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"Springtime of Vatican II" Update

The Church in France is Almost Dead

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Like The-Consecration-That-Wasn’t in 1984, the Springtime-That-Wasn’t, otherwise known as the "renewal of Vatican II," continues to produce only poisonous fruits. The Novus Ordo Mass invented by Paul VI is attended by only 25% of Catholics, and the birth rate among Catholics the world over has plummeted to well below replacement level.

In France the situation is even worse. In the nation once known as "the eldest daughter of the Church," Mass attendance is in single digits and the Church’s official presence is rapidly dwindling. Today the majority of those who still attend Mass each week do so in independent Chapels maintained by the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X.

A BBC report of January 7, 2005 confirms the impending demise of the Novus Ordo establishment in France: "As secularisation takes an increasingly firm hold over French society, Catholic congregations are disappearing and the country's aging priests are dying. France has already lost more than half the priests it had in the 1960s," says the BBC.

The BBC report focuses on one priest, Fr. Andre Bozou, who "has no fewer than 40 churches to look after," because there are now almost no priests in the Lot valley. "It would be a virtually impossible task," says the BBC, "but for the fact that many of them have almost no congregation. There are just a handful of worshippers for Fr Bouzou's Mass at St Laurent Lolmie."

No priests and almost no congregants. Behold the springtime of Vatican II.

And yet, the elderly Catholics interviewed by BCC, including the town’s mayor and two nuns, "can all remember when every church like this had its own priest. One of the nuns [says] that the pews are now empty because of materialism and the breakdown in community life, but Fr Bouzou blames people's aversion to belonging."

An aversion to belonging? What does that mean? Perhaps this "aversion to belonging" began when the sacred liturgy of 1500 years’ standing was converted into a three-ring circus, and when priests and bishops began to avoid the touchy subjects of death, judgment, Heaven and hell. Perhaps this "aversion to belonging" began when the same priests and bishops ceased to provide the faithful with any compelling reason to belong to the Catholic Church.

Fr. Bouzou, who visits this village Church only once a year, is, at age 63, "younger than most priests in the Cahors diocese. The average age is 68." Indeed, says the BBC, "For decades, the Church in France has been living on borrowed time, relying on a body of priests whose average age has steadily increased. That time has suddenly run out. Recent research suggests that French priests have become so old that half of them will die in the next eight years." And then what? Since the Novus Ordo has simply failed to attract vocations, the Church in France will die with the remaining few priests.

The situation is so desperate that the French hierarchy has taken to importing priests from Africa. But they, too, preach in nearly empty churches. One African priest, a Father Kere, says that "he will often find just five in church."

Like an overconfident but utterly incompetent physician, the people who have presided over this disaster continue to recommend more of the same medicine that has been slowly killing the patient for the past forty years. BCC notes that "some priests support a movement called Focalari, a broad-based, un-dogmatic approach to Christianity aimed particularly at the young, in the hope of bringing people back to church." Others, notes BBC, "support an even more radical idea, in open defiance of the Pope's strict edict: an end to compulsory celibacy and even the ordination of women."

As the Church in France lies dying from the effects of novelty, the purveyors of novelty can think only in terms of more of the same. Far from their minds is anything as simple as a return to the traditions they abandoned only 40 years ago, when the churches of France were filled. Such is the apostasy that, as Cardinal Ciappi warned upon reading the Third Secret of Fatima, will begin at the top.