Orthodoxy and the Latin Mass

"Unfortunately, little data exists on TLM attendees. Attempting to rectify this problem, Fr. Donald Kloster of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, recently released the results of a “national survey” of TLM attendees in the United States—first reported in a blog post and then in outlets such as Catholic Herald. Fr. Kloster concluded that the “fruit” of the TLM is Catholics who are far more devout and orthodox than those who attend the Novus Ordo Mass. However, this study suffers from several fatal flaws, and thus leaves us no closer to better understanding TLM attendees.

As the blog post explains, “the objective of this pilot study was to measure the fruit of the two Masses, by directly comparing the TLM and NOM [Novus Ordo Mass] attendees’ responses to the same questions.” Fr. Kloster and his team collected survey data from an impressive 1,773 participants across sixteen states, with 1,322 completed in the pew and 451 completed online. Participants were asked about Mass and confession attendance, what percentage of their income they donate, number of children, and whether they approve of contraception, abortion, and same-sex marriage. The team compared these figures with data on Novus Ordo attendees from other sources such as Pew Research Center and the Center for Applied Religion in the Apostolate (CARA), concluding that while “[m]odern society, by popular belief, is the cause of decreasing sacramental participation in the Catholic Church…the present survey, compared with other data, reveals a striking variance between Catholics attending the TLM versus those who attend the NOM.” Unfortunately, none of the conclusions drawn from the survey follow from the data. In fact this study, as designed, is unable to compare the fruits—or, in social scientific terms, the outcomes—of the TLM and NOM."