I keep a fairly close watch on any news coming out of America concerning the provision of Latin Masses. My reason for doing this is that I believe that the United States is generally ahead of England and Wales in these matters. In other words, by studying what is happening in the US today, we can get a glimpse of what we can expect in Britain in five or ten years.
In the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, there are now 15 parishes out of a total of 70 where Mass in the Extraordinary Form (the Americans call it the TLM) is part of the regular schedule. That is more than one parish in five. This is particularly remarkable when it is realised that in 2006, the diocese had no regular Latin Masses at all. By comparison the Archdiocese of Birmingham is probably our best performer in England and Wales. It also has 15 parishes with regular Latin Masses, but this is out of a total of 236 parishes. That is roughly one parish in fifteen. So it could be said that provision in the Diocese of Arlington is about three times better than it is in the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
It would take a long time to make the same comparison between all the parishes of the United States, and all the parishes of England and Wales, but I suspect that roughly the same ratio would emerge. That is that opportunities to attend a Latin Mass are about three times as great in the USA as they are in England & Wales.
But what of the future? I believe that the bishops of England and Wales will become increasingly well disposed towards Latin Masses, as will the clergy generally. Against this, the shortage of diocesan priests will make it increasingly difficult for bishops to make Latin Mass provision. So progress will be slow, but nevertheless I believe that the trend will be in the direction as the American experience.