Sunday, January 27, 2008

Development of TLM celebrations in German Speaking Countries

The president of the German lay association for the classical Roman rite "Pro Missa Tridentina" (a member of the FIUV, as is the Una Voce Deutschland), Ms. Monika Rheinschmitt, has issued the following statement on behalf of "Pro Missa Tridentina" regarding the actual and very encouraging development of celebrations in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite in the German speaking countries (Germany, Austria and German Switzerland) as opposed to circulating misrepresentations (my translation). It begins by quoting a news item of kathpress, the news agency of the Asutrian Bishops' Conference:

"The papal document 'Summorum Pontificum' about the broader admission of the 'old usus' (of 1962) of the celebration of Mass has not triggered a greater demand for Masses in this 'extraordinary form' according to findings of the German Liturgical Institute of Trier. 'A few letters' had been written, but otherwise everything is quiet, the German Catholic News Agency KNA was told by the director of the Institute, Eberhard Amon. Apparently the supply of celebrations of Mass according to the form of 1962 so far existing had been sufficient."

This is how "Pro Missa Tridentina" answers:

"The quoted news item reports on 'findings of the German Liturgical Institute of Trier' according to which there is scarcely interest in this venerable Catholic rite.

"A glance at the following diagram shows that reality looks different [the chart shows the number of places where the TLM has been celebrated in the respective years in Germany, Austria and German Switzerland; the white bar showing the year 2007 after Summorum Pontificum]:

"From this figure two conclusions can be drawn:

"1. The assertion of some German bishops and the German Bishops' Conference that in the past 15 years demand for and supply of old Masses had 'remained stable on a low level' is not true. To the contrary: There has been a continuous increase of supply, unfortunately only small due to the resistance in the dioceses.

"2. How great the actual demand is can be surmised based on the phenomenal increase of places of celebration of Mass since the coming into force of the motu proprio 'Summorum Pontificum' in the past year: Within about four months, the number of places of celebration of Mass sprang up from short of 80 to over 120 - an increase by more than 50 percent!

"The objection might be made that this statistics refers to the combined places of celebration of Mass of Germany, Austria and German speaking Switzerland. This is correct in principle, but if Germany is contemplated seperately, the development is even more dramatic:

"At the end of June 2007, shortly before the motu proprio was published on 7 July 2007, there were 36 places in Germany where holy Mass was regularly celebrated in the traditional Roman rite. Since 14 September 2007 (the date on which the motu proprio came into force), 40 (!) places have been added, i.e. in less than half a year the number has more than doubled. Taking into account that at least 40 more groups in Germany (e.g. in Horb, Tübingen, Ulm, Konstanz, Ettlingen, Karlsruhe, Gießen, Pirmasens, Hildesheim etc.) are waiting for a fulfilment of their desire for the traditional Roman liturgy, it becomes clear that the 'the supply of this form of Mass so far existing' has by no means 'been sufficient' - even less bearing in mind that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Pius X is offering holy Masses in the traditional Latin rite in 50 further places in Germany.

"But misinformation is not only circulating regarding the number of places of celebration of Mass - also the numbers of the faithful who at the respective places want to attend these holy Masses are constantly being stated too low. The most recent example is Freiburg: Since 6 January 2008, every other week holy Mass in the extraordinary rite is being celebrated in the beautiful Adelhauser Church in the city centre of Freiburg. According to statements by the curia [of the archdiocese of Freiburg] there had been less than ten petitions; between six and seven persons attending had therefore to be reckoned with. In spite of last-minute announcements less than a week before the beginning of celebrations, more than 240 faithful came for the first holy Mass on 6 January 2008. At the second Mass (20 January 2008), ca. 300 were thronging the nave - already ten minutes before Mass all seats were taken so that the other faithful had to resort to the gallery and the aisle. Between 30 and 40 potential attendants had to return home since there was absolutely no more room in the church.

"It remains to be hoped that bishops and priests in Germany welcome this spiritual upturn.


"In view of the development objectively verifiable on the basis of the permanently growing numbers of places and attendants of celebration, the question poses itself how experts like Eberhard Ammon of the German Liturgical Institute of Trier can unperturbedly continue to speak of an already heretofore sufficient supply of celebrations of Mass in the extraordinary Roman usus.

"It follows from the norms of the motu proprio [...] that the number of individual petitions reaching the diocesan curiae cannot alone be determining: According to the principle of subsidiarity, applied by the Catholic Church in many areas, the bishop is only called in if faithful attached to the traditional liturgy and local parish priests do not reach a mutual agreement. If only these problematic cases or even only the direct petitions of individuals to their bishop are being counted (as has apparently happened in Freiburg), while the "low level solutions" remain disregarded, naturally a severely distorted image emerges."

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: