass. I was in Eastern Europe and my friends decided I was singing in the choir. Years later, after reading this blog, I became suspicious due to having sung continuously and in Latin, googled around and found that the parish had never changed Mass to begin with. My story is thast since it was once part of the Roman empire, Latin is the vernacular.

    I live in Fathers home diocese, where the similar parish was founded by immigrants from the same empire, another small enclave where latin is the native language.

    There are several places in which the tridentine Mass is found and many young priests learning it.

  32. Thomas Sweeney says:

    In our diocese before SP we had a TLM once a month. Although our church was designated as a chapel, we did have Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Our chapel was administered by a priest from a Spanish conservative society, after SP we had a TLM every evening at 7:oopm and a TLM every Sunday and Holy Day. A more truly holy priest one could not find than ours, he was an inspiration to all that came in contact with him.
    His schedule was, a NO every morning at 8:15am, confessions every afternoon and before every Mass, along with the 7:00pm TLM. The atmosphere in our little chapel was very spiritual and friendly. Six years ago, whatever happened, our priest wound up in Wisconsin, and we wound up under the auspices of the diocese. We are now down to one TLM on Sunday.

  33. PeterK says:

    In my experience the bishops have done everything in their power to hinder the expansion of the EF.
    in Richmond Va when people called for more of the EF the bishop said “not needed we have a parish devoted to the EF” this forced many to drive hours to attend the EF
    same happened in Dallas. but in both parishes the number of parishioners is strong. I attend the 7:30 am Low Mass at Mater Dei in Irving Texas. That Mass is full and not just old people. young families, college age students and more attend.

  34. thomas777 says:

    In all of Australia there is MAYBE 1 Latin mass said in each capital city and then only at certain times. That would involve a 10 hour drive for me to go there. Don’t even think about there being one in Mackay or Cains. If you don’t live IN the mega city you have no such luck. I could explain why but we have many of the same problems here that I saw when I was in America.

  35. bourgja says:

    I wonder what the intended analogy is with the upcoming post-synodal document. Is he suggesting that the document will not change much because divorced/remarried couples had access to Communion through the “internal forum” anyway, or something like that?

  36. In 1990 a friend of mine, a then transitional deacon studying in Rome, told me that a prelate of the PCED told him, that 50% of the indult applications are withdrawn as soon as the information of the ordinarius of the applicating priest had happened. Compose a song of it.

    So Summorum Pontificum granted what was already available? Hmmm… wait there was soemthing in Germany in 2007… a yes! The conference of bishops of Germany issued regulatory statutes on implementing Summorum Pontificum. The reaction of Pope Benedict was… Universae Ecclesiae in which he wiped all regulatory statutes trying to limit the splendid gift of Summorum Pontificum. The bishops wanted to to stay in their interpretation of the ” wide and generous application” of the norms of Ecclesia Dei adflicta (which sounded most like: TLM is allowed between 24:00 and 0:00 but not on week days or week ends).

  37. TDPelletier says:

    Our coetus fidelium traditioni liturgicae antecedenti adhaerentium stabiliter is still patiently waiting.

  38. robtbrown says:

    From the FSSP site:

    Established in June 2007, the Priest Training Program of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter has provided personal training for over 165 priests from 115 different dioceses. Over 80% of participants in this program are now saying the Extraordinary Form on a regular basis.

    And of course, that number does not include priests who learned to say the mass not in the training program but from other priests or from the instructional DVD.

    John Allen’s comment seems as if it were told him by a priest or bishop.

  39. iamlucky13 says:

    I had once-a-month access to a TLM according to the Dominican Rite before Summorum Pontificum, only because I was fortunate enough to live near a Dominican priory and parish with an indult for the sake of preserving that rite. I attended a few times. I now have distant access (~1 hour drive) to a FSSP “parish” with two Sunday Masses. They currently do not have a church of their own, so the schedule is subordinate to that of the parish whose church they use, and the times aren’t particularly convenient.

    I haven’t yet made good on my intention to try out the extraordinary form on a semi-regular basis, in part because of the inconvenience of the distance and schedule. Also in part because we’re fortunate enough to have a church nearby with a pastor who makes a decent attempt to celebrate the Novus Ordo reverently and to preach orthodox homilies.

    Attendance in the Novus Ordo in 50 years will certainly be significantly higher if the counter-reforms most-notably initiated by Redemptionis Sacramentum continue and intensify than if they stagnate. I fall back on “lex orandi, lex credendi” to support this – The teachings of the Church simply aren’t effectively backed up by plainly decorated auditoriums where we gather to sing outdated folk songs and listen to homilies about how important it is to be nice. The Mass, in either form, needs to be timeless, transcendent, and convey truth firmly in both the prescribed elements and in the homily.

    The most beautiful Masses I’ve ever attended (bear in mind my limited exposure to the extraordinary form), were Novus Ordo Masses at the Dominican parish I mentioned that properly followed the Missal and all other norms, in Latin, ad orientem, with the common prayers in chant and led by a competent choir, with well-rehearsed altar servers, Communion at the Communion rail without extraordinary ministers, and with the decor of the Church (layout, statues, paintings, altar, etc) all reinforcing the sacredness of the space and reminding us why we were there.

    I don’t know if having more Masses like that would leave fewer feeling a need for the extraordinary form, or if they’d serve as a stepping stone toward greater interest in the extraordinary form. Either way, it would be a big step back in the right direction.

  40. iPadre says:

    I am at a Sancta Missa workshop this week. More and more priests are learning the traditional form of the Roman Rite.

    Once you learn the traditional form, there are several effects. It gives you new life – almost like a spiritual defibrillator was placed on your soul, everything changes. The Mass takes on new life in both forms. You become more conscious of what is happening at the altar. You have a new understanding of priesthood. This is just a small summary.

    With that said, we will only see the real effects of the EF looking back in about 50 years.

  41. In my diocese, before Summorum Pontificum, we had two (maybe three) weekly licit extraordinary form Sunday Masses in the diocese. Now we have exactly three, unless there are secret ones of which I am not aware. That’s certainly possible as we don’t even have a true diocesan newspaper any more. (The web site at seems to verify my count.) I do suspect that the ordinary form Masses have improved somewhat, perhaps reducing the need to flee hijinks, but honestly, if there were a groundswell of demand for the extraordinary form, one can’t help but think that maybe one or two more, perhaps, would have been allowed or even encouraged out of 134 or so parishes.

    Most people, sad to say, simply don’t care. If they even go to Mass at all, they go at a convenient time at a convenient parish and take whatever they get. Those of us who prefer decent, traditional liturgy can bemoan this all we want, but saying that Allen is wrong isn’t really the answer. We have to start getting out there and promoting the value of good liturgy, making recruits, and creating demand. Rest assured that many, many bishops don’t care either. If they felt that people really wanted traditional liturgy, these bishops would give it to them. Even those bishops who really prefer nonsense will allow traditional liturgy if they think it will keep the natives from becoming restless, as long as those who are involved are respectful and deferential.

    I for one will not be too quick to discount Allen’s assertion. It may not be true in all places at all times, but as a general observation, it probably holds water.

  42. WmHesch says:

    In 1997 at the ripe age of 16, I was the “youth representative” on the Diocesan Liturgical Commission. You could have heard a pin drop when I suggested the Tridentine Mass would spike youth involvement.

    Had to drive to a neighboring diocese to serve at that glorious liturgy.

  43. zama202 says:

    Noticing more priests in the Archdiocese of New York learning, celebrating (usually on special occasions) and generally more friendly to the TLM since Summorum Pontificum.


  44. hwriggles4 says:

    WmHesch hit the nail on the head. I don’t know how many times 14-25 year olds have told me they do not like the late afternoon Sunday Masses that try hard to cater to young people by playing Christian Rock songs, standing around the altar, and sometimes doing hand motions with the songs. (Yes, when I was younger, I remember these Masses, and looking back, they were more social in nature).

    I do go to a parish that does a youth oriented Mass on Sunday afternoon, but it is “toned down” compared to the one I regularly attended years ago as a youth ministry volunteer. There’s some Christian Rock songs, and teens are allowed to do the readings, but there’s no liturgical dancing, no hand motions, and no gathering around the altar. I think more priests today are putting their foot down, at least in my diocese and the neighboring dioceses.

  45. Orlando says:

    Mr. Allen is clueless. Prior to 2007 most Catholics raised in the aftermath of V2 even know the much about anything related to the TLM. If they knew about it , it was through anecdotes of older relatives usually limited to that the Mass was in Latin. As for it being widely available , give me a break. Post 2007, most Catholic now know of its existence , what was lost and very likely participate in a TLM without being treated as a sede

  46. Mike C says:

    Only one weekly TLM in the whole diocese before the Summorum Pontificum, still one weekly TLM after.

    But priests are less hostile, or at least they show less hostility against people attending the EF Mass. Some brave young priests can say the EF Mass without permission.

    There are some subtle changes, and I believe we can see the fruits in the future.

  47. hwriggles4 says:

    As far as the TLM, I believe the Fort Worth Diocese (I live in Texas) has given permission to establish a new parish in Northwest Fort Worth staffed by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Currently, the TLM is celebrated early Sunday evening at 5:00 p.m. at a parish south of downtown (one of the priests from Mater Dei, which is staffed by the FSSP does the Mass, and it is well done), but that downtown parish is in a seedy part of town, which is unsafe after dark. Mater Dei in Irving is not very far from much of the Fort Worth Diocese, so Mater Dei does attract good Catholics of all ages who live in the Fort Worth Diocese. Normally, I go to the parish where I am registered, which is centrally located and the Novus Ordo Masses are done reverently. I’ve also attended the Anglican Ordinariate parish in Houston and in Arlington. I have really been impressed with the Anglican Ordinariate, and if I lived in San Antonio, Our Lady of the Atonement would be my parish.

    By the way, as far as the encyclicals and documents written since 2002, what has become of Sacramentum Caritatas? There was much discussion about Sacramentum Caritatas when it came out – I may have spelled it wrong, but it’s on the Eucharist. I recall there are guidelines in Sacramentum Caritatas about purifying the vessels, guidelines for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (I recall that EMHC’s were not allowed to bless children, only the priest or deacon), and the proper way to receive Holy Communion. Personally, within the past ten years, I have quit receiving communion in the hand (something I did for years as a teen and young adult), because I didn’t find it to be reverent after learning more about the faith. That said, I’m led to believe that the document Sacramentum Caritatas has been forgotten by many Catholics.

  48. truthfinder says:

    Pre-SP in my ‘home’ diocese we had no EF masses (except for a rare SSPX mass that hilariously people didn’t realize was not strictly ‘legit.’ They swore up and down it was approved by Rome.) Post SP there was a low EF Mass offered one Saturday a month but even that seems to have a disappeared again.
    The diocese I currently live in apparently has a handful of EF masses and I attend the parish that has perhaps the most stable ef population. But for reasons which remain mind-boggling, we still cannot have an EF triduum at this parish – it’s always farmed out to some far out chapel which might be fine for people who have cars but not this poor student.
    The diocese in which I lived for a couple years – there I attended an FSSP parish and there seems to be more diocesan priests at least learning the EF Mass and while not necessarily offering it on their own, are definitely willing to help out at the occasional special High Mass as deacon and subdeacon.
    So, no, Mr. Allen has it wrong – people who wanted the EF did not have access before SP, we still have difficulties post-SP, but I feel like we might be seen as slightly less crazy when we talk about our attendance at such Masses with ‘regular’ diocesan priests.

  49. ThankyouB16 says:

    I do not trust John Allen. Period.

  50. knute says:

    Before Summorum Pontificum, I had no idea what the Traditional Latin Mass was, so I had no idea that I would desire it – a situation that I share with most of the people who attend the Extraordinary Form in my area. Which makes Mr. Allen’s comment all the more ludicrous.

    But to answer the question directly, while away at college, the nearest Traditional Latin Mass was about 45 minutes away, and I lived in a rather rural part of the state. Strangely though, when I moved back home to a major metro area, my commute to the nearest Traditional Latin Mass *increased* – the nearest one was probably about 75 minutes away, depending on traffic.

    Mr. Allen is probably living in an echo chamber, metaphorically speaking. Not unsurprising given the publication for which he writes.

  51. benedetta says:

    One would have to see some data in order to determine whether there is anything to this claim. However, the question is largely irrelevant as it is moot and entirely out of date. The real question at hand is, “Does everyone who desires the usus antiquior have regular access to it for their spiritual good as intended by SP, now, in real time?” If people from the anti old form of the Mass are so very confident in the veracity of this claim, then they would be happy to oblige us in some polling on the topic, right now.

    If comments here are any indicator, the answer to that question is “No.” Many who desire it, now, (which is the only question that matters) do not have access to it. That number, as I see it, and it seems lots here see it this way as well, has only grown since SP, and only continues to grow. That is the reason why increasingly seminarians are learning the ancient rite of the Mass. Would Mr. Allen claim that fewer want it now? That would be a ridiculous claim based on what is going on, worldwide.

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  53. pbb119 says:

    I have only been attending TLM for 4.5 years, but there is only one available and we drive an hour each way to attend. We will be traveling this summer and the closest TLM available will be 3 hours away. So I suppose if one is looking to add to their frequent flyer miles nest, or enjoy a lot of time in the passenger van with their super-sized Catholic families, Mr. Allen is completely correct in his statement of availability…

  54. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    It is disappointing to see Allen using stock phrases that imply that the Novus Ordo has anything to do with Vatican II.

  55. Manducat in the hat says:

    The closest old form of the Roman Rite was one hour away, at an SSPX parish. The closest non-SSPX Latin Mass was over four hours away. After SP, we have TLM 15 minutes away at a non-SSPX parish.

  56. chantgirl says:

    Before SP, I wonder how many seminarians had access to the Latin Mass?

    Before SP, I wonder how many children in Catholic schools had access to the Latin Mass?

    Before SP, this child of the 80s didn’t even realize the 62 Mass existed. If I had found the Latin Mass as a child, I would probably be in a convent right now. However, I now consider it my duty, my joy, and the purpose of my life to raise many children in the faith, assisting at the EF, and, God-willing, some of them may become priests or nuns. While I did not consciously desire the EF before SP because I didn’t know about it, after attending my first Latin Mass I felt that I had been plucked from illiteracy and shown how to read Shakespeare.

  57. Athelstan says:

    Most Catholics who wanted access to the older Mass already had it…

    With all due respect, stuff and nonsense. That was simply flat out untrue in my neck of the woods at the time (SW Florida). Two petitions with hundreds of signatures, deferentially submitted, and the bishop just ignored and ignored and ignored. Then finally, after repeated follow ups, responded with a buck-passing response. The nearest TLM was….two hours away. It took a new bishop, post-Summorum, to make any real change.

    Today, I think it is also true, though, that in most places in the U.S., the most dedicated have at least a regular TLM within a fairly reasonable distance. Of course, that is not much. Not all are on Sundays, and many are at less convenient times, in less than ideal circumstances. Unless you have a personal parish or something close to it (and there are no more than 60 such communities in the country at present, by my count), you simply can’t get the full panoply of traditional parish life, devotions, etc. It makes it hard to grow like it should. Fanatics will undertake great sacrifices, but it’s not reasonable to expect everyone to feel that way, especially if they have difficult personal circumstances.

    But no country (not even France, really, at least outside monastic life) is in as good a shape as the United States on this score, though. Summorum still remains a dead letter in many dioceses around the world. Unfortunately, Pope Francis seems determined to put a lot more muscle behind his initiative than Pope Benedict did behind the TLM. And the blunt fact is that he will find a lot more sympathetic bishops and clergy to execute any liberalization on these things than Benedict found with any sympathy for the traditional liturgy. And that’s a point that seems to elude John Allen – and he really ought to know better.

  58. Athelstan says:

    And there are hard numbers to confute John Allen’s assessment: In July 2007, there were barely 200 regular TLM’s in the United States, and a handful of personal parishes. Today, there are about 500 regular TLMs and growing, and, as I noted above, about five dozen parishes that qualify as personal parishes, quasi-parishes, or TLM dominated “hybrid” parishes, like St. Mary’s in Norwalk.

    Clearly, even with all the continuing opposition in the clergy, there was a lot of untapped demand in 2007. In some places, there is still significant untapped lay demand.

    There are other countries which could tell even more dramatic tales of growth post-2007 – like Poland, for example.

  59. Absit invidia says:

    Earth to John Allen, my community hadn’t seen the Latin mass since literally the 1960s. It was SP that our pastor reviewed to grant us the permission to have it scheduled for he first time in 5 decades. I’m tired of rhetorical armchair pundits acting like they alone hear the whisper of God and have their finger on the pulse of Catholics committed to the Extraordinary Form. John is dead wrong not only on how SP is being utilized by the laity and local parishes but on its Universal importance to the Church and the world.

  60. Can’t be true. I gave a copy of Summorum Pontificum to my parish priest the day it was released by Vis News. Again and again I brought it up. When the new bishop was installed I spoke to him personally and asked for it. Every time there is an ordination of new priests I attend and bring it up. When our pastor was moved to a new location and we got a new priest I brought it up. Then they changed the pastor again and I bring it up with the new pastor all the time.

    But to date, there is no Mass offered in the extraordinary form here.

    The only time I was ever able to attend the EF in my entire life was when I flew all the way back to the USA.

    Now our parish church is going to get torn down and we have to rebuild it to meed the earthquake code. I’m currently begging them to put back the alter rail, a normal confessional, and move the altar back to the wall. I’m not sure if anyone is listening to me but I’m sure saying it.

    In the end I do see a trend though. There are a lot of “catholics” who will abandon the Church the moment they are uncomfortable. Just look at what happened in Poland. Eventually people who want the EF might be the only ones left. Maybe that’s an exaggeration but I know that I’ve never stopped asking for the EF and all of us who want it aren’t going anywhere.

  61. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Perhaps I can qualify Mr. Allen’s statement, to make it true.

    [In some parts of the country, where hostility to the Church’s perennial teaching and modes of worship is an established fact] Most Catholics who wanted access to the older Mass already had it,[but it should be noted that many who didn’t want it then do want it now, and some who couldn’t want it (because they didn’t know of its existence, either because of their age or the agit-prop campaign of silence) do now.]

    Our confirmation class is expanding, because the children and their parents are coming from other parishes (even “conservative” ones) precisely because they want what the EF offers. It helps, admittedly, that our confirmation prep program isn’t 2 years long.

  62. Athelstan says:


    There are a lot of “catholics” who will abandon the Church the moment they are uncomfortable. Just look at what happened in Poland.

    There’s evidence now that the Mass walkout video which has gone viral was staged by Polish pro-abortion activists. Not to say there aren’t Polish Catholics who feel that way….but that video gives a misleading impression of how many there are, or how fanatical they are. At least so far.

    But your larger point about Catholics abandoning the faith is a valid one. And it’s been happening for decades now.

  63. cl00bie says:

    In the Diocese of Syracuse, I was told that all it took was a phone call to the chancery to receive the required indult. We had we had the TLM (it wasn’t called “extraordinary form” then) within 10 miles of us if we wished to attend. Few priests chose to exercise the indult and celebrate the TLM.

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