there has been a poll taken of French Catholics about their attachment to the Extraordinary Form. It is, to say the least, interesting, though one wonders how wide a field they used.
Question: If there were a Mass celebrated in Latin with Gregorian chant in its old form in a church near your home, or in your parish, how often would you attend it?
Every Saturday or Sunday:
3% of Catholics
19% of those who regularly practise.
At least once a month:
4% of Catholics
15% of those who regularly practise.
On Special occasions and great feasts:
37% of Catholic
9% of those who regularly practise.
37% of Catholics
28% of those who regularly practise.
2% of Catholics
2% of those who regularly practise.
Comments from Paix Liturgique.
1) These figures sweep away the soapbox rhetoric that says 'there is no liturgical problem in France': 'The Traditional Mass does not interest the Church of today'; These figures confirm the evidence of our own observation every Sunday over the last two years in churches of the diocese of Nanterre.
(a) In every parish there are very many faithful who, though generally content with the ordinary form of the liturgy, would prefer to sanctify themselves with the extraordinary form were it to be celebrated in their parishes.
(b) The immense majority of faithful attached to the traditional liturgy are not those whom one sees in the chapels served by the Ecclesia Dei communities or by the Fraternity of St Pius X: these faithful who love the traditional liturgy are principally still in their own parishes, and ask only one thing; that they can live again their faith according to the rhythms of the traditional liturgy in their OWN parishes. No, the Catholics attached to the extraordinary form are not merely 3%, but 20-25% of French Catholics.
2. As the Holy Father reminded us on the plane bringing him to France, the Motu Proprio was not for the benefit of a tiny minority of the faithful: this tiny group is 19% of the regularly practising Catholics—one in five. Now look at the 34% (those who are 'practising' in the current understanding of the term, which is to say who attend at least once a month). Here the figure is one in three. A small group, yes, but hardly beneath consideration!
3. This survey confirms what others have called the 'Rambouillet effect' or the 'Saint-Cloud effect', or, more recently, the 'Notre Dame du Travail effect' (from the church in the 14th Arrondisement) where, to everyone's surprise, it was noticed that among those attending the traditional rites in these new locations, were a large proportion of those who had until now been quietly attending the ordinary form, and who now have the opportunity of living their faith according the rhythms of the extraordinary, even if these have not been known to their parish priests (and especially what their liturgical preference was). So, when a Mass is moved from one place to another (to Saint-Cloud from Nanterre, to Notre-Dame du Travail from St Paul's Chapel, to the parish of St-Pierre-de-Montrouge and tomorrow perhaps St Francis Xavier (7th Arr.) from Notre Dame du Lys (15th), it is principally ordinary parishioners from that place who will turn up for the Mass, and not people who have simply moved location, as it had, mistakenly, been formerly believed.
4. The survey finds that the vast majority of the faithful who would love to assist at the traditional Mass, presently attend the liturgy in the ordinary form regularly and assiduously, and have done so in their own parishes for many years. These faithful are Mr & Mrs Joe Bloggs [Monsieur et Madame tout le monde]; they have enjoyed good relationships with their fellow parishioners for years, are well known to their parish priests and have engaged themselves in parochial activities just like anyone else.
So even if some journalists are scare-mongering and acting like scarecrows, for example the TV news broadcast on TF1, 6th October 2008, at 1pm, where it was explained to us that we should 'beware of those faithful attached to the extraordinary form', on the pretext that they 'stir up trouble, and are enemies of the Church and of Vatican II'. It must be said again that this argument does not stand up to reality.
The results of this scientific research are overwhelming for those who either want no traditional Mass at all, or who want it kept in a kind of 'Indian reservation', so we should not be surprised to find them taking refuge in misinformation and misrepresentation: 'he who wants to kill his dog says that it has rabies', as the proverb goes, or, as Voltaire said: 'Lie, lie; something will always stick!' Nothing very Christian about all this!
5. We have never contested the fact that the faithful attached to the traditional liturgy are in the minority right now, but is that sufficient reason to ignore them? Because they represent only 19-34% of currently practising Catholics, is it right not to satisfy their legitimate liturgical aspirations and not implement Pope Benedict XVI's Motu Proprio in the parish? After hearing these figures, more than ever applicable in the Diocese of Versailles, can we really regard the recent decision of Mgr Aumônier to refuse the pressing request of hundreds of faithful in the parish of Notre-Dame as being serious and credible?
6. When TF1 journalists stipulated in the broadcast already mentioned that traditionalists number between 2 and 3% of the faithful, they only took count of those who presently attend the churches and chapels that exclusively use the traditional rites (the churches and chapels of the Pius X Fraternity, and their friends, and those allied with Ecclesia Dei). In any analysis, this does not reflect the real aspirations and demand.
7. Only 28% 'never' want to attend a traditional Mass in their parish. Only a small group feel uninterested in the freedom granted by the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI. This is not necessarily hostility towards the the old form, but simply a lack of personal interest. And of course what will remain of this minority when they know more about the Motu Proprio?
8 Therefore it is not clear how, in the supposedly 18,000 French parishes, there have been only 60 new instances of the application of the Motu Proprio since its publication. According to Mgr Antoine Herouard of the French Episcopal Conference, this number corresponds roughly to the number of requests that were made. Doubtless he was overlooking the hundreds of requests that were either ignored or manipulated!
The reality is that these 60 new places of celebration are not commensurate with the real requests in the parishes which many bishops and parish priests continue to deny, or to dismiss on the grounds that 'there is no demand'. We repeat; in any place that a courageous priest decides to implement Summorum Pontificum, 20% of his parishioners will respond. The example of Laval is typical: the bishop had decided on his own authority to implement the Motu Proprio in a pretty church in the centre of town. From that time, 200 people have assisted at the Extraordinary form Mass every Sunday, and this in a parish where nobody had even requested it! Q.E.D.
9. We should specify finally that the results of this poll, coming after forty years of disdain and liturgical apartheid, during which it has been possible to say whatever one liked against the traditional liturgy, are truly exceptional. Despite 40 years of misinformation, the faithful remain attached to the traditional liturgy of the Church. Let us project ourselves forwards in time and ask ourselves: What will be the figures when the celebrations in the EF in parishes are multiplied, and when an even greater number of people will again know this liturgical form?
10. These results only encourage us in our work of communication and information; we must once more thank our Pope Benedict XVI again and again for his courageous act in favour of peace and unity. God grant that all Catholics listen and hear with kindness and intelligence.
P.S. This survey cost exactly €4000. Thanks to all who have helped with contributions. Cheques, payable to Paix Liturgique, can be sent Paix Liturgique, 3 Avenue Boileau, 78170 La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France.