Church Decline After Vatican II?
#1
http://www.gallup.com/poll/117382/church...tants.aspx

I had heard recently that Mass attendance dropped rapidly before Vatican II and before the introduction of the Mass of Paul VI, so I looked up the Gallup Poll data and found confirmation in that. This data throws me for a bit of a loop because the repeated narrative says that it was Vatican II and the new Mass and the culture of the '60s that caused the decline.

If you look at CARA's information on the number of priests and religious over the past 50 years, the number of diocesan priests in the US remained relatively stable until after the 1990s, but in the entire world, the number decreases after the '70s, and everywhere the number of religious declined quickly after the '60s. http://cara.georgetown.edu/caraservices/...stats.html

Msgr. Pope also goes over CARA's statistics on the average number of priests per parish in the US here: http://blog.adw.org/2013/08/welcome-to-1...er-parish/

And the number of priests in England and Wales peaked not in the '50s, but in the '70s: http://www.drgareth.info/CathStat.pdf

Msgr. Pope says that priests spiked during this time due to bringing in priests from Europe. It's also curious to note that for those above 40, there is only a steady decline in attendance since the '50s in contrast to the sharp decline of those younger than 40, especially from 1950-1980.

Does anyone know why Mass attendance was declining rapidly since the early '50s? Are there other statistics out there as well on these issues?
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#2
I'm not an expert in the happenings of the Church pre-VII, but let's not make pretend that it all came out of nowhere. Many abuses had been brewing for quite some time. Some people who were around pre-VII recall stories of priests who would speed though the Mass as quickly as possible and in times that would put some of the quicker NO Masses to shame.

Many of the post-VII attitudes were beginning to pop up before the council. Also to add to it was the fact that the world had just gotten out of the two worst wars in human history. I'm sure experiencing those things shook the faith of many. It's probably also why you see the decline in Europe before the US.
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#3
From my understanding, just before Vatican II, the Church was not doing well in Europe, but in America was pretty strong in comparison.  For example, here are some Mass attendance numbers from France:

http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2012/10...hurch.html

(notice, they were bad in 1961 just before Vatican II, but terrible now)

There's a reason why the places where the Church was doing the worst (like France and Germany) were the ones pushing for the most radical reforms. What they were doing prior just didn't seem to be working.

Many people even before Vatican II did see these numbers as foreboding and foresee the coming changes in society as causing severe challenges for the Church and tried to come up with ideas to meet these challenges.  There's a good survey of these ideas published in 1965 called "Change and the Catholic Church" by (later Bishop) Jeremiah Newman that summarizes a lot of the written works addressing these issues from the time period immediately before the Council. Suburbanization and professionalization were being predicted to greatly breakdown parish life and unity and certain forms of feminism and intellectualism were seen as threats to religious and family life.  There was a wide range of solutions proposed--some beyond the pale of orthodoxy and others just seem strange now (like parishes organized not based on territory, but on profession, for example), but it at least seemed apparent to many that something needed to be done.

The Church in America on the other hand was thriving in a pluralist, secular society and was becoming pretty influential without the privileges the Church had elsewhere, but often with more freedom.  Some of the pastoral approaches proposed at and adopted by the Council were clearly based on trying to emulate the American model of engaging such a society successfully, a society the new post-WWII order was predicted to resemble. 

Of course, what ended up happening was that the world changed so fast in the 1960s and 70s that the momentum was too great for the Church to really exercise any pull on it--instead much of the Church got pulled along.  It became too much too quickly and everyone got disoriented. The decline accelerated instead of getting better.
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#4
I am an old fart and I remember the pre-Vatican II days. I studied the Latin so I could be an acolyte and Altar Boy. It was grueling and odd, Latin. But I learned it. The Mass was more sacred with Latin. You were obviously talking to God when you spoke it and when the common tongue became the language of the local church services (for one), you were just using speech as you would when speaking to the guy next to you...nothing special and attention to the Mass was easily distracted since you didn't need a Missal to follow along and understand the Latin. Concentration on the matter at hand was less necessary.

Then, when I was in High School, the nuns (Order of BVM) one day, started coming to school in common garb and some wearing makeup! What a confusing shock. And add to that these women were really out of the habit of dressing fashion and makeup technique...they frequently did either badly. It was embarrassing for all of us and them too.

The the mantra of "In the Spirit of Vatican II" became the banner of those who wanted to make incremental changes that then became major...like Altar Girls for one. There were so many that one never knew for sure what was actually discussed at Vatican II...information was sketchy and changes vast. It was a growing lesion in the soul of the Church that has festered for years and I think, made many a once devout Catholic a neo-Protestant.

Vatican II was a Holy gathering, but the press and enemies of the Church caused a horrid retreat from Orthodoxy into the realm of something untenable and odd. It took root and we now have the fruit of it in our Holy Mother Church...the Cancer of Modernism and Masonic members who cause disorder and bring disrepute.

The Church may recover or those of the more conservative bent will keep Her alive when the enemies bring the Church down by force. This outcome is a Prophesied outcome, from Our Lady to the Saints.

Heaven help us!!
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#5
I'm actually very reassured by this discussion. Too often in Trad circles, the decline of the Church is put squarely on VII, and that things were good and perfect and holy prior to that. While I don't think anyone doubts that the changes after VII played a role in the decline of the Church, to put sole blame on it is shortsighted at best.

The social upheaval that has occurred in the past century, and which continues to accelerate today, is unprecedented in scale, scope and speed in recorded human history. Pretty much every major denomination and every religion (with the notable exception of probably Islam) has seen decline too, some more and some less than the Church. We live in a society that has remade God in it's image, and there's very little room for Truth in that scenario.

That being said, I don't think the New Mass helped, but in fact sped the decline in recent decades. In a tumultuous time, what Catholics needed was steadfastness and consistency - instead, we got upheaval upon the upheaval that surrounded us. I think that's in part why there's an interest in the traditional practices of the Church, and so often in the young. Nearly all the people calling for the return of the TLM in my area are under 30.

The future of the Church lays in her past. 
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#6
Of course things were not perfect pre-VII, after all Pascendi or Divinis Redemptoris were not for nothing. We have plenty of lamentations from orthodox people. And I really doubt there is this jump from TLM to clown Masses just because a pope said so (think of how hard it is to implement  Summorum Pontificum if the priest or bishop is not willing—heck, its hard to even teach the Catechism, even the modern one, if priests and bishops are not willing)--why such a small resistance?
Maybe VII gave an excuse for it all. So, the Church could be in decline, but the decline of seminarians and religious was twentyfold during the sixties (even before the promulgation of the NOM). While I reject the gross narrative that VII was the only cause, I really believe the Council and its implementations helped the decline. I mean, Douthat makes the case that even though the more 'conservative' churches don't grow in a much impressive manner, they are the ones surviving at all.

What I think it was a tragedy is that I've heard from many folks that not only the liberals went their way, but otherwise orthodox or simply decent Catholics abandoned the Church, and I suspect these were more due to the changes rather than previous trends.

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#7
(07-23-2015, 10:04 AM)SaintSebastian Wrote: The Church in America on the other hand was thriving in a pluralist, secular society and was becoming pretty influential without the privileges the Church had elsewhere, but often with more freedom.  Some of the pastoral approaches proposed at and adopted by the Council were clearly based on trying to emulate the American model of engaging such a society successfully, a society the new post-WWII order was predicted to resemble. 
This is what I don't understand because according to the Gallup data, Mass attendance in America was precisely not thriving during the '50s at least and based on the slope of the statistics, it was already in a huge decline that only began to level out after the mid-'70s, which would have been around the time of the introduction of the full vernacular Novus Ordo. Msgr. Pope attributes a lot of the growth in the number of priests in the US at this time as being due to bringing in European, especially Irish, priests. What do you mean by saying the American Church was thriving?
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#8
(07-23-2015, 03:26 PM)richgr Wrote:
(07-23-2015, 10:04 AM)SaintSebastian Wrote: The Church in America on the other hand was thriving in a pluralist, secular society and was becoming pretty influential without the privileges the Church had elsewhere, but often with more freedom.  Some of the pastoral approaches proposed at and adopted by the Council were clearly based on trying to emulate the American model of engaging such a society successfully, a society the new post-WWII order was predicted to resemble. 
This is what I don't understand because according to the Gallup data, Mass attendance in America was precisely not thriving during the '50s at least and based on the slope of the statistics, it was already in a huge decline that only began to level out after the mid-'70s, which would have been around the time of the introduction of the full vernacular Novus Ordo. Msgr. Pope attributes a lot of the growth in the number of priests in the US at this time as being due to bringing in European, especially Irish, priests. What do you mean by saying the American Church was thriving?

If I read the Gallup data right, weekly Mass attendance in the US was at 75% in 1955. According to the blurb at the end, the next data point was 1965-66.  Prior to Vatican II, for example, the French were at 25%.  Even if their numbers went down a little, the US was still far and away doing better. As I mentioned, the astute saw the warning signs in the US too, but at the time the US Church was doing a whole lot better then what was going on in Europe at the time.
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#9
(07-23-2015, 03:44 PM)SaintSebastian Wrote:
(07-23-2015, 03:26 PM)richgr Wrote:
(07-23-2015, 10:04 AM)SaintSebastian Wrote: The Church in America on the other hand was thriving in a pluralist, secular society and was becoming pretty influential without the privileges the Church had elsewhere, but often with more freedom.  Some of the pastoral approaches proposed at and adopted by the Council were clearly based on trying to emulate the American model of engaging such a society successfully, a society the new post-WWII order was predicted to resemble. 
This is what I don't understand because according to the Gallup data, Mass attendance in America was precisely not thriving during the '50s at least and based on the slope of the statistics, it was already in a huge decline that only began to level out after the mid-'70s, which would have been around the time of the introduction of the full vernacular Novus Ordo. Msgr. Pope attributes a lot of the growth in the number of priests in the US at this time as being due to bringing in European, especially Irish, priests. What do you mean by saying the American Church was thriving?

If I read the Gallup data right, weekly Mass attendance in the US was at 75% in 1955. According to the blurb at the end, the next data point was 1965-66.  Prior to Vatican II, for example, the French were at 25%.  Even if their numbers went down a little, the US was still far and away doing better. As I mentioned, the astute saw the warning signs in the US too, but at the time the US Church was doing a whole lot better then what was going on in Europe at the time.
Oh I see, then I was just misunderstanding your point. You were thinking vertically in terms of the actual number of people present in church at that time, while I was thinking horizontally with the negative slope that was present at that time.
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#10
I have a feeling that, many orthodox Catholics left after the changes because they had no more reference points left for their Faith,all the externals--- the signs,the symbols,the rituals--- and the culture built up by them just evaporated in front of them. There was a real sense that the Church simply destroyed itself leaving millions adrift in an unfamiliar sea of experimentation and novelty. What people don't realize is how deeply rooted even the externals of our Faith are, and how lex orandi, lex credendi really means something in people's lives. If you take away everything that pointed to the mysteries of the Faith,the signs and symbols that rooted people in Catholicism,than there was nothing left to stay for.

The neo conservatives and the apologists associated with them don't really get it, I mean the Church of Frank Sheed and Fulton Sheens apologetics collapsed like a house of cards after the Council. Intellectual assent to the truth claims of Catholicism are only one side of the coin, what is also fundamental is the theology,the stained glass, the sacramentals, the chant---the whole aura and culture of Catholicism. This is what was lost, and once it disappeared people simply left the Church because intellectual parlor games and apologetics are simply not enough. How you pray is how you believe,period, close the book. You want Haugen/Haas, freestanding butchers block tables and churches in the round bereft of statuary and stained glass you'll pass on something other than Catholicism.

There were problems pre Vatican II that the Council was suppose to deal with in a thoroughly Catholic manner, but what happened was the near total demolition of the externals of Catholicism at the hands of the popes and bishops. People will not be fooled even when it's the Pope telling them black is white and white is black. The people voted with their feet and up and left the Church altogether.
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