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Monday, May 18, 2015

Part II: Is the TLM Destroying The Church?

Earlier, I calculated the effect of the Traditional Latin Mass on Catholic identity in a state. Remarkably, some people took issue with it. Go figure (as Foghorn Leghorn would say, "That's a joke, son.").

Fortunately, I have just found another way to calculate the impact of the TLM on Catholic identity and Catholic faith. Using numbers from the Nineteen-Sixty Four blog, we see a table showing the fifteen dioceses with the most converts in the United States.

The table is linked below:

Now, we identify the number of TLM parishes in each one of those dioceses using the same TLM website we previously employed. Keep in mind, the lower the number of Catholics per Convert, the better the conversion ratio is. Why? Because in a diocese with just a few Catholics per convert, each Catholic in that diocese was more effective at transmitting the Faith on a per person basis than were Catholics in other dioceses. So, with that said, here are the numbers:

Catholics per Convert (2010-2012) #TLM parishes
Steubenville (OH) 20 1
Tulsa (OK) 47 3
Owensboro (KY) 47 1
Birmingham (AL) 47 3
Jackson (MS) 48 1
Pensacola-Tallahassee (FL) 60 2
Oklahoma City (OK) 52 1
Nashville (TN) 53 2
Mobile (AL) 56 1
Lexington (KY) 58 1
Memphis (TN) 58 1
Knoxville (TN) 58 5
Reno (NV) 59 2
Wichita (KS) 61 2
Charlotte (NC) 63 6

And, we see that the correlation coefficient (r) is 0.33247286951134.
Wow, a positive correlation!

Oh, wait. That's not good. You see, in this case, a positive correlation means that the number of Catholics per convert increases (that is, Catholics become less effective at bringing people into the Catholic Faith), as the number of TLM parishes increases.  If the TLM parishes were having a positive effect on bringing people into the Church, then we should see a negative correlation - as the number of TLM parishes increase, the number of Catholics per convert should decrease. The TLM should make Catholics MORE effective at evangelizing. In fact, it is exactly the reverse.

This entirely different way of measuring TLM effectiveness, using an entirely different data set, gives us the same results that the two earlier analyses of the Pew Research poll gave us: the existence of TLM parishes correlate to a reduction of Catholic identity and conversion.

Which is exactly the opposite of what traditionalists tell us would happen.

Now, you may say correlation is not causation, and I would agree.
However, I notice that traditionalists are always nattering on about how the Faith has been hemorrhaging Catholics, Mass attendance has dropped, vocations have dropped, etc., since Vatican II. And what do the traditionalists implicitly or explicitly say? "CORRELATION IS CAUSATION!"

You see, when the news is bad and they think they can make it stick, then it's all the fault of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo Mass. But when the news is bad and it looks like it might stick to the TLM, then it is just correlation at best (nothing to see here, move along), or outright blasphemy at worst to even have run the numbers.

The nice thing about having double standards is you can always choose which standard you like depending on the outcome you want. It's a brilliant idea. Not very Catholic, but certainly brilliant. Catholics accept the realities and try to figure out what the reality is telling them.

I can give you a hint - this is straight from the comments on a popular blog:
APX says:16 May 2015 at 8:03 AMI thought the FSSP were in Florida. Are they being asked to leave the diocese?
I used to bring my friends to the EF, but stopped after they were being driven away by mandatory payment for after Mass socials (my friends are like me, poor and barely able to pay rent and the basic necessities of life), and sermons that are over-the-top strict (ie: it is absolutely forbidden to work on Sundays. Those who do are going to Hell, which is not what the Church teaches. We are living in a time when working Sunday’s is often a condition for getting a job so you aren’t homeless). And then there’s the people who are just over the top weirdness factor with their conspiracy theories about the Church, Vatican II, Pope Francis, etc actively looking for new faces to try to “enlighten”.

That quote provides a bit of additional, unsolicited evidence outlining my own concerns. The TLM is, indeed, a beautiful Mass. The people who attend it often are not. The FSSP priests who celebrate it are extremely problematic. The numbers generated by the TLM crowd certainly do correlate with the idea that the TLM crowd is driving people away from the Faith.

You can call me a blasphemer or dismiss the results as unimportant, but that doesn't solve your problem. What is the TLM crowd going to do about this?


Proteios1 said...

I see nothing wrong with your analysis except that it is incomplete. It would be akin to analyzing only the responses form women on what makes a successful marriage. One needs to evaluate the women and men respondents and compare not only group responses, but compare between groups. You have done half that. Please post the results of the novus ordo parishes and the same results. Otherwise, your data isn't really saying what you think it might be.
Imagine if the results show n vastly worse correlation for NO parishes. Or the opposite better. You seem to assume (maybe, I don't know as the analysis is not really comparing anything) but you assume it would be comparable to the NO parishes.
Regardless, I would be interested in hearing about a followup analysis that addresses this. I have no skin in the game, as I love both types of masses. Just interested in making the Church devoted and fuller.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

If you have more numbers, provide them. I used all the numbers I have.

Proteios1 said...

A valid reply. Yet it doesn't change the fact no conclusion akin to yours can be drawn from the available merely provides a hypothesis for further study should you or the source from which you attained the data should gather more in hopes of forming and testing a subsequent hypothesis that may answer the question you have answered without the proper data to do so.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

The same can be said about every negative statement the traditionalists make about VC II and the Novus Ordo.

Odd that traditionalists never qualify their statements with that codicil. Just an oversight, I'm sure.

Mike said...

None of the people you are calling "converts" are entering the Catholic Church.

They are entering Satan's vatican-2 heretic cult which has been screaming against the Catholic Dogma for 50 years ... after the vatican-2 cult was founded on 8 December 1965.

Anyone in Satan's vatican-2 heresy can join the Catholic Church by making a Formal Abjuration of heresy ... provided on Section 19.1 of

And of course ... all vatican-2 cult heretics are currently headed for Hell.

Jordanes551 said...

"The TLM is, indeed, a beautiful Mass. The people who attend it often are not."

Ah, so now you contend that it isn't the existence and celebration of the Mass that is the primary or only cause of the destruction of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but rather the sins of traditionalists that are the primary or only cause of the destruction of the Catholic Church. Well, while that's an absurd contention, at least it's not blasphemous.

But you've moved the goal posts. . . . .

The sins and weirdness of many traditionalists are problems. But the Church has got plenty of much bigger problems than sinful and weird traditionalists.

Athelstane said...

I must say that I'm left to wonder how a ritual (as it was celebrated itself, or in the various rites and uses based on it) that formed the worship life of the Latin Rite Catholic Church in virtually its entirety for a good 14-16 centuries could suddenly be accosted for its baleful effect on Catholic life. If this were true, the Church in the West should have been stillborn, certainly not surviving Late Antiquity.

Whereas since the 60's, the traditional Roiman Rite has been mostly nonexistent in the West; if it was not *abrogated*, it was certainly *obrogated* after 1970. Where it has existed, even over the past several years of growth (at best, TLM's account for no more than 1% of Catholic Masses celebrated in the U.S), the great majority of Catholics can very easily be oblivious to its existence. Even dioceses that allow it often forbid it to be publicly advertised or marketed.

But deep down, I just doubt that you're making a sincere argument here. If your argument is with traditionalist attribution of current disasters to the Novus Ordo and Vatican II....why, simply say so.

Athelstane said...

Hello Mike,

Your comments are out of line - not just with charity, but the Church's traditional soteriological doctrines as well. It's not given to us to know the salvific destiny of any soul, even those who are in apparent mortal sin.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

The use of the TLM correlates to the degradation of Catholic identity and Catholic conversion. That's the goalpost because it's a fact.

Whether it is beautiful or not doesn't change the fact. Do you actually think it would?

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Athelstane, times change. The Mass was originally said in Aramaic. Then it was said in Greek. For a long time, in the West, it was said in Latin (although Greek and Aramaic continued to be used in the East).

Now it is said in English. Today, the use of the Latin Mass correlates with a degradation of Catholic identity and conversion. Those are the facts.

Athelstane said...

One final comment:

1. The comments by APX on the other blog (I had seen them already) don't ring true with most of my experience. I've regularly attended TLM's in Summorum Pontificum-authorized Masses in several states and at least one European country over the last 14 years (including FSSP, ICK, and St John Cantius communities), and while I cannot claim my experience is exhaustive, this sort of behavior is not something I have ever seen, even in FSSP parishes. I've never seen mandatory payment for after Mass socials (we should help to defray costs if we can, of course), nor injunctions that any work on Sundays is a mortal sin. I've never even seen any criticism of how visitors to Mass might dress (I know this happens, I've just never witnessed it in the couple thousand TLM's I have attended). I'm not saying APX is lying; I'm saying that my assessment is that it's rare. I have to wonder just what kind of TLM community this is. Is it SSPX?

Which brings me to...

2. The TLM is, indeed, a beautiful Mass. The people who attend it often are not. The FSSP priests who celebrate it are extremely problematic. I wish you had simply made this argument up front rather than play these statistical games with the TLM. It's an old argument, and yes, not without foundation. yes, there are certain pathologies in some TLM communities. Parishes are composed of human beings, and none is perfect. But I will add that they're much more apparent online than in the flesh. I also think...that when you marginalize a group to the fringes, it will tend to draw more than its share of "fringe" people. People must take responsibility for their own actions, yes, but our bishops and leaders bear a heavy responsibility as well for their brutal, marginalizing treatment of those Catholics who simply wanted to worship in the Church's traditional rituals - which includes those who would have been content with a traditional celebration of the Novus Ordo. That included me, once upon a time.

To the extent that pathologies do exist (and I think they were more rare than some suggest), I do think that the motu proprio has helped by bringing the TLM back increasingly into the mainstream of the Church in some places.

3. Finally: I know a little of your disenchantment with the FSSP, particularly the community at Mater Dei in Dallas, and more particularly with Fr. Phil Wolfe and his homiletics - all despite your continued attendance there, as I understand it. I happen to think that the Fraternity produces outstanding priests; and that this formation can be judged by its fruits, measured by great vitality in its apostolates. To the extent that pathologies exist, I think they are of the sort that certain people have brought with them, often from SSPX communities (which forms a significant contingent at Mater Dei, as you know better than I).

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Athelstane, if my experience and the experience of APX were unique or rare, I doubt we would have such consistent correlation with negative outcomes in so many different analyses of the data sets available.

The fact is, that those negative correlations DO exist and the ARE persistent across data sets. That's a real problem which cannot be explained away by anecdotes or personal experiences.

Athelstane said...

Hello Steve,

Now it is said in English.

In my assessment (and not just mine), the switch to 100% vernacular (which runs plain against the prescription of Sacrosanctum Concilium 36, as I am sure you know) was the LEAST important change that was made in the Mass. Come to an Ordinariate Use Mass, such as that at St Mary of the Assumption in Fort Worth, or Atonement in San Antonio, which mostly resembles a Traditional Roman Rite Mass in hieratic English, if you want a taste of what I mean.

The problem was that the Pauline Missal changed darn near everything else, too, and allowed innumerable options. New lectionary (I think you're dead wrong that this was an improvement - the Office is where you should be getting most of your scriptural formation from), new calendar, all but four Sunday collects thrown out, new propers, new rubrics, a greatly overhauled ordinary. I'm not saying it's illicit or illegitimate, but it was a very radical change, all of a sudden, without any precedent in Church history; your putative shift from Greek to Latin in the Roman Church simply does NOT compare (it was likely very gradual, and certainly was not accompanied by a whirlwind of sudden other changes).

Today, the use of the Latin Mass correlates with a degradation of Catholic identity and conversion.

It correlates in some degree (or would, if the TLM was statistically significant enough in most places in the first place - I mean, really, Steve, 1, 2 or 3 TLM communities in dioceses with 100 to 300 parishes? Really?!?!?) with dioceses that were already in steep decline long before the TLM showed up. There may well BE a causal relationship, but I might gently suggest that it works in reverse.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

As I point out in the link below, nobody really cares what VC II said. Councils are only relevant to the Faith insofar as a Pope chooses to implement their decrees. To the extent that the Pope does not, the Council is irrelevant.

As for the number of TLMs in a diocese being relevant, if you want to argue that a single Mass is not infinite in its effects, feel free.

I will watch with great interest, as traditionalists don't usually make that argument.

Proteios1 said...

The argument seems to drifted somewhat from the liberal extrapolations of conclusions from incomplete data sets to A passionate series of opinions about Vatican 2 and the liturgical differences. So if I may include a perspective although not scientific in any way,...Not being a theologian, I faithfully defend the Church and the fact it is infallibly guided by the Holy Spirit even if its membership and hierarchy are not perfect. The masses are both valid and should be celebrated per those faithful. For all we know the no us ordo drives people away from the Church. I don't show me the data. Otherwise, it is just how it looks to me. We don't have a tlm parish anywhere nearby, so I don't know much about that.

Athelstane said...


Athelstane, if my experience and the experience of APX were unique or rare, I doubt we would have such consistent correlation with negative outcomes in so many different analyses of the data sets available.

You've got have statistically significant samples to make such correlations in the first place, Steve! You're talking about dioceses where you can count *weekly*, regular TLM's on one hand, with fingers left over! Even the one you claim most for - Charlotte - has only FOUR regular Sunday TLM's, all at non "prime" times (early morning or afternoon only), with a couple of weekday Masses elsewhere, usually at side chapels. None of them at larger parishes! And that out of 73 parishes total! 6 Traditional Masses out of over 800 total Masses in Charlotte every week! 4 Sunday TLM's out of over 300 Sunday Masses! How is this very marginal phenomenon that the great majority of Cahrlotte Catholics have never even ENCOUNTERED supposed to be exercising such a huge impact on conversions in the diocese?!?!?

Look, do you even have any surveys that show that the presence of the TLM played any role in driving people away from the Church? All you've presented is a couple anecdotes! But how often could we multiply anecdotes of bad or boorish behavior at regular, N.O. Masses? I've seen absolutely brutal treatment of people by priests and liturgists in such places (Including, I am sorry to say, my other mother, who left the Church over it back in the 80's), and I am far from alone (I am sure you have seen such, too). Can I blame the Novus Ordo for that?

Athelstane said...

As I point out in the link below, nobody really cares what VC II said. Councils are only relevant to the Faith insofar as a Pope chooses to implement their decrees.

I can't really disagree with that statement, so far as it goes.

To the extent that Vatican II matters, it is more as an *event*, than as a set of texts. An event that was claimed as warrant for many things, whether that was textually sustainable or not.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

Athalstane, as I said, if your argument is that the Traditional Latin Mass is not infinite in its effects, and therefore there aren't enough to make a difference in any given diocese, then I'm not going to argue with you.

I'll just quote you as an example that traditionalists clearly don't think as much of the TLM as I thought they did.

Athelstane said...

if your argument is that the Traditional Latin Mass is not infinite in its effects, and therefore there aren't enough to make a difference in any given diocese, then I'm not going to argue with you.

NOW we're getting somewhere, Steve. Why didn't you say that to begin with?!

Look: The Mass *does* provide tremendous graces. But grace works upon nature, and if the nature is not well formed to receive those graces, they will not have the same effect. Someone who simply goes to Mass (in either form, or any use or rite) and has zero interior prayer or devotional life, or any proper formation, is not likely to gain the same effects of grace as someone who does. Their ability to even understand any of it - even in the Novus Ordo! - will be severely circumscribed. And this was becoming a problem in the years before the Council, especially among some clergy.

But traditional Catholic life was essentially annihilated in 1965-1970, with only a few tiny pockets, largely in irregular status, surviving around the world. It happened whether Catholics wanted it or not, or whether they resisted it. Traditional life is now *slowly* (but steadily) making a comeback, thanks mostly to the motu proprio of Benedict XVI. But any traditionalist who thinks this is at present anything but a marginal phenomenon for the life of the Church - at least in any way that is measurable, which is of course not true of graces for those in purgatory, or yet to show their effects until the future - is kidding themselves. But I think most of us know this. It's hard to deny. I wish it were otherwise. But it is not. Not yet.

If there IS a major, long-term effect of Summorum Pontificum, I believe it is at work in the large number of young clergy and seminarians who now have what they now perceive as a legitimate interest in the traditional sacraments and liturgy (including the office), and how exposure to same is changing their understanding of the priesthood and how it is exercised in the Church. But those effects are only beginning to display themselves, and mostly in the U.S. and some parts of Europe.

Jordanes551 said...

"The use of the TLM correlates to the degradation of Catholic identity and Catholic conversion."

It also correlates to the popularity of Facebook and Twitter. I suspect they have a far greater influence on defection and apostasy of Catholics than does the Church allowing people to worship God using the traditional sacramental rites. And I suspect the popularity of Facebook and Twitter have very little to do with Catholic defection and apostasy.

As Athelstane and Proteios1 have gently shown, you haven't got anywhere near enough evidence to justify your attacks on the Church's ancient rites and on the sinners and weirdos who love them. But when has that ever stopped you?

"But deep down, I just doubt that you're making a sincere argument here. If your argument is with traditionalist attribution of current disasters to the Novus Ordo and Vatican II....why, simply say so."

That's probably what he's doing -- or mostly what he's doing. But it's not nearly as clever as he thinks it is. Not every Cause is created equal. It's reasonable to attribute the current disasters to Vatican II and the reinvention of the Roman Rite -- it would be shocking if events as sweeping and disorienting as they were didn't cause problems. But the suggestion that the Church's severe problems today are to be attributed chiefly or exclusively the fault of the ancient Roman Rite and the small numbers of Catholics who adhere to it is beyond ridiculous.

Athelstane said...


It's reasonable to attribute the current disasters to Vatican II and the reinvention of the Roman Rite

I think the difficulty is that Steve's entire problem driving all of these posts is that he rejects that argument; he seems to think that traditionalists are imputing a causation where there is merely correlation.

Which leaves unanswered the question of what DID cause the collapses we have seen since the 60's. And we can't deny that the collapses exist, because the evidence is too overwhelming to miss; we have the Pew survey results from last week to prick us once again. The starting mark of these things coincides almost perfectly with these two developments in the 60's, but that is coincidence, apparently. Which leaves...what? Entirely external causes? Was it just the fault of TV, the Beatles, the Pill, and bad psychology? I'm sure those things played a role, to be sure, it really responsible to refuse to consider intrinsic causes? Mistakes that Church leaders might have made at the time? And is it possible that those mistakes might have had any connection at all, directly or indirectly, to either a council held at that time or major liturgical reforms undertaken at the same time?

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe you call this logic. If Traditional Catholics are not baptizing at the rate of Novus Ordo Churches, it is simply because the Novus Ordo church is claiming it teaches the same teachings as always--while in the shadows--and sometimes in the open--it clearly clashes with tradition of the past. The lay faithful's fault here is mitigated somewhat.

The masquerade which calls itself Catholic is no more than a mob of miscreants who are running a well oiled machine as the mafioso are known to run. Yes, though they hold the offices, they do not actually transmit the faith of ancient times. They introduce a new orientation, thereby transmitting a new concept, a new idea, a new theology--a new faith. It is not a sin to regard pope Francis as part of this mafia. What compels the man who is called pope to let the Church of Christ suffer this way, if he himself is not in some understanding with the management of Rome. In this sense, he is Roman. With these failures, it is all the more reason why I pray ardently for Pope Francis, that he be converted.

The effectiveness of Rome's mafia tactics which are not so different from those of Henry, Elizabeth and Cranmer, they garner support from unsuspecting goodhearted people who are craving for the faith. Some of these poor folk die in the nouvelle theologie because of the bishops and priests...and even the pope.

So, keep counting your numbers. When you count these numbers, you count the numbers of those who have run to a mother only to get the counterfeit. Wasn't it Fulton Sheen who warned of such a counterfeit? Did he not warn of the apelike Catholic church that would ape the real Catholic Church? And guess what...people flock to Rome thinking they are linked to eternal Rome, but they are mistaken. They run to a new idea. They embrace it. In spite of their theological error, I have met these poor folk who are mostly well-meaning. They want changes, but do not yet realize the Church they hope in is nothing more than an empty shell. Sure, there are bishops and priests who care, but their fear to stand in opposition to the mafia will be counted against them.

Traditional Catholics suffer from anger and pride in many cases, but I have never known traditional priests to be like their faithful in this regard. In part, this anger is due to a frustration that comes from operating in a world were everything is topsy turvy--calling good evil and evil good.

I was an angry Novus Ordo Catholic before I became an angry Traditionalist. I think more Novus Ordo people searching for genuine truth fall into this category of "angry". It is not self-righteous anger as such, but the anger that wells up for the sake of God being affronted. This anger is what men must burn with when they see their own God being mocked.

It is the pusillanimous men who cannot muster up the passion to be zealous for God who end up thinking faith is subservient to obedience. When they act this way, they operate under a false sense of obedience, and thus fall prey to human respect. And so, one by one, the bishops handed over England to Henry.

As the Novus Ordo Church grows in numbers, many who simply cling to it will get quickly swallowed up into a new Acrch-Luthern Church. The English faithful of the 16th century fell this way. They clung on to the monarch for dear life and they ended up protestant, because they would not consider the rights of God over the monarchs and themselves. Margaret Clitherow might have a thing or two to add to this point.

The same happened in enlightenment France. The priests signed their names as instruments of the mafia government and in doing so they fell. Our Lord asks, when he returns, will there be faith? He didn't paint a scene of 100s of millions of Catholics, but a pitiful number--a remnant. Why a remnant, because there will be an anti-Church in concert with the One world government, seeking to unify politics and religion into their useful tool to control all men. To God, numbers means nothing. We have learned this from Saint Athanasius.

Jack Terranova said...

This has nothing to do with what is a beautiful mass or not, it is the post Vatican II church has defected in every way from what true Catholic teaching was for centuries and stands for nothing today, this "Pope" is a total clown and is a communist.

Maybe you study should include those parishes where there are SSPX, SSPV and CMRI chapels as the so called "Indult" is an "Insult" mass and so called Catholics today dont even know their own faith and are not being taught for a reason by the so called New Order

al said...

Many dioceses in this country still have no TLM. So another way to look at this data is to say that the dioceses which have the highest number of converts all have at least one TLM. Therefore it seems that having at least one TLM is very helpful in making converts. As the first commentator pointed out, it just depends on how you look at the partial evidence supplied. Take the TLM run by the FSSP in Oklahoma City as one example. When they finally had their own church and mass attendance started to go up every year, the number of converts in the diocese of Oklahoma City also went up considerably on average. That's not scientific, it's just an observation. It may have had everything to do with the new archbishop, Paul Coakley, and his outreach to Catholics. It may have something to do with overall improvements in the diocese. And that is true for each diocese on the list.

Anton said...

Within this group of dioceses with the most converts, the relationship is not significant. The correlation coefficient (r) of 0.345 is weak, and while it happens to be positive, it represents a coefficient of determination (r^2) of 0.118. By this measure the "positive" line for TLM predicting Catholics per convert explains only 12% of the variation. 88% is due to other factors or noise. We're relieved from the task of considering further whether there is TLM caused destruction in these dioceses.
The Catholic population in the dioceses with the most converts is 1.16 million, and in the United States is 66.1 million. Using the same TLM mass website,, there are 490 TLM parishes in the country. The differences in both the number of TLM parishes and the number of Catholics per convert between the dioceses with the most converts and the United States overall are significant well beyond 99.9% certainty (one sided t-tests). The correlation is negative: more TLM, fewer Catholics per convert.
For what Catholics per convert says, one is free to wonder whether the lack of TLM parishes is destroying Catholic identity and discouraging converts.

Mike said...

Simply by asking the question, "is the TLM destroying the Church?" the author of this blog appears to profess something other than the Catholic Faith, and is therefore not a member of the Catholic Church. Pope Pius XII taught that "Only those who are baptised and profess the Faith can be considered members of the Church."

The church he is worried about being destroyed could not be the Catholic Church, for how could the Mass of the Roman Rite, which is a Catholic Rite, be harmful to the Catholic Church? That would be an impossibility.

The Roman Rite of Mass could only potentially harm or destroy an heretical sect, whose doctrine is at odds with the Catholic Faith so clearly expressed in the Roman Missal.

jzreparatrix said...

It's hard to use math formulas to make this case after 50 some years of NO masses. The TLM is fighting culture and disuse. What matters is that when the schism and collapse comes, we will have a Mass to attend.