English Catholics Plead for Latin Mass

Copyright 1997 Telegraph Group Limited The Daily Telegraph July 22, 1997,

 Tuesday English Catholics Plead for Latin Mass

By Victoria Combe, Churches Correspondent


A PLEA to the Roman Catholic hierarchy to restore the Latin Mass has been made by a traditionalist society that claims that it could bring lapsed Catholics back to church. The Latin Mass Society, with 5,000 members, has urged every priest and bishop in England and Wales to stop “suppressing” the traditional liturgy according to the Tridentine Rite. According to the old rite, the priest celebrates Mass with his back to the congregation from the high altar. The society has sent a 25-page guide to the Latin Mass to 6,000 clergy along with a letter – copied to the Pope and all the cardinals of the Roman Congregations. The letter claims that the decline in Mass attendance can be partly blamed on the modern liturgy and failure to maintain the old rite. The society says that having half of the Masses read in Latin would help to “reverse the trend” of dwindling congregations. It says that the Roman Catholic population in 1965 at the end of the Second Vatican Council was between 4.5 million and five million, of whom about 2.3 million went to Mass. The new rite of Mass in the vernacular was introduced in 1969 and, since then, the nominal figure has been steady while Mass attendance has dropped to about 1.3 million. The society’s aim is to remind clergy of the legality of the old rite, which many Roman Catholics mistakenly believed was forbidden by the Second Vatican Council. “We are witnessing the inexorable decline of attendance at Mass,” said David Lloyd, secretary for the society. “One million lapsed Catholics are not coming and, although there are other reasons, the modern liturgy has a part to play in this.” He said that the society had spent pounds 4,000 on publishing the guide. The money was raised from the pounds 10 annual subscriptions. Mr Lloyd monitors the number of Latin Masses in England and Wales and will help to arrange services where there is a dearth. In Westminster diocese, Latin Mass is said in four churches, with the biggest attendance of about 120 at the Little Oratory, Knightsbridge, every Sunday. In Birmingham, there is one Latin Mass on Sunday at St Catherine of Siena Church and in Sheffield none. Sincerely, Barry L. Hardy barryhardy@juno.com Georgia State University School of Law, 2L