Msgr. Pope’s Comment on Traditional Churches

Msgr. Charles Pope of the Diocese of Washington (DC) wrote a powerful article for the diocesan blog entitled, “‘Alas, Alas for the Great City!’ An Urgent Plea for Prayer at the New Year!”. He compares today’s America to ancient Babylon as referenced in Isaiah and the book of Revelation, recalling in detail the country’s decline since the 1960s and then assesses the present situation:

So here we are in 2015. And if we have any sense and any faith at all, we need to fall on our knees and pray for miraculous conversion. I love this country and Western culture. I do not think anything finer has ever graced this globe. But we have become collectively corrupted. Our freedom has become licentiousness; our sense of human dignity has been debased; our comforts have made us lazy and inimical to the Cross and to discipline.

America, he warns, may share the same fate as Babylon:

…And before you exultantly say, “Bring it on!” please consider how instantly different our lives would be. Are you really ready for a world with no electricity, no Internet, and no central government with a Bill of Rights? Are you ready to live without roads, running water, and trash collection? Repentance is a far better solution. So pray for a miracle!

Strong words for a diocesan blog. But something he wrote in response to a comment, however, struck me as utterly capricious. Somebody had put the blame for this situation on the Second Vatican Council, adding a quote by Archbishop Lefebvre. This was part of the Msgr’s response:

Frankly why aren’t traditional movements and attendance at TLMs growing? The number in DC haven’t grown in over a decade. And lets not forget that the number of Catholics worldwide is growing not shrinking. So, I think we have a cultural problem compounded by a weak-kneed church.

I think the Council and Liturgy are not the “supreme catastrophe” you described. And lets not forget it was the “brats” schooled in the old system and raised with the TLM who threw the revolution. So something bad was already going on.

Rather dismissive, perhaps he hasn’t seen this chart:


Growth in the TLM over the last seven years since Summorum Pontificum  can genuinely be described as phenomenal.  This was in the face of a range of attitudes on the part of the Church hierarchy that included open hostility that at times, like the present, has led to mistreatment (FFI). Also, in order for that growth to have occurred, lay people had to organize the logistics of the mass themselves and convince the priest and the bishop to give it a chance.

It’s not just about numbers, though, but about the spiritual condition of a church that has as its center traditional liturgical rites. These also have English Novus Ordo masses, so it isn’t one or the other. At the church I attend, It is not unusual for two confessionals to be open from before a Sunday mass and busy to the end of the mass, including English NO masses.

It’s also more about demographics than numbers. Children raised in these churches, I believe, are the future of the Church. Families can be very large, and children are taught the importance of prayer and making a good confession, which is why in a relatively small church like mine the confessionals are so busy.

Observing the difference between the churches in the above chart and your typical protestant-influenced post-Vatican II church should be obvious, especially to someone like Msgr. Pope. It’s also a reason to be optimistic about the future, perhaps not of the country, but of the Roman Catholic Church in America.


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