Pope Benedict XVI wondered whether the European Churches, in a generation or two, might be leaner, hardier, more orthodox. We cannot know the end of that story. What we do know is that several English bishops are planning to reduce operations out there in the parishes to a significant extent. This may well have consequences for the survival of the 1970s monoculture within the Ordinary Form.
What I have in mind is this. Suppose Fr Mainstream says a Vigil Mass of Sunday, and two Sunday Masses, each weekend. Two of the three, let us supppose, are in the 1970s monoculture, while the third is ... Different. How Different, makes no difference to my point. It might be in the EF. Or, please God, in the Ordinariate Use. Or it might, in many places, be an OF Mass with features that distinguish it from the monoculture ... perhaps versus apsidem ... a well worked out, well expressed and orthodox sermon ... the liturgy partly in Latin ... scripturally and dogmatically orthodox hymns from the sound old Anglo-Catholic English Hymnal ... Holy Communion reverently administered and reverently received ... great fogs of incense ... any one or more of these in any combination.
Then Father has to take on an additional Church 50 miles away, which has, let us say, the same arrangements. Father now has six Masses to cover. He naturally considers reducing this burden to four: two vigil Masses, one at each Church; and, on Sunday, a Mass in each of the Churches. Naturally, in the pastoral interests of diversity and of a Laywoman's Right to Choose, he will retain the two Different Masses. The result of this will be that the four monocultural 1970s-style Masses will now be reduced to two ... a reduction of 50%.
Voila. Or, as we say nowadays, Bergoglio's your uncle. Add to this the fact that an increasing percentage of clergy, poor dears, are too young to have known the full glories of the 1970s and, while discerning their vocation, they somehow got hold of some idea that God was calling them to be priests. These bright young well-informed blokes aren't going to want to spend their priestly lives maintaining a dreary 1970s theme park. They are sufficiently big-hearted not to need to keep their laity reduced to a state of infantilisation. And it won't be possible to lock them up in the presbytery cellar and make them serve twenty penal years as the Junior Curate on a staff of six because, happily, the shortage of clergy will mean that they will have to be made priests-in-charge subito! ... or, as the Pakistani taxi drivers round here rather sweetly say, pretty dam' quick.
Current shortages and closures may well prove to be a godsend. My suspicion is: worrying times ahead for Tabletistas and ACTA clones! They may have a sadly blighted old age to which to look forward!