The following is a guest post by a friend and fellow blogger Kevin Tierney. Kevin posts regularly at Catholic Lane. Unam Sanctam Catholicam's has regularly promoted his excellent series of articles introducing Novus Ordo attendees to the Propers of the Extraordinary Form. We are grateful for this lovely post on the question of the Traditional Latin Mass and why calls for a "better tone" among online defenders of the TLM are meaningless.
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"I love the Latin Mass - but at the same time, how much preservation does it really need? It isn't as though it's going to disappear from the face of the earth."
This is an query sometimes posed by Catholics who are perhaps sympathetic to the Traditional Latin Mass but don't get what all the hubbub is about. It is a serious question and it deserves an explanation.
I don't think traditionalists are calling for the Latin Mass to be "preserved." In the worst case of trad fantasy booking, Francis could re-institute the 1984 Indult, and it would last only as long as he is breathing. The culture has changed. There was a time where it was an open question if the Latin Mass would go away. That time is long passed. The Latin Mass will definitely be "preserved."
But is the Latin Mass at least equal to the Novus Ordo? I think that's where the interesting question is. According to Vatican II, Ecclesia Dei and Summorum Pontificum (amongst many others) the answer is an unqualified yes. It is an approved form of worship within the Church, and like all of the liturgical life of the Church, it is worth cherishing and celebrating.
Does that sound like the way the Latin Mass is treated? The answer is an unqualified no. According to Robert Cardinal Sarah, Summorum Pontificum is not a reality within the dioceses of the world because a spirit of exclusion exists within Catholics who celebrate both forms. They weaponize the liturgy with hate and malice. Those are interesting words, but they don't convey the reality of why those words in Summorum Pontificum are often pious aspirations.
In several dioceses here in America, there is a de facto ban on advertising the availability of Latin Masses on websites, parish bulletins, etc. Other times there are countless hurdles being placed for celebrating the Latin Mass, including the bishop determining for himself whether or not someone is "competent" to celebrate it, something Ecclesia Dei has made clear is wrong. Saying the priest should tell the bishop to go screw while he appeals to Rome is nice in theory, but is probably going to make life quite difficult for the priest, and his congregation. In any such case, when priests have their visas revoked for saying that both the faithful trads and bishops need to be more accommodating towards each other, that is not faithful to the spirit of the Magesterium.
There is also the fact that individual traditionalists have to live up to a pretty ridiculous standard. They are not just ambassadors for themselves in all they do, but for the Latin Mass and all of Tradition as well. Any negative behavior can and will be attributed to the Latin Mass by popular bloggers, thinkers, and quite a few priests and bishops. When a random conservative Catholic blogger (both politically and religiously) is a jerk, nobody says that's because of the Novus Ordo. But with the Traditional Latin Mass it is another story. It is automatically assumed that the Latin Mass is the source of the divisive views, and that the Latin Mass contributes to a spiritually rotten subculture. That any one individual trad says "I don't do this!" doesn't make any difference. To say "such is life, deal with it", is true, but those outside the Latin Mass have the luxury of knowing that it will never be so with them.
So given those realities, should anyone be surprised that when I hear "the biggest barriers to expanding the Latin Mass are bitter internet commenters" I roll my eyes and view them completely out of touch? Yes, everyone needs to be nicer to each other, more understanding, and promote true reconciliation. But do you think that message of reconciliation is going to be very effective in parishes where a lot of this crap takes place? There's a cold reality: every trad could be a saint and a paragon of tolerance and acceptance, and the situation today would change only at the margins, if at all. Once basic obligations are being done, then maybe the call for better tone can be taken with a shred of credibility. Right now, it has zero credibility.