Laity disaffected by being given a ‘passive role’

La Croix International (10 October 2019) carries a short interview with the French academic, writer and journalist, Fr. Jean-Louis Schelegel, who specializes in the sociology of religions, especially Catholicism in contemporary societies.

Schelegel has been editor/director of the Jesuit journal Études (Studies) since 2012. In the October edition he examines the causes of the decline of Sunday worship in France. His reflections are of interest to all countries, especially in Western Europe, including Ireland, where the influence of the Catholic Church has been in decline. 

Fr. Schelegel told La Croix International that recent liturgical developments were keeping lay people away and pinpointed the reason why he believes Sunday Mass attendance are in decline.

With reference to his most recent article in Études La Croix asked:

In your article, you describe a “resacralization” of the liturgy that has led to more and more Catholics abandoning Sunday worship. So it would then be internal causes [that are responsible] and not only external ones, such as secularization or Sunday recreational activities?

Schlegel responded:

“For several years now, the faithful have been telling me that they are “bored” at Mass.
This often leads to them feeling disaffected by the occasion, which is essential in the life of a believer.

“I believe that we are indeed witnessing a sacralization of the Mass of Paul VI, which has increased the distance between the celebrant and the assembly.

“The participation of the laity has declined more and more, while the gestures and postures are charged with solemnity and almost composure.

“In addition to this sacralization, there is a reclassification: the priest has an exclusive role, distant from an assembly that no longer participates, but simply “attends” the Mass.

“The celebration “facing the people” has become a “face to face” confrontation! It is this passive role of the faithful that leads sooner or later to disaffection.”

You may read the full La Croix International article by clicking here.