I can speak only as one who has recently come to appreciate the Tridentine mass. The overwhelming vast majority of people we might call “Traditionalists” really don’t have harsh feelings toward the Novus Ordo mass. They just lament what appears to be a “stripping down” of Catholic mystery and reverence, which is often associated with the Novus Ordo, and look forward to the liturgical reforms coming soon. There are those who promote the idea that the Novus Ordo is invalid. But they are the exception to the norm of traditionalist Catholics. Unfortunately, that small exception has an unusually large pulpit to preach from, in part because of circumstances in the English-speaking world – particularly the USA.
The general indult for the celebration of the Tridentine mass was promulgated by JP2 back in 1988, simultaneously with the excommunication of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (founder of the SSPX). The pope wanted to make it clear to the world, that the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre did not constitute a papal ban on the Tridentine mass. The indult allowed the Tridentine to be celebrated anywhere, with the approval of the local bishop. Therein lies ‘the catch’ that has allowed sedevacatists and the SSPX to take firm root in places like the United States, where not all bishops allow the Tridentine to be celebrated in their diocese.
When a local bishop, of a large enough diocese, refuses to allow the Tridentine to be celebrated, he effectively alienates a small percentage of his flock who desire it. Some of these people feel they have nowhere to turn, and that’s when the SSPX (or sedevacatists) swoop down in on them to “supply” ministry to their spiritual needs. It isn’t long before the SSPX, sedevacatist, or sometimes both types, are firmly entrenched in the jurisdiction of that diocese. Once that happens, the leaders of these organization now have an unusually large pulpit to speak from, giving it the illusion that they speak for all traditionalist Catholics in that region, when in reality they don’t.
I happen to live in one such diocese, and I can vouch that this is exactly what has happened here. The SSPX is firmly entrenched in our city, and it’s parish is growing rapidly. They’ve already outgrown two chapels, and are in the process of purchasing a third large enough to accommodate their rapid growth. They’re even producing candidates for their SSPX seminary. No other church in our diocese has a growth rate that even approaches that of the SSPX parish. If the bishop doesn’t do something soon, they will threaten to become an “alternate Catholic Church” in our diocese.
Personally, I’ve attended an SSPX mass twice, and I’ve decided that I’ll never go back. There is a spirit (or attitude) of schism there that I want nothing to do with. I’ll wait until out bishop is ready to start a Tridentine mass under his own jurisdiction. When that happens I believe the growth of the local SSPX parish will be significantly stunted, and traditionalists in our diocese will finally have a voice that is reasonable and temperate. I’ve seen this happen in St. Louis and Kansas City where the local bishops not only allow Tridentine masses, but regularly participate in them. The SSPX and sedevacatists are now floundering in those areas. Given enough time, and enough support for the Tridentine from the local bishops, they may eventually fold up operation there entirely. Either that, or become totally irrelevant. Most traditionalists I know wouldn’t mind seeing that at all.