Wednesday 8 October 2008

Interesting statistics from France

According to a French e-newsletter I subscribe to, Paix Liturgique, 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. 

(My translation)
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.

No opinion:
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.


Anonymous said...

That was interesting - a site I have not come across before. It appears that for those with the internet it is possible to find out the whereabouts of the EF but those without are left in the dark.

Having spent many weekends in Paris over the past years I usually attended Mass in Notre-Dame or other churches near to where I happened to be on a Sunday.
It never occurred to me to ask if there was a Tridentine Mass anywhere although I knew about the church of St Nicolas -du -Chardonnet and although it was next door to one of the places I found myself,I was not tempted to attend (actually yes I was tempted but managed to resist!) It rings some splendid bells on Saturday evening as the congregation pour in!

A couple of years ago a chance comment I made to a Parisian friend led to my finding out that there is a regular EF Mass every Sunday in Ste Odile near the Porte de Champerret - and I never knew before then. I certainly never saw any notices about this particular Mass and I did not dare ask a priest!

Can you recommend any good French blogs similar to your own, Fr Ray or Fr Z please? The only one I have managed to find seems to have finished. I am familiar with 'Pelerin' and 'La Croix' but would be interested to read a French parish blog occasionally.

Pastor in Monte said...

Our correspondent in Paris makes a few suggestions:

This is a good place to start -

It's a forum, rather than a one man show, and since it's a forum, frequented by Frenchmen, it can turn into a bit of a monkey fight from time to time. However, it is often very informative, and some genuinely intelligent, interesting people contribute.

There is a link to some blogs somewhere on the page, but I don't read them, so can't offer any guidance. Fisheaters, which is in English, is written by a Frenchman, and I think he has another blog, so that may be worth a read as Fisheaters is excellent.

There are of course many more Masses than at St Odile, now. There's St Eugene, not too far from the Opera, which has a high Mass with choir, there's St Germain, where I go, which has an excellent chant choir if you like Solesmes waftiness (which I do), [though sermons and rubrics lack something], and there are all sorts of others which your pilgrim will find announced on the forum, and referenced on Wikimessa.

Actually, come to think of it, there are three other bloggers, all from the IBP - Fr Laguerie (updated about once a month, often but not always interesting), Fr Tanouarn, and Fr Aulangier. You will find reference to those on the IBP website

Jane said...


Thanks for this. I'm English and live in France profonde. I have the Paix Liturgique and Una newsletter (from whom I received the poll results today). Also They all seem to be connected and mutually supportive. I do not lose touch with Eng and Wales and am an active longstanding member of LMS. Coming to London in Nov. for the annual Requiem for deceased members.

My blog is 'Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism'. I posted the Paix Liturgique poll results in full today. Please take a look. You're obviously Francophone and care about our situation here and I think you might be interested to read the perspective of one who lives here. There are several posts about the French media reaction to the recent visit of his Holiness and particularly the contrast between the coverage of the French kto tv (run by the French bishops' conference) and the rather more objective coverage offered by Le Figaro.

The above is only one feature of my blog, another paramount one is support for our Holy Father through prayer-based apostolic action. On the eve of Our Lady of the Rosary I sent him a spiritual bouquet. (This is to be the first of many I hope to send each month, the next one due to go to him on the eve of All Saints.) Contributions come from myself, husband, readers and a group of blogs who are independent but united on the internet under the title 'Pro Papa League. You can link to them on my blog list.

The League has a Chaplain who is a traditional priest, resident in the UK but who for evident reasons wishes to remain anon. He offers Masses and prayers for the Holy Father and for the intentions of the individual members of the League.

Our Hon. web retreat Master is Fr. Mark Kirby of Vultus Christi. We have adopted him as such and he has accepted, posting on my blog today with news of events in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I hope you will visit and perhaps join the Leaugue with your blog or at least contribute to the All Saints Bouquet.

PELERIN: I think we've met before, possibly on Fr Finigan's. However. tomorrrow I'll be putting up a post on how Paix Liturgique works, it's actually more accessible than you think, and will also include links to other trad. French blogs and sites. Hope you too will consider contribution to the All Saints Bouquet for Pope Benedict.

With assurance of prayers for you both,

In Christo pro Papa,

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Father for your detailed reply - I never thought of the IBP which seems obvious now. I shall certainly investigate further here.

I have found in the past that 'events' such as the bringing of the relics of Ste Therese to the Salpetriere and one of Padre Pio's hand cloths being put on view for veneration
another year there,
are usually put on the noticeboards in the Rue du Bac chapel. Mass times in the area are also given here and as I usually try to attend one Mass here over a weekend stay the noticeboard is a must.

I was interested to learn of what you call the 'Solemnes waftiness' at St Germain ( des Pres or l'Auxerrois ?) I have never been to Solemnes but would love to hear a choir of this nature so thank you most sincerely for your information. There are so many magnificent churches in Paris on the Diocesan website - I only discovered N-D de Lorette by mistake last year with its fantastic ceiling. I had been told there was an EF at St Georges but the person who told me did not know where the church was! I got out of the Metro at St-Georges and asked around and nobody had heard of it - but I did find N-D de Lorette. I have since learnt that St Georges is further north but no longer has an EF.

I shall have a look at the forum too though I fear this may be too complicated for my non technical brain - I am still trying to work out how to put the odd comment on other Blogs - yours is one of the few I have mastered!

Jane said...


Thank you for your comment on my blog. I hope to acknowledge it more fully in a post later today. I will direct people to your site and to the translation of the Paix Liturgique interpretation. Thanks for saving me the work!

Neither Mark nor I were being really serious about a poll in England and I'd already mentioned the Merton expense as being preferable for the LMS. And actually the LMS has all the information it needs to form a fairly true picture of the last 40 years - and that picture is in the heads of its members who've followed it all these years.

Your reading of the French situation and the difference between it and the UK one is in exact accord with my own, except that unfortunately for us, we are nowhere near the pockets of tradition to which you refer.

Very grateful for your visit and I do hope you'll drop in again.

With repeated thanks,