Catholic practice collapsed in the West in the 1960s: the statistics are overwhelming.
France, the eldest daughter of the Church, went from 25% Sunday Mass attendance in the 1950s to less than 2% now; the collapse includes regions where weekly Sunday Mass attendance had reached 97% in the late 1950s (this applies also to Belgium, Québec, etc.). The qualitative argument “but they’re better Catholics now!”—a subjective assessment amounting to soul-reading that never did, on the whole, convince—is seldom heard anymore.
This is a catastrophe which, for having occasioned an abundant but too seldom rigorous literature, remains unsatisfactorily addressed or explained. One used to hear that it would be for twenty-first-century historians to sort out the extent, causes, and effects of the mid-to-late-twentieth-century collapse of Western Catholicism.
They have begun to do so, and none more carefully, soberly, and instructively than French historian Guillaume Cuchet (1973-), professor of history at the University of Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne. The title of his principal work on the subject is blunt: How Our World Stopped Being Christian: Anatomy of a Collapse.1 It is heavy on facts and figures (including statistical maps) and shuns frivolous speculation; for this reason, it has received a couple of prestigious book awards from the French State.2 This book, and indeed the rest of Cuchet’s production, contributes to our understanding of what happened while proceeding carefully and avoiding polemics.
As it does not yet exist in English, we here present its salient discoveries and analyses.
The first fact that Cuchet brings out—relying on the excellent pre-conciliar sociological work of Canon Fernand Boulard and others3—is the surprising vigor of French Catholicism from the 1930s to the early 1960s, when it could be said that in France, Catholics made up the “ultramajority” (p. 56): from a survey conducted in 1872 to Boulard’s investigations in the early 1960s, 98% of French responders declared themselves to be “Roman Catholic.” True, some areas were void of actual Sunday Mass attendance (the very regions whose clergy had rallied to the French Revolution in the 1790s, which were the same regions, it turns out, that had been sluggish in implementing . . . Trent!) while in others, all but the canonically impeded were at Mass every Sunday of the year (the Vendée, Flanders . . .). 94% of French children were baptized Catholic within three months of birth (as opposed to 30% within seven years today). Boulard’s work, summarized in a famous map of Catholic practice, was on the whole reassuring to an episcopate that had been worried by a 1943 book asking whether France might not be mission territory (it is still invoked to claim that all was not well in the 1940s and 50s).4 Indeed, during those decades, fully three quarters of missionaries overseas were French priests and religious of both sexes.
Next, Cuchet explodes a couple of myths regarding the timing of the collapse. Conventional Catholic historiography dated the “before and after” event to 1968. Conservatives saw in that year a generalized breakdown in traditional society (the famous “May 1968” strikes among workers and students) that affected the patriarchal structure of the family, respect for authority generally, and religion specifically. Progressive Catholics blamed the slowing down or even reversal of necessary Vatican II reforms; from this point of view, Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae excluding the morality of contraception betrayed the Council, dashed the hopes of ordinary Catholics, and helped empty the churches.
Cuchet, once again relying on the late-1960s work of Canon Boulard and others, shows that the collapse of practice among Catholics in France dates to three years before 1968, very precisely to the year 1965. He calls it “the year of the drop-off (décrochage)” or “of the collapse (effondrement).” As Cuchet points out, this reality puzzled Boulard and the bishops he reported to at a time of “ideological sanctuarization of the Second Vatican Council,”5 although by then the bishops, who could (unconsciously?) sense that certain hopes had been misplaced, were no longer interested in such quantitative studies. In fact, Boulard continued his research at the university and carried on until his death in 1977. Cuchet had access to some of his correpondence and interlocutors from the period 1965-1977; after a time, it did dawn on Boulard that something drastic had happened.
Cuchet shows that 1965 is not only the year of the collapse in terms of Mass attendance but also—and sometimes even more dramatically—in terms of confession (now “Reconciliation”), baptism, and extreme unction (now “Anointing of the Sick”). The figures he marshals are starkly irrefutable.
The question Cuchet, a professional historian, had to broach was that of causes. His reluctance to tread onto the minefield is palpable. Although the trend over several centuries had been a slow decline of Catholicism, with a few dips (French Revolution) and peaks (in the nineteenth century—think of the Curé of Ars and Saint Thérèse—and after each of the World Wars), the collapse of 1965 is as steep and sudden as it was completely unexpected by anyone at the time, Boulard being the first among those startled at so uncharacteristic an inflexion in the graphs he had been drawing for a generation. Why did it happen at this time?
Cuchet cautiously ventures the following (p. 144): “Where can this rupture, since rupture there was, possibly have come from? There must have been an event behind a phenomenon of this magnitude, at least to provoke it. My hypothesis is that it was the Second Vatican Council.”6 He does hedge by claiming that a priori the texts of the Council had little to do with the collapse, while granting that, perhaps, certain aspects of the liturgical reform or of the text on religious liberty might have contributed. But certainly, he adds, the text on liturgical reform did not minimize the importance of Sunday liturgy—quite the contrary!
Here are the causes he invokes, in outline:
1) The teaching of the council on religious liberty in Dignitatis Humanae (December 1965). The application of religious liberty could hardly concern society at large, since such a liberty had existed in the West for nearly two centuries. It was therefore applied ad intra as freedom of conscience to the manner in which Catholics approached their own religious obligations (pp. 146-147). This amounted to a permission for Catholics to make up their own minds regarding doctrine and discipline (today we would speak of “cafeteria Catholicism”).
2) The discrepancy between “official Catholicism” after Vatican II and traditional popular piety. As an illustration of this factor, Cuchet notes that in shrines where this piety was respected, the collapse was far slower than in those in which new pastoral orientations were enforced (p. 148).7
3) In this connection, Cuchet (p. 149) points out that some elements of the liturgy, while seeming secondary to intellectuals, are actually psychological and anthropological determinants. He mentions the abandonment of Latin, changing pronouns to address God (“Thou” vs. “you” in the English context), Communion in the hand, the minimization or scuttling of former obligations (see below), and so forth.
4) An often forgotten principle of the new pastoral orientations is their high standard of expectation regarding the level of commitment of Catholics, starting already in 1960 and generalized by 1965. Access to baptism for one’s children required not only the promise to have one’s child catechized (which was already the case), but also now a “preparation” of several months for the parents to undergo. If the pastor deemed the parents insufficiently committed, he might postpone the baptism—a reversal of the pre-conciliar urgency to baptize children as soon as possible. Matrimony in Church went from a sociological convention to a personal investment and a public declaration of faith from which many, for diverse reasons, shrank (sense of propriety, discretion, simple shyness . . .).
5) As concerns doctrine and changes in catechesis, Cuchet invokes a principle that nineteenth-century philosopher Théodore Jouffroy articulated: changes in official teaching turn humble folk into skeptics. Indeed, an institution that admits to having been wrong yesterday may well be wrong today, too.8 In this respect, Cuchet focuses on the sudden silence in the pulpits (as tracked in parish bulletins giving the topic of the homily) regarding the four last things (Death, Judgment, Heaven, Hell); it gave the impression that the clergy had either ceased to believe in them or no longer knew how to discuss them, even though these had been frequent sermon topics right up until the Council; historian Jean Delumeau spoke of a pre-conciliar “pastoral strategy of fear.”9
6) More fundamentally, Cuchet speaks of “a collective exit from the culture of obligatory practice under pain of mortal sin.” This practice was articulated in the list of obligations generally taught as “Commandments of the Church”: holy days “of obligation”; Sunday Mass; Confession of Sins; Easter Communion; Fasting (Ember Days, Vigils, Lent); abstinence (all Fridays and some other days). While these obligations were at most softened (days of abstinence and fasting) but never suspended in the official texts, they were seldom mentioned any more. The gradual shrinking of the Eucharistic fast (traditionally no food or drink of any kind from midnight to Communion), begun by Pius XII in 1953 (water no longer broke it), led to its virtual extinction by Paul VI (the “one hour before Communion” Eucharistic fast) (p. 153). These modifications entailed social changes as well: anecdotally, Boulard noted the adverse affect that the end of Friday abstinence had on the fish markets of France. The permission to anticipate Sunday by attending Mass on Saturday evenings participated in the desacralization of Sundays, whose focus now shifted to leisure (which the now widespread ownership of television sets and automobiles made that much more available). As an aside, Cuchet mentions that at the time, the clergy viewed these effects in a positive light: a pastor could now be sure that those Catholics who still went to Sunday Mass or did penance on Fridays did so “more freely and more consciously” (p. 155).
7) Lastly, a decision was made that let out of the churches their most teachable demographic: children. Under the former catechetical system, 80% of French children attended Mass every Sunday (with or without their parents) in preparation for their “Solemn First Communion,” a rite of passage complete with a fancy lunch at the restaurant and gifts from relatives. Whole classes, arrayed in little wedding dresses and dark suits (festooned with white fringed satin arm band and mother-of-pearl crucifix boutonniere), went through it at the age of twelve. Weekly attendance at Mass and monthly Confession were required to be admitted to this socially resonant rite, after which young people tended to replicate their parent’s attendance rates. By 1965, however, this system was judged to be “merely social” and hypocritical and was withdrawn along with its incentives, significantly raising the median aged of the average congregation. Retired priests of the conciliar generation have confided to Cuchet that they felt liberated from such a burden as hearing confessions, particularly children’s confessions, every Saturday—a burden termed “chronophagous,” a “time-eater.” Other factors may have played a role in the loss of the church-attending hordes of children too, including the length of obligatory schooling, which gave the public school system a longer time in which to intervene between family tradition and the child.
Such, in broad strokes, are the results of Cuchet’s careful analysis of and reflection on the data surrounding the unprecedented downturn in the graph tracking measurable religious practice among Catholics in France. There is no denying that, despite the author’s charitable tone, it does amount to an indictment of the clergy (bishops and priests alike) on whom the responsibility of implementing the Council fell. Retrospectively, one wishes the priests had left well enough alone.
What emerges most forcefully—and what the author goes on to explore in his more reflective and prospective book Does Catholicism Still Have a Future in France?10—is the necessarily sociological dimension of religion. A whole complex of shared values, to some extent held together by a system of obligations indexed on a strong sense of the connection between religious practice and one’s eternal destiny, and incarnated in seasonal practices (recurring feasts and fasts, rites of passage), was the body of Catholicism, while the soul in this analogy was actual personal assent to the truths taught and, in fine, commitment to Christ. Many of what Cuchet calls the clergy’s “false good pastoral ideas” (i.e. good intentions with disastrous results) derive from the Platonic notion that separating the soul from the body would be to the former’s benefit. Instead, of course, death ensued, and our world stopped being Christian.
It is most interesting to compare similar works in other countries—not least our own—and see whether the local situation, with its own particularities (the Church in the US did not have Solemn First Communion, nor was it ever the ultramajority), reflects the same statistical drop-off, and at what date (was it also 1965?); as it is, Cuchet’s work may be too narrowly focused on France alone. But this work, in tandem with the statistical analyses of Stephen Bullivant’s Mass Exodus: Catholic Disaffiliation in Britain and America since Vatican II (Oxford, 2019) and, for religious life, Fr. Joseph Becker’s significant The Re-Formed Jesuits: A History of Changes in Jesuit Formation During the Decade 1965-1975 (Ignatius, 1992),11 may help to pinpoint and, perhaps, avoid repeating the causes of the major civilizational change of our lifetime.
1 Guillaume Cuchet, Comment notre monde a cessé d’être chrétien. Anatomie d’un effondrement (Paris: Éditions Points, 2020).
2 From the Académie des Inscriptions et belles lettres and from the Centre national du livre.
3 Fernand Boulard and Gabriel LeBras, Carte religieuse de la France rurale (Paris: Cahiers du Clergé rural, 1952); Id. et al., Matériaux pour l’histoire religieuse du peuple français, XIXe-XXe siècles, 4 vols, (Paris: Éditions de l’École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 1982-2011).
4 H. Godin and Y. Daniel, La France, pays de mission? (Paris: Cerf, 1943).
5 Cuchet, Comment, 98. “Sanctuarisation” is a French neologism on Cuchet’s part indicating that Vatican II as an event is a sort of Holy of Holies for the generation that lived it.
6 “D’où cette rupture, puisque rupture il y a eu, a-t-elle donc bien pu venir? Il faut qu’il y ait eu un événement derrière un phénomène de cet ordre, au moins pour le provoquer. Mon hypothèse est qu’il s’agit du concile Vatican II.”
7 Quoting Fernand Boulard, “La Religion populaire dans le débat de la pastorale contemporaine,” in B. Plongeron ed., La Religion populaire. Approches historiques (Paris: Beauchesne, 1976), 27-49.
8 Comment, 149, referring to T. Jouffroy, “Sur le scepticisme de notre époque,” in id., Cours du droit naturel, professé à la Faculté des lettres de Paris (Paris: Prévost-Crocius, 1834), 1-7.
9 J. Delumeau, Sin and Fear: The Emergence of a Western Guilt Culture (New York: MacMillan, 1990).
10 Guillaume Cuchet, Le Catholicisme a-t-il encore de l’avenir en France? (Paris: Seuil, 2021).
11 Not to forget, on the order of anthropological principles, Mary Douglas’s classic Purity and Danger (Routledge, 1966) and Natural Symbols (Barrie and Rockliff, 1970).
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A brilliant review, Dr. Pepino. What would you say to a priest who claimed as recently as this past Sunday that “the Vendee is so over”?
It depends on what he means by “so over.”
If he means that we no longer live in a situation of fervent commitment to Christ across an entire society, he is certainly right.
This is a very informing article on the contributing factors for the collapse of the number of actively practicing Catholics since 1965. I think that date nails it from my own life experience.
It was about that time that a friend’s mother handed me a copy of the book, “A Modern Priest Looks at His Outdated Church” by Father James Kavanaugh. I was entering college at the time and the book had a great impact on me. In retrospect, the book said less about the Church’s failings than it did about Fr. Kavanaugh himself. He represented just about every Catholic of his time (Pelosi, Biden, Cuomo, Kennedy and their ilk are all born of the same mindset).
What was singularly characteristic of Catholics at the time (including myself for a number of years) was what I would term a “tyranny of the individual self”. No longer was “corporate Catholicism” descriptive of the faithful but, rather, the exercise of the individual’s will over anything proposed or imposed by Church authority. Catholics decided for themselves what constituted moral and immoral behavior. An individual’s personal conscience trumped any magisterium issued by the Church. In essence, “We are the Church” was eliminated and in its place was substituted, “I am the Church” and I get to decide what is right and wrong. Not only was it “I get to decide whether to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” but the assertion was being made that “I planted that tree, the tree is in my garden, the tree belongs to me, and no one gets to tell me what to do with that tree.”
That attitude began in 1965 as the writer asserts and it reigns Supreme among Catholics today. Look at the Synodal Church in Germany. Look at the papacy of Francis when it comes to divorce & remarriage, “Who am I to judge?”, the Pachamama Princess, etc. Look at the clergy who sexually assaulted minors believing they get to do whatever they want with the bodies of vulnerable youth. Look at the number of Catholics who support abortion and those who vote for abortion-favoring Democrats.
Self-will run riot; the tyranny of the individual conscience; the age of narcissism in the Church – it all began in the mid-1960’s. It was a cultural decline that swept into and through the Church like a tidal wave and has never left. And make no mistake about it, it is the piety of the pre-1965 Church that Francis want to eliminate and it has nothing to do with Vatican II or Tridentine Mass.
I still have (somewhere) a copy of Father Kavanaugh’s book. In another sign of how much things have changed since it was published, I bought it at a local department store.
From Time Magazine, Friday, October 27, 1967:
Religion: Ex-Priests on the Attack
As a convert since 1995, having little religious background before, I have wondered and read much about speculation on the decline.
My interest in the change in society leads me to our removal of our armour- our faith. Then the “why” and “how” did this happen with good folks who knew the joy of their faith it IS a gift!
I think you have hit the nail on the head!
I prayed over my decision to marry into this Catholic family. I loved them so, and believed them to be quite holy, until I dared to delve deeper into our faith (after a significant illness- funny how that happens).
The lax attitude on sex, pornography and infidelity, drinking and drug use was hard to wrap my head around, even with my limited Christian experiences.
Eventually, we parted ways, in a difficult fashion, which also leaves scars on children, no matter their age. Now, everyone here, except me, has left our faith. My daily prayers continue.
Let’s delve deep into this epidemic- I think it’s imperative, as the darkness around us wants to smother the light. We must gather and stand firm. We must rebuild our communities in Christ. We must be a beacon of light and hope, keeping fast in our faith and yet non- judgmental. “The greatest of these is love”.
Many years ago, discussing Vatican II and Mass attendance with my father (basically, we were an agnostic family), he told me that after Vatican II, the fellows at work he knew who were Catholic mostly stopped going to Mass. Why? There was no point. “They changed the teachings.”
Apparently, one of the local Episcopal priests (with whom my father was aquainted) used to attend a Sunday Mass at a Catholic Church as well (I assume an evening Mass), but he stopped going after the introduction of the Novus Ordo. Why? No longer any reason. The Novus Ordo that replaced the Tridentine Rite was pretty much the same as the Episcopal servcies.
Actually, I imagine that the Novus Ordo probably was not as lovely–Anglicans and Episcopalians tend to be very concerned about lovely liturgical services.
Yeah, this goes nicely with Bullivant’s book. It is good to have serious research to back it up, but anyone who needs more at evidence at this point that Vatican II was a major factor in causing the massive drop in vocations, mass attendance and other indicators in the 1960s is never going to admit it anyway. Unfortunately, that includes most of the people running the Church at the moment.
The Church has become a shuttered house one where the light of Christ cannot be seen as the leadership of the church with privileged laity have done a covert deal with the prince of this world and become part of his empire with his two-finger sign that is used widely within society which often promotes advantage or the expectation of advantage in commerce, education, healthcare, publishing, media, etc, and all organized community activities including those within the religious sphere which enables corruption to flourish.
After several years of stating this at last one man, a true friend of Jesus Christ has courageously given this statement
“Thanks Brother Kevin for bravely raising an issue our Church leaders, even the genuine ones, avoid like the plague
Yes, true as fear rules. Some are part of the devil’s two-fingered herd, by design, others by gradual assimilation while some unfortunates through human frailty are terrorized into his web of corruption and denigration.
Quote ’Catholic communities are one of their main ‘happy hunting grounds’
Yes, happy to be protected by the V (The two-fingered sign of the prince of this world) as the sheep/flock is ever so gradually assimilated into the herd aided and abated by knowledgeable *hirelings. Make no mistake this entrapment with evil will eventually be conveyed individually to them (Who use this sign V) in knowing that they now live in one of the five houses of the Pentagram which in effect is one of the body parts of the body of Frankenstein.
Not dealing openly with the V (Two fingered sign) will result in any new endeavors (New Bishops etc) eventually mirroring the present corruption and disorders in the church today; in effect, one would be building on sand (A lie) rather than the rock of Truth, Jesus Christ.
Please consider continuing Via the link
kevin your brother
So true and well articulated.
Thank you, Joseph, for your supportive comment
kevin your brother
The one aspect hotly debated by some is loss of Formation in Prayerlife, loss of interiority is pointed out by some as the cause of decline in the substance – quality of Catholic Faith. Besides Confession- their decline and us not availing ourselves for the Sacrament of Penance, I am noting also that Priests do not promote mental Prayers- Ignatiun Examen are taken for meditation, which they are not, and as one Priest said, part of our Priesthood has become secular and increasingly ignorant and dismissive of spiritual foundation of faith, the challenges that come but can be overcome from precedent of Saints and affective nature of Spiritual Prayers.
So we are more social – with associated maladies of conformance and relativism in allowance for sin- corporate sin that then finds its way into our hearts
Loss of interiority – interior prayer may be attributable to a particular epoch. However, the problem is not Western or French. It is drift that is also debasing Christ in Liturgical Syncretism – syncretization that is social, psychological feel good liturgy with them openess to demonic forms of worship in pursuit for success and approval by the world that we are guilty of as majority of Catholics.
Again let us start with Prayer – Our Own Prayer Being That We decrease and Christ increase. Christ will do The Rest. The Church can do it especially through re-discovering individually and corporately the ladders of Prayerlife
This looks interesting, and I will hope for an English translation (my French is rudimentary).
I would like to know yearly figures for Mass attendance. What was it in 1965, 66, 67?
The “Solemn Communion” may never have been an official or general practice in the US but both my mother (New Orleans) and mother-in-law (Erie) made them in the 1920s. What they called the “Big Communion” may have been a hold over from the pre-Pius X days when children made their First Communion no younger than age 12. In any event, the practice was gone after WWII.
Cuchet assumed “certain aspects of the liturgical reform or of the text on religious liberty might have contributed”. The remaining 6 important points all submit to the gateway opening of the conscience to personal arbitration of revealed doctrine found in Dignitatis Humanae. As I’ve long held that while Dignitatis Humanae was the instrument not simply for eldest daughter Francis, but for the entire spectrum of revealed doctrine and the entire Church [Personally, I find it quite difficult to hold that Courtney Murray SJ could have been unaware of the consequences of his omission of baptized Catholic responsibility to the faith, to the Credo we repeat as our inviolable belief every Sunday.
I highly commend Prof John Pepino PhD’s essay. I would add that the pill became available in 63, and Catholic theologians were quick to approve its use. If there’s an inborn ‘instinct’ in Man that requires faith and grace to contain, it’s our sexual desires. That opened the gateway door wide open. Once sensual pleasure rules the mind the rest is inconsequential. Satan himself couldn’t have planned a better sequence of events to destroy Catholicism. Who would want to listen to a priest drone on every Sunday to convince that God loves you, just be nice, while we can remain at home and enjoy sensual pleasure? The 98% of Frenchmen.
Correction: Sentence should read, “As I’ve long held that while Dignitatis Humanae was the instrument not simply for eldest daughter France [not Francis],…
And yet we have a current pope and hierarchy that is bent on committing the same errors as in 1965.
As side note: someone I know talked to an old Lasallian brother, who mentioned that, prior to VII, the brothers led a life that was quasi-monastic, with a rigid schedule based on the Liturgy of the Hours, etc. But then, all of the sudden, that was swept away and, as the brother described, all of the sudden, with all the “free time,” many brothers “felt lonely” and ended up leaving the brothers. Very sad.
While Dignitatis Humanae is faulted for the drift it enabled, it is also true that the Council still had its thumb in the dike (rather than somewhere else, as today), when it clarified that religious freedom means and does not mean:
“[….]immunity from coercion in civil society. Therefore, it leaves untouched traditional Catholic doctrine on the moral duty of men and societies toward the true religion and toward the one Church of Christ [n. 1]” and ‘…all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth” (n. 2).
The Abbott edition of the Documents includes a very extensive and incisive fn. 5 (everyone reads footnotes!): “…the Declaration does not base the right to the free exercise of religion on ‘freedom of conscience’. Nowhere [!] does this phrase occur [….]”.
Then, in Gaudium et spes, there’s a bit more, e.g.:
“In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law [!] which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience [….] Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without losing its dignity. The same cannot [!] be said of a man who cares but little for truth and goodness, or of a conscience which by degrees grows practically sightless as a result of habitual sin” (n.16).
A catch-all, sin-nod consensus, anyone? “Aggregated, compiled and synthesized” by “facilitator”-bishops like Marx, Batzing, Grech, and Hollerich? Four skim-reader jokers in the same deck.
I have heard from several sources on the basis of first hand experience that the (Orthodox) Church in Romania is flourishing. Someone should do a study of what Patriarch Daniel and his bishops and clergy, and lay faithful, are doing there.
Too much superficial Catholic ritual and not enough personal belief in Jesus Christ. I am shocked to find how many professed Catholics are not Christians.
It’s only a small quibble but aren’t the Four Last Things Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell? Purgatory is after all a transitory state for the Holy Souls, not an eternal destination.
Dear Mr. Gaines,
Thank you for pointing that mistake out: you are correct, of course.
Major companies fail due to poor vision and leadership by their CEO and board members.The Catholic Chuch failed in France and is failing in the U.S for the same reasons. Not to mention no P.R. consultants and the owners do not have their hearts in it anymore.
That was the “great reset” part one.
We are now in part two.
Will the Catholic Church ever return to its former (pre-1965) sanity, good order, coherent doctrine, unity, meaningfulness, integrity, holiness, and strength-and-toughness-against-the-corrupt-world?
Good piece by Fr. Dwight Longenecker discussing Bullivant’s book on declining Catholicism in the US and the UK: “It’s All the Fault of Vatican 2 !!…or maybe not.” https://dwightlongenecker.com/its-all-the-fault-of-vatican-2/#comments
‘Religion is most successfully transmitted within a secure, extended environment–what we now call “cultural Catholicism.” Bullivant observes that the totally Catholic ethnic communities of major urban centers provided an integrated religious environment. In Glasgow and Liverpool, Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Chicago great chunks of the population lived within an ethnically and religiously consistent community. The social life, family life, education, employment and religious life was all of a piece. One didn’t question the religion. It was simply “what it is.” Everybody was Catholic. The air you breathed was Catholic.
For many complicated and interwoven reasons, this cultural Catholicism broke down. Now in 2020 it is gasping its last. When the social structures of religion disintegrated, individuals were liberated to question their faith. The problem was, the form of catechesis they had received was not strong on empowerment and individual questioning. The catechesis was strong on memorization and training in duty. One kept the faith as a sign of loyalty to family, friends and belonging to the community. When those communities began to disintegrate the members of their younger generation didn’t have the tools to cope with the questions with which they were faced. …
So where does the second Vatican Council fit into this? Bullivant analyzes the aims and results of the Council praising the intentions but lamenting the results. The documents of the council are inspiring to read but the implementation of them not so much. He makes the point that the decline in church commitment was already happening in the forties and fifties and if the Council had not taken place people would likely be facing the same dispiriting numbers but saying “If only Pope John XXIII had called that council like he said wanted to!” Furthermore, it is very possible to conclude that rather than causing the decline in Catholic commitment, the Council (while not a roaring success) did help to stem the decline. In other words, without the Council the decline might have been much worse. …
With the rise of science, the Age of Reason and the Age of Revolution, belief in an external supernatural dimension deteriorated. The disintegration of real supernatural religion–replaced by moralistic, therapeutic Deism–is the underlying cause for the decline of religion. To be perfectly blunt, the disintegration of ethnic Catholic hotspots and an integrated Catholic environment allowed many Catholics to look again at the Catholic faith and conclude, “I don’t really believe all that medieval, supernatural hocus pocus.” Adopting a materialistic worldview–one that provided a wonderful lifestyle with amazing new “freedoms” including sexual liberation–was not only very attractive, it was also more sensible.” ‘
Fortunately if Catholicism isnt your cup of tea you might have more success with any one of the other religions (sanctioned by the Pope) currently out there
Daoism? Why not, pluralism is fine now
When I was a boy we were taught that if the Church caught fire it was our duty to dash in and save the Blessed Sacrament. If died in our attempt, we would surely go to Heaven.
I wonder how many Catholics are members of Parishes where they even know where the Tabernacle is, so hidden away as it is in many Churches built after 1965.
I cannot remember a single funeral I have attended in the last 50 years, where there was any notion that the deceased was not now in Heaven. No mention of Purgatory or the possibility of Hell, rather than once we died it was straight to Heaven that we went.
When was the last time someone mentioned offering up anything for the Poor Souls in Purgatory ? Or asking the Saints to intercede for us ?
Why were statues of the favourite Saints of the ethnic groups that made up the Parish removed by self-annointed Liturgical Experts [Also known as Two Week Summer Workshops Liturgists.]
Who put the Protestant mobs of the 1500’s to shame in the desire to purge their Churches of any statues, candles, tabernacles, communion rails, confessionals, stained glass windows and stone Altars,or at least did their best to prevent any of the above in the Parish Churches built after 1965.
What was it about a little statue of Saint Rose of Lima, a favourite in my parish, that was so offensive to those that embraced the Spirit of Vatican II and professed their assured belief that all people of all religions or no religions were going directly to Heaven, that they could not tolerate a small statue with three votive candles in front of it for those who sought to live the life she led in service to Jesus and her fellow humans, in the back corner of the Church ?
Western Society changed enormously after World War II, especially in the 1960’s and more so in 1965, than any other year. The Pill, the coming of age of those born right after World War II, the increasing number of Catholics who no longer attended Catholic Secondary and Catholic Colleges and the younger Priests/Nuns who no longer taught/believed the Fullness of the Faith opened the doors of doubt that have only opened ever wider in the last 57 years.
Now we are told to respect other religions, atheism and agnosticism and to not seek to preach the Gospel of Christ Jesus to them, even though Jesus told us to – unto the Ends of the Earth, but rather to just be a kind and nice person.
So what, then, were we and are we to make of the Martyrs who died for the faith, who travelled to distant lands to witness to and for Jesus ? Were they mistaken, did they live under the old faith and Vatican II grated a New Dispensation that superseded the New Covenant that the Church had taught and preached for 1922 years ?
In terms of Active and Conscious participation in the Eucharistic Liturgy – I can only speak from my experiences, but most attendees do not sing the songs, do not say the prayers from their hearts and do not believe the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Jesus. Yet, they are faithful in attending Mass every week, when so many Catholics are not. Why is that ? Perhaps that question is as vital and as important as to why so many Catholics stopped attending the Mass.
We live in an age where there are to be no mysteries, no mercies that ” Passeth all Understanding “, no real need to sacrifice for the sake of others, no conscience but our own and which is incapable of ever committing grave sines, let alone mortal sins.
I rather arrive early at a Church and sit in the Holy Darkness with the Votive Candles flickering before the various Statues, aware that Jesus is in the Tabernacle, with only the prayers breaking the silence instead of the Folk Group warming up and people yelling across the pews stating how their week has been and how their favourite football team will do later that Sunday.
We are called to be compassionate in our charity toward one another how we come to that compassion via the Holy Spirit entering our souls, our hearts, our minds and wills is up to the Trinity, not up to those who idolise misinterpretations of Vatican II.
Thanks for the quotes and link Maggie.
May I suggest “Age of reason” and “Age of Revolution” are outdated euphemisms for “Freemasonic Empire”. Catholics should ditch this FM Com. Another term is “the Modern World”. Re-read the council’s call to throw open the windows and enter into dialogue (without the euphemism) with the triumphant “Masonic Empire” placing men on the moon and changing everything for the common good…
The Empire we all lament – without naming it – is entirely responsible for the anti-Catholic world. From Marxist Communism (the simple inversion of the 10 Commandments) through to ideological weapons such as eugenics (1930s) and gender-mutilation (2020s), from Cromwell to Stalin, McCarrick and Xi-Jingping.
Ratzinger famously quipped that the Church at Vatican II had not simply thrown in the towel.
After reading Charles Murr – personal secretary to Cardinal Gagnon, charged with a 3 year investigation into the infiltration of the Roman Curia by Paul VI – it is clear as day that infiltrates long worked to steal that towel and hand it over to the Masonic Regime. In exchange for a continued presence at the top table with all the perks would the likes of McCarrick do such a thing?
After 65 years of euphemisms, the time has truely come in this “Post-Covid Age of Revival” for the survivors of Vatican II to acknowledhe what has taken place: Institutional Freemasonic Subversion. There is no otherway to make sense of Rome’s nonsence, of the permanent mode of Self-De-construction.
Note to Carl – Is there any way to set up the comments so the newer ones are at the top??
This would save me from having to scroll through all the comments to see if I’ve missed anything.
Re current Groff vs. USPS court case
There it is in #6 – “The ability to anticipate Sunday by attending Mass on Saturday evenings participated in the desacralization of Sundays, whose focus now shifted to leisure (which the widespread ownership of television sets and automobiles made that much more available)”
ICYMI, Crisis Magazine has a recent podcast interview with Stephen Bullivant.