Letter 102 published 13 July 2019


Paix Liturgique has committed to publishing a yearly report on the development of the traditional Mass throughout the world. The first report we now present is made up of three parts:

- the first part will present the situation of celebration throughout the world;

- the second will be devoted to the priests who celebrate this liturgy;

- the third will attempt to provide some information on the faithful favorable to these celebrations.

We asked Christian Marquant, who presented this report on the fifth day of Summorum Pontificum in Rome on 29 October 2018, to answer our questions.

Q –In this first interview we’ll discuss the traditional Masses celebrated throughout the world. What can you tell us about that?

Christian Marquant - Before I give you an answer I’d like to make two essential points on how precisely I shall be speaking.

First of all what we are undertaking this year has never been done this completely before; also, despite the rigor we applied to this project, it is quite possible that we may have made mistakes or overlooked certain details.

For this reason we are grateful in advance to anyone who is able to do so to communicate their comments and corrections to us, since we intend to publish a more thorough and more exact report than the one we are presenting for 2018 by the end of the year 2019, the fiftieth anniversary of the new Ordo Missæ

To get back to your question, I would first point out that forty-nine years after the so-called prohibition of the traditional Mass, it is now celebrated—regularly, mind you—on all five continents: in Europe and in America, of course, but also in Asia, in Africa, and in Oceania. Such a development wasn’t even thinkable half a century ago.

Q –Can you provide some figures?

Christian Marquant - The most important thing to note is that as of now, at the end of 2018, the traditional Mass is regularly celebrated in over 80 different countries, without counting overseas provinces and possessions of countries like France.

Yet one must immediately point out that while the traditional Mass is now celebrated in eighty countries, this number obviously hides flagrant differences and gigantic disparities: how is one to compare France, where there are celebrations in 400 locations, with Slovenia, where, as far as we know, the traditional Mass is celebrated in only one church . . . or the United States, where there are more celebrations than in France, with Zimbabwe?

What we want to put out there, however, is the universal progress of a phenomenon that is neither a passing fad nor a strictly French affair, as the enemies of peace in the liturgy have so often been wont to repeat.

Q –What is the situation in Europe?

Christian Marquant - Europe is nearly a unique case, since in fact the traditional liturgy is celebrated there in every traditionally Catholic nation, and now even in many traditionally Protestant countries, as the list provided below will confirm (1).

Q –And the situation in America?

It is close to Europe, since on that continent as well the traditional Mass is celebrated nearly everywhere except in Venezuela, whose very specific social and political situation is well known, and except in a certain number of Caribbean States that are not yet concerned because of their low populations (2).

Q –And what is the situation in Africa?

Africa is probably the continent least affected by the traditional Mass phenomenon, although the list of countries where it is celebrated isn’t negligible (3).

But speaking of this continent brings me to point out the exceptional and exemplary missionary work that the Society of Saint Pius X has done there, and which has led to the establishment of powerful traditional liturgy centers in poor or sparsely populated countries. These will doubtless become important centers that will set those regions on fire in the coming years. This movement extends through the many missionary trips that the priests of African priories undertake in response to many, if not voluminous, requests at the grassroots level. This indicates that all of Africa will be affected by the traditional liturgy within twenty years.

Q – And Asia?

Christian Marquant - Vast Asia is the poor relation of the traditional world (4). This is not the traditional liturgy’s fault; it is because the Asian world is only marginally Catholic with regions that are nearly exclusively Muslim lands or regions like India or China where evangelization, despite enormous and ancient efforts, is still only in its infancy. Nevertheless, among the Catholics of Asia too the traditional Mass is spreading, for it answers to a deep desire both to express a fully Catholic faith and to have a powerful feeling of communion with the Church universal in space and time, which is what the traditional Mass achieves.

Q –Let’s finish up with Oceania.

Christian Marquant - It’s a continent where the liturgical tradition is rapidly expanding (5), both because of a large European community in that tradition, and also thanks to an expanding evangelizing movement in that form. I could repeat for Oceania the point I made on the remarkable missionary work of the Society of Saint Pius X, which in this case focuses on the Pacific Islands.

Q —You mentioned that the traditional liturgy was now celebrated in eighty countries. Are you under the impression that this expansion has reached its territorial limit?

Christian Marquant - Certainly in Europe or America, where nearly all Catholic countries are already affected by the movement in favor of the traditional Mass, the development of the traditional liturgy will advance by internal increase—i.e., through more worship venues and the development of schools and seminaries—rather than through an expansion towards new countries.

On the other hand, the information we have concerning Africa and Asia indicates that in the years to come the traditional Mass is going to settle in a great many countries within which, although they are unaffected as yet, the faithful are awaiting it and are getting organized for it.

Q –What would you add in conclusion to this interview devoted to the traditional Mass throughout the world?

Christian Marquant - I’ll repeat a statement that I think is obvious: the traditional Mass is not a fad; for Latin Catholics it is the most perfect expression of the lex Credendi, i.e. of their Creed, especially as it concerns the Eucharistic sacrifice and Real Presence. A famous politician used to say: “France—they’ve never come up with better.” I would say: “For the fifty years they’ve been trying, they’ve never come up with anything better than the traditional Mass.” So it is no surprise that more and more priests and laymen are turning to it as soon as they can. One may reasonably hope for an entirely considerable development in the very next few years.

1/1- European countries in which the traditional Mass is celebrated:

Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Vatican City.

1/2- European countries in which the traditional Mass is not celebrated:

Albania, Andorra, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Iceland, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, San Marino, Serbia

2/1 –American Countries in which the traditional Mass is celebrated:

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chili, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidy and Tobago, Uruguay, USA.

2/2 - American countries in which the traditional Mass is not celebrated:

Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Christopher and Nieves, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucy, El Salvador, Suriname, Venezuela.

3/1 –African countries in which the traditional Mass is celebrated:

Benin, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon,  Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nigeria, Reunion Island, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe.

3/2 - African countries in which the traditional Mass is not celebrated

Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Republic of Djibouti, Rwanda, São Tomé-et-Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia.

4/1 –Asian countries where the traditional Mass is celebrated:

Ceylon, Chine, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan.

4/2 – Asian countries in which the traditional Mass is not celebrated:

Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Burma, Bhutan, Cambodia, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kirghistan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen.

5/1 –Oceanian countries where the traditional Mass is celebrated:

Australia, Fiji, New Zealand (to which must be added the French territories of New Caledonia and Polynesia).

5/2 – Oceanian countries where the traditional Mass is not celebrated:

Brunei, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Western Timor, Vanuatu.