The Thinking 

English Seminary Refuses Traditional Mass

January 9, 2013


The Pope at Oscott (Photo: Mazur)


As a direct result of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church is in a shambles. It’s a walking self-wrecking machine, and one of the unintended – or was it? – consequences of that disaster is the continuing diminished power and prestige of the papacy.

The pope’s visit to St. Mary’s College, Oscott, once the premiere Catholic seminary in England, tells you all you need to know. Oscott has refused a request for the Latin Mass by seminarians, despite the pope’s 2007 apostolic letter, Summorum Pontificum, which requires that any faithful group’s request for the Extraordinary Form be accommodated.

The rot within the Church is profound; yet, it never fails to astound me just how deep it runs.

— Comments —

Jesse Powell writes:

I see this story as being indicative of “the establishment” Catholic Church in England trying to thwart the “radical upstart” version of Catholicism as represented by the “Extraordinary Form” or Traditional Latin Mass. Of course what is ironic is that historically speaking it is the “radical upstart” Latin Mass that is more faithful to long standing Catholic tradition while “the establishment” mainline Catholic Church in England is what is radical as compared to historical tradition.

At least in the United States mainline Christian denominations have been declining for a long time, noticeably since 1970, while more conservative off-shoots of Christianity have tended to grow. The Economist magazine in its December 15, 2012 issue (“It’s Trendy to be a Traditionalist in the Catholic Church”) said, referring to the Catholic Church, “Sunday mass attendance in England and Wales has fallen by half from the 1.8 m recorded in 1960; the average age of parishioners has risen from 37 in 1980 to 52 now.” But also, “The weekly number of Latin masses is up from 26 in 2007 to 157 now.” So, in England and Wales, the mainline Catholic Church is in long-term serious decline while the Latin Mass has been growing very strongly during the past 5 years.

In general, I see growing conservatism as the central means by which religious revival can be accomplished. Accommodation to the mainstream culture is a losing strategy for churches because when the church accommodates atheistic social breakdown all it is doing is diluting its brand and undermining its reason for existence in the first place. The members of this diluted church will then think to themselves “why bother” and attendance at such churches will decline. If a church wants to grow it should become more conservative because then it will actually have something to offer to new members allowing such conservative churches to grow and recruit new members successfully.

Laura writes:

I know what you are saying, but of course the Church doesn’t need to worry about branding or increasing membership, only about what is true or false.

John E. writes:

It’s a travesty that those in charge of the seminary at Oscott have rejected the seminarians’ pleas for the Extraordinary Form, especially in light of the likelihood that in such an environment as this seminary, the request would be easily granted compared to the same request made in outlying rural or mission dioceses.

However, I’d like to suggest that it is very encouraging that it was the seminarians making this request, the same sort of people who are likely to be taking over the charge of the very same seminary in the not-too-distant future. This doesn’t mean that all is instead just rosy in the Catholic Church, but perhaps not, as Mr. Vincenzo states, “in a shambles.”

Laura writes:

You’re right. It is encouraging that the seminarians made their request.

And they are not likely to forget about it.

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