Friday, 4 March 2011

Something happened in the late sixties........

........Catholics started disappearing. Mass attendances dipped, Baptisms, Weddings and even Funerals were down, Priests and religious departed in droves, Vocations to the priesthood went out the window and Nuns....where did they go to?
The head count of Catholics worldwide took a nosedive. What was going on?
Why was this haemorrhaging taking place? Things had been looking so good....what could possibly be causing this?

The decline in priestly vocations is perhaps the most dramatic example of just how far we fell, in England and Wales - and are still falling although there is some evidence of a revival of sorts (while, on the other hand, Ushaw is closed).

The following chart shows the decline of vocations only from 1982 to 2009. It would be interesting to see a chart showing numbers of priests who left the church from 1969-1980


  1. Something happened in the late sixties........
    ........Catholics started disappearing.

    Hang on a minute! The sixties ar ewhen I first appeared, not disappeared!

    I think there were vast changes to the western world during this time and ofcourse the Catholic Church reflected this.

    God is still god. He knows the sadness in the hearts of those who truly miss the way Mass was.

    By the way, is your testimony/story posted anywhere on your blog/ I mean, your Catholic testimony, how it was passed down to you as a child etc? I would be very interested to hear. You and Dominic Mary, over at Libera me are some of the few more trad bloggers I sense an identification with.

    God bless, keep turnin' the tables over, it keeps folk awake!

  2. I was born in 1960. I went to Catholic school and was taught by nuns in full habits. We girls wore veils on our heads anytime we entered the church. It would have been scandalous to see a woman in church without a head covering. The nuns made sure our class went to 9 consecutive First Friday Masses. Monday morning, attendance was taken to find out who, if anyone, missed their Sunday obligation. When I look back on the church of my childhood, I sometimes feel a pain in my heart that makes me long for another world that has not passed but it is to come. When I look back on the Mass of most of my primary school days, I'm looking back at a glimpse of Heaven on earth. Then everything fell apart. Guitars instead of organs, nuns with abbreviated skirts and no head veils, the Body of Christ and His Precious Blood forced into earthenware vessels. You name it, it took place. However, I don't know enough to distinguish if Vatican II is solely to blame for this decline, or if the same societal changes that brought us revolutions in music, politics and so-called sexual freedom were also at work in the church. My youngest, although she attends a public magnet high school, was permitted to choose the Second Vatican Council as a research project and she will need my help. Perhaps then I'll have a better idea of whether in the 60's, the chicken or the egg came first. It is a question that demands to be answered so a repeat of this error can be avoided at all costs.

  3. RC:

    Interesting post. I was born in 1961; my parents were both converts to the Faith, and I was the last of their 8 children. They entrusted their children to the Catholic Schools, which let them down badly: few of us survived with our Faith intact (I only did as my teenage rebellion was a rebellion against the superficial stuff I was being fed at school!).

    Whatever else was going on, the betrayal of Catholic Education by Nuns and Monks is a major factor in the catastrophic lapsation of my generation.


    Try reading Michael Davies trilogy The Liturgical Revolution (Cranmer's Godly Order, Pope John's Council and Pope Paul's New Mass) if you want a thorough exploration of the 2nd Vatican Council, and how its implementation related to the Protestant Reformation.


  4. How familiar The Little Way's experience sounds. Nuns in full habit, hitching up their skirts and tucking in their rosary beads to play tennis with their veils flying behind them; all the senior girls inducted as a Child of Mary, later into the Legion of Mary to visit the lonely elderly at home and in hospital.

    Many years later I returned to the little chapel for the funeral of a nun who had been my head teacher at primary level. The senior girls sat on benches along the side of the chapel. Not one knelt for the Consecration and horror, of horrors, we were treated to a clumping dance in the sanctuary by hefty 6th formers - thankfully after Mass.

    The changes as per the "spirit" of Vatican 2 were swift as an executioner's sword. I am ashamed to admit that Mother Church lost me for more than 20 years. I came back. But I know many others who didn't.

    From what I've read the modernists were planning this 2nd Reformation from the start of the 20th century. IMO the effects of two world wars in overturning the old order across the piece cannot be discounted. Some of it good; much, as we now know, bad.

  5. Little Way - a good account of better days. Like you, I do not think that VAT 2 was the sole cause but it certainly was the major one.