Survey: most U.S. Catholics don't know about upcoming liturgy changes

The new edition of the Roman Missal is set to debut in just a few weeks — many parishes will begin using new music settings next month — but a lot of people, evidently, are still in the dark:

A new survey conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University indicates that more than three in four adult Catholics in the United States are not aware that aspects of the English translation of the Roman Missal are about to change. She is not even alone among regular Massgoers, as the survey estimates more than four in 10 weekly attenders have not heard that the words and prayers at Mass will be changing.

Respondents were asked if they had heard “that parishes in the United States will soon be implementing changes in the words and prayers at Mass at the direction of the Vatican.” Seventy-seven percent answered “no.” This is equivalent to more than 44 million adult Catholics who don’t know about the changes that will occur throughout the English-speaking world beginning Nov. 27, the first Sunday of Advent.

Much has already been written, primarily in the Catholic press, about the upcoming changes to the English-language liturgy. Not only will the words and prayers of the priest change — from the greeting to the dismissal and some of the prayers in between — but the responses of those in the pews will change as well. The changes are the result of a new English translation of the Roman Liturgy instructed by the 2001 document, Liturgiam Authenticam from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

In recent months, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been concentrating on rolling out the specifics of these changes to leadership, clergy and parish ministers with the publication and distribution of the “Parish Guide to Implementing the Roman Missal” (USCCB Publishing, $9.95). A campaign to make parishioners more aware of the changes is slated for the fall. For more information on the new translation and implementation of the Roman Missal, the USCCB has established a website with an overview of the changes and resources for parishes (

Attendance at Mass makes a big difference in awareness. Fifty-seven percent of respondents who attend Mass at least once a week expressed awareness of the upcoming changes. Awareness drops significantly among those attending less than weekly.

Thirty-four percent of “monthly” Mass attenders, those saying they go “almost every week” or “once or twice a month” know about the upcoming changes. One in 10 (9 percent) of the so-called “C and E” (Christmas and Easter) Catholics, who are in the pews “a few times a year” or less often, know about the upcoming changes.

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6 responses to “Survey: most U.S. Catholics don't know about upcoming liturgy changes”

  1. Those in the pews of parishes with faithful priests know about the coming changes. Our parish is in the midst of a 6 week program of once a week to go over the whys and wheres of the changes and we will start bringing them into place at the masses prior to the actual start date to get everyone involved. In addition, the bullitin has a section on that each week.

    If your parish is not making you aware, it might be a good sign that the parish has other issues where they are not quite in agreement with the Catholic Church teaching. Of course we had those more liberal bishops who fought the changes and I am sure they passed along those desires to their priests. Shame on them. I have to laugh at those who say the people will not accept the changes or that they are too hard. Often these are the same folks who introduced changes not approved by the Vatican but in the “spirit” of Vatican II. Would be great to go to any mass in our country and have it using exactly the same things and same language as any other in concert with the Church.

  2. I agree with Greta. Dont wait. If your parish hasnt done anything in way of Catechesis on the New Translation ASK YOUR PASTOR WHY AND GET IT DONE. My parish has been involved with this since last Sept. when we attended a Mystical Bosy Mystical Voice seminar. Since January ( yes January) we have been running articles in the bulletin about the history of the changes, and the why and wherefore. We are at a point of introducing the new music of the ordinaries as well as SINGING THE PROPERS of the mass. This is a wonderful time to be Roman Catholic. Get on Board ( in the bulletin section at

  3. My mind, it is boggled. Our newsletters had breaksdowns in all the changes and why. All you had to do was pick one up and read it?

  4. Justamouse – if that is all you are reducing this down to, well, I will pray for you. This is a wonderful oppurnity of catechesis to help undertandtand the mystery of the Eucharist God has given us.

  5. Joe et al.

    I have already been to one all-day update session and have two more yet to take in: One on “Chanting the New Ritual” and the other on “Funerals in the New Ritual.” I have been told that the new scripts for Baptisms, Weddings, Ordinations, Benedictions, and free-standing Communion Services are being developed but that they may not make it out of committee for another year or so.

    In looking over the scripts of the new liturgy that I have seen, I tend to agree with “justamouse.” The changes that laity have to worry about are very few. The experience that the USCCB had experimenting with the new liturgy in their Spring meetings convinced the bishops that while the actual changes in the rite of Mass were simple and easy enough, the real problems was each one of us breaking away from old habits. It took about five days — one mass a day — to really get into the groove.

    What you are suggesting, using this upgrade training as an opportunity to better catechesis on the mystery of the Mass itself makes sense only if you believe that the universal American church is deficient here. Your own parish may be deficient — I have no way of knowing that — but you are certainly in a small minority if you assume that all parishes in the country are also deficient in this area.

  6. Guess it is like any other organization when it comes to learning about changes that require attendance. If you don’t go, you don’t know. (about the changes).

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