Why Christians Should Be Concerned About Attitudes Toward the Latin Mass


Sara Haines made some explosive comments on “The View” last week when she forcefully distinguished between “devout Catholics” and “someone who is practicing … the Latin Mass.” The latter, she explained, is “cult-like and extremist, like some religions in the Middle East and Asia.”

Her comments were in response to Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker’s commencement speech at a Catholic college in which he encouraged the graduates to seek out the Traditional Latin Mass, which he devotedly attends. This is the Roman Rite as it has been practiced for centuries before liturgical reforms in the 1960s made it rare, but never, as Pope Benedict XVI reminded us, abrogated. Catholics and converts alike have been rediscovering it in recent years, and attendance has been rapidly increasing.

So what makes Butker such an extremist? Does he advocate for Shariah law? The harassment of Jews on campus? Let me recount some of the boldest points from his speech: He warned against gender ideology. He criticized Biden for proudly proclaiming to be Catholic while publicly supporting abortion. He lamented that church leaders let people die alone during Covid regulations. He warned of the tyranny of diversity, equity, and inclusion over free speech.

Perhaps most inflammatory of all, he used the word “homemaker” and encouraged young women to prioritize their marriages and children over worldly success and material gain. This advice was extended to the men in the room as he tearfully praised his own wife for reminding him to do the same: “She’s the one who ensures I never let football or my business become a distraction from that of a husband and father.”

Butker’s statements in his commencement speech were no more foreign or extreme than the medieval garb that he and millions of others donned on graduation stages all over the West this spring. Indeed, the left isn’t terrified of the Latin Mass because of its medieval optics. They could not care less about the theological debates that truly divide us in our liturgical practices.

Rather, they want to destroy the family values that undergird the Judeo-Christian West in all its forms. These are not the preserve of Latin Mass Catholics or even Catholics generally. They belong to us all as decent human beings.

Portraying Latin Mass Catholics as a tiny minority diverging from the majority of Catholics glosses over the fact that we are talking about basic biblical principles here. Thou shall not kill. Male and female, He created them. Husbands, honor your wives and, wives, submit to your husbands. Comfort the dying and the sick. Walk in the light of truth.

It is easy to attack Latin Mass Catholics because they are so distinct. They might wear lace or funny hats. They pray in a dead language, and some make an awful lot of noise on Twitter. More importantly, they’re considerably more likely to adhere to biblical morality. Consider that 99 percent of Latin Mass Catholics attend Mass weekly, only 2 percent approve of same-sex marriage, and 1 percent approve of abortion.

In contrast, a mere 28 percent of Catholics generally attend Mass weekly. It is misleading to point to the “majority of Catholics,” as Haines did, for Catholic norms when a whopping 72 percent aren’t even practicing their faith by fulfilling their Sunday obligation. Of the small number of Catholics generally who do attend Mass weekly, 56 percent approve of same-sex marriage, and 26 percent approve of abortion in most cases. These numbers reveal that Latin Mass Catholics are steadfast, and so a threat to our godless elite.

Thus, the left has started targeting Latin Mass Catholics as a scapegoat. Others may breathe easily for now, but never forget that the left loves to marginalize by terms, and they will ever expand what it means to be an “extremist” to chase all Christian morality out of the public square.

The groundwork for Haines’ attempt to sideline Butker has been laid out over the past few years with the left’s seemingly innocuous fascination with growing Latin Mass attendance. They have separated normal Catholic teaching from public perception of Catholics generally. The New York Times, for example, relished the pitting of Latin Mass attendees against their own pope — a narrative that Haines parroted on “The View,” apparently ignorant of the complexity of papal authority and liturgical reforms.

But what was the most extreme thing the NYT expose could dig up? Traditional priests preach the sanctity of life from the pulpit. Yawn. This is hardly divergent from the majority of actively practicing Catholics. The Associated Press covered a similar story just last month.

Indeed, we’ve seen a marginalization by terms most prominently in the abortion debate. Pro-abortion Catholic politicians, such as Biden and Pelosi, are portrayed as ordinary, devout, or even “deeply Catholic” Catholics, as if belief in the sanctity of life were somehow optional for a Catholic. Meanwhile, pro-life Catholics are dismissed as traditionalists, that is, extremists.

Haines has made the word game clear. She’s all for the free speech of Catholics, just not Catholics like Butker. Only we need not even discuss the moral issues, now it is enough to invoke the Latin Mass. It distracts people from what they are actually criticizing.

The left’s Latin Mass phobia has the troubling consequence of fomenting real actions against the religious right. The FBI has already used its power to target Latin Mass chapels because of the supposed threat of “Radical-Traditionalist Catholics.” And, of course, Biden’s Department of Justice has been persecuting pro-life activists for peaceful protest. It appears we are just a few steps behind our northern neighbors in regulating Christian thought crimes with anti-speech bills that reward snitching on friends and family and impose life sentences for online hate speech.

So are believers like Butker diverging from Christianity, or are the loud voices on the left trying to shove us all into a ghetto “with a match at the ready” to burn it down? If they succeed, don’t be too confident that you won’t find yourself there just in time to feel the flames.

We’re all together in the battle for the soul of the West, and if we learn only one thing from the Butker debacle, let it be to take heart: A little bit of courage to speak the truth has the power to make our opponents completely lose their minds.

Angela Lill
Angela Lill
Angela Lill is a wife and mother. She holds her doctorate in politics from the University of Dallas. She writes about the Roman Catholic Rite.

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