The Decline and Death of Christianity. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

muslim homosexualOur Lord promised that, in the end, the gates of Hell would not prevail.

He did not promise that they would not prevail where you live.

They may indeed prevail in these USA, or in Europe.

One way in which they can prevail is for Christians to disappear.  I don’t mean from persecution and death, for, as Tertullian wrote, the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.  Christians will disappear through drifting into secular apathy or through not having children.  Then the groups that hate the remnant will actively wipe them out.

I recall  a text I once read of a Friday harangue by an Imam (or whatever he was).  He was talking about taking over Europe.  The thrust of the message was, “If we could not win by the long sword, we will win with the short sword!  Take their women!”

I find it interesting that at the same time that radical murderous Islam is rising up, so is the homosexualist movement, both with astonishing speed.  In an age when the Church’s leaders have become feckless, barely expressing even mealy-mouthed pabulum, radical Islamists and homosexualists are willing to die for what they promote.  These strange bedfellows (who would and will eventually kill each other) are working to bring down Western culture.

People stand by, distracted by their material comfort and their little screens.

Damian Thompson of The Spectator has a dire piece.

2067: the end of British Christianity
Projections aren’t predictions. But there’s no denying that churches are in deep trouble

It’s often said that Britain’s church congregations are shrinking, but that doesn’t come close to expressing the scale of the disaster now facing Christianity in this country. Every ten years the census spells out the situation in detail: between 2001 and 2011 the number of Christians born in Britain fell by 5.3 million — about 10,000 a week. If that rate of decline continues, the mission of St Augustine to the English, together with that of the Irish saints to the Scots, will come to an end in 2067.

That is the year in which the Christians who have inherited the faith of their British ancestors will become statistically invisible. Parish churches everywhere will have been adapted for secular use, demolished or abandoned.

Our cathedral buildings will survive, but they won’t be true cathedrals because they will have no bishops. The Church of England is declining faster than other denominations; if it carries on shrinking at the rate suggested by the latest British Social Attitudes survey, Anglicanism will disappear from Britain in 2033. One day the last native-born Christian will die and that will be that.



There is a military adage that, if you are not winning you are losing.

We are not winning.

I am not talking just about numbers of the living who profess the Faith.  I am talking about the winning of souls for heaven.  That’s the win: a soul that goes to heaven.

Persecution can produce martyrs and a flourishing of Faith.  But if the apathy and erosion of Catholic Christian identity goes on long enough… then persecution will produce only corpses.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Global Killer Asteroid Questions, Hard-Identity Catholicism, New Evangelization, Si vis pacem para bellum!, Sin That Cries To Heaven, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice, The Olympian Middle, The Religion of Peace, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Imrahil says:

    Well… two points.

    1. I do not see much sense in measuring and projecting a decline in absolute numbers, as it appears here. A decline, as well as a growth, naturally is measured in ratio, in which case you’d expect not a linear, but more something of a exponential (with basis less than one) curve.

    2. I don’t want to be entirely un-ecumenic, the number of Christians does say something; but after all, England’s Christians were, but for a small heroic remnant, violently torn from the Mystical Body of Christ by the action of Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer, Elizabeth I and their ilk. Much later, through the said remnant, the works of a St. John Henry, and so on (and, shall we say it?, also because the deviations of the Anglicans from traditional Christian doctrine increased on and on, becoming unbearable to more and more), a Catholic Church has again been planted in England – to the point where even now, many say that the Roman Catholic Church is, already, the most important voice of Christianity (in terms of Sunday Church-goers, political importance and the like).

    We may wish for the Anglicans that they, if they don’t become Catholics which would be best, at least remain Anglicans; and I do not say it in sneer but with sadness (it would only be worth rejoicing if they did leave the Anglican Church to become Catholic, which most that leave don’t); but we can’t deny there’s some logic in it if a work of Man goes the way of all flesh.

    Quoth St. John Henry, “A second temple rises on the ruins of the old. Canterbury has gone its way, and York is gone, and Durham is gone, and Winchester is gone. It was sore to part with them. We clung to the vision of past greatness, and would not believe it could come to nought; but the Church in England has died, and the Church lives again. Westminster and Nottingham, Beverley and Hexham, Northampton and Shrewsbury, if the world lasts, shall be names as musical to the ear, as stirring to the heart, as the glories we have lost…”

    The really important thing is what happens and is going to happen to the Catholic Church – in England and elsewhere. Let’s see how Westminster’ll be doing, this time.

  2. discens says:

    Fr.Z. I doubt Catholics should be worried too much by the decline of Anglicanism in the UK. St. Augustine has been turning over in his grave ever since Henry VIII (apart from the sadly short interlude of Queen Mary). And Richard III cannot be happy to have been reinterred in an heretical Cathedral. Anglicanism also first officially sanctioned contraception at the Lambeth Conference in 1930, thereby stimulating Pius XI to promulgate Casti Connubii later in the same year. The mixed fortunes of Catholicism in the UK have, as you suggest, not a little to do with the practical rejection of that encyclical and of Bl. Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae. The Muslims (and is it they or Western governments and banks who are the murderous radicals today?) have chosen the better part. Licet et ab hoste doceri.

  3. DonL says:

    “It is not how large is the army, but how willing they are to die for their cause.” (a famous quote I just made up.)

    The only appropriate comment appears to be “Gulp!”
    Prepare yourself and try to prepare your loved ones.

  4. rwj says:

    I notice a twofold delusion on the part of the social liberal/secularists. Firstly, that they will necessarily grow as Christianity diminishes; secondly, that they will like who ‘fills the void.’
    For example, it was the general adherence to the principals of the Christian faith in Western Civilization that created the atmosphere respectful of the freedom those who now identify as part of the “LBGT? community” to be whatever they want to be— even if it was understood as destructive to the soul, and harmful to civilization.

    I dread to think of how these same people would have been treated if the majority of people in the west professed belief in a more voluntaristic deity. Non-hypothetically: you can’t say there are many ‘pride-parades’ in Saudi Arabia—or feminists throwing pies in some Imam’s face.

    It may be too late for the left to realize that it made a deal with the Devil.

  5. To quote John Wayne (as Jacob McCandles) “You made your decision alone – you live it alone”

    Sad to see a culture commit suicide like that though. That’s what it is in a very real sense too – a collective suicide. It is a decision by a culture to simply not exist any more. I cannot think of any precedent in human history for such a thing. How can one (or many) be so contemptuous of their own culture to simply let it die on the vine like that? Do they not feel a certain responsibility to pass on a certain pride of culture to their children (even if they only have one or two), and to tell them how the world around them didn’t just happen by accident, and that it is worth keeping?

  6. Vincent says:

    Surely it’s statistically a little dangerous using figures from that particular data set. Religion is the only non compulsory question on the UK census.

    That said, only 7% of the 65 million members of the UK population didn’t answer the question. I believe I am a member of that group..

  7. jacobi says:


    I have said before that the reality of the situation has not yet dawned, neither on our secularised society, nor Western Protestants, nor frankly on the Catholic Church.
    There is a collapse in believe, and this is not the place to go into that, but more importantly, a collapse – as you rightly point out – in the population. History will show that contraception, abortion, and the whole pro-choice movement of the 20th/21st produced this disaster.

    Islam intends to take over Europe, as it has been trying to do with violent assault ever since the 7th Century, when it wiped out, without trace the great North African Catholic civilisation of St Augustine of Hippo. In the past they have been kept out, but now they have “broken through” in numbers they could not have dreamed off even 50, years ago. They have a choice of means to establish the Caliphate, Conversion, evangelical or forced, massacre, servitude paying the dhimmi tax, all of which are orthodox Islam urged or permitted by the founder.

    The other weapon is of course the easiest. High birth rate well in excess of the steadily decreasing Western one. Even Catholics are succumbing if, as I have pointed out before, in my middle-class UK parish, the observable reproduction rate of 1.7/1.8 is typical.

    And by the way, if they succeed, you in the US of A , will be next!

  8. Grumpy Beggar says:

    I guess, in one sense, we would have to leave at least part of the win column open , in that we ourselves cannot really have a complete idea of what will go though another person’s mind in their final moments on this earth. That, barring divine intervention, would be one of the the more likely times for a soul to change from say, incredulity to a desire to believe , or to ask God for Mercy – at that last critical moment. After death, we’re all going to be believers in the existence of God. It’s only a question of where our (disad)vantage point will lie.

    Even if developments look gloomy, God can use any and all of what is presently happening and make it work in His Master Plan. So we mustn’t despair. But I think we need to at least see such developments as our own personal invitation to persevering prayer.

    I think Father Z really nails it here:

    “People stand by, distracted by their material comfort and their little screens.”

    . . . and I don’t even know if I really need to look any further than myself on that one – although it was a bigger screen , I think I just wasted about an hour and a half or more, cruising around the internet looking at cars which I’m never going to be able to buy, and a few musical instruments & gear which fall into that same category.

    I did manage to get an email reply off to my spiritual director who is presently visiting his native Uganda , but . . . I didn’t start my Divine Mercy chaplet until 3:56 pm – almost missed the Hour of Mercy (and that email reply had been sent before 2:00 pm).

    Our lives can get plugged full of distractions these days – to the point where we Catholics aren’t really praying anymore – what with , work, gaming, texting, movies, TV, youtube, social media ad nauseum : All of which, in excess, are conducive to apathy where prayer is concerned.

    We are, quite possibly, meant to be the ones who are supposed to continue praying when others are becoming wrapped up in the axles of diversion , distraction and entertainment. If we begin to falter personally on prayer . . . is there a big difference between that and ushering in a persecution, or at the very least apostasy ?

    I believe true Catholics have to be people of prayer, in times of persecution, in times of peace – at all times . . . can be difficult to do if we’re going after all the distractions the world offers at the same time . . . distractions which the world would have us believe are (um) harmless .

  9. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, Father. I have been called a Casandra for saying what you have today. Americans are asleep and do not understand the real danger which is imminent. The lack of priests and the closing of the churches because of fines, will happen.

    I am sick of people thinking that God will ignore one of the four sins which cry out to Him for vengeance. Time to prepare by cooperating with all the graces which God has given us, and to bring as many people into heaven as possible.

  10. arga says:

    As jacobi implies, and I would like to make more explicit, the current collapse in belief _even among regular Catholic Mass goers_ is the most ominous sign. My parish priest, a decent man who regards himself as “orthodox,” told me recently that even in the most conservative parishes of the diocese, a _majority_ of parishioners support sodomitic “marriage.” That makes it, he pointed out, a very delicate subject to bring up in a homily. So he doesn’t. It’s the old, deadly combination: timid priest + heretical parishioners simply deepens and accelerates heresy, particularly when the bishop fails to teach. That’s the situation we are in here, except of course in the local FSSP parish where I am making myself increasingly present.

  11. I tried to find a good Catholic lady to marry… with no success. I have often wondered why God has no use for a reasonably orthodox Catholic who was quite willing to bring some (hopefully)reasonably orthodox Catholic children into the world. The only answer I can follow at all is that God has other plans and other ways of winning. He must look at things from a different perspective. Otherwise, He would have seen to it that I met someone I could have married. He will win– has already won– in the end, after all.

  12. Akita says:

    Andrew, I have a lovely Catholic daughter who will be 18 in September. ????

  13. stephen c says:

    For the record, it has been several centuries since the English have had a king who fully merits the respect due to a Christian king. (Also for the record, it is not like we non-English Catholics can brag about the general saintliness of our anointed leaders, either…) Maybe one day soon the English will produce more saintly kings and more saintly heroes. If they do, England will be a success: if they do not … Actions have consequences. All any of us can do – whether we are worldly royalty or, much better, blessed by God – is earn the right to be optimistic. I do not know many English people but I have no doubt – no doubt at all -that there are hundreds or even thousands or more of English men and women living right now who are, from most current points of view, absolutely and totally insignificant but who will have dozens or hundreds or thousands or millions of descendants who will fight, not so much (or just )for England, but for the truth. Magna est veritas et praevalebit.

  14. stcyril says:

    Let’s hope that the truly faithful Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestants have larger families and the number of those whose life-styles are self-centered dwindle as they practice their behaviors which are not life-giving. Russia is interesting now as they are pushing traditional (AKA normal) values. (Putin giving awards to families with 7 or more children.)

  15. PostCatholic says:

    You’ve finally succeeed in instilling the great theological virtue of Hope in me.

  16. Fr. Pius, OP says:

    If you’ve never read Evelyn Waugh’s short story “Out of Depth” you certainly should, especially after reading this article.

  17. Mariana2 says:

    Much as I admire Damian Thompson, linear extrapolation is right up there with lies, damned lies and statistics.

    Where I live, a solidly nominal Lutheran country, the Catholic parishes are bursting at the seams with converts (of which I am one) and our main problem is church buildings that have become woefully too small for the ever expanding parishes.

    Alas for England, which I love. But all is not doom and gloom!

  18. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Akita, sorry, but I think mr Saucci is about thrice as old as your daughter.

  19. JonPatrick says:

    I don’t think Christianity will fade out completely in Europe or the US. There is already and will continue to be a faithful remnant. It is evident that the Church has been hollowed out for a long time. Consider that as far back as the 1960’s how the majority of Catholics including clergy were able to come out against Humanae Vitae with impunity. We are just seeing those that were going through the motions finally showing their true colors.

    As pressure on Catholics to conform to the world increases it wil be important to form communities of like minded people who are serious about their faith – what blogger Rod Dreher calls the Benedict Option, which by the way does not mean retreating to a rural commune somewhere (check out his blogs at the American Conservative for more detail).

  20. Ben Kenobi says:

    Evelyn Waugh? Brideshead Revisited is chilling. As much as I want to agree with Damian, figures lie and liars figure. This is the death of the Church of England, the undoing of what was divided centuries ago.

    As a former church of Englander, (and a member of the purported ‘broad’ church), there really is only one boat in stormy seas, the Catholic church. I am more worried about the aptly named Cdl Marx. You couldn’t write better fiction than the reality.

  21. Ben Kenobi says:

    “We are just seeing those that were going through the motions finally showing their true colors.”

    A fickle and self-absorbed generation seeks a ‘legacy’ against the Church of No. We’ll see whether they get it or not. I’m waiting and watching myself, and hoping, that for once, the adults in the room prevail. So far, I’ve been consistently disappointed, my whole adult life has been one of trying to simply tread water against the tide that has come about. Every day something new. Can we at least stop ripping things so that we can mend?

  22. Grumpy Beggar says:

    I just happened to stumble across a Catholic News Agency article a few minutes ago that’s definitely worth a read . . . it says the Church is still growing :

    Priests needed: As Church growth explodes worldwide, parishes can’t keep up.

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