We are wobbling on the edge of a point where two demographic cliff faces converge.
First, there is in most dioceses a clamant, ongoing loss in the number of active priests. This will get worse in the next few years.
Also, there is in most dioceses a clamant, ongoing loss in the number of practicing Catholics. This will get worse in the next few years.
Look at the numbers for young people who profess any faith, much less the Catholic faith of their heritage.
I’m posting about a Gallup Poll, below, but I want to rant for a bit first.
Clamant problems, by definition, cry out for strong responses.
What we have been doing isn’t working.
I’ve used this image before. If you discover that you have mis-buttoned your shirt, do you shrug and go out anyway or do you unbutton your shirt, match the right buttons and buttonholes and get it right?
If you go out with a properly buttoned shirt, people might not notice you at all. If you go out with a mis-buttoned shirt, people will notice you and think that you are an idiot.
The one view is worse than the other.
Getting the shirt buttoned correctly is the minimum we have to do before we get out into the world.
I contend that celebration of our sacred liturgical worship at least correctly and without abuses is the mininum we have to do before getting out into the world.
No initiative of evangelization, new or other, will succeed unless and until we get our liturgical shirts together. Then we start to dress up for the job at hand, whatever uniform or garb is needed.
Using Paul’s analogy of armor for the pilgrim warrior of the Church Militant, we have to not merely put on the armor, we have to put it on correctly lest it be dangerous to ourselves.
Frankly, I think the way that our liturgical worship has been over the last few decades has made us all look like idiots to each wave of young people who have come along since the degradation began. That and lack of catechesis resulted with other factors in an ongoing, self-sustaining spiral downward towards a point of no return.
And our pastors insist on doing the same damn things over and over, ignoring the single most important factor in our Catholic lives: worship. There is a hierarchy to our loves and the activities that flow from them. Atop the hierarchy is what we owe God, whom we must love above all creatures, by the virtue of religion: worship. If we get our worship wrong, as individuals and as groups small and large, then everything else will be screwed up.
The result: erosion of Catholic identity.
And if we don’t know who we are, why should anyone pay attention to us except to crush out what we could be were we to get our act together again?
We must NOW….
- purify celebrations of the Novus Ordo of their aberrations and bring them back into harmony with tradition and do what the Council asked regarding music, etc.
- expand the use of the traditional form of Mass in many more places
- bring formation of priests into continuity with our past while looking forward, which will include actually obeying Canon Law about Latin and Aquinas and attending to what is laid down in the Congregation for Educations document about Patristic studies, etc.
- get down on our knees and do penance, openly, publicly, with bishops and priests even lying flat on their faces on the steps of their cathedrals begging God to forgive our collective stupidity and offenses against Christ’s Sacred Heart and Mary’s Immaculate Heart
- GO TO CONFESSION!
This, from Gallup Polls:
Catholics’ Church Attendance Resumes Downward Slide
Fewer than four in 10 Catholics attend church in any given week
Catholic attendance is down six percentage points over the past decade
Protestant attendance steady, but fewer Americans now identify as Protestants
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Weekly church attendance has declined among U.S. Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.
From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955.
By contrast, the 45% of Protestants who reported attending church weekly from 2014 to 2017 is essentially unchanged from a decade ago and is largely consistent with the long-term trend.
As Gallup first reported in 2009, the steepest decline in church attendance among U.S. Catholics occurred between the 1950s and 1970s, when the percentage saying they had attended church in the past seven days fell by more than 20 percentage points. It then fell an average of four points per decade through the mid-1990s before stabilizing in the mid-2000s. Since then, the downward trend has resumed, with the percentage attending in the past week falling another six points in the past decade.
This analysis is based on multiple Gallup surveys conducted near the middle of each decade from the 1950s through the present. The data for each period provide sufficient sample sizes to examine church attendance among Protestants and Catholics, the two largest religious groups in the country, as well as the patterns by age within those groups. The sample sizes are not sufficient to allow for analysis of specific Protestant denominations or non-Christian religions.
All of this comes amid a broader trend of more Americans opting out of formal religion or being raised without it altogether. In 2016, Gallup found one in five Americans professing no religious identity, up from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.
Meanwhile, the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) there’s a plan for what to do with all the empty churches that their own agenda is creating.
I have never really understood why the creeds insist that Jesus’ bodily resurrected (“who rose on the third day”), [try 1 Cor 15:14] but I do understand how our buildings, if reimagined and adapted, could contribute to the people coming back to the buildings to experience God.
Minimally, adaptive reuse would welcome the kinds of people who don’t normally “darken the door.”
At my [non-Catholic] church, Judson Memorial Church, in New York’s Greenwich Village, we have a morning dance for people who want to dance sober, called the “Morning Glories.” Other churches welcome opioid users to a worship service of a Sunday night. They call it “stigma-free” worship.
Still others create in their empty sanctuaries workstations that people can use at no or little cost. They remove the pews to make space for people to do yoga or sleep or work or all three.
This seems entirely in keeping with the rest of Fishwrap‘s non-Catholic identity. Good job, Fishwrap! Let that mask down once in a while!