The future of the Church (hint – NOT #Synod2018)

The demographics of the Church are on the move, at least in these USA.  We will, in the next few years, witness a dramatic drop in numbers of those who bother with the Church at all.  Everything will have to change.  Meanwhile, members of the Synod (“walking together”) are fooling around with the same old same old.

I have a strong feeling that, as things change and market forces work and the Marshall Plan set in motion in 2007 exerts itself, it shall come to pass that the traditional Roman Rite will take on such importance that it may become the predominant form in many places.

This won’t happen overnight or at the same pace in every place.   But I think it will happen.  Huge swaths of the Church are auto-demolishing or simply become another religion… if they haven’t already.  On the other hand, the numbers of those who are turning to Tradition are on the rise.

Fr. Cipolla has an interesting observation in a piece called: “This Evening I saw the Future of the Church: The Future is the Traditional Mass”

From Rorate:

So it is precisely while the Synod for Youth is meeting in Rome in quasi-secrecy that I saw the Future this evening. I was invited to sit in choir during a Traditional Solemn Mass in a parish church of my diocese. The celebrant, the pastor of the parish, the deacon and the sub-deacon were each young priests of the diocese. The Mass was celebrated with no frills, no excesses, no sign of aestheticism. The Feast was the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, instituted by Pius XI to celebrate the anniversary of the Council of Ephesus, at which Mary was proclaimed as Theotokos, the bearer of God, affirming the full divinity of the person of Christ. The music of the Mass was all Gregorian chant, Mass IX. The servers were all young men, some new to this, some quite practiced in serving this Mass. It was the worship of God in its purest form, in its traditional form, a form whose liturgical modesty and reticence invites prayer and therefore worship. The sacred ministers gave themselves over to their roles in the Mass in a naturally self-effacing way. They knew the proper tones for the various chants and sang them well. The sermon was intelligent and truly Catholic. These three men made worship possible by getting themselves out of the way and letting the rite speak for itself.

Many of the young priests in my diocese have learnt the Traditional Roman Mass, aka the Extraordinary Form. They love this Mass in a sober way without any hint of “high church” prancing or panting. They love Christ and his Church. They are loyal to the teaching of the Magisterium. They are priests who are at home in any situation and who enjoy each other’s company. They enjoy the company of both men and women in their parishes. The bureaucrats who run the Church do not know that these priests exist. And that is good. For while the bureaucrats are running around at synods and conferences and trying to put out noxious fires without the water of moral purity and therefore failing every time: these young priests, not only in my diocese, but in most dioceses through the Catholic world, are just learning once again how to worship and are discovering the beauty of worship, and they are teaching this to their flock. And they, and the Traditional Mass they love,— they are the Future of the Church.

He is dead right, of course.

Back in August, I posted a similar observation HERE.

Each August, seminarians of the diocese get together with bishop for a week or so.  They hang out together, meet with the bishop individually, hear talks, have some fun, pray together.  It was during one of these summers that I heard the bishop tell the men that he wanted them all to know how to say the older, traditional form of Mass when they are ordained.   He hasn’t forced or prodded of brought it up after that, at least in my hearing.  But, these guys know that he has their back and, as priests, will have their back in the parishes.  They are also men of their day, who are not ensorcelled by the aging-hippie cant of those halcyon days of Vatican II.  They’ve seen the “springtime” of destruction in the Church that has resulted.  They grew up with John Paul II and Benedict XVI.   They don’t think that, as I saw in a Tweet today, “Gift of Finest Wheat” is being sung by the choirs of heaven.

Anyway, these men, during their August gathering, organized on their own a Solemn Mass in the older rite.  The celebrant was 1 year ordained.  The deacons were newly ordained, a couple months.  A priest who was ordained 6 weeks was the MC.  There were a few bumps along the way, but I am unspeakably proud of what they accomplished.

I, the old guy, was entirely on the sideline.  They did it.

¿Hagan lío?

We’ve gotchyer “lío” right here.

In a way, my work is done here.

That doesn’t mean I am going to let up.

And speaking of lío, I saw at Messa in Latino, something about numbers of men who have entered traditional groups.

For 2018-19 some 136 men have entered traditional institutes or orders.



Institute of the Good Shepherd

Institute of Christ The King

Society of the Missionaries of Divine Mercy


And see this story on ordinations in France. HERE

Moreover, I strongly suspect that in US seminaries, most of the young men are open to Tradition if not actively delving into it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ¡Hagan lío!, Priests and Priesthood, Seminarians and Seminaries, The future and our choices and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. The Egyptian says:

    “Gift of Finest Wheat” is not being sung by the choirs of heaven.
    Boy is THAT a relief

    BTW the SSPX has almost HALF of the total, tells us something?? Maybe???

  2. ChesterFrank says:

    Yes, I can sense that the demographics will change too. I can see a not quite full church become quite empty in the very near future. If no one is present at Mass, is a Priest facing empty pews still facing the people? The Mass that prevails will be the one that gets those who peep into that empty church to stay.

  3. Ben Kenobi says:

    *Sigh*. This is like opening up a can of chili that you enjoy and finding that the salt content is over half of your daily ration.

    Sorry, Father. SSPX is not the future and will never be. [This is a good example of rash judgment. I didn’t say that SSPX is the future. Tradition is the future and the SSPX is one exponent of Tradition, and a strong one not to be ignored.] You simply can’t get from A to B that way. You might as well say that the future will be apart from Rome. [Again, that’s poorly thought through.] Plenty of folks have said that but not on our side. SSPX has the same choice that I had to make over a decade ago. Accept the authority of the pope or leave. So far they have not made their choice and that makes me very sad. The longer they drag things out the worse everyone will be.

    Those who made the choice to come over are rather disheartened to see others praising those who have not all the while not seeming to care about such unimportant trivialities. They also don’t have valid orders either, thanks to Archbishop Lefevbre’s disobedience while attempting to ordain.

    I expect that one day I’ll open this blog and see that you have decided to join them and then I will have to close this blog and never read it again. :( Please don’t ever do this, Father Z. Let’s keep praying that they make the right decision and rejoin Rome.

    [Give it some thought.]

  4. Rob83 says:

    Reaching the young will be rather critical in the years to come. This year’s confirmation prep group self-reported that most don’t go to Mass very often. But after questioning them about why, it seems to be more a problem of Mass not being a priority for the parents than it is the kids not wanting to go.

    They seem to be receptive, and I suspect also hungering for truth based on the very unexpected questions asked and the reactions to the answers given. Pray for a good harvest – we catechists get only 20 – 30 hours with them in any given year, but alarmingly even that small amount seems to be more time than they spend at Mass in a year or discussing the faith with their parents.

  5. LatinMan says:

    Careful. SSPX orders are unquestionable valid; even the severest critics of the Society have never questioned this.

  6. JustaSinner says:

    When, statistically, will all the hippies be expected to have departed?

  7. AlanLins says:

    I agree with Fr. Cipolla that the future of the Catholic Church lies in what was available in the past. I was fortunate to be able to take a trip to France in early May of 2017. We rented a car and drove north and west of Paris for about a week. We passed through many small towns. In each of the small towns, was a Catholic Church. From what we could tell, Mass was only being celebrated there 1 or 2 times per month. Everything I saw confirmed what I had heard about the Catholic faith in France…that it was dying. After we got home, a news item about a pilgrimage from Paris to Chartres popped up on my Facebook feed. Watching the video gives me great hope for the future of the Catholic Church. And that future lies in rediscovering the past. Whether one likes or dislikes the folks at Remnant TV, there seems to be sufficient evidence provided that something is going on. Perhaps it is the result of promptings of the Holy Spirit, perhaps young people are discovering something that speaks to them, perhaps it is something else. I do not know. I hope you and your readers find this youtube video useful.

    Thank you for your continued work on this blog and your work for the TLM Society.

  8. Anon Seminarian says:

    “BTW the SSPX has almost HALF of the total, tells us something?? Maybe???”

    It tells us that the SSPX have over twice as many locations as the FSSP, at least in the United States. Statistically it doesn’t tell us anything about whether they are doing something “better” than any of the other societies, if that is what you are implying. I have also heard – though perhaps apocryphally – that the SSPX standards for seminary admissions are not as stringent as the FSSP.

  9. The Egyptian says:

    dear AS
    tells me that unabashed traditionalism sells, the SSPX has made no “bargain” to be allowed to do tradition, they are. Yes they are bullheaded, stubborn and do their own thing, much to the irritation of the modernist, popular church, but they are apologetically CATHOLIC, no compromises

  10. Henry Edwards says:

    From a recent Liturgy Guy post (here):

    “This past year, I have been doing a National Study on the TLM only parishes in the USA. Currently, there are around 70 of these but they are exploding in numbers with each passing year because the TLM priestly vocations are outpacing Novus Ordo priestly vocations by more than 7 to 1. My preliminary numbers are exceeding my initial expectations.

    “There is a huge wave transforming the Catholic landscape and it is largely being ignored by the Catholic leadership. I can now say what I suspected last year. The Novus Ordo is dying and it will be replaced by the Vetus Ordo sooner than anyone had foreseen, but certainly by 2050 the TLM will be the dominant liturgical practice once again.” (bf emphasis added)

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  11. Imrahil says:

    Dear Ben Kenobi,

    and then I will have to close this blog and never read it again

    Even assuming what you said was all true (and much wasn’t), why would you “have to” not read a blog just because you disagree (in the hypothetical case) with an important decision made by the blogger?

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Dear The Egyptian,

    Sadly, the SSPX has made compromises, but on the right side of the spectrum. First of all, the order was founded because of an act of disobedience from the founder. While a great saint like Padre Pio endured years of unfair persecution from his own order, the founder of the SSPX went against St. John Paul II and ordained four bishops instead of the allowed two. Obedience is one of the greatest virtues and a sign of a saint. Second, the order is now teaching error. For example, in the chapels from the tip of Scotland down to the green lands of Kent in Great Britain, the SSPX priests are teaching that to attend the NO is a mortal sin, and also, that if one cannot get to a TLM , one does not have to go to Mass on Sunday. I now many people who, therefore, disobey God’s commandment of attending Mass on Sunday on purpose. These priests will have to answer to God for this error. Both of these opinions on the part of the order are serious errors. Third, the priests will not cooperate with the Pope’s overtures to conduct true marriages in the way set up by the Pope in April of 2017–a magnificent overture on the part of Rome, as is the acceptance of the validity of SSPX confessions. However, the priests are not cooperating with the wedding rules.

    A spirit of rebellion began the order and had entrenched itself in the order. If one attends Mass regularly with the SSPX here, one will become less and less inclined to love the Church…a sign of a schismatic group.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    Clarification, by “right” I do not mean correct, but right as in conservative and not left as in liberal. The SSPX are obviously not correct.

  14. The Egyptian says:

    dear supertradmom
    I do not attend a SSPX chapel there is none anywhere near me, however, some of the “catholic” masses I have attended were almost not “catholic”, I am so tired of Fr Friendly doing a show instead of preforming the sacrifice of the mass that to go is almost a sin because of the internal grumbling I am doing, and that does not include our jerk of a deacon.
    But on eagles wings I go to my parish to be offended on a regular basis
    say the black, do the red, PLEASE

  15. Pingback: #Synod2018 concerns in a couple of sharp sentences. Then Fr. Z rants. | Fr. Z's Blog

  16. Thorfinn says:

    The FSSPX has 65 new seminarians vs. 637 current priests.
    The FSSP has 39 new seminarians vs. 287 current priests.
    The ICRSS has 22 new seminarians vs. 114 current priests.
    (“Current” is the most recent I could quickly find.)

    The total numbers for the SSPX are higher. One could say the percent growth rate for the FSSP is higher, and ICRSS the highest of the three. Many factors impact growth of vocations, from number of parishes/chapels to number of congregants to length of established congregations — the sons of today’s young parents may discern a priestly vocation 15 or 20 or 30 years from now. But wonderful news all around.

  17. Johann says:

    This might sound a bit rude, but it’s time for all the tired old hippies in the Vatican, who came of age in the 1960’s and 70’s, to retire and make way for the younger generation who are interested in promoting the Gospel as opposed to watering it down.

  18. Il Ratzingeriano says:

    What is the basis for the claim that “TLM priestly vocations are outpacing Novus Ordo priestly vocations by more than 7 to 1”? I wish it were true but I have a hard time believing that it is.

  19. Thorfinn says:

    Il Ratzingeriano asks, “What is the basis for the claim that “TLM priestly vocations are outpacing Novus Ordo priestly vocations by more than 7 to 1”?”

    This was reported by Fr. Kloster on Liturgy Guy’s blog. My assumption is that this is a rate – that TLM-only parishes are producing vocations at a rate 7x that of non-TLM parishes, either on a per-parish or per-congregant basis. Of course they are starting from a small base. It’s difficult to measure objectively, but we see that (non-TLM-only) parishes locally have a higher vocations rate to the extent they embrace tradition, sometimes via the TLM, or traditional devotions, orthodox teaching, and so on.

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