The Church of the Vatican II Renewal Is on Life Support.
by Christopher A. Ferrara
August 4, 2017
I always find it faintly amusing to see how “mainstream” Catholic commentators attempt to diagnose the obvious malaise of the Church that developed abruptly after the Second Vatican Council, at whose beginning Pope John XXIII was praising “the Church’s vitality.”
Take this commentary, for example, which laments that “[f]ew religious publications are willing to delve into the issues facing the Catholic Church today when it comes to declining attendance. Most priests do not want to recognize the fact that churches are now emptier today than ever before and parochial schools are closing at an accelerating rate.”
Why? The author never really gets around to telling us. He merely notes the signs of both social and ecclesial decline in America since 1960 — the very year in which the Third Secret was to be revealed, only to be suppressed by Pope John — without offering any definitive answer to his own questions about the causes:
- “Only about half of Americans are married today, down from 72 percent in 1960. Why has marriage declined?
- “Although the divorce rate has fallen since the 1980s, when it was at an all-time high, it is still twice as high as it was in 1960 and currently hovers around 50%.
- “The U.S. birth rate is declining…. The average number of babies [has] dropped to a record low of 1.8 babies, well below the 2.1 needed for a stable population. Statistics show that birth rates among Catholic couples fell well within the current national statistics.
- “Catholic schools are closing at a rapid rate. At their peak in the mid-1960s, more than 13,000 Catholic elementary and secondary schools enrolled 12% of U.S. school children. But by 2012, fewer than 7,000 Catholic schools enrolled about two million, or 5% of U.S. school-aged children.
- “... No more nuns. From a peak of over 100,000 sisters in the 1960s down to about 6,500 in 2010 still working or less than one per Catholic school.”
- “The Catholic congregations are aging and dying off. At least 60% of most congregations today are over 65 years of age. The older the church’s membership, the more likely that the church is to have falling numbers, weaker finances, anemic youth programming and a sense of spiritual fatigue.”
The author makes a couple of weak stabs at an explanation, citing the women’s liberation movement for the decline in marriage and family and “no more nuns” for the decline in Catholic education. But these are merely symptoms of an underlying disease.
Throwing up his hands, the author concludes: “The pews will remain empty unless the Catholic Church can address the issues blocking attendance. This will not be an easy task. The issues have to be addressed at the highest level in the Church.”
As we can see, our author is essentially clueless about why the Church has suffered a precipitous decline since Vatican II, correlated with a social decline reflected in the parlous state of the Catholic family in comparison with the immediate pre-conciliar period. He refers merely to “issues” that “have to be addressed at the highest level in the Church.”
But what issues? Let me suggest a few:
- the sudden abandonment of the Church’s traditional Latin liturgy, which nurtured the faith of Catholics for nearly 2,000 years, inspiring countless saints and the greatest works of art, literature and music the world has ever seen;
- the sudden abandonment of the traditional formation of priests and nuns in the seminaries and convents, eliminating the other-worldliness that made religious vocations attractive to souls;
- the sudden abandonment, for the sake of the novelty of “ecumenism,” of the Church’s perennial teaching which “altogether forbade any intercourse with those who professed a mutilated and corrupt version of Christ’s teaching: ‘If any man come to you and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into the house nor say to him: God speed you.’ [2 John 10].”
- the sudden abandonment of all condemnations of error, along with the Oath Against Modernism designed to root out the ecclesial subversives who are now running rampant in the Church;
- the sudden adoption of a posture of “dialogue” with the “modern world” instead of militant opposition to its deadly errors;
- the sudden abandonment (at least in practice) of the dogma that outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation;
- the sudden embrace of the notion, condemned by Pius XI as a threat to “foundations of the Catholic faith”, i.e., that that “all religions are more or less good and praiseworthy,” leading naturally to the conclusion that Catholicism is no better than any other religion and has no special claim to the allegiance of men;
- the consequent overwhelming impression among the people that there is no particularly compelling reason either to join or to remain in the Catholic Church or to heed her teachings, leading inevitably to a drastic decline in membership and conversions and a drastic moral decline among those who remain nominally Catholic.
In sum, the “issues” our author says must be addressed “at the highest level in the Church” reduce to one issue: reversal of the ecclesial revolution that has convulsed her over the past half-century and the restoration of Catholic Tradition in all its integrity — liturgical, doctrinal and moral. Failing that, the human element of the Church will continue to be the salt that has lost its savor and is being trampled underfoot by a hostile world with whose powers Church leaders continue their fatuous, pointless, and worse-than-useless “dialogue.”
But that reversal, it now seems clear, can come only through a dramatic divine intervention — literally a miracle. And that miracle will not come, we can be sure, until Russia is finally consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, an act that will undo the consequences of the epochal faithlessness of her leaders these past fifty years.