Latin Mass in Economically Depressed Areas

Our local Archdiocese holds its weekly Latin Mass in a downtown area in an economically depressed area. Not only is it economically depressed, but crime is rampant in the surrounding neighborhood - gangs, drugs, etc. Recently, a gunman threatened to murder innocent civilians at a neighborhood Protestant church, but thankfully the authorities arrested the individual before he could cause any harm.

At what point does it become unsafe to attend Mass under these circumstances? Given the recent events in our media, happening both in the U.S. but also in Europe, shouldn’t our churches have armed guards at the doors to prevent attacks, similar to how some holy sites in Israel are guarded by armed guards?

If churches fail to put in place these measures, is the church being reckless given all of the recent violence as demonstrated daily in the national media? Do I have an obligation to protect my family and not attend Mass if this is the case?

Perhaps we eventually will be forced to hold Mass in our homes, similar to what was done in Communist Russia when the authorities oppressed religion in their country. Please debate and discuss. Mods - Please move thread to appropriate sub-forum if appropriate.

Wow, there’s only one mass a weekend in your entire archdiocese? Not.

Your obligation is to attend Mass, not that mass, not that parish.

Personally, I think this entire line of thought is a big red herring. No, the Church should not and will not post armed guards. Yes, you are obligated to go to Mass. And random things can happen to you anywhere (and a gunman at church is a rare and random occurrence), are you going to lock yourself in your home and never leave?


I do remember the Paris city police doing guard duty at a Mass I once attended, but that was immediately after Charlie Hebdo and the church in question was in the same area. (What was I doing there? Long story. :)) However, such cases are exceptional.

For myself it comes down to Trust in God.
I trust that He will keep us safe and if it comes to something happening
that would end my life, that He would bless me with martyrdom.
better this than to allow evil to chase me from His house.
but that’s just me.
We also only have one Latin Mass in the area.
The next nearest is over 50 miles away
and that one is only once a month.*

There are something like 17,300 parishes in the U.S. It is far more likely that any attack, should there be one, would be in a larger city (with the exception of the on-base shooting by the Major, everything so far seems to be in largely populated areas).

That does not mean that an attack could not occur in a small town, or in a suburb; and since the intent is to kill a large number of citizens in order to cause mass chaos and destabilize the population, that possibility exists. However, there tends to be more anonymity in large areas.

France is getting the brunt of it. France is also openly declared to be a secular country; Christianity is in a very very minor position; they have one of the largest, if not the largest populations of Muslims, and are considered exceedingly decadent.

The US has been attacked enough over the years that it is not exactly a minor target. On the other hand, it is somewhat debatable if ISIS is interested in targeting Catholic churches. Their targets appear to be different and primarily secular, with a degree of randomness (such as San Bernadino) and opportunity, along with “local” actors.

I doubt anyone is going to put guards on parishes.

As to the parish you mention; common sense says that if you are going there, you go in groups. and if the danger seems to be escalating, you go to Mass elsewhere. If that means not going to an EF, that is a decision you need to make personally.

God, however, I suspect expects us to use common sense. One does not go into physical danger presuming that either God is going to protect one, or presuming that if one is injured or killed, that was God’s plan.

There are few if any areas such as where this parish is, that does not have other parishes reasonably nearby.


One does not go into physical danger presuming that either God is going to protect one,

The OP did not state that there was physical danger at the church but rather in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Not only is it economically depressed, but crime is rampant in the surrounding neighborhood - gangs, drugs, etc.

I would like to think that anyone who lives, works or commutes through such areas,
does hope and pray that God is going to protect them.

or presuming that if one is injured or killed, that was God’s plan.

Pretty sure I didn’t state that?

There are few if any areas such as where this parish is,
that does not have other parishes reasonably nearby.

And this is made clear in the OP, how?
You may know the area the OP is talking about, I don’t.:shrug:
I am on the other side of the planet where there are often
hundreds or even thousands of km’s between churches with a Latin Mass.
Actually sometime it’s that far just between churches full stop
and sadly it’s still thinning out today.

The issue is not the availability of the EF. the issue is the danger. Mass is obligatory; the OF fulfills the obligation (I hate that word), and contrary to some opinions, there are reverent OF Masses said. In the US, less than 3% of parishes have an OF; some few daily; some weekly, and at lest one listed as once every 6 months. So the likelihood of finding another EF reasonably close, unless perhaps one is living in Virginia, is low.

As to the area: an Archdiocese is seated in a major metropolitan area, and the OP notes “downtown”. I have no clue as to east coast/west coast/ central US. Doesn’t matter; it is a large city. and all large cities have multiple parishes.

And yes, because of poor catechesis and secularism (in large part driven by media), fewer and fewer Catholics, by age bracket, are going to Mass regularly.

Wow, there’s only one mass a weekend in your entire archdiocese? Not.

There are no “safe zones” to attend Mass. The tension continues to rise. There are no safe areas where large groups of people are gathered.

All of the Latin Masses in my area - pretty much across the board - are in less than desirable areas, or located in very distant geographies. There is no “safety in groups” if everyone is unarmed.

are you going to lock yourself in your home and never leave?

If the country declares martial law, then yes, that would probably be the case.

and are considered exceedingly decadent.

We are, unfortunately, no different. That’s the problem.

I was actually thinking the exact same thing as you Pete, while I was reading the opening post. I highlighted the top part of your post, as I agree with it, and was thinking the same way as I was reading here.

I would rather die as a martyr if need be, in a church, expressing my faith there if I had to. I feel just like you do about it.

Although we may feel afraid in these scary times, we can’t be afraid to go out and do what we need to do in our lives.

We all have to know that we are people of faith, and that God knows what is going on, and that He is on our side. All that we can do is live the best life that we can, and trust in Him.

That is how I look at things. May God bless all of us.

You are not obliged to attend a Latin Mass. Your obligation is to attend Mass.
If there is an Ordinary Form Mass in a safe area then why don’t you attend that instead of going to an Extraordinary Form Mass in an unsafe area?

Not being able to attend a Latin Mass, which I guess is your preference, does not excuse you from your obligation to attend Mass.

Mass is the obligation here, not the Latin Mass specifically.

You seem to be building fear in your own mind.

Of the top shootings in the US, exactly zero have been at Catholic churches.

If you review the FBI hate crime database, you will see that of those classified as “anti Catholic” the majority (40/67) are vandalism. NOT violent crimes.

There is no requirement to attend a* Latin Mass*. Your obligation is to attend Mass. There are numerous parishes within an archdiocese. You can certainly find ONE to attend in the neighborhood where you live (which I assume meets your standards of safety or you wouldn’t be living there).

Your arguments ring hollow.

If you are that concerned, talk to your pastor or the priest who says the extraordinary form mass about it.

Actually there have been shootings at Catholic churches in high crime areas, two of which happened within 8 months of each other, near where I live, at a parish I used to belong to. One was in the parking lot of the Church, and the other was on the street as they were driving home from Mass. The Dominican Pastor of the parish did not react with fear, though. He intended to fight the blight and crime in the neighborhood surrounding his Priory. Now these were not mass shootings, but the area was crime-ridden and infested with crack houses and urban blight.

Here is a blog account of this brave and popular priest and his fight against neighborhood blight, crack houses, and crime:

It has nothing to do, of course with whether it’s an EF or Of Mass. And I agree that if one feels it is too dangerous, find another parish even if one cannot find an EF Mass. The important thing is that one attends Mass and worships.

Interesting to note is the fact that these shootings did not deter the parishioners, they backed their priest, continued on as usual, and even built a new social hall. I still occasionally attend Mass there, a wonderful parish. But I moved and have been in another parish for 20 years now.

I’m sure robberies happen every day near churches of all stripes in “high crime” areas. But mass shootings/hate crimes against Catholics are very few and far between, nearly non-existent in the US. To state you can no longer attend Mass because of this fear is not rational. The OP clearly has means to go elsewhere if he fears for his safety downtown.

God bless your wonderful priests and religious.

If it’s that important for you to attend a Latin Mass, pack some heat.

Martyrdom for the faith as I was taught - 60 years ago or so - meant that you were killed specifically because of your faith, meaning the executioner killed you specifically because of it.

Dying in a high crime neighborhood, where your executioner may be shooting you because you have the wrong color of skin, or because the executioner is trying to rob you, or because they are crazed on drugs and simply fires at you randomly, does not come under the definition of martyrdom.

It comes under the definition of lack of common sense.

I attend mass in a high crime area. We have both the Tridentine Mass and the novus ordo in Spanish and English (and often a combo of all 3 languages). A couple months ago, the whole neighborhood got locked down by the police so nobody could enter or leave. I wasn’t there, but I heard they had to cancel mass because the priest was driving from outside the area.

On occasion, we have armed parishioners (licensed and trained) patrolling the parking lot, which is fenced and gated. We had security cameras installed around the church, office and parking lot. The office is locked with bars on the windows and you must be buzzed inside after identifying yourself and your reason for being there. The church sometimes meets with local police to discuss safety and improve community relations.

It is my understanding that the neighborhood used to be even worse (before my time), but a previous pastor took to walking the streets late at night and building relationships with the gangmembers in the area. Everyone was certain he’d be killed, but he’s still alive and working in an even worse parish.

If you’re concerned about safety and don’t want to change to another parish, why not start a group at your church to prepare a safety plan? Perhaps get some type of neighborhood watch-type program going at the church. Patrol the area during mass looking for threats. Start a fundraiser to install security cameras and alarms. Set up a meeting with local police to help improve community relations and get their ideas on how to improve safety.

I’ve noticed in my parish, the neighborhood about a block or two each side of the church is pretty nice. Houses are better kept. There aren’t dangerous-looking thugs loitering about. And there’s no smell of pot in the air. Go past that block, it’s a totally different story, but they seem to leave the church alone.

I attend an FSSP parish here in the northwest. It’s located in a fairly high crime area. In fact we have had several vehicle break-ins while Mass was in progress. So our parish now hires a security firm on Sundays. It’s worth it to all of us.

We, also, have a number of men that carry concealed while at Mass and I know of lots of stun guns and mace being packed. We will not be intimidated. :thumbsup:

I’m from NE England. My ancestry is Irish. I am working class (in the English sense).

The Traditional Latin Mass appealed to working class men. It fostered vocations and devotion. Cardinal Heenan (also Irish ancestry) of Westminster when he witnessed the OF for the first time said that it would produce a Church of women and girls - all the men would leave. Do you think he was right?

The Latin Mass may be in ‘Economically Depressed Areas.’ This is where it needs to be. God loves the poor. He works through minorities. The Latin Mass might bring the working men back into the Church. It might give them something to live and die for.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit