Yesterday, the Italian blog messainlatino.it published the positively surprising results of a survey carried out by a Gallup affiliate in Italy to determine the attitude of practising Catholics towards the traditional Mass.
2 out of 3 Italian Catholics
would attend a traditional Mass
if available in their parish
Oct. 16, 2009
The first question served to determine the sample to be interviewed, so as to limit it only to those who consider themselves Catholic.
It is of grave concern that only a little more than three-fourths of Italians still consider themselves Catholic. This is less than previous surveys - perhaps because it is the most recent (and the trend has been negative), but mostly because previous surveys presented the respondent with a choice, naming a list of other religions or atheism, to choose from.
In which case, some respondents answer 'Catholic' simply because it is the religion they can identify with, not Buddhist or Muslim or Hindu. But this survey asked them directly: "Do you consider yourself Catholic, yes or no?" - more exigent in that it almost calls for a profession of faith, which not a few baptized Catholics no longer feel they can do.
The succeeding questions were asked only of the declared Catholics. Responses to the second question about Mass-going were more in line with previous surveys. At least 51% of respondents said they go to church at least once a month. It means that in the overall population (including non-Catholics and non-believers), some 38% of Italians set foot into a church at least once a month.
But the first questions only concern us in a relative way, as they serve to provide a context for the succeeding answers. And here, the surprises begin.
The first: Only 58% of Catholics (and 64% of those who go to Mass at least once a month) have heard about the Motu proprio on the traditional Mass and the possibility of attending it today. In France, according to a similar survey commissioned by Paix Liturgique, 82% of practising Catholics knew about the Motu Proprio.
This means two evident things. The first, that priests generally say little or nothing to - we cannot say 'promote' - provide information to their parishioners about Summorum Pontificum
. What one might call a conspiracy of silence....
Secondly, there is widespread ignorance about it, which has clearly hindered releasing the forces and energies that would favor renewed interest in the traditional Mass, but most of all, it means perpetrating the outdated prejudice that the old rite has been abrogated, prohibited, against the Church and the Pope, and similar myths.
This only makes it more difficult to apply the Motu Proprio, out of simple ignorance that it exists (with the self-serving connivance, let us say, of so many prelates who know about it, of course, but choose to act as if it had never been decreed).
But the numbers are more trustworthy. An incredible 71% of Catholics say they would find it perfectly normal to have both forms of the Mass in their parish
... With 6-7% undecided, only 22-24% would find having both forms 'abnormal'.
Surprisingly, majority of this opposing group are women below 55. You know the type: the catechist, the reader, the extraordinary minister for communion, the parish factotum, the parish fixer, the 'cheerleader' who cues applause and other demonstrations during the liturgy.
In short, persons who, although an absolute minority, are able to exert an intimidating presence on the parish priest who may not necessarily agree with their preferences.
But a crushing majority of greater than 70% who find the coexistence of both Mass forms right and fair renders insignificant - and presumptuous - any 'threat' from the Pasionaria-du-jour.
Which brings us to the last question. Where the responses are so unexpected that if the survey had not been by DOXA, whose credibility is not doubted, they would seem to be merely artefactual.
Because 21% of all Catholics (and 40% of those who go to Mass every Sunday) say that if the traditional Mass were available in their parish, they would prefer to attend it regularly over the new Mass.
Do you realize what the figure represents in absolute numbers? Nine million Italians would choose to attend the traditional Mass on Sundays
. That is quite staggering!
If we include the responses of those who go to Mass now at least once a month, the percentage rises to 33% of all Catholics (and 63% of those who go to church at least once a month).
You may not fully grasp it because it seems incredible: it means that 2 out of 3 practising Catholics would attend a traditional Mass at least once a month
If we add these monthly Massgoers to those who now attend a Tridentine Mass every Sunday, and divide the figure by 4 (to account for 4 Sundays each month), then on average, we would have 12 million Italian Catholics who would choose the old Mass over the new.
And that means one Italian out of 5 (including all other religions and atheists).
One additional finding: a small but significant minority of persons who now never go to Mass say they would go to Sunday Mass again if the traditional Mass were available to them. We are not talking here of 20-30 Tridentine ultras, but of a few hundred thousand Italians.
Without a doubt, the objective of the survey was amply achieved and even surpassed: Who can now say that in Italy, the traditional Mass is of interest to practically no one?
[Just wait for what the dissident and recalcitrant Italian bishops will report next September!]
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 2/10/2010 12:31 AM]