Skip to comments.Index of Leading Catholic Indicators
Posted on 06/09/2003 9:28:34 AM PDT by Maximilian
UVA Interviews Ken Jones, Author of Index of Leading Catholic Indicators
Una Voce America director Fred Haehnel recently sat down with Ken Jones, vice president of Una Voce St. Charles, to discuss his new book, Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church since Vatican II. Mr. Jones is an attorney and legal publisher in St. Louis. His translation from the French of Cardinal Hoyos letter to Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X was published in the August-September 2002 issue of Inside the Vatican.
Why did you decide to put together your Index of Leading Catholic Indicators?
My second reason for writing the book was to contribute to the ongoing discussion about the effects of the Second Vatican Council. We all have our own gut feelings about the Church since Vatican II. Some insist were experiencing a vibrant renewal, others say were suffering through an era of unprecedented disintegration. Im a lawyer - I want evidence, not feelings or anecdotes, to support my verdict.
What is your verdict?
Do you find any of the statistics particularly striking?
The shortage of priests has created a problem unknown to modern Catholics the priestless parish. Parishes without a resident priest were virtually unknown at the time of the Council; only 3 percent of them, 549, were without a priest in 1965. In 2002 there were 2,928 priestless parishes, about 15 percent of U.S. parishes. By 2020, a quarter of all parishes, 4,656, will have no priest.
As one would expect, the priest dearth has been fueled by a collapse in the seminarian population. There were 49,000 seminarians in 1965. By 2002 the number had plunged to 4,700 - a 90 percent decrease. Without any students, countless seminaries across the country have been sold or shuttered. There were 596 seminaries in 1965, and only 200 in 2002.
The devastation of religious orders of women since Vatican II can only be described as shocking. In 1965 there were almost 180,000 nuns in the United States. Today there are 75,000, with an average age of 69. By 2020 we have projected that there will be 21,000 below age 70. It is not being an alarmist to say that within our lifetime, there will be virtually no nuns in the United States - a stunning turn of events since 1965.
Do the statistics show anything about the ordinary life of Catholics?
Attendance at Mass has also plummeted. A 1958 Gallup poll reported that 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1958. A 1994 University of Notre Dame study found that the attendance rate was 26.6 percent. A more recent study by Fordham University professor James Lothian concluded that 65 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1965, while the rate dropped to 25 percent in 2000.
What about Catholic education?
Some people say, We know the numbers have declined since the Council, but the downward trend started before the Council. How do you respond?
Heres another objection. Some people might say that youre making a post hoc, ergo propter hoc argument - just because something happened after the Council doesnt mean it was caused by the Council. Do you have an answer to that?
In the end, though, my purpose in writing the Index of Leading Catholic Indicators is not to make any argument at all - its simply to present the facts to people so they can come to their own conclusions.
"just because something happened after the Council doesnt mean it was caused by the Council. "
I think he might have dismissed this too readily. Was Vat II itself the 'spirit' of some zeitgeist? (Zeitgeist is German for "the spirit of the age,").
I have noticed the absence of younger people in Church membership groups (Knights of Columbus, at retreats, Holy Name and Altar Societies are done gone with the wind). Political party choices becomming 'independent'. However, soccer fields, movies and dance recitals are booming. It's parent choice - but what drives the choice? Is it really for the children or for the parents?
Find what has destroyed 'commitment' and I think the answer will be closer to explaining the statistics.
Can they wait ten years for my daughters? ;-)
At age 8, my oldest knows that she's supposed to look for a Catholic husband so that they can raise Catholic children.
My take on this - the year the Church starting falling apart? 1968
Reason: HUMANAE VITAE!
As a recent article here said, "Will we maybe discover another cataclymic event that happened in the Church between 1962 and 1966?"
Sad, but true. In our parish, the Rosary Society is the hospitality committee. It does NOT pray the Rosary! I refused to join.
Begin distributing handouts on the Rosary - copy them from the web. Do it weekly. Watch for incremental changes. The Rosary and a Latin/English Sunday Missal ( in the anticipation of a return to oldest of Roman Catholic traditions ) are two wonderful gifts the hospitality committee can buy, and distribute freely to interested parishioners of your parish.
Create the interest.
Shake off the stagnation of a passive-social parish in favor of an active faith-based parish. You have been blessed with a task. Go with it!
First, thanks for posting this article. I "Poped" in 1978 and spent several decades trying to find the Catholic Church I had seen in all those movies from the 40s and 50s. I didn't know much about Vatican II but since I became a Catholic I have heard many explainations as to why the Church in America is in the condition it is in...not healthy to say the least. But, recently, I'd say in the past three years I've heard one from a very traditional (still inside the Church) friend and I find it interesting to say the least. He claims that Vatican II was the "fall-back" position. In other words there was a lot of up-heaval within the Church heirarchy that most of the faithful were completely unaware existed. This coincides with another argument I've read concerning what happened at the Council. This one suggests that two of the three Cardinals who set the agenda and controlled the flow of discussion were radical in their desire for change. They were also quite intelligent in the manner and use of words in the Counciliar documents leaving lots of "wiggle room" so to speak. What do ya think?
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