Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

Essential thinking for reading Catholics.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Tridentine Math

The Catholic blogosphere is now aswim with the transcripts of Roger Cardinal Mahony's webchat. Here's the one snippet that arrested my attention:

James: I've read that Pope Benedict is concerned about the liturgy and is about to issue a decree that encourages a more generous use of Latin in the liturgy including the use of the Tridentine rite. Do you support this and will you encourage the use of more traditional forms of worship in the archdiocese if he issues the decree?

Cardinal Mahony: James, of our 5 million Catholics, only a handful are interested in the Latin Mass. I must focus upon the 99% who need a vibrant Mass that includes them in its celebration.

Let us, for the sake of discussion, grant that His Eminence's numbers* are absolutely correct. 99% of 5 mill = 4,950,000 people and, naturally, 1% = 50,000.

Is His Eminence stating the pastoral care of 50K souls is not worthy of his focus? But let's do a bit mo' number-crunching. What percentage of the 5 million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are weekly communicants? Because the vibrancy of a Mass is irrelevant to those who are among the absent, by my lights.

So let's further assume the average rate of weekly Mass attendance (25% as of 2000) applies to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. That means 1,250,000 Catholics. Which means that the proportion of those interested in "the Latin Mass," which stands to reason would have a near-100% rate of weekly Mass attendance, is in practical terms, 400% larger than Cardinal Mahony's response suggests. (If you jump columns to the one that reads "daily communicants" my assumption is all bets are off on how large the percentage of this group would be the Latinites.)

But there is something troubling me even more about His Eminence's answer. Greatly troubling, at that.

I hope someone may disabuse me of this, but, um, doesn't his answer contrast rather, er, unfavorably (and therefore appears to be impossible to reconcile) with this and/or this?



* I'm insanely curious to know if, in fact, these numbers are correct. If they are not, I'd love to know what the correct numbers are.

** I have no way of knowing if His Eminence was conflating the Tridentine advocates with those who'd prefer the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin.