Church Decline After Vatican II?
#11
I don't think Vatican II can entirely, or even in a major fashion account for the decline that hit the Church. To many Catholics, the problems following the Second Vatican Council have been used to explain this decline, but that's always taken in a vacuum. People often forget that this decline happened across the board, the Eastern Orthodox were hit, the protestants were hit.

If all of this could be accounted for by the effects following the Second Vatican Council, why not only the Catholic Church?

A more reasonable explanation is simple that the people that are largely leaving the Church are people who were in the Church, but not of the Church. They were born in Catholic families, but it never became part of their lives. They were baptised, because their brothers were... but otherwise they started using contraception, engaged in premarital sex and so forth, without much hesitation. These people are now finding that the Church is actually counter in many ways to the society that they largely enjoy living in. Its largely these people that are missing.

And of course a few pious Catholics left and became schismatic, joining the Eastern Orthodox, or becoming Sedevacantists.
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#12
(07-23-2015, 04:06 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: 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.

Have considered a reverse causality as well? I know the externals are important, but I remember showing you the pictures of the Lutheran Church buildings, and you said that if had grown up in those you would have never left. Yet those Churches are filled with to the brim with the most nominal members imaginable, with a handful of old pious people. Preachers who'll readily marry gay people, a few who openly deny the ressurrection and even one or two who said they didn't and couldn't believe in a Creator.

The grand Cathedrals were built by people who had a deep and pious faith and were willing to support these construction.

I see wreckovation as a symptom of a Church that has lost its spiritual element, but the wreckovation is not a cause of it. Yes it certainly doesn't help, but isn't it also a mistake to attach too much significance to these externals. They're important, they glorify God and they help form us. And I support building churches, and especially renovating them in such a style. However they're not the majority of the cause of the things we've seen.

Traditional parishes don't suddenly, and magically, fill with members and never go through fluctuations, simple because they have statues of Sct. Michael the Archangel and a communion rail.

Though I wish there were more churches like that. They made a good restoration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Copenhagen to a more traditional style. They restored the Marian shrine, and the high altar remains, even though a smaller tabel altar is used instead.

This did not happen by sitting around whining about the state of the Church, but many people petitioning this for a long time and doing quite a bit to help it. Though in Denmark we're very blessed to have a conservative bishop, so I understand it is harder elsewhere if you one who is indifferent to things like this.

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#13
The event of Vatican II certainly sparked a lot of nuttiness which led to the decline getting much sharper. Like Zedta mentioned, priests and religious changed overnight and so did how the seminaries were run. I can't recommend this priest's account enough: the same disciplinarian cassock wearing teachers in the seminary who would chastise a seminarian for talking to a girl all of a sudden returned one semester wearing sweaters and love beads and talking about going on dates.

Obviously, this stuff cannot be justified by a docile obedience to the Council's official acts, but the event was received as a catalyst for it.  That's one reason I am of the opinion that had Vatican II happened even 10 to 15 years earlier (including even the liturgical reform) and promulgated the exact same documents, you wouldn't have seen the same nuttiness. Likewise, if Vatican II never happened at all, the same kind of nuttiness would not have happened in the 1960s.  There still would have been troubles, but it would not have been so pronounced.

But that event taking place when it did was a perfect storm.  The firsthand account I provided above goes into this idea a good deal.
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#14
(07-23-2015, 04:35 PM)Leonhard Wrote:
(07-23-2015, 04:06 PM)formerbuddhist Wrote: 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.

Have considered a reverse causality as well? I know the externals are important, but I remember showing you the pictures of the Lutheran Church buildings, and you said that if had grown up in those you would have never left. Yet those Churches are filled with to the brim with the most nominal members imaginable, with a handful of old pious people. Preachers who'll readily marry gay people, a few who openly deny the ressurrection and even one or two who said they didn't and couldn't believe in a Creator.

The grand Cathedrals were built by people who had a deep and pious faith and were willing to support these construction.

I see wreckovation as a symptom of a Church that has lost its spiritual element, but the wreckovation is not a cause of it. Yes it certainly doesn't help, but isn't it also a mistake to attach too much significance to these externals. They're important, they glorify God and they help form us. And I support building churches, and especially renovating them in such a style. However they're not the majority of the cause of the things we've seen.

Traditional parishes don't suddenly, and magically, fill with members and never go through fluctuations, simple because they have statues of Sct. Michael the Archangel and a communion rail.

Though I wish there were more churches like that. They made a good restoration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Copenhagen to a more traditional style. They restored the Marian shrine, and the high altar remains, even though a smaller tabel altar is used instead.

This did not happen by sitting around whining about the state of the Church, but many people petitioning this for a long time and doing quite a bit to help it. Though in Denmark we're very blessed to have a conservative bishop, so I understand it is harder elsewhere if you one who is indifferent to things like this.

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You know after I wrote what I wrote above what you are getting at dawned on me. Externals alone are not enough,they too are only one side of the coin. Somehow I think externals matter a great deal though, especially for those like myself who are very visual.  Maybe you're right, the wreckovation went hand in hand with a profound loss of the sense of the spiritual,supernatural dimension.  I can't help but think this loss of the sense of the supernatural went all the way to the top, not so much with John XXIII but with Paul VI.

Visual people like me love to have visible tangible symbols of the Faith to help raise the mind and heart to God. I can and do pray anywhere and everywhere, but I feel more at home amongst a place that looks and feels like a real Church be it East or West, and even at home my walls are filled with icons and images to remind me of my Faith. When I pray I use candles and incense,especially for Vespers during the Magnificat.

Actually in these parts there are a few decent churches, one which got a communion rail and a bunch of statues after the FSSP starting coming every Sunday,but for the most part here in Florida there are only a few if any churches that even approach the beauty of those in Western Europe.

It's interesting though, that it's not just externals but the interior disposition as well. I wonder if they are so intertwined as to really be inseparable, in that if one is undone the other follows,or if, like the old question of which came first the chicken or the egg there really is no easy answer.

No doubt a restoration will have to take into account both the external and the internal.



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#15
(07-23-2015, 04:41 PM)SaintSebastian Wrote: The event of Vatican II certainly sparked a lot of nuttiness which led to the decline getting much sharper. Like Zedta mentioned, priests and religious changed overnight and so did how the seminaries were run. I can't recommend this priest's account enough: the same disciplinarian cassock wearing teachers in the seminary who would chastise a seminarian for talking to a girl all of a sudden returned one semester wearing sweaters and love beads and talking about going on dates.
I'm a big fan of Fr. Simon's work, but it's been a few years since I read his accounts of the changes. One thing that has confused me so much is--how could the same priests/religious superiors have such a dramatic change suddenly? Wouldn't that mean that there was already a deeply flawed notion of religiosity in them, and if so, how did it get there and when did that process begin? Are there good studies on this topic that you are aware of? I don't so much mean histories covering Vatican II and what led to it, but the sociological and psychological changes in priests, religious, and laity that could allow for such a dramatic, overnight shift. Clearly these people must have had very flawed ideas of their offices if they could be so easily changed.
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#16
The perfect storm at the perfect time. The Church was given what it deserved and it fell even harder than it otherwise would have. Is the NO culture of the Church, the so called Church of Nice, not what that generation and even today's deserved? The 60s and 70s were a time of pure rebellion from all that is traditional values.

Only the young and the few wise of the elders realize that the remedy lies in tradition. I wonder if VII never happened and the Church declined anyway what the future hope would be.
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#17
(07-23-2015, 04:27 PM)Leonhard Wrote: I don't think Vatican II can entirely, or even in a major fashion account for the decline that hit the Church. To many Catholics, the problems following the Second Vatican Council have been used to explain this decline, but that's always taken in a vacuum. People often forget that this decline happened across the board, the Eastern Orthodox were hit, the protestants were hit.

If all of this could be accounted for by the effects following the Second Vatican Council, why not only the Catholic Church?

A more reasonable explanation is simple that the people that are largely leaving the Church are people who were in the Church, but not of the Church. They were born in Catholic families, but it never became part of their lives. They were baptised, because their brothers were... but otherwise they started using contraception, engaged in premarital sex and so forth, without much hesitation. These people are now finding that the Church is actually counter in many ways to the society that they largely enjoy living in. Its largely these people that are missing.

And of course a few pious Catholics left and became schismatic, joining the Eastern Orthodox, or becoming Sedevacantists.

Think externals are not important? I dare you try to pray watching these bits of “Masses”: this and this.
If externals were not important God would not give us seven sacraments—which, according to the CCC is precisely a visible sign of an invisible grace.

Of course externals are not everything, since even the Presbyterians have the appearance of the Eucharist. But I wouldn't dismiss it just because of that.

In essence I agree with you, but to be honest I don't know if I would remain a Catholic had I lived in those years—at the best I would have joined the SSPX.

EDIT: funny how this connects to another comment I made somewhere else. Yes, there were modernists saying the TLM, even if really quickly, but the Church can coerce the baptized. The seminary rectors could be hypocrites, but the naive faithful were getting what they needed—nowadays one is lucky if one has a decent priest for confession and a decent Mass for the Eucharist (not to mention the whole liturgical, with small l, life of a Catholic: sacramentals, chant, etc; its all lost if one doesn't have access to a TLM).

But yes, a deeper reform was needed, no doubt. VII didn't do it and only made things far worse (at least that's what it looks like, we will know it in the end).

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#18
Perhaps the Faith was not rooted in their hearts and it was all rules and externals so that at the first sign that that there was change in the air they just ran with it. In some ways the very rigid legalist 1950's style Catholicism was unhealthy and a means of escapism and going through the motions with no real heart for many.  No doubt there were exceptions to this, but like others have said, if Pius IX was lamenting the dangers of modernism in the late 19th century than clearly the rot goes way back before the Second Vatican Council.

The pre conciliar decades of the 40's and 50's were mostly just going through the motions, of cultural Catholicism of the Latin Mass kind. The externals were there, but there was no heart, no soul and no real faith. If there was than how did the Church collapse like a house of cards caught in a stiff breeze from an open window in a mere decade after the end of the Council? How did authoritarian seminary rectors go from the crew cuts,cuff links and cassocks of the fifties to beads,roman sandals and turtle neck sweaters so fast? It was a pious facade.

I guess it is a lesson to us all, this danger of the faith going only skin deep. Really it ought to be sobering.

Yes, externals do matter a great deal, but they must serve to root us deeper in the Faith by pointing to its mysteries.. We can take things for granted.
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#19
(07-23-2015, 05:53 PM)GangGreen Wrote: The perfect storm at the perfect time. The Church was given what it deserved and it fell even harder than it otherwise would have. Is the NO culture of the Church, the so called Church of Nice, not what that generation and even today's deserved? The 60s and 70s were a time of pure rebellion from all that is traditional values.

Only the young and the few wise of the elders realize that the remedy lies in tradition. I wonder if VII never happened and the Church declined anyway what the future hope would be.
I really wonder what it means to say that the remedy lies in tradition. As Renatus has noted, since we no longer live in a traditional culture but a consumerist one (I use the word consumerist; I don't know what RF would call it), tradition itself becomes a matter of consumer preference. I choose this time period, this style, this liturgy, this theology, instead of that. There are certain obvious limits to this--we can't choose something the Church has clearly condemned in the past (no traditionalist does this of course). But the problem still arises: which tradition?

And even when we ask that question, we presuppose a condition in which no tradition is a given, but that is the very definition of tradition: that which is given, handed on as it were. To ask "which tradition?" betrays the fact that we must at some point artificially choose a tradition to resurrect and nurture. Who is to decide this?

You might think I'm being dramatic or exaggerating, but it is, in my mind, one of the fundamental problems among traditionalist communities: the internal and external divisions are delineated precisely by the differences of which traditions are given preference. Hilary White's "Neo-Catholic" makes sense only in light of putting a larger emphasis on different traditions than the so-called Neo-Cats. And imagine trying to get one single chapel of traditionalists to agree to a unified value or principle! Get 10 traditionalists, or even 5, to agree on the proper relation between Church and state, what the best form of government is, on the nature of the liturgy, on how to reverence the pope, such as Pope Francis, on the relation of science and doctrine, faith and reason, on the political implications of sanctity, on how to take back society, on the best form of economy. You will find only disagreement and perhaps radical disagreement.

I don't know what it means to call myself a traditionalist, so I have mostly avoided it. This is not to say that I don't value tradition, but my impression has often been that tradition is offered as a solution to compartmentalization when in fact tradition becomes simply another compartment, another option among other equals, or a political ideological tool to advance a provincial Catholicism or perhaps a not-so-subtle form of conservative Americanism in the guise of Catholicism.

I find myself returning along the lines of formerbuddhist's thinking--sanctity is the solution. "Sanctity" of course is an abstract concept, the practical implications are not clear, but I think to myself in this way: what is the purpose of a return to tradition? It is a return to the true faith. What is the purpose, the entire essence of true faith? Salvation. And what is salvation but sanctification? Without this proper orientation and I would say subordination of tradition to the goal of sanctification, everything becomes a mere "external appearance," surface-level piety--your 1950s hypocritical rector.

Imagine trying to get a whole chapel to agree on real sanctity in their entire families--cutting off the evil things, proper governance, opening yourself up to complete vulnerability, total charity towards each other, admitting wrongs, forgiveness, patience, etc. I imagine the uproar would be far more violent than any call to embrace a particular tradition. The Lacanian in me (I know Renatus will roll his eyes at this!  :LOL: ) suspects that tradition often becomes one more unconscious justification to avoid pursuing true sanctity. As long as I defend tradition, I am justified, I don't need to be a saint. But then...what is the purpose of tradition, and what is tradition supposed to do? It loses its very raison d'être: sanctity
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#20
One further note: I used the word "tradition" somewhat equivocally above, and that is deliberate. It further demonstrates the ambiguity of "tradition," and this ambiguity is key in how individuals or communities can then fill in the "gap" of what tradition means. In doing so, tradition serves as a common, nominal banner but devoid of substance. The same gap allows tradition (or any concept for that matter--people especially like "science" or "facts") to be used as an unconscious justification for one's avoidance of deeper conversion. That's what I mean when I say: as long as one defends "tradition," I am justified...
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