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July 29, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — The number of people attending the traditional liturgy (Latin Mass) has grown significantly in the last two years, as have the number of parishes offering the Mass, according to a new poll of parishes across the U.S.

The survey was conducted by Crisis Magazine, which contacted 416 parishes out of the 658 parishes identified as offering the Latin Mass, and asked the parishes to complete a short survey.

The emails were sent on July 12, with responses required by July 23, a few days after Pope Francis issued his new motu proprio Traditionis Custodes severely restricting the Latin Mass. Hence, Crisis Magazine writes that the results of the survey can be understood as the “State of the TLM [Traditional Latin Mass] before Traditionis Custodes.”

Out of the 416 emails sent, Crisis received a total of 82 responses from parishes across 33 states, of which 92% were received before the promulgation of Traditionis Custodes.

The questions posed to the parishes dealt with the regularity of the traditional liturgy, and the congregational size at four periods in time: January 2019, January 2020, January 2021, and June 2021.

Crisis noted that over half (52%) of those parishes that responded offered a Latin Mass every Sunday, while 33% offered more than one each Sunday. The final 15% stated that they offered the traditional liturgy less frequently than once every Sunday.

One of the parishes revealed that during the time period in question, January 2019 through June 2021, it stopped its celebration of the Latin Mass. At the same time, a total of 16 parishes said their provision of the Latin Mass had only begun after January 2019.

The results of the survey denote a marked increase not only in the numbers of people attending, but also in the number of churches offering the traditional liturgy.

  • In January 2019, the average attendance across 59 parishes with a Sunday TLM was 145.
  • In January 2020, the average attendance across 61 parishes with a Sunday TLM was 163.
  • In January 2021, the average attendance across 69 parishes with a Sunday TLM was 174.
  • In June 2021, the average attendance across 75 parishes with a Sunday TLM was 196.

In terms of percentages, the growth of average attendance at the Latin Mass was 34% over the 2 1/2-year time period. The growth in parishes offering the Mass was slightly less, 27%.

The results of Crisis Magazine’s survey are in contrast to a different poll conducted by Pew Research Center between March 1 through 7 of this year.

Pew Research found that only 36% of Catholics, instead of the average of 58%, planned to fulfil their Easter obligations and attend Church over Easter, out of fear or caution due to COVID-19. Catholics were shown to be the most cautious of all the religious bodies surveyed: “[S]even-in-10 Catholics say their parishes are requiring social distancing and/or mask wearing, and six-in-ten say there are limits on the number of people who can attend Mass at any one time.”

The restrictions on churches across the globe, from both secular and religious authorities, combined with the desire for continued restrictions at most Catholic churches, according to Pew’s poll, may well have played a part in the rise in attendance at the Latin Mass, although Pew’s poll did not differentiate between churches offering the Novus Ordo and the traditional liturgies. However, the rise in attendance at the traditional liturgy would appear to be a phenomenon aided, not hindered, by the recent COVID-19 restrictions.

LifeSiteNews has heard from priests in the traditional priestly groups of the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) that the sizes of their congregations grew over the last 18 months, despite the restrictions under which they had to operate at certain times.

Many parishioners at such parishes have attested to the fact they began attending the Latin Mass in that time period due to stringent restrictions placed upon being able to receive Holy Communion in the hand only, instead of on the tongue — as is the right of every Catholic, and the norm, without exception, in the Latin Mass.

Liturgy expert and Thomistic theologian Dr. Peter Kwasniewski described the Latin Mass as “an indispensable condition for restoring the Faith in our times. Without it, we will not have a firm and deep enough spiritual foundation on which to build Catholic lives, families, and societies.”

Indeed, in an op-ed published by LifeSite last spring, before the onset of COVID-19 restrictions, Christopher Manza attested to Kwasnieswki’s words. Writing how he “hated going to Mass and thought it was boring,” Manza revealed how upon attending the traditional liturgy, he “became more in tune with the celebration of Heaven on Earth.”

“From there, I caught the bug and gradually began preferring the Latin Mass to the Novus Ordo,” stated Manza. “It was an experience unlike any I’d ever experienced up to that point.”

While Crisis discovered a growth in the attendance at the Latin Mass, provision for the traditional liturgy still remains comparatively very low. A total of 16,703 parishes were listed across the U.S. in 2020, meaning that the 660 parishes offering the Latin Mass amount to less that 4% of all parishes.

It remains to be seen what the long-term effects will be following the Pope’s latest restrictions. Some bishops have already moved to curtail the celebration of the traditional liturgy in their dioceses, while others have granted a temporary continuation of the status quo.