Sunday 9 January 2022

A Faith that Does Justice

On the one hand, I am grateful for the 13 years I have gone to Mass at the maybe-NOT-so-little wooden structure in the west end of Edinburgh. On the other hand, I am not pleased that the little community of Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass has been asked to leave--but for reasons that will hopefully disappear as the weeks go by. 

When Pope Francis and/or his advisors wrote Traditionis Custodes and its ancillary "Responses," I don't think they were thinking of the tens or hundreds of thousands of Catholics who would be expelled from parish churches--in some cases their own parish churches--and sent to less accessible buildings. I don't know what they were thinking of, actually, and I have begun to make discreet inquiries. Suffice it to say for now, the idea that TC is a response to a few noisy American social media stars is treated as risible in Rome. 

This week it was brought home to me how difficult this transition is likely to be--and how little thought  given to the most vulnerable members of our community--and I burst into tears. The part of me that was so upset was not the Over-40 TLM-goer who reads Dr. Kwasniewski's books and tells him in print to put in indices. The part of me that cried was the under-35 M.Div. student at a Canadian Jesuit college that proclaimed a "Faith that Does Justice." I don't expect all Catholics to appreciate the TLM, but I do expect Catholics to consider the needs of disabled people, babies and children.   

A Polish-American pal who thinks of himself as a moderate crypto-trad contacted me on Facebook to tell me that Catholics are supposed to suffer and Catholics who are deprived of what they had before should welcome their suffering. I described the suffering of one vulnerable member of our community and suggested that she had quite a lot of suffering to be getting on with without being robbed of her opportunity to go to the Mass she has loved all her life. My Polish-American pal had no response to that. 

Once again I feel rather hampered in my attempt to underscore that Catholics who love the Traditional Latin Mass are all real, live, flesh-and-blood people and not an amorphous, slightly unpleasant mass. The problem is that every one of these real, flesh-and-blood people deserve their privacy, and not every Catholic, let alone Catholics who love the TLM, enjoys sharing his or her life in print. 

But I think I can say (again) that most of the Catholics I know who love the Traditional Latin Mass in my diocese also take part in the wider life of the Church in Edinburgh. We are not exclusive. We are not a cult. Many of us go to confession to diocesan priests. Most of us go to other Masses in the diocese when we can't get to the TLM, or for some other reason. Some of us get involved in social justice initiatives. Some go to lectures. Some go to youth groups or the university chaplaincy. 

In fact, some of us aren't actually even Catholics (yet): I can think of at least two members of our community  who belong to the Lutheran/Calvinist tradition.They don't seem to be "taking instruction," but they come nevertheless.   

Meanwhile, before the pandemic, there were about 142,000 Catholics who went to Sunday Mass in Scotland. (If you're wondering where I got that figure, about 15% of Scotland is Catholic, so that's 750,000. Then before 2010, there was a report that about 19% of those Scottish Catholics went to Mass regularly. So that's 142,000--BEFORE the pandemic. Goodness knows how many have returned.) Apparently 12% of the City of Edinburgh is Catholic (thank you, Ireland, thank you, Poland), so that's 60,000, and 19% of that is 11,400.  

That puts the 110 people who came to our TLM today in some perspective. Sure, a drop in the bucket in the Church worldwide. Maybe a bigger drop in the City of Edinburgh, though.  

Today I looked around at the large group of laity at coffee hour and only three--at most--were over 60. No-one there today was over 70. This is quite a change from when I first came to Edinburgh as a 30-something. Back then, there were not so many children running around and scarfing up cookies almost as fast as the tea ladies put them out. Why our community has grown and changed might interest a sociologist of religion. Myself, I'm mainly interested in ensuring no-one is left behind.  

No comments:

Post a Comment