I’ve seen a number of articles about the traditional Latin Mass (TLM) lately, touting the increase in the number of parishes offering TLM. This article at 1P5 says the number of regular TLMs in the nation of Poland went from 5 in 2007 to 58 in 2021. That’s an 11-fold increase. It’s also a very small number for an entire nation, especially one where most of the population is at least nominally Catholic.
Similarly, in the U.S., a survey of TLM parishes found good growth, but low overall numbers. The U.S. is over 20% Catholic, which means tens of millions of Catholics. And the growth in that survey was from 59 to 75 parishes with average attendance at each Mass increasing to nearly 200 persons.
You cannot fit millions of Catholics into these small numbers of Masses. The Church has over a billion members worldwide. In the U.S., there is a strong conservative political/social subculture that feeds into the TLM subculture. So it seems like the traditionalist culture is growing, and it is, but there is a hard ceiling to how much it can grow.
The TLM advocates fantasize about a Church with only the TLM in the Latin Rite. They constantly denigrate and make false accusations against the Novus Ordo. And even those who say they support both forms, as the talk about the TLM, they clearly see it as far superior and the NOM as of no real value (just something they are stuck with). But most Catholics will not attend the TLM. For one thing, it has become attached to a far right conservative culture that demands far right conservative views on every issue.
Example: Timothy Gordon, well-known traditionalist and a TLM-only advocate, decided to accept Vatican II’s teachings as part of the indefectible Magisterium (hopefully, I have stated his position correctly). And he was ostracized by Taylor Marshall, and that was the end of the TnT YouTube show. He may have lost many followers on social media, due to this modest and clearly faithful change of position.
Point: you cannot offer salvation to the world if your version of the Ark of Salvation is a dinghy. The TLM and the culture that has grown up around it, like moss on a large granite rock, cannot suffice as the Mass for most Latin Rite Catholics. It is not suitable for most persons:
* the TLM is largely controlled by conservative priests
* it is closely associated with a far right subculture
* the culture rejects the Magisterium and replaces it with the majority opinion of traditionalists
* most persons do not wish to learn Latin; it is a needless obstacle to salvation to reject learning Latin to be able to understand the Mass and worship God
* it is too formal for many persons’ aesthetics
It doesn’t matter if the TLM is more traditional or supposedly more beautiful than the NOM. The NOM is a better fit for most of the members of the Church and most of those we would wish to convert to Catholicism.
The entryway to the Ark of Salvation should not have a series of hoops to jump through: first learn Latin; now accept a long series of conservative and ultra-conservative ideas that are not part of the Gospel; and next, fight against the recent Popes and Councils (while claiming to be the “most faithful”).
The TLM and its culture cannot grow to the extent of being suitable for most or all Latin Rite Catholics. It is not sufficient as the vehicle of salvation for new converts, nor for those who are struggling with whether or not they should remain in the Church, nor for many others.
The growth in the TLM is tiny compared to the billion Catholics in the world, and the billions more to whom the Gospel is addressed (in the hopes they will convert). The TLM only advocates are like persons in a lifeboat, attacking the main ship. They are like persons in a dinghy, trying to convince everyone on a cruise ship to join them.
The Novus Ordo Mass is well suited for its task, that of bringing people to worship God on Sundays, holy days, and even daily Mass. The TLM is a family heirloom, which appeals to a small minority of Catholics. And unfortunately, it has become associated with grave errors on doctrine and discipline, as well as rebellion against the Popes and Councils.
Pope Francis was right to restrict the TLM, and is right to seek to suppress it, as it is no longer being used as a way to save souls, but rather as a way for heretics and schismatics to gather supporters.
There are some persons who attend the TLM and who support Vatican II and the recent Popes. But the culture that controls the TLM, for the most part, has rejected the Magisterium and has refused to obey or accept teaching/correction from Pope Francis. That is not the path of salvation.
The traditionalist culture has largely gone astray from the true Faith, replacing Popes and Councils with the teachings of the culture itself. Suppressing the TLM, for a limited period of time, may help to correct that culture.