Monday, 7 May 2012

Summorum Pontificum: A dead letter in Australia?** updated

Someone commented yesterday, that the TLM communities in some places in Australia are growing strongly.  I have to say I'm sceptical about that.

Accordingly, I'd like to offer a chance for people in communities across Australia to tell us all about what is happening in your town or city. 

And to explain to my broader readership just why the growth of the TLM would be a good thing anyway.

Taking stock

Here is the thing.

Yes, it is beautiful liturgy.  In theory it should foster a more general orthodoxy and orthopraxis.

All too often though, TLM communities seem, like any fringe movement, to be susceptible to turning inward and being captured by an extremist fringe; and some individuals in such communities seem more intent on subverting the good initiatives of others than mutual support.  Some priests and communities seem to be doing good things on the surface, but when you scratch that surface...

So, does the EF really foster holiness?

As we are once more coming up to the anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, it seems a good time to think about how much impact, directly and indirectly, the Pope's more generous permission for the TLM has had in Australia.

Expectations and reality?

When, back in 2007, the Pope removed requirements for a bishop's permission to say the older form of the Mass, the expectation was that the newly renamed ‘Extraordinary Form’ would spread widely.

The reality, as far as I can see, has been rather different.

The Pope’s more generous permission for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass has, it is true, allowed a number of priests to occasionally say the EF in their parishes.   Hard to get a sense of how widespread this is though.

There have been a few major event Masses (as there were pre-SP) in a number of dioceses.

But equally, more than a few priests and bishops in this country continue to strongly oppose and obstruct the spread of the Extraordinary Form; more than a few continue to reject the legitimate requests of groups wanting the Traditional Latin Mass as an option.

As a result, for every new Extraordinary Form community that has been established, often with considerable effort (and there is really only one as far as I know, in Wangaratta), one has disappeared (read Newcastle, victim of newly appointed Bishop Wright’s opposition).

And many of the communities previously operating under unreasonable restrictions on the number of public masses that can be said (such as Hobart, restricted to once a month, and Brisbane, once a week) still seem to be prevented from expanding (though in the later case, regime change will shortly fix this one would hope!).

Has the EF spread/numbers grown?

Here are some of the questions I'd love to see people contribute answers to in the comments box or via email:
  • is there a (non-SSPX) TLM in your area?
  • do you attend it or not - if not, why not?
  • how many people on average attend your EF Mass?
  • if your EF community is longstanding, has it grown over the last few years?
  • if is new, what problems did you have getting it going?
  • do you know of requests for the EF that have been knocked back?
  • how many visitors does your Mass get?  What strategies does your community have to encourage other catholics to experience the EF?
So, tell us about your EF.  How often is it said?  What sort of parish activities are there around it?  How many attend?  Do you have a choir?  Whatever else may be relevant...


On the bright side, some good priests continue their good missionary efforts!

Please pray especially today for Fr Terence Mary Naughtin OFM Conv, whose anniversary of ordination it is today.

Fr Terence is, with the permission of his order, currently living in country Victoria caring driving from there to Tallarook (Archdioceses of Melbourne) on a Sunday morning to say a 10 30am mass.  He then heads back to Wangaratta and says mass there at 5pm.  That makes a round trip of  about 430k!

He plans soon to head for Castelhill each Saturday (via plane from Albury) then drive to Wangaratta for the mass at 5pm. More news anon!

Please keep this intention in your prayers.

**I've corrected the information in this section, apologies!

Comments please....

Please do send in your comments.  Moderation may be slow over the next few days however as I will have little or no access to a computer, but they will appear eventually!


Father K said...

The EF communities in the Diocese of Wagga Wagga are flourishing and growing; with absolutely no restrictions, but rather encouragement from our good Bishop, Gerard Hanna!

Kate Edwards said...

That is good to hear Fr K!

How many regularly attend?

Salvatore said...

Well, to answer your questions:
1 In my city, yes. But in the suburbs, not in the centre where it would be easily accessible.
2 No. There are a variety of reasons for this, access (see above) being one.
3 50-80
4 No. Friends have reported that attendance is declining.
5 Not Applicable
6 Unknown.
7 I don’t know about visitors. Apart from an elaborate website there’s not (so far as I know) a whole lot of pastoral outreach.

Steve said...

Things are looking up in for the EF Community in Melbourne. I don't know the actual numbers, but my observations suggest they are growing. Archbishop Hart has given us a patron (Bl. John Henry Newman), incardinated a new priest into the diocese (Fr Colin Marshall) and, in response to a petition from the lay faithful, allowed a weekly EF Low mass to be said in St Patrick's Cathedral.

On top of this, the priests from the community say regular (if not frequent) EF Mass in a couple of other parishes both Archdiocese of Melbourne and Diocese of Sale.

On top of this, Fr Tattersal has recently (as in, Saturday just past) added a Saturday night Vigil Mass in the OF to the communities schedule. This is a sung Mass, incense, ad orientem, in Latin etc. etc. designed specifically as a an example of what the NO Mass should be like, and also as a "bridge" for those people who may have difficulty transtioning straight from the OF to EF.

Richard Collins said...

Just a perspective from the UK. There is absolutely no truth here in your statement that, where a traditional Mass takes hold those attending become inwarding looking and extremist, it is quite the reverse.
I find it surprising that this is the case in Australia.

A. Reeves said...

Without professing to understand why, I have to say that the overall attendance at Melbourne's archdiocesan EF Masses has markedly declined over the past six years.

Now some of this could be the result of more EF Masses being made available. But in 2007 lots of people were full of optimistic predictions about congregational numbers increasing after SP. For whatever reason, this simply has not occurred in Melbourne.

What the Victorian SSPX Masses' attendance figures are, I do not know for certain. I have heard, however, on the grapevine that congregations at the SSPX chapel in the Melbourne suburb of Hampton have shrunk, even if those at the SSPX chapel in rural Tynong have remained constant in size or slightly increased.

Aphrahat said...

Lewisham in the Sydney Archdiocese is expanding although, we are beginning to outgrow our chapel with many people beginning to crowd around the back of the church on Sundays and feasts. Some have suggested reducing the large area covered by the chior stalls (it was built for a monastic community) but perhaps it is time that a growing parish was given a bigger Church. The only other problem is that Mass is not offered on every weekday with Mondays and Wednesdays going without a Mass.

In the Sydney Archdiocese I can only think of two other parishes (there could be more) that have at least one Latin Mass a week.

There is also the issue of certain priests in high positions in the diocese, like a certain rector of a certain seminary, who seem to bear an irrational disdain for anything remotely traditional, which is rather unfortutanate and seem to be intent on stifling its growth in anyway possible.

Mac said...

The fact that the EF Form of Mass is available anywhere is a miracle. I always reason from an old quote {Chesterton ?); "Men go mad in herds, but only come to their senses slowly and one at a time."
It will take a generation at least to heal the wounds of the last two.
If I'm reading the latest on the Irish Priest's meeting correctly we'll probably have to live through a Martin Luther moment and all that entails before we can really start to see the Church rebuild.

A Canberra Observer said...

Re Aphrahat's comment on, presumably removing, choir stalls @ Lewisham. I would be very surprised if this could occur - what I understand is that the StVdeP own that Chapel - formerly of the nuns who ran Lewisham Hospital. The FSSP are there 'ad usam' so to speak. I would doubt very much that any such significant change (and there is an argument that that would ba a wreckovation) would be allowed.
That chapel was never designed to be a 'parish' church.
Sad news about the rector.

Father K said...

Flying back and forth from Albury to Castlehill is just plain ridiculous - are there no priests in Parramatta or Sydney that could say that Mass? This is something the SSPX do -fly around all over the place - no-one is indispensible

Kate Edwards said...

The dependence of many EF communities on but a few hard stretched priests clearly is still a major problem.

Wangaratta, Rockhampton and more than a few others remain totally reliant on priests who drive very long idstances indeed. And in NZ, the illness of the Auckland priest has put in jeopardy a longstanding Mass and pereptual adoration there.

This is still a fringe movement in most places...

Michael G said...

I have attended the Extraordinary form in Wangaratta on a couple of occasions. The first few was when the Mass was said in the convent chapel attached to the nursing home. The priest (who's name I can't remember) took an extraordinarily (pun intended) time to say Mass. Recently the young man who organises the Mass for the Parish requested and was granted approval to move from the convent chapel to the main parish Church! In speaking with him he indicated that the
move from the chapel to the Church was timed with the arrival of Fr. Terence Mary but also that they had established themselves 'politically' within the Parish and he had also become a member of the Parish Council with outstanding results.
In speaking with him he said that the advancement of the old Mass is totally up to the people. He's right too. This does need to come from the people and hard work is needed from us. From my point of view Wangaratta is a blue-print of what should be done Australia wide. 10 points to them.

Kate Edwards said...

I agree with you Michael - integrating ourselves into a parish properly seems to work best. And it is certainly true that commjnities only grow when their members actively work to that end!

More generally, a big thank you to all those who have commented above, and those who have sent me comments offline.

Most of the offline comments, I'd note, relate to small communities which, for various reasons, seem to be becoming smaller still...

But do keep the comments and stocktake coming, I will put it together eventually.