The Second Vatican Council ruled a half-century ago this month that the Mass could be said in local languages while the priest faced the congregation. The longer Latin Mass involved elaborate choreography, and the priest’s back was toward the pews.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI formally allowed the majestic Latin Mass to be more accessible to congregations. Since then, participation has mushroomed.
“Interested Catholics now realize it’s not some peculiar thing tucked away in an embarrassed corner,” said Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society based in the United Kingdom. “Once they’re in the door, the Mass speaks for itself.”
Many enthusiasts of the Latin Mass are too young to recall when it was the standard for Catholic churches.
“There is a movement among young Catholics to know, discover and preserve their Catholic heritage, and the traditional Latin Mass fits in with that,” said Joseph Kramer, a Rome-based priest and longtime advocate of the Latin Mass. “I think they are drawn to the liturgical richness of the past.”
Though figures on attendance at Latin Masses are not available, there is evidence interest is growing. The International Una Voce Federation, lay groups associated with the Latin Mass, said member organizations are growing in all parts of the world. [More]