Thursday, April 23, 2009

Results on the Poll on the Language of the Readings in the Usus Antiquior

Some of you will recall a poll the NLM ran a few weeks back which concerned the question of the language of the liturgical readings in the usus antiquior.

The intention was to get a sampling of positions which might give a sense of:

i) what is presently occuring with regard to the readings in the context of many usus antiquior Masses today

ii) what are people's sense with regard to the question of the language of the readings in the usus antiquior

There is no doubt some interest in the results, but before I give them, I would be careful to point out that I would not like to claim any particular statistical accuracy to these numbers; nor, for that matter, should personal preferences be a determinant factor in matters liturgical. However, it may give a sense of what people are or are not pastorally open to as regards this question and what the present practices are out there. (However, every instance must be taken on a case by case basis.)

I would also like to be clear that the NLM is not intending to promote something as being "the right way."

So with that, I will give the basic breakdown of the responses.

(Those who do not wish to read all the individual statistics may wish to simply skip down to the "Summary" section, which summarizes the findings.)

Scope and Nature of the Respondents

The total number of poll respondents was 808.
Those respondents spanned various continents. (Sadly, the full scope of this is not made available to me.)
Of those respondents, 73.27% were Roman Catholic Laity.
14.85% were Roman Catholic priests (and of those, nearly 95% were diocesan clergy)
7.92% were Roman Catholic deacons.
3.96% were not Roman Catholics.

Breakdown of the Numbers:

So what this tells us is that nearly 3/4 of these responses come from the laity, and the remaining 1/4 are predominantly comprised of the responses of diocesan clergy.

The Primary Questions

Breakdown of the Numbers:

Nearly half, or 46% of the respondents attend either a chapel or personal parish that uses the usus antiquior.

One third, or 33% of respondents attend parishes which offer both forms of the Roman liturgy -- possibly the scenario flowing from Summorum Pontificum. (I found this interesting as well as encouraging that there should be such a significant percentage of people in this situation.)

18% do not regularly attend the usus antiquior for one reason or another.

3% were not interested in attending the usus antiquior at all (which begs the question of why they are responding to the survey)

Next question:

This question looks at the issue of what is presently being done in the churches, chapels and oratories of those who responded.

Breakdown of the Numbers:

59% responded that the readings were being done in Latin first and then re-read in the vernacular prior to the homily.

16% reported that the readings were done in Latin only.

11% reported that the option to do the readings in the vernacular was being employed at all or nearly all of the usus antiquior Masses they went to, with another 4% saying it was done at least on occasion.

Accordingly, when this is further broken down, this means that in the case of 3/4 of the Masses attended by the respondents, the readings done in the context of the liturgy are done in Latin.

Next question:

The next question intends to look at the respondents own private position on the question of whether the option to do the liturgical readings directly in the vernacular is a good or a bad thing.

Breakdown of the Numbers:

Two-thirds, or 66% of respondents expressed that they are open to the liturgical readings being done directly in the vernacular in the usus antiquior.

One-third, or 34% expressed their opposition.

Next question:

The intent of this next question was to consider how those who were open to the use of vernacular readings in the usus antiquior would see that being manifest. Only in Low Masses? In all types of usus antiquior Masses? Or somewhere in between? This was important to understanding the mind of those who suggested such an openness, and to know what caveats they might give.

Breakdown of the Numbers:

The interpretation of these numbers need to be looked at more closely, as response A (that they were opposed) means that the question is not relevant to them and therefore constitutes being skipped. What we are interested in are the answers for B,C,D and E. It is from these that the percentages below are taken from.

Two-thirds, or 66% of those respondents open to vernacular readings, were open to their use within the context of any type of usus antiquior Mass, including the solemn Mass -- though a majority of those also wished to point out that they were not in favour of losing Latin readings entirely.

18% suggested they wouldn't want vernacular readings in the context of the Solemn Mass, but all other types were fine by them.

The remaining 16% were open to the vernacular readings only in the context of a non-sung Mass.

Next question:

The next question was to determine the frequency with which those respondents open to vernacular readings would be open to seeing them used. Did they only wish to see it occasionally, frequently, or in between? This too was important to understanding the mind of those who suggested such an openness and to get a sense of any caveats.

Breakdown of the Numbers:

As in the case of the diagram above, we must exclude those who answered there were opposed to the vernacular readings as this question was not relevant to them.

Nearly half, or 48% responded that they would be open to the vernacular readings being used in most Masses, regardless of context or occasion.

A little over one-third, or 37%, suggested it just depended upon the type and occasion of usus antiquior Mass. (This suggests those who responded above that they only wished to have vernacular readings in non-Solemn or Low Masses, as well as others who might prefer to see Latin used on liturgical occasions of particular solemnity.)

12% suggested it did not matter to them one way or another.

Only 3% stated they wanted to see vernacular readings once and awhile.


The summary we might draw from these particular respondents is as follows -- though again, I would note that I would be reticent to draw strong conclusions from this poll, let alone definitive one's.

The majority of respondents come from personal parishes or chapel situations where the communities use the usus antiquior exclusively, but approximately one in three of the respondents come from parishes where the usus antiquior is also offered as a part of the parish schedule.

The positions of the respondents primarily represent the opinions and observations of laity, but in one-in-four cases, it represents those of diocesan clergy. (Though, how the responses of the clergy may or may not differ from the laity cannot be strictly surmised by these numbers I would note.)

In terms of current practice, in the vast majority of instances reported by our respondents, the practice at their usus antiquior Masses is for the readings to be done in Latin within the course of the liturgy itself.

Of our respondents, the majority (two out of three) were, however, open to the use of vernacular readings being done directly in the usus antiquior liturgy, and in the place of the Latin readings.

Of those who were open to liturgical readings in the vernacular, the majority (two out of three) did not specify any distinction between them being used dependent upon the type or occasion of the Mass, but were open to the possibility for any type of usus antiquior Mass, from Low to Solemn.

Finally, of those open to liturgical readings in the vernacular, almost half were open to their use in the majority of Masses. This is the most difficult statistic to summarize because of the large number of those who were indifferent either which way, and a little over one-third suggesting a dependency upon the type and occasion of the Mass.

(If anyone notes any issues or errors with the numbers here presented, do let me know.)