'SINCE the Second Vatican Council in 1962, the Roman Catholic church has striven to adapt to the modern world. But in the West—where many hoped a contemporary message would go down best—believers have left in droves. Sunday mass attendance in England and Wales has fallen by half from the 1.8m recorded in 1960; the average age of parishioners has risen from 37 in 1980 to 52 now. In America attendance has declined by over a third since 1960. Less than 5% of French Catholics attend regularly, and only 15% in Italy. Yet as the mainstream wanes, traditionalists wax.'
As a regular reader of the Economist I'm used to the strange, jaunty style in which they write everything (they love words like 'canny'), and the oddly casual attitude to facts - a statistic here, an anecdote there, and hey, readers can now take a view on a vast and complex subject when it comes up at a cocktail party. But it is essentially a very positive article, and it was pleasing that they went to the Una Voce Federation and the Latin Mass Society for information. (And yes, we did NOT tell them the LMS has more than 5,000 members. Sheesh.)
I like the quote from Fr Timothy Radcliffe in the final paragraph.
'The return of the old rite causes quiet consternation among more modernist Catholics. Timothy Radcliffe, once head of Britain’s Dominicans, sees in it “a sort of ‘Brideshead Revisited’ nostalgia”. The traditionalist revival, he thinks, is a reaction against the “trendy liberalism” of his generation. Some swings of pendulums may be inevitable. But for a church hierarchy in Western countries beset by scandal and decline, the rise of a traditionalist avant-garde is unsettling. Is it merely an outcrop of eccentricity, or a sign that the church took a wrong turn 50 years ago?'
|Solemn Dominican Rite Mass in the Oxford Blackfriars, for the LMS Pilgrimage|