Tuesday, December 5, 2017


The liturgical abuse in the above videos is dramatic but how frequently is this kind of stuff experienced in most dioceses and rank and file parishes? I don't think too much.

The main problem with the parishes in the videos above is the "cult of the priest's personality" that allows him or others to be the star of the show and receive the applause of his people. They love him because he's like that. God  bless the pastor that follows him who does things by the book.

Yes, this Mass is a far cry from the 1962 Roman Missal. How and why did we get there?

1. There was a major shift in Catholic spirituality as a result of the spirit of Vatican II that led to the superficiality we see above and is quite common in many Catholics today. Reverence is quite different in the 1962 Roman Missal and the ones that followed after Vatican II.

2. There is a shift in ecclesiology where the personality of the actors of the Mass is so important. Reverence is quite different in the 1962 Roman Missal and the ones that followed after Vatican II.

3. Doing the red and reading the black are ridiculed and marginalized as too rigid and legalistic, if not scrupulous. Reverence is quite different in the 1962 Roman Missal and the ones that followed after Vatican II.

4. Priests are not held accountable when there is actual litrugical abuse such as evidenced in the video.  Reverence is quite different in the 1962 Roman Missal and the ones that followed after Vatican II.

5. Even in a Revised Mass celebrated as it is meant to be, the options and styles are so widespread and chaotic that this creates a shift in Catholic identity and waters it down.  Reverence is quite different in the 1962 Roman Missal and the ones that followed after Vatican II.

6. The erroneous view that the Latin Rite should not be tied to European Catholicism which organically developed over the course of centuries is a major culprit in the decline and fall of the Latin Rite Catholicism almost everywhere in the world leading to the diminishment of the Latin Rite's universal nature.  Thus someone like FrMJK can say that any type of chant and or hymns can be used in the Latin Rite Mass. But he forgets that Eastern Rite Chant, which is appropriate for the Eastern Rite is not appropriate for the Latin Rite and if an Eastern Rite Parish decided to start using Gregorian Chant and Polyphony, that Eastern Rite parish would lose its Eastern Rite identity through such a liturgical abuse for them.  Reverence is quite different in the 1962 Roman Missal and the ones that followed after Vatican II.

BOTTOM LINE: Reverence is quite different in the 1962 Roman Missal than the Missal that followed after Vatican II.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"The erroneous view that the Latin Rite should not be tied to European Catholicism which organically developed over the course of centuries is a major culprit in the decline and fall of the Latin Rite Catholicism almost everywhere in the world leading to the diminishment of the Latin Rite's universal nature."

I don't know how you can say on the one hand that the Latin Rite is tied to European Catholicism and, on the other hand, speak of the Latin's Rite's "universal" nature.

Is it European or is it universal?

If you buy into the false notion that God has destined the world to be reshaped into some pseudo-European model with European music styles, European vestment decorations, European architectural ethos, etc., then you might have a case.

Short of that, that which is of its nature European, cannot be universal. (Much to John Nolan's dismay.)

Having said that, I will never deny that the Latin Rite as we know it is tied to its European history. That's all well and good. But just as the United States is tied to its English origins, but is decidedly not English/British, so the Latin Rite can properly be understood as a product of but not a clone of it's European history.

Some erroneously maintain that our identity as a Church is European. Many non-Europeans would beg, rightly, to differ.

Gene said...

How common? OMG, how many times does someone use "ain't" or break wind in public? LOL! I would wager that it would be far easier to list the times some Priest gets it right.

TJM said...


I guess you're better than St. John XXIII who said in Veterum Sapientia, that "Latin is the language which joins the Church of day." He also insisted that seminarians be trained to speak Latin just as they would a vernacular language.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Your premise, FRMJK is simply wrong about universality. The Latin Rite of the Catholic Church is just one rite, albeit the largest. Ambrosian Catholics have their own chant tradition that is different than the Latin Rite, but it is as much a part of the Universal Church, Catholic, as is the Latin Rite. No one expects the Ambrosian Rite to have Gospel music, worship and praise or Protestant forms of chant, such as Anglican and Lutheran, both of which are beautiful in themselves.

The same is true of the Eastern Rites which are in union with Rome, their own liturgical and musical patrimony is as universal as Gregorian and the like of our pristine Latin Rite. Although Gregorian Chant in the Latin Rite is a part of the Universal Church, it would be a sin for the Latin rite to impose it on the Eastern Rite and for the Latin Rite to start using Eastern Rite chants.

If new rites are needed to accommodate the goals of inculturation, then so be it. It is not too much to ask that Latin Rite Catholics have a right to their Latin Rite culture and that protecting both our Latin Rite heritage of music, vestments, architecture and the like is not a sin against other cultures.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"If new rites are needed to accommodate the goals of inculturation, then so be it."

I suspect new Rites are not needed. The Council Fathers did not, it seems, envision the invention of new Rites, but adaptations of current Rites to new circumstances.

Inculturation is not, as some think, a dirty word. And it implies, necessarily, changes to the Rite.

The Latin Rite we have is a product of inculturation - it is imbued with the thought and culture, the music and the aesthetic sensibilities of the Greco-Roman world. Add to that the inculturation of the Rite that took place as the Church moved into and through the Dark and Middle Ages. Add to that the changes that came about as the Church moved from religious organization to politico-religious organization. Add to that the changes (inculturation) that began in the middle 1800's as the Industrial Revolution began to change the cultures whioch shaped and were shaped by the Church.

If the Latin Rite is universal, why are the trappings of the Rite - music, vesture, architecture, etc., - not universal?

I believe it IS the universal Rite and that, over time, it will become more and more so, leaving behind the historically and culturally conditioned accoutrements.

And this is not a bad thing. It is uncomfortable at times, but it is not a bad thing.

John Nolan said...

The Ambrosian is a Latin rite, although it is distinct from the Roman rite. The universality (in geographic terms) of the Catholic Church (as opposed to the Eastern Orthodox Churches) is a result of Western European expansionism and colonization in the second half of the second millennium.

Where western cultural hegemony made fewer inroads, so did the Catholic Church.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

No one can say that the Council Fathers foresaw Pope Paul's Concilium doing as they pleased and completely ignoring what the Council Fathers requested for the renewal of the 1962 Missal, a modest, sober and simple renewal, not a wholesale rewriting of it.

Read Sacrosanctum Consilium and weep over what was done to this splendid document.

But that's water under the bridge and its time now for the current Chruch's father, the bishops to come up with new rites and preserve our own Latin Rite heritage and patrimony.

Oh, it is happening, already, with the SSPX, FSSP and those of us who embrace the 1962 missal. So maybe we should be called the Latin rite and everyone else the Vatican II Rite.

Simple solution,no?

TJM said...


Please point out where ST. John XXIII is mistaken and you're not!


Since “every Church must assemble round the Roman Church,”8 and since the Supreme Pontiffs have “true episcopal power, ordinary and immediate, over each and every Church and each and every Pastor, as well as over the faithful”9 of every rite and language, it seems particularly desirable that the instrument of mutual communication be uniform and universal, especially between the Apostolic See and the Churches which use the same Latin rite.

When, therefore, the Roman Pontiffs wish to instruct the Catholic world, or when the Congregations of the Roman Curia handle matters or draw up decrees which concern the whole body of the faithful, they invariably make use of Latin, for this is a maternal voice acceptable to countless nations."

rcg said...

We use number systems universally and language systems have similar utility to ensure accuracy. It is foolish to reinvent a codex every time we change observers. Unless that is the object of the complaint.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

rcg - If by "number systems" you mean mathematics, then, yes, mathematics is, for humans, universal. We have good reasons to believe, but cannot be certain, that it is universal for all beings, if those non-humans are out there...

"When, therefore, the Roman Pontiffs wish to instruct the Catholic world, or when the Congregations of the Roman Curia handle matters or draw up decrees which concern the whole body of the faithful, they invariably make use of Latin, for this is a maternal voice acceptable to countless nations."

And promptly, because Latin is not a "maternal voice acceptable to countless nations," the instructions are translated into acceptable languages.

TJM said...

I was waiting for the "priest" in the top video to strip down to his g-string. What a loon

TJM said...

Kavanaugh, so nice to know you your views are superior to those of St. John XXIII. Did you flunk Latin?

Henry said...

It's a mistake to concentrate on extremes of liturgical abuse in the Novus Ordo, which (in my experience) are indeed fairly uncommon. The problems lie not in its abuse, but in the rite itself. And the decline of supernatural belief is a result of the destruction of supernatural liturgy.

However reverently or properly the Novus Ordo is celebrated in "say the black, do the red" fashion, it remains lacking in transcendence. What's lacking is not so much in the black, but in the red.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, Henry, i agree. A modest revision of the 1962 Missal as called by the Council Fathers would have kept the transcendence.

All that was needed was some vernacular, (such as the changing parts of the Mass, not the fixed parts) and perhaps a simplification of the prayers at the foot of the altar removing the duplication of the priest's part and the server's parts as well as the double Communion Rite. Nothing else needed to be changed except for the encouraging of the congregation to respond and sing the choir/server parts where possible as is being done today in so many EF parishes.

I am conflicted about the Propers being translated into vernaculars as these are truly the parts of the Mass where Gregorian Chant can and should be preserved in Latin.

But apart from any change, I think an EF Mass that allows the Epistle and Gospel in the vernacular along with the Collect and Prayer after Holy Communion would have sufficed and nothing else.

We've made lay ministries such as lector and Communion ministers into a sacrament and this in part, too as led to a diminution of reverence since no real training is mandated, casual street clothes are often used and the Catholic life of the ministers isn't even on the radar screen of those who the church seeks.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Decline in the belief in the supernatural has been a hallmark of 20th and 21st century Western thinking.

This decline has been happening across the religious spectrum. If it WERE a function of the switch from EF to NO then the change would be found only among Catholics.

But it is found across the board in people of faith.

The same is true of attendance. If the switch from EF to NO caused the drop in attendance, then why did this also happen in Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Presbyterian, etc., churches?

The answer is, the drop off in attendance and the diminishment of belief in the supernatural is NOT tied to changes Catholic made in the liturgy.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

FrMJK you simply don't have the credibility to make your comment since you have never attended as a priest, let alone celebrated an EF Mass. If you did, you will know that the spirituality, reverence and dignity of this form of the Mass is imbued in the congregants. They have been formed in reverence and it is palpable in the EF's celebration. i would suggest you attend more than one EF Mass, incognito if you wish, or in choir dress, to be able to make an informed comment on this subject.

rcg said...

Fr Kavanaugh, if you have never attended a Latin Mass, as a priest, you are invited to my parish in Dayton. You may stay in my home and I will arrange for meetings with our priest and servers to answer any questions you may have. If you will just investigate it with an open mind we will do what ever we can to answer your questions.

ByzRus said...

I don't understand how the priest can remove all his vestments during liturgy. Was the work finished, the sacrifice completed? Were the appropriate prayers said at the removal and when vesting again? The answer, of course not and the shame of it is that it does not seem to matter in the Novus Ordo. As for the jamboree in the second video, certainly all those standing where the priest stands are not instituted acolytes. Again, it doesn't seem to matter. The third video simply illustrates how silly things have become. You have the extraordinary form where everything matters then, you have the Novus Ordo where much doesn't matter. Says it all. To me, this is why attendance etc. has plumetted. I don't want to speak for others but, what real man who takes his vocation seriously would want to make a mockery out of that vocation by jumping around at the altar while leading his flock astray but instilling a false notion of what constitutes divine worship.

The Latin Church is clearly rooted in Europe and its culture. Inculturation, to a limited extent, is fine and acknowledges local custom and its contribution to the aggregate church but, local culture shouldn't replace the culture that provide organic development over a period of centuries.

John Nolan said...

It's not so much obvious and egregious liturgical abuses (which are usually well-planned and choreographed by people who know exactly what they're doing). What makes the average parish Mass in England, and I suspect also in North America, such a dispiriting experience is an accumulation of issues which are minor in themselves but which come together to create an atmosphere of soul-destroying mediocrity.

Firstly, lack of attention to detail. If the priest has simply thrown an alb and a polyester chasuble over casual clothes it is a) pretty obvious and b) indicates that he doesn't really care about what he's doing. The Novus Ordo rubrics are attenuated and descriptive rather than prescriptive but all too often are ignored or tweaked to suit the personality of the celebrant.

Secondly, the combination of the vernacular and versus populum makes the whole thing resemble a lecture with elements of dialogue added. If you're not being talked at, you're being eyeballed by the 'presider', sitting in his chair like some Buddha, while sundry members of the congregation talk at you.

Thirdly, the music is almost universally dire, to quote the leading Catholic composer, Sir James MacMillan. One doesn't expect to find a competent chant schola and polyphonic choir in every parish - this was never the case even before the Council - but there is good vernacular liturgical music out there which can be downloaded for free and is easy to sing. It doesn't even require accompaniment. Mass XVII (Advent and Lent) is a very easy Latin setting, and one shouldn't have to seek out an EF Mass to have the opportunity of singing it.

Anyone coming across a simple Low Mass with one server, celebrated in a side chapel, might well not understand a word of it (or even hear much of it) but he will be in no doubt that something serious is going on. A feature of the new Mass as it is usually performed is its total lack of transcendental impact.

TJM said...


You can continue to delude yourself if you like but when the Mass was in Latin in the glorious 1950s and early 60s, the Churches in the US were bursting at the seams on Sunday. Statistic support this. Vatican Disaster II was a twofer: the loons who implemented it destroyed the Liturgy and simultaneously stopped teaching the Faith. Protestants were self-conscious and jealous of the high attendance of Catholics at Sunday Mass. One protestant psychologist even penned a prophetic article in 1962 which appeared in either Life or Look Magazine: "Why Change the Catholic Church?" where he enumerated how far ahead the Catholic Church was because they didn't try to be the "Church of What's Happening Now!"

Stay in your little cocoon if that gets you through the day and night. I pity you

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I don't have to attend an EF mass in order to know that declines in the belief in the supernatural cut across all Christian denominations and 2) that declines in attendance at religious services cut across all Christian denominations.

If you can explain how changes in the Catholic liturgy brought about changes in the belief and attendance patterns of non-Catholics, I'll be happy to listen.

Henry said...

"This decline has been happening across the religious spectrum. If it WERE a function of the switch from EF to NO then the change would be found only among Catholics."

Arguably, the same decline has happened across the spectrum precisely because all--from mainline Protestants to Catholics--have suffered flat horizontal liturgy that did not sustain traditional Christian faith. This decline in belief and practice has NOT occurred among Catholics attending the EF, nor even among others like the minority of Anglo-Catholics that maintained traditional liturgy (only among those that followed Roman Catholics in adopting the Novus Ordo). So the argument that "we believe as we pray" is pretty compelling.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John I would agree with you. The sad thing is that those formed in many OF parishes with no actual liturgical abuse, simply mediocrity, casualness and mundane experiences, when these people experience High OF liturgy or an EF Mass, they don't understand the reverence and are awkward with it at best or they think reverence and being pious are pre Vatican II relics.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

Part of the problem with liturgical progressives, they keep lying to themselves and us. Case in point. In my territorial parish, they have a little combo up front singing at Mass, which gives the illusion, to the celebrant and the folks on or near the altar, that the "people" are singing this wretched drivel. From where I observe in the middle of the Church is that there is some participation in the first few pews but the further you go back into the body of the church towards the exits, people aren't even bothering to pick up the hymnal. Being generous, maybe 10% of the congregation is singing.

John Nolan said...


There are many reasons for the decline in religious observance. What is quite clear is that the Catholic culture which was a feature of the 1950s and earlier (and was particularly strong in Protestant countries) has gone. Vatican II and its most obvious consequence, the destruction of the liturgy which was an essential part of that shared culture, cannot be left out of the equation for ideological reasons, as Fr Kavanaugh insists on doing.

Marc said...

I agree with Kavanaugh that the changes to the Roman Rite were not the principle cause of the declining faith in the 20th century. Where I suspect we disagree is that I think the changing liturgy is a symptom of the cause of dwindling faith, which is false ecumenism, syncretism, and de facto universalism.

TJM said...

Father McDonald,

I thought you might enjoy seeing this link. The Institute of Christ the King has taken over a parish in Naples, Italy:

ByzRus said...

Fr. MJK said:

"The answer is, the drop off in attendance and the diminishment of belief in the supernatural is NOT tied to changes Catholic made in the liturgy."

I'm sorry, Father but, in part, they are inextricably tied together. There is no question that societal change influenced the western Church in a profound and negative way. But, during that same period and with the worst possible timing, the Church's soul vanished and with it, the spirituality that attracted and retained so many for so long. When I attend Divine Liturgy (the Eastern Catholic Churches have been affected by a different set of problems than the Latin Church - I won't go into that here given what is involved to describe these challenges) or, the Extraordinary Form, I see a spirituality, a reverence, a supplication and a level of respect that is unfamiliar to many in the Novus Ordo Church. I also see a spark, a fanned flame and a passion that is mostly lacking in NO parishes, particularly here in the Northeast. Both of these experiences are available as you know should one desire to confirm my assertion. Unfortunately, however, I cannot see your conclusion as fact. Apologies.

ByzRus said...

Fr. MJK said -

"If you can explain how changes in the Catholic liturgy brought about changes in the belief and attendance patterns of non-Catholics, I'll be happy to listen."

Apologies but, aside from Orthodox Christians where this is not a problem, I don't see why we would be concerned about those in Churches that lack sacraments/validity as well as apostolic succession.

rcg said...

Fr. Kavanaugh, concerning your hypothesis as to why all Christian denominations declined at the same time being due to societal changes; it seems that is flawed logic. Of course society had an upheaval. Those happen through out all of history. Our Church is here to aid us in meeting and surviving those disasters. It appears the crew of our ship shirked their duties and didn’t maintain the boat. The other denominations also may have faired better if we had presented a better example. As it is, we imitated their failure and are suffering the same fate.

Victor said...

Fr Kavanaugh makes the very common claim that it was the changes in society that caused the decline in the Church, not Vatican II or the new liturgy.
However, this position ignores one crucial point: the reason for calling the Council. One hears the word "pastoral" as a reason, but that is not the main one. There had been repeated calls for a few years particularly by conservatives to call a council to address the question of modernism that was still in the ranks of the Church, and growing. When the Council was finally called, its purpose was to make the Church more modern. And what was the hallmark of the modern world? It was the loss of relevance of God in the world. So here we have a pope calling a council to make the Church more modern when to be modern was to diminish God's relevance in the world. The new liturgy just followed this ideology, considering that the Novus Ordo turned its attention away from God to satiate the whims of man. The Novus Ordo is about man first, and man first is a feature of the modern world because God's existence is doubted.

It is important to note that the mainline Protestants generally followed the Catholics in humanising their liturgies. Using their decline to argue against a badly fabricated Catholic liturgy's effect on faith and church attendance is invalid. When you go to a Protestant communion service today in a Lutheran, Episcopalian (Anglican), or other such mainline church, to the untrained lay person there is very little difference between their communion liturgy and a Novus Ordo Mass, with or without the abuses. They fell into the same modernist trap.

Anonymous said...

"Orthodox Christians have one of the lowest rates of retention across Christian and non-Christian denominations.  Only 53% of adults who were raised in the Orthodox Church still identify themselves as Orthodox Christians.  Compare that to Hindus (80%), Jewish (75%), Mormon (64%) and Catholic (59%)." - PEW Research Center, May 28, 2015

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John Nolan - You insist on including the liturgical changes post-Vatican Two as causes for the decline in attendance for ideological reasons, so don't go calling the kettle black.

I've asked repeatedly here for evidence - not anecdotes, not illogical post hoc ergo propter hoc "reasoning" - that the changes led to/caused the decline. None has been offered.

"Well it's OBVIOUS" people respond. No, it's not - at all. "The cock crowed, the sun then rose. Therefore, the crowing cock caused the sun to rise." There is no evidence connecting the two.

"The mass was changed and attendance slumped, therefore the changes caused the slump." There is no evidence connecting the two.

Byz claims they are "inextricably" linked. Show me the evidence, and please don't repeat post hoc ergo propter hoc.

The PEW Research data is probably the best we have for religiosity in the United States. CARA does a very good job gathering evidence - not anecdotes - regarding Catholicism in the USA. Their data does not support the claims made here about the post Vatican Two changes leading to declines.

TJM said...

Kavanaugh is just a master alibi artist. I recall when the liturgical deforms were being forced on us fast and furious my parish priest told me in no uncertain terms that he thought it would result in a disaster because you don't change a liturgy which essentially had been untouched for centuries overnight. He was of the mind that the Ordinary should have remained in Latin and the Church should have slowly experimented with using the vernacular for the rest of the Mass, but retaining the Latin chants for the propers when the Mass was sung. My little parish priest had better sense than the so-called Princes of the Church

Anonymous said...

"In Russia and in all the other countries with a predominantly Orthodox population, in fact, religious practice everywhere is very low, in spite of the fact that almost all of the faithful keep sacred icons in their homes. In Russia, only 6 percent of the Orthodox go to church once a week, in Ukraine 12 percent, in Romania 21 percent, the European record."

"The observance of fasting during Lent and on other days also registers a divergence. In Russia this is practiced by 27 percent of the faithful."

"In Russia only 26 percent of the Orthodox say they are certain of God's existence."

All from PEW Research Center data.

TJM said...

Hey Kavanaugh, is "post hoc ergo propter hoc" the only Latin you ever learned? I suspect the Church didn't want any studies of the liturgical disaster they unleashed any more than they wanted any studies of the clergy homosexual sex scandals. Sad

Marc said...

I'm not sure what to make of the Anonymous commenter who is posting data about religious observance in Russia without any statements as to how it applies to this topic. But it is worth pointing out that Russia was under an oppressive anti-religious Communist dictatorship that resulted in the genocide of millions of people, many of them being martyrs for the Orthodox faith. Generations of children were programatically taught in state schools that God did not exist. And that regime collapsed only about 20 years ago.

Through that lens, the statistics demonstrating the reemergence of Orthodoxy in Russia is quite remarkable.

It is also worth pointing out that there is no "requirement" of weekly Church attendance in Orthodoxy as there is in Roman Catholicism. That may explain the divergence between adherence to Great Lent being markedly higher than weekly Church attendance. Considering the strictness of Great Lent in Orthodoxy, it is, again, remarkable that 27 percent of the faithful adhere to it.

As for the self-identification of adults as Orthodox, based on my own anecdotal evidence, I don't draw any meaning from such a statistic. For example, I know dozens of self-identified Catholics who do not attend Church or otherwise believe much of what Catholicism teaches. It is possible that the lower self-identification of adults with the Orthodoxy of their youth is a more definitive break from a religion that they do not believe anyway. In other words, perhaps it is a feature and not a bug that those who fall away do not insist on self-identifying with the religion that they no longer believe (as, in my experience, the vast majority of Roman Catholics do).

Anonymous said...

ByzRC said..."Apologies but, aside from Orthodox Christians where this (liturgy/decline) is not a problem,..."

If maintaining the liturgy unchanged keeps people in the church, and if Orthodox liturgies don't change, why the sharp declines in Orthodoxy in Russia and elsewhere?

TJM said...


Without any hard data to satisfy Father Snark, it is apparent to any practicing Catholic whose life has spanned both the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican Disaster II Church, that the overwhelming number of American Catholics no longer attend Sunday Mass, even though it is allegedly "new and improved." Most of these folks continue to identify as Catholic, but they are not Catholic in the meaningful sense of the term. They are "cultural" Catholics, yet they are not necessarily responsible for their lack of any real Catholic Faith. The Church in the US basically gave up on real religious instruction following Vatican Disaster II. I see it in my own family because I have younger siblings who grew up in that era. It's not that they are bad people, they simply do not know. When I mention a particular Catholic doctrine, like transubstantiation, they truly do not know what I am talking about. I cannot recall in my territorial parish where left-wing loonism has supplanted Catholicism, any priest in 30 years mention the Real Presence let alone the term transubstantiation.

ByzRus said...

Fr. MJK -
First, you'll note that I responded to you respectfully. Please, therefore, don't take an exasperated tone with me.

Second, I don’t know, and could be very wrong, that the statistics that you seek actually exist. PEW statistics, which I'm currently reviewing, seem to summarize attitudes or, lack thereof. What's not covered is how those attitudes arose, what went wrong when you went from such high attendance years ago to materially reduced attendance now. Practical difficulties aside, why was attending of such urgency then while now, 'X' percent are "too busy", 'Y' percent note that "personal priorities" replaced their obligation to attend, "Z" percent attribute their lack of attendance to nothing in particular and so on. What changed in terms of people’s priorities that attendance which used to have urgency is now a secondary “If I get there, I get there”?
The best I can offer is the following:

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger:
“Culture does not supersede liturgy, but rather points to the truth of the liturgy as inherently fruitful, spilling over naturally into the life of man, ordering culture precisely through its ordering of time and space. When understood to embrace all aspects of humanity, liturgy is properly seen also as pedagogy.”

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on the Liturgical Reformers Creating a ‘Fabrication, Banal Product’:
“The liturgical reform, in its concrete realization, has distanced itself even more from its origin. The result has not been a reanimation, but devastation. In place of the liturgy, fruit of a continual development, they have placed a fabricated liturgy. They have deserted a vital process of growth and becoming in order to substitute a fabrication.”

Commentary: It would seem to me that the aforementioned can be read in conjunction with statement 1 by Cardinal Ratzinger.

Pope Benedict XVI:
“I am convinced that the crisis in the Church that we are experiencing today is, to a large extent, due to the disintegration of the liturgy.”
Most Reverend Alexander Sample, archbishop of the Diocese of Portland, OR:“I am solidly convinced that an authentic and faithful renewal and reform of the sacred liturgy is not only part of the New Evangelization—it is essential to its fruitfulness……If we do not get the sacred liturgy right, I fear that we will just be spinning our wheels rather than getting the New Evangelization going in the right direction. If we are transformed by the sacred liturgy, then we, as believers, can help transform the culture.”
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka
“The Orthodox churches and churches of the east still carry on their liturgy in that mystical fashion. There is chanting, there is use of different languages which are not spoken languages, then there is more incense… an aura of otherness happens and after the reforms of the (Second Vatican) Council, sometimes not because of the reformers but because individual persons decided to take matters into their hands and did things rather superfluously, the Church had gradually lost that mystical element, the element of the hidden. And that’s why our people are finding our liturgy, our prayer life, boring.”

As indicated, the statistics that you seek are either unavailable or, I haven’t been able to find them. Regardless, I don’t have the time to pursue this further. Hopefully, the caliber of persons providing the above commentary is somewhat satisfactory for, if we are unable to rely on reflections from the Pope Emeritus, I’m not sure the conversation can continue. In any event, I suspect we will not see eye-to-eye on this topic so, perhaps it is best that we leave it here.

ByzRus said...

Anonymous -

Attached, please find more current statistics. In the former Soviet Satellite countries, the effects of 75 years of religious oppression are still being felt. That the Church survived to the extent that it did is almost miraculous. Since that time, Orthodox and Catholic churches have continued to be rebuilt, built and confiscated possessions have been returned. Seminaries, both Orthodox and Greek Catholic are full. All this aside, is there apathy, of course but, there is also growth where the Western Church is seeing loss.

Marc said...

Anonymous asks, "If maintaining the liturgy unchanged keeps people in the church, and if Orthodox liturgies don't change, why the sharp declines in Orthodoxy in Russia and elsewhere?"

Because, throughout the 20th century, millions of Orthodox Christians were murdered by their governments due to their Orthodox faith.

I hope that helps.

TJM said...

Marc - bingo! Hey when is the pope going to get more vocal about Muslims killing Christians?

Anonymous said...

I suspect that, every time the Mass is celebrated in TJM's parish, the words, "Behold the Lamb of God" and "This is my Body" and "This is my Blood" and "Let your Spirit come upon these gifts so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of Jesus" are spoken clearly.

If he has not heard mention of the Real Presence, then he might want to check his hearing aid batteries.

TJM said...

Anonymous at 4:21 (Kavanaugh) I guess this means you do not care to take the time to teach your congregation about the Real Presence or Transubstantiation. News flash: the Lutherans and Episcopals use these phrases or similar ones but they certainly do not mean what the Catholic Church means and since Vatican Disaster II most Catholics haven't received proper catechesis on this subject as to what these words means. Better to need hearing aids than being willfully blind to the truth like you.

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh,

When looking at cause and consequence, the evidence is the consequence. To take a historical example, at the end of the 16th century the Roman Church was in a better condition than it had been 50 years earlier. There is plenty of evidence for this. A case in point - the Council of Trent made provision for the better education of diocesan clergy; the evidence shows that by 1600 the clergy were better educated. Therefore it is reasonable to infer a causal link from the evidence. But the evidence is in the result, not in the link.

Attributing causes to known consequences is largely a matter of conjecture and judgement, since evidence tells us what happened, not why it happened. You won't find 'proof' that the liturgical changes contributed to the decline in Mass attendance, any more than there is 'proof' that any other factors did. One can observe that revolutionary change is likely to have measurable consequences and argue back from these consequences, but the only way to prove the point would be to wind the clock back, continue with the liturgy as it was in 1962, and see if the result would be different, which is of course an impossibility.

There is indeed evidence for a decline in religious observance in the second half of the 20th century. But as soon as you try to account for this decline, you enter the realm of conjecture, not proof. You may, of course, refuse to accept conjecture; but in that case you are left with any number of effects and no causes.

If it is your conjecture that the liturgical changes had absolutely no bearing on the decline in Mass attendance, you may be right, but like the person who maintains that they did, you cannot cite evidence to prove it. If you were to say that the new liturgy has resulted in an increase in Mass attendance, you would be speaking an untruth. You may, of course, conjecture that without the liturgical changes the decline would have been even more precipitous, and again you may be right, but there is no way you can test this conjecture.

Another way of looking at cause and effect is to start with a declared intention and to see to what extent it has been fulfilled. This is a useful hermeneutic when dealing with politics, but it can equally be applied to the Second Vatican Council. And it is worth remembering that unintended consequences litter the pages of history.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"When looking at cause and consequence, the evidence is the consequence."

No, not in terms of cause and effect it's not. This is simply a restatement of the"post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy.

What you offer is an hypothesis: "The mass was changed, attendance declined, therefore, the changes are the cause of the declines." You maintain, it seems to me, that the cause and effect relationship is obvious. I maintain that it is not.

Is it possible to test the hypothesis? To some degree, it is. PEW researchers ask why people are not participating. I suggest their answers can be trusted to be valid reasons.

"You may, of course, refuse to accept conjecture; but in that case you are left with any number of effects and no causes."

No. I accept conjecture for what it is. And it is not evidence or a cause and effect relationship. To be pedantic, Conjecture is, "an opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information."

TJM said...

Kavanaugh, you're no match for John Nolan. Epic fail.

John Nolan said...

Sorry, Fr K, you have once again missed the whole point. I'm not getting at you for having opinions with which I might disagree. I have left open the possibility that you may be right in your analysis.

I am not offering a hypothesis. I am simply taking the only evidence we have (the consequence) and speculating on the possible causes of it. What you accuse me of maintaining (that the cause and effect relationship is obvious) I have never maintained, since it is rarely that cause and effect, especially when looked at over a considerable lapse of time, can be proved to be linked.

As for 'incomplete information' there is no such thing as 'complete information' and this applies to theology as much as it does to history.

'When looking at cause and consequence, the evidence is the consequence.' This has nothing to do with the the logical fallacy 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' since it is not even beginning to suggest that certain effects have definable causes.

My reason for addressing you on this issue is not to maintain that my analysis is better than yours; it is just to ask you to examine the premises on which your statements are based, and to to desist from reiterating the same rather tired arguments which are based less upon what your interlocutor says, than upon what you think he has said.

There are those on this blog who are quick to impugn to you propositions and points of view which you have not in fact made. Perhaps you might return the compliment.

I would suggest that you read my post again, properly this time, and if after that there is anything you do not understand, feel free to ask.

Henry said...

When I see ill-equipped folks trying to debate logic with John Nolan, I'm reminded of the farmer's advice to his son headed to town on a Saturday night. "Remember to keep your mouth shut, lest they find out what a fool you are."

ByzRus said...

John -

If I'm understanding you correctly, it would seem that unless we can roll back the clock, relive and test history (particularly where that history is based on revolutionary change) based upon certain post-event criterion, we will never know definitively what contributed to a certain consequence. Evidence only takes us so far and from it we draw reasonable conclusions. In this instance, could either side of the argument be right? Possibly, however, the evidence itself might exert a greater gravitational pull in one particular direction which, it seems it might be doing here.

To compare the Christian East and West for purposes of this discussion is difficult. To me, we need to look at history to know that the set of circumstances in the East was quite different - almost incomparable to that of the west. The Great Schism, the fall of the Byzantine Empire, the Soviet era and its post-fall aftershocks required a level of survival and rebuilding unfamiliar to the West. While you could argue that the East is in decline, it would be unfair to not consider the aforementioned challenges and be amazed at the extent to which it has recovered and grown.

You bring up an interesting point, what would have happened if nothing changed liturgically? Would the church have stayed the same, been flat relative to population growth, grown or, shrunk due to societal change, apathy, stagnant population growth in traditional areas etc. We'll never know for sure but, I suspect that given the evidence of how things were, attendance would have either stayed the same or, grown in proportion with the increase in population. Conjecture at its best I suppose.

Last, if I am the interlocutor to which you are referring, please know that I am not a timid person and though I feel bad that I addressed Father as I did in my opinion, he ventured away from his vocation and into the arena of common man with both his tone and the obstinate nature of his responses.

rcg said...

To add my less than two cents to the subject: we are doing forensics on the damage the Church has endured since Vatican II. It seems that the magnitude of the change to the Liturgy and magnitude of the desertion of Catholics at the same time deserves investigation to determine that it was not the cause. The lack of interest in that specific investigation causes me to feel a very unscientific suspicion of those who refuse to at least look in to it.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - I understand your post. You state: "I am simply taking the only evidence we have (the consequence) and speculating on the possible causes of it.

I contend that consequences are not the "only" evidence we have. Further, I contend that consequences are not evidence of causality at all in this question.

We MAY be able to determine that A (action) caused B (consequence). But saying that since we have B (consequence), we can assume or determine that it was caused by A is the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

And now you have introduced another logical fallacy into the matter. "As for 'incomplete information' there is no such thing as 'complete information'..."

You take a legitimate argument - "We may not have enough information" - and turn it into "We can NEVER have enough information."

Using that misleading idea, no doctor would ever perform surgery since he/she cannot have "complete" information about the capacity of the patient to survive, no pilot would ever fly a play since he/she cannot have "complete" information about the airworthiness of the aircraft, and no one would ever get out of bed....

You offer the same tired argument in favor of the EF. It will get people back to church. It will help people learn their faith. It will drive Protestantism out of business. It will make the collections increase. It will shame bishops who have not been "generous" in applying the standards.

These are tired arguments and are not supported by - wait for it - the evidence.

And Byz, by disagreeing with you, even strongly, I am not venturing away from anything.

Marc said...

"You offer the same tired argument in favor of the EF. It will get people back to church. It will help people learn their faith. It will drive Protestantism out of business. It will make the collections increase. It will shame bishops who have not been 'generous' in applying the standards."

Well, I'll be darned. I actually agree with Kavanaugh.

If you were to take most Catholics and put them into the tradition Mass, they would certainly flee. I know this based on anecdotal evidence I received from the Catholics with whom I work who attended my son's funeral mass at our SSPX parish. I am comfortable saying that more people would leave the Church if there was a return to traditional liturgy than will leave as the Church continues the disintegration of the liturgy. At this point, having now lived life in an SSPX parish completely isolated from the Novus Ordo for nearly three years, it is clear to me that the gulf between the two positions is essentially irreconcilable.

TJM said...


Except if you were not willfully and contumaciously blind, you would see that the EF or the OF in Latin is attended mainly by younger people who have no recollection of the Church when it was a great international institution and did far more good for far more people than it does now. But you simply do not care. For you, ideology, not Faith, trumps everything. Your positions are bankrupt.

TJM said...


I respectfully disagree. The only part of the Church in the US that is growing are parishes which offer the EF or the OF in Latin, and, they have plenty of young families in the pews, a rather miraculous development. Go take a look at the New Liturgical Movement and you will see that is where the vitality is. As a spiritual force, the post-Vatican II, standard Novus Ordo parish, is dead. It is running on empty. My territorial parish is in a vibrant suburb with lots of young Catholic families but on Sunday the Church is not full, and the folks in attendance are mostly grey hairs. In contrast, the parishes nearby which offer the EF or OF in Latin, have lots of young people. It is the strident old lefties, clinging to their guitars and banners, who fail to see that what they promoted is failing. They are like the French aristocrats who didn't see the problem until they were entering the tumbrils on the way to the guillotine

ByzRus said...

Fr MJK -

I'm not trying to pick a fight with you. You have your opinion and I respect that. Would you please expand on the following:

"I contend that consequences are not the "only" evidence we have. Further, I contend that consequences are not evidence of causality at all in this question"

My question, from a solutions based perspective is, where do we go from here? It could be argued that the current model is not working while its predecessor was even if its final days during the 1950s and 1960s weren't the absolute perfection that we've glorified them to be in our minds. Aren't we as a communion obliged to try to understand what's gone wrong as opposed to taking a "nothing to see here - move along - no problem" type of stance? We obviously aren't able to relive the past based upon a separate set of criterion to see if the outcome is more favorable so, where do we go to get evidence, to quantify that the change in liturgy, the loss of the sacred, the mystery, the verticality, the rise of man and priest/presider might have played some part in the receding waters? I don't believe you are suggesting we do nothing but, what might the something be? As Abp Sample stated and to me, rightly so: "If we do not get the sacred liturgy right, I fear that we will just be spinning our wheels rather than getting the New Evangelization going in the right direction. If we are transformed by the sacred liturgy, then we, as believers, can help transform the culture.”

Last, I'm not sure I agree that the following should be discounted in entirety:

"You offer the same tired argument in favor of the EF. It will get people back to church. It will help people learn their faith. It will drive Protestantism out of business. It will make the collections increase. It will shame bishops who have not been "generous" in applying the standards."

To me, and probably in part due to my Eastern roots, liturgy is a tireless teacher. For those who seek out the good liturgy to which we are entitled, they will learn, their parishes will likely thrive and, perhaps, some bishops will have a change of heart and soften their view toward what is 'our inheritance'.

Marc said...

TJM, I don't doubt that TLM parishes will continue to grow and possibly supplant the Novus Ordo in an organic fashion. But I don't think it is within the realm of possibility that vast numbers of Novus Ordites will come around to tradition. Their faith will likely die with their children or within a couple generations, leaving only traditional Catholics.

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh,

I can dispose of one of your canards. I have never argued that the EF will get people back to church, or do any of the other things you mention, because it is a futile and unsustainable argument. How can you provide evidence for a hypothetical future scenario?

'The Mass was changed, attendance declined, therefore the changes are the cause of the decline.' Of course consequences are not evidence of causality - a schoolboy can tell you that. The whole point of my argument was to show why such a position is illogical. But it is equally illogical to argue categorically that there can be no causal link (A happened, and then B happened, but A cannot possibly have caused B, since 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' is a well-known logical fallacy). There's another Latin tag which you might care to take on board, viz. 'reductio ad absurdum'.

Nor did I say 'we can never have enough information'. In this day and age the danger is that we can have more information than we can reasonably handle. What I actually said was that we can only make inferences from the information at our disposal, and inferences are by their nature conjectural.

You also discount probability. A surgeon cannot be completely sure that his patient will survive the operation, any more than a pilot can be completely sure his aircraft will not fall out of the sky.

Anonymous said...

"The only part of the Church in the US that is growing are parishes which offer the EF or the OF in Latin..."


Atlanta Archdiocese Population

Year 1960 30,840 Catholics
Year 1998 292,300 Catholics
Year 2010 900,000 Catholics
Year 2016 1,200,000 Catholics

Now, one wonders just where Archbishop Gregory is hiding all those EF and OF in Latin parishes.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - I have never argued, I don't think, that the changes in the mass have nothing to do with the decline in attendance. When Fr. McDOnald has reported anecdotal evidence supporting the claim, I think I've taken it as true. But it is of no real consequence.

I have argued that there is no evidence of a causal relationship. Without evidence, I remain unconvinced, inferences and conjectures notwithstanding.

I have argued that there are multiple reasons, aside from changes in the mass, why people have stopped attending. None of them have to do with the language used in worship, the geographic orientation of the priest and/or congregation, the music, or other "churchy" matters.

Byz - If the assumption is that consequences ARE evidence of causality, then I reject the notion. Evidence has to be shown to show a causal connection. Many will recall when former Member of Congress Michele Bachmann jumped on the anti-vaxxer bandwagon when she reported that a mother had told her that her daughter suffered retardation as a result of receiving the HPV vaccine. Bachmann, without evidence, asserted that the consequence (retardation) was caused by the vaccine. That's a no-go.

TJM said...

Anonymous (Kavanaugh),

Thanks for the laughs. Of course, there are a lot of Catholics (whether real or nominal) in Atlanta because yankees have been fleeing the North for tax friendlier and more economically free locals for decades. That's why Texas now has a cardinal and Detroit no longer does!

The real question is how many of them go to Sunday Mass and kick in to the coffers. If you weren't so hard-headed and obstinate you would visit a Latin Mass parish and see for yourself, but I recognize that is a tall order for a "liberal" because it might burst your delusions. Sad

John Nolan said...

Fr K,

I believe you have argued that there is no link between the (revolutionary) changes in Catholic worship and the decline in those attending Catholic worship. You cannot provide evidence for this assertion, any more than I can provide evidence for my deduction that there is a link. Of course there are many more factors to be taken into account.

To make a forensic analogy - police at the scene of a murder will discover a lot of evidence as to what happened. They may link this evidence to a particular individual, but they cannot deduce from this what the individual's motive was. What was the reason or reasons for his action? This is the subject of a separate enquiry, and in the last resort they can only come up with at best a probable motive.

I have reason to believe that you have chosen to narrow the field of your enquiry (as the police often do, usually with unfortunate consequences) since you hold it as an article of faith that the new Mass must be better than the old. Ergo, although the evidence shows a drastic decline in Mass attendance in the last forty-odd years, it cannot be due to a factor which you have chosen, a priori, to exclude. I happen to believe that the old Rite is better than the new for a number of reasons, but would hesitate to claim this as a primary causal factor in the decline in Mass attendance as measured in 2017. Apart from anything else, those who shunned the changes would have done so two generations ago.

You are not the only one; even Benedict XVI could not bring himself to criticize the Council in which he was a peritus. Instead he identified a 'false hermeneutic' and talked about a 'Council of the media'. This is superficially attractive but in the long run fails to convince.