Catholic Decline in England a “pastoral and demographic catastrophe” says New Report

By Hilary White 

  LONDON, July 5, 2006 ( – A 260 page study has been released by the English Catholic bishops that shows a Church that has come to a point of near complete melt-down since the closing of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. According to the report, Mass attendance has slumped by 40 per cent and Catholic marriages by 60 per cent over the last 30 years.
  The report by Anthony Spencer of the Pastoral Research Centre covers the period from 1963 to 1991 and also shows the number of adult converts fell by 55 per cent and first Communions by nearly 40 per cent. More recent statistics from 2001 show little improvement. In 1991 Mass attendance in England and Wales stood at 1.3 million,  compared with 960,000 in 2004.
  The report describes the crisis as the “greatest pastoral and demographic catastrophe” since the 16th century Reformation.
  The British statistics, however, only confirm what is happening in every country that has embraced post-Christian secularist values and the so-called “sexual revolution.” The Associated Press reports today that the loss of the Catholic moral and social identity in Spain is of grave concern to the Vatican as Pope Benedict XVI prepares for a visit there. According to AP, while 80 per cent of Spaniards consider themselves Catholics, only 42 per cent believe in God and 50 per cent never attend church except for social occasions.
  In his 2002 book, Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II, Kenneth C. Jones revealed the disastrous decline in every numeric indicator in the Catholic Church in the US.
  After a hundred years of steady growth to an unprecedented peak of statistical health in 1965, Jones showed that numbers of priestly ordinations, women entering convents, adult baptisms and the number of children in Catholic schools had abruptly plummeted, sometimes by as much as 99%, to catastrophic lows by 2002.
  The collapse of the Catholic Church around the world coincides precisely with the period following Vatican II when bishops, clergy and religious decided to re-orient the Church to conform to secular values.  Declining Catholic numbers can be correlated closely to decline in orthodox practice and preaching. The grim national statistics are often reversed in those areas and communities where traditional moral teaching, styles of worship and adherence to otherworldly values are prominent.
  A case in point is the order of sisters founded by Mother Theresa, the Missionaries of Charity, who have grown rapidly especially in countries suffering severe material poverty. Traditional communities of priests such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter are also refuting the trend with their biggest problem being finding funding to build larger seminaries to accommodate the number of applicants.
  In the US, those dioceses known for close adherence to Catholic moral teaching and loyalty to the Pope are also producing the greatest number of priests and women religious.
  The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the largest and most influential diocese in the US and known as a centre of vocal dissent from Catholic teaching, particularly on sexual matters, ordained four men in 2006.  The much smaller Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, on the other hand,  whose Archbishop John Myers placed the attacks on life and family as the most important issue in the 2004 presidential election, ordained 17 men to the priesthood this spring.
  Faithful Catholics in the US and elsewhere have long refuted the existence of the so-called ‘vocation crisis’ in the Catholic Church,  arguing that as many young people as ever want to dedicate their lives to service in the Church but cannot find orthodox dioceses, seminaries and convents.
  Read article, “Crisis In Vocations? What Crisis?” by Archbishop Elden Curtis

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