Collapse of Christianity in America
  • MarkB
    Posts: 1,025
    I'm starting this thread to branch off from the Musicam Sacram thread, which towards the end, as of this post, is turning toward discussion of the decline of Christian faith as a deep-seated problem that is not going to be fixed by liturgical tinkering.

    These are important essays for people to read about the trends in Christian belief and practice in the U.S. Brand new research poll data:

    1. New PEW research about the collapse of Christianity in America across all denominations, and especially among Gen Z/Millennials:

    2. Follow-up column with anecdotes from a reader who did her best to raise faithfully Catholic children but the secular culture’s influence proved too seductive and powerful:

    If you have time, reading the reader comments below each column is worthwhile. Catholics need to sober up, bishops and pastors need to wake up about the culture and about Gen Z. The tweet at the end of the first essay, comparing the Catholic Church to Blockbuster video in 2008 is a spot-on analogy. The Catholic Church is going to crash when the Boomers die and the pews are empty.

    In other words, the liturgical rites are one part of the problem. There are other, deeper problems facing the Church, some internal some pertaining to the culture, and many pertaining to the Church not realizing what the problems are.

    Arguing about this or that liturgical practice is, as the tweet at the end of the first essay states, is like working at Blockbuster Video in 2008 and arguing about how best to arrange the DVDs on the shelf, not realizing that a cataclysmic collapse is about to occur.

    Thanked by 2CharlesW tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,933
    It may take a little time to read through all this, but I am in agreement.
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,031
    I don't see how liturgy becomes less important in the face of people leaving the faith - if anything, it becomes all the more important, in that it is the primary interface of most Catholics while they can still be influenced by the church. (Which is not to say that liturgy is a silver bullet or the only arrow in the quiver.)

    After the second essay there is a very perceptive comment about how (1) the role of the father (something missing from the original woman's story) is indispensable, and (2) the example of how the parents lived are key handing on the faith. I know this is the case with my own parents with regard to me and my siblings, all but one of whom are still practicing Catholics. We can give only what we already have, so handing on the faith is just as hard as living it in the first place.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,933
    Keeping in mind these figures haven't been all that great for a number of years. I suspect the numbers may be even worse in Europe.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,369
    450 x 320 - 11K
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 3,369
    Germany gives a totally different picture. In Germany you pay a tax to be a church member.
  • I get to play the role of skeptic in this conversation.

    Colleges accept students from all over the country and the world, so the location of the college doesn't necessarily tell us much. Notre Dame University (just as the most obvious example) is in Indiana (which qualifies as observantly conservative), but this same Notre Dame, which is allegedly a Catholic institution, gives honorary degrees to those who promote the destruction of human life.

    As to quibbling over liturgical details, while it's possible for two musicians (or two engineers, or two doctors for that matter) to have a conversation in such a manner that they leave otherwise interested people scratching their heads or shaking them, unable to follow most of the details) we have much evidence from all over Christendom and throughout our history which says that the public worship of the Church does convert souls. The age of martyrs wasn't lacking in liturgical worship. On the other hand, when the archbishop of Washington D.C. praises as a mentor the late Cardinal Abp of Chicago..... who would take such a faith seriously ?
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  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 684
    In my parish I heard we have 1200 registered parishioners. Three Mass services on a weekend with an average of 100 to 150 in attendance. You might ask "where is everyone?" This brief statistic doesn't take into account for example, homebound. My point is to use caution when trying to make sense of these reports.

    In my own life time church attendance has been in decline. I have oftentimes wondered why? Was it because of the feminist movement, was it because Saturday night Novenas plus other devotional practices were stopped essentially overnight in many parishes? Was it the introduction of folk style music in our Catholic liturgy? Was it the scandals of the late twentieth century? So many things to consider. What was it our Lord said, be on your guard.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,933
    Well, Chris, at least we agree on something. You wouldn't take it seriously. My inbox and YouTube page are being bombarded or this "Amazon Synod," which I wasn't really that aware of until recently. There is too much chaos.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,933
    In my own life time church attendance has been in decline.

    I have seen it, too. My parish used to have probably double the attendance it has now. A number of us have discussed why, but I don't think we really settled on one specific thing that is the cause.
    Thanked by 1Don9of11
  • ryandryand
    Posts: 1,640
    Liturgy, done well, is an amazing evangelistic tool, both for drawing the curious agnostic towards the mysteries of God, and for continuous renewal of the faith of those already received into the church.

    Liturgy, done poorly, will reinforce doubts for both.
    Thanked by 2rich_enough CHGiffen
  • As the Anglicans know, dignified ceremony is important if we're going to treat the worship of God seriously.

    On the other hand, dignified -- by itself -- isn't adequate to stir up the heart to respond to the offer of grace from God.

    This is one reason why the Traditional Mass, celebrated well or poorly ( I hear such things happen) is better than the most dignified modern Ordo.
  • The Christian church, especially the Catholic branch, has been uncovered as the scene of child-sex-abuse, and subsequent cover-up of the abuses, of absolutely HORRIFIC proportions. It has lost all moral authority. Of course it has all but collapsed.

    We can but trust that the Holy Spirit will re-build, in the fullness of time.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW francis
  • The United States has always been about a decade behind Europe in social/religious decline. You need look no further than there to see where we will be 10 years from now.

    We have been at our present parish for 11 years. In that time, the number of registered members has fallen dramatically and Mass attendance has followed the same. The old people are dying off and most of their children are no longer Catholic (as we have witnessed at their funerals). There are very few children left in our parish. The worship has moved desperately in a Protestant direction to try to attract more people (has that ever actually worked in any Catholic parish?). I don't believe a turn toward traditional Catholic worship would draw any more, though, because the demographics of our area (southern Protestant) just do not support the notion of an increased Catholic presence.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Don9of11
  • stulte
    Posts: 355
    The Christian church, especially the Catholic branch, has been uncovered as the scene of child-sex-abuse, and subsequent cover-up of the abuses, of absolutely HORRIFIC proportions. It has lost all moral authority. Of course it has all but collapsed.

    A family friend, until recently, worked for a law firm which often defended people accused (and were often truly guilty) of terrible crimes. She had a front-row seat to see the situation in society where the moral law is completely disregarded by all ranks and professions and that, as outrageous as the abuses committed by priests were, priestly abusers are still not as common as those who are teachers, doctors, etc. But their more lofty position combined with hatred of the Catholic Faith by outsiders led to far more light being shone upon the abusers who were priests. Hopefully, we will have better, holier men in the priesthood as a result.

    I don't believe a turn toward traditional Catholic worship would draw any more, though, because the demographics of our area (southern Protestant) just do not support the notion of an increased Catholic presence.

    With respect, I ask you to consider whether the demographics in any missionary situation truly supported conversion to the Catholic Faith. Yet, conversions happened by the Grace of God. Catholics in these situations need to truly hold to the Faith and the worship life needs to show what Catholics believe. Sadly, in most parishes, the Faith isn't being taught clearly nor lived fully and the liturgical life reflects this. Protestantizing Catholic liturgical life only serves to affirm Protestants in their errors because it offers them more of the same. Why convert?
    Thanked by 1irishtenor
  • ">

    At about the 7:00 minute mark Princess Gloria states that economically, we are living in very good times yet spiritually we are living in very bad times. She next says that we may show the beauty of the liturgy to uplift everybody, but also live as catholics in a joyous way of life, as much as discipline/suffering are also involved.

    I have noticed that luxury does lead to illusion and less willingness to trust God leading more of us to depend on ourself to survive, yet all along it is God working to grant us every blessing.

    I think that to be the best example with our own life and actions, so to never give up or doubt God's mercy upon us in every cross we carry will help others to recognize in us, in some small way, that we our joyful in spirit having some extra supernatural power that is irresistable. Salvation is possible for all, but we ought to understand that the only one who we can save for certain is ourself. :-)

    Who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God who worketh wonders!

    So says the beatitudes regarding a spirit of poverty:

    "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
    5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth
    6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
    7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
    10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
    12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."
  • Indeed, I think this is why the Catholic Communities that better distance themself with the temporal trends and heretical weaknesses in Protestantism are the ones that most succeed. One can imitate some good traditions of Protestantism that may be harmonious and common to the Catholic tradition. In many ways, as I say of course, being part of the Orthodox church, I think we have the best stability and example of all. The closest communities and greatest permanence with liturgy and clergy relationships (priests staying in the same parish for their whole life, having one holy mass/divine liturgy on one altar per day, good agape/fellowship meals, the best elements of Catholic tradition, the most organic continuity.

    The other benefit of the Orthodox Church for protestants is of course that due to no communion with the Pope, there is a greater trust to consider their authenticity, the faith and liturgy itself, stands or falls on it's own merits, without church governmental political bias swaying one to avoid a faith which is so profoundly grace giving. Unfortunately there will always be a certain degree of difficulty for many to go over the hump of Ultramontonasim and the seemingly intimidating super-bishop element of the Pope of Rome. If the Church of Rome can remain very traditional , to the point of returing to a more de-centralized, but NO LESS EFFECTIVE, Pope that is the key. The authority of the Pope can stand alone on the holiness of the man, but the local church can be left alone to its own bishop.

    The Pope ought not make or break the conception of what the CHurch is, or a persons trust of it by their actions alone. God placed him in authority to clear up heresy, but without the authority of a local bishop, what good is the authority of the Pope in day to day life? Let extraordinary be extraordinary and ordinary jurisdiction be ordinary
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,942
    If you're part of the Orthodox church, it's better just to focus on your church and what you can do for it.
    Thanked by 1Schönbergian
  • Yet because the topic of the post is Christianity, rather than specifically the Church of Rome alone, and because I have been tremendously blessed by my Church it behooves me to wish to do my best to attempt share those blessings with others in whatsoever way God allows. There are many Roman Catholics who recognize that their is an imbalance in the ecclesiology of their Church, just as I can say to a certain extent there is as well in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. This is nothing new, it is a long standing divergence which history bears out. For I have love for the Church of Rome, I recognize that God has allowed grace within it, miracles, wonders, spiritual strength - Just as I see in the Orthodox Churches. This puts them on an easy level of comparison. Schism is not necessarily tantamount to manifest/public heresy - at least not yet.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,933
    As a Byzantine Catholic, there is stability in the rite of St. John Chrysostom. It isn't so open to interpretation and is not so given to going off track because of the personal interpretations of any priest. Clericalism never developed in the east to the degree it did in the west. We love and respect our priests, but have no qualms about riding them out of town if they don't live up to their calling. I think we have a relationship with Rome that doesn't interfere with our day-to-day operations and for individual churches, that is as it should be. Popes were never intended to be micro-managers of the details of daily operations.

    I have noted elsewhere at some time, that I know half a dozen or so families that have left Catholicism and converted to Orthodoxy. In this area, Orthodoxy has tripled in the last ten years in number of churches and members. This is the Protestant south so there is an appeal that Orthodoxy presents. I don't think the chaos in the Latin church at the moment is helping them any.

    Schism? Most of the clergy I talk with on both sides seem to think we are more in disagreement than schism.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,703
    The Christian church, especially the Catholic branch, has been uncovered as the scene of child-sex-abuse, and subsequent cover-up of the abuses, of absolutely HORRIFIC proportions. It has lost all moral authority.

    I though the Irish study and at least one other found that a Catholic priest was the least likely person to abuse a child. This implies that a protestant minster was more likely to be an abuser, so the first part of the above is untrue.
    The cover-up has also been more pronounced in schools, social services etc.

    Sadly they found the most likely person to be an abuser is parents and family members...

    As several people have noted the Catholic churches problem was not a paederast but more a homosexual problem in the priesthood. As we have scene this was aided and abetted by bishops, that is why they have lost their authority.

    Of course the media attention on the Catholic Church, is quite correct as it is a greater crime for a Catholic priest to be an abuser.
  • As Michael Voris was recently making note of, sexual sin in the clergy, has strong interconnections to other sins of clergy, concerning the Lex Orandi, lex credendi, affecting what we believe and teach that the faith of Jesus Christ is and via liturgical expression of them. More and more darkness leads to darkness. More of the light of Christ with repentance for our sins leads to eternal life.

    I do agree, many of the people of the Church here and now must work toward greater sanctification. The supernatural Church, the bride of Christ remains spotless and pure, always. :-) To find our own sanctuary within the life of the local Church, where we have stability in our culture is the important. We gave a priest who will never leave us, and who preaches sound doctrine much like the great Fathers of the Church. That I am blessed with this myself, and have intentionally gone through effort to seek it out, is why I feel I remain joyful during sorrowful times. We carry our Crosses with Christ, and he redeems us!

    In the current maelstrom of ambiguity, sexual perversion, crappy theology, timidity and apostasy WE NEED conversations like this! All Ten Commandments are being publicly flouted in Rome and around the Catholic world. We can’t just stand by and let this happen. Pachamama’s been chucked into the Tiber, Praise God. A great start! What next??? Mother Mary, Exterminatrix of Heresies, pray for us!"
  • May I suggest my idea of a solution to this problem and perhaps several other problems.

    1. Serious daily bible study as a family.
    2. Place GOD first in all your decisions.
    3. Try to have the entire family eat breakfast and supper together - no exceptions.
    4. Shaun anyone and anything unbiblical, profane and pagan.
    5. The family together in all things especially in attending a traditional Latin Mass / traditional orthodox Christian Biblical services.
    6. Before bible study, daily recite the 10 Commandments, Beatitudes and the 2 Summary Commandments of Christ.
    7. Stress at all times with your children the critical importance of the commandment to Honor Fathers and Mothers. This is especially critically important for parents to be seen to honor their parents in front of children.
    8. Christian morals, ethics and manners must be diligently taught to all children.
    9. Teach your children the founding documents of America.

    God, family and Church - this is the brick and mortar of a successful civilization!
  • I though the Irish study and at least one other found that a Catholic priest was the least likely person to abuse a child. This implies that a protestant minster was more likely to be an abuser, so the first part of the above is untrue.

    What Irish study?

    The population of non-Catholic ministers in Ireland is likely not large enough for any robust conclusions to be drawn.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CONCERNING A WORLD WIDE COLLAPSE - I would strongly suggest that in light of the recent events of the so called Synod in Rome, some extremely questionable happenings at some so called Eucharistic events, and other highly disturbing behaviors of Francis, Cardinals and clergy, that Catholics should sit up and take an extreme sober notice and deep prayerful thought over the action of the Patriarch of the Byzantine Catholic Church, Elijah, who has officially declared and pronounced Pope Francis, some 39 or so Cardinals and over one hundred priests, to be in a state of Anathema - Excommunicated from the Spiritual Body of the Church and damned unless they repent from their heresies. As for myself, I foresee some extremely profound and final scenarios soon to take place that spell a soon to be fatal condition for the Church of Roman, its Pontiff and clergy; not to mention the faithful. I think that perhaps Patriarch Elijah might very well be correct and in the right concerning his pronouncements.
  • @ Ken of Sarum, I was going to say there's apparently some kind of collapse of Christianity in Rome, too. I'm ignoring the circus as best I can and carrying on with living an actually Christian, Catholic life, with all the bells and whistles, as much as circumstances and God's grace permit. But it's not easy, and I feel for friends and family who even when they have the grace of contrition and go and ask a priest about rectifying a sinful situation (New Age practices, cohabiting, recreational drug use, premarital relations, contraception, unworthy reception of Communion, etc etc) are told not to be so rigid. And if they ask me and I tell them the truth, they now have to decide whether to believe a 'rigid' friend, or their parish priest, friends, and neighbors who will laugh at THEM for being rigid too, if they try to do the right thing. God have mercy on us.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,942
    So-called Patriarch Elijah carries a lot of baggage vis-a-vis the Catholic Church from before the time of Pope Francis and has zero jurisdiction that is recognized by the Catholic Church.
  • Carol
    Posts: 848
    I was wondering, if there is such an extremely urgent need for priests in the Amazon, why can't the Pope call/order priests to GO there? Why aren't priests feeling the call to go there and serve the people of the Amazon? I can see that deacons may be necessary in these remote regions, but send ordained priests there, too!
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,942
    The Pope doesn't have immediate jurisdiction over most priests. One of the key features of Roman law is the concept of jurisdiction and how authority is tethered to it (it featured, for example, even in the Passion of our Lord, in the three-way tussle among the Sanhedrin, Pontius Pilate and Herod).
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • >> Why aren't priests feeling the call to go there and serve the people of the Amazon?
    There may be some who do; but they can't just go where they want.
    Since V II, we hear 'the best thing you can do for the Catholic Church is to be a good _________'.
    Before now, that meant Presbyterian, Orthodox, etc; now might it be updated to mean just about anybody?
    It's hard to see how the Church will even have any missions, in the future.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • 1. When it comes to the eternal salvation of a person's soul, I'd rather be a hard nosed benevolent dictator than a less rigid friend or priest.

    2. Whether Patriarch Elijah is in anyone's view, carrying baggage or not, is not the point or even so important. What is important is that an apparent Christian world leader with backing, scholarship and prayerful examinations, has come to a serious and painful decision to officially pronounce an excommunication in light of obvious heretical actions of other leaders that are suppose to be examples of the Christian faith, doctrine and morals to the world. This is also in light of obvious scandalous actions!

    3. If missionaries from other denominations can evangelize, then what's the legitimate excuse of the RC Church? A clergy shortage is no excuse. It wasn't for the early church.

    4. The Pope and the Cardinals by reason of their office and authority can indeed assign missionaries / clergy to any world area, have done so in the past and cam still do so now.

    5. I put forth the reason of a supposed "clerical shortage," is that most do not desire to put themselves through the hardship of evangelization in such a remote and dangerous area of the world. And if they were being "called" to it by the HOLY SPIRIT, they are resisting, wrestling and or fighting the Holy Paraclete.

    To conclude, this is an extremely breath taking serious moment in the Christian world. There was never a more needful time for extreme prayer than now!
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,933
    The Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church was created in 2009 by Basilian priests from Slovakia. They had 7 self-consecrated founding bishops who had broken away from the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. As far as I know, their "church" is not recognized by anyone and they and Patriarch Elijah are all excommunicated. I wouldn't put too much stock in anything they have to say about anyone or anything.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Hey if I had authority and jurisdiction I'd be excommunicating people. Just waiting for women's ordination... :D
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,933
    The excommunication is fact. I will spare you the details leading up to it, but:

    On March 29, 2012 the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) published a declaration,[18] urged by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church and dated February 22, 2012, concerning the main bishops of the UOGCC. It stated that CDF would not recognize the episcopal consecrations of the UOGCC's bishops as valid, and that the bishops of the UOGCC had been excommunicated.[19]
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,157
    Thanks for posting that info, CharlesW.

    The so-called "Patriarch" Elijah and his collaborators are not lawfully ordained bishops. Not only have they been excommunicated by their original Ukrainian Catholic Church - and the judgment was upheld by Rome - but they themselves claimed to excommunicate Pope Benedict and all the rest of the bishops in the world!

    The NYT ran an article on this strangely pro-Russian sect a few years ago.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,152
    I've been reading and hearing about the collapse of Christianity in America for as long as I can remember (I'm 58). What we are seeing are those people who previously went to Church because it was expected socially no longer feel compelled to do so.

    We just need to concentrate on our own salvation.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Carol
  • I seem to recall (although I had to read about it, since I wasn't there) that the collapse of Christianity has been predicted when only one apostle went to the foot of the Cross.
    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,942
    And even he had abandoned Jesus after his arrest in the garden, although a lot of people seem to be unaware of that. All the disciples deserted Jesus according to the Matthean and Markan accounts; the Lucan account instead has only Peter following Jesus at a distance.

    Another detail that people miss after the Resurrection is that even by the time of the Ascension, according to the Matthean account some of the Eleven still *doubted*. It's not until Pentecost that the fear that apparently gripped the Eleven on the night of Holy Thursday was more completely overcome.

    Thanked by 2Carol CHGiffen