There are several principal reasons for the decline of the Catholic Church. This article will examine those main reasons. However, before being able to understand or grasp what the true current situation is, one must have some background. Since the third century the Roman ‘Universal’ or Catholic Church, has been the largest and most dominant of all Christian dominations. Due to teaching (such as on indulgences and purgatory) and practices by bishops in the 1500s, the Great Reformation followed, splitting the Church and resulting in today’s Protestant denominations and churches.
According to a 2009 Pew Research Center study, since the 1960s, four American-born Catholics have left the church for everyone who has converted. The study revealed that in 2008 alone, 400,000 people left the Catholic Church and more than 1,000 parishes have closed since 1995. Additionally, the number of priests from 1995 to 2008 fell from 49,000 to about 40,000; leaving thousands of parishes in need of a resident priest.
According to CARA research center at Georgetown University: in 1965 there 58,632 priests in America and 37,192 in 2016, and half of those over age 65. In 1990 the US had 19,620 parishes and in 2016 there were 17,233. In 1965, 549 parishes were without a resident priest and 94% of the diocesan priests were active in ministry; in 2016, 3,499 parishes were without a resident priest pastor and only 63% of the diocesan priests were active. Though The Official Catholic Directory reported 67.7 million Catholics up from 46.3 million in 1965 and slightly up from about 65 million in 2013; the baptisms of infants dropped from 1.3 million (1965) to 670,481 (2016); and the baptism of adults from 126,209 (1965) to 37,953 (2016). Moreover, Catholics marriages dropped from 352,458 in 1965 to about 145,916 in 2016. Additionally, Mass Attendance is down from 55% in 1965 to 23% in 2017.
Catholics have lost 800 parishes from 2010 to 2017; and through their reported U.S. population increased from 65.6 million in 2010 to 68.5 million in 2017 or 4.4%; the U.S. population increased from 308 M to 326 M or 6%. Thus, Catholics represented 21.3% of the 2010 population and 21% of the 2017 population = no growth and slight loss.
CARA reported that WORLDWIDE in 1970 there were 419,728 priests and 414,313 in 2014, due to African and Asia increases. They reported in 1970 about 654 million Catholics at 18% of the world’s population; and 1.23 billion in 2014, at 14% of the earth’s population. These figures ignore practicing numbers. CARA did report marriages between two Catholics were down from 3.3 million in 1970 to fewer than 2.5 million in 2014.
The 2010-2014 attendance by nation, revealed that less than 1 in 5 of Catholics in Australia (19%), Spain (17%) and Germany (20%) attend Mass; and 2005-2009 records showed attendance by Catholic ‘members’ as follows: Argentina (21%), Brazil (45%), France (12%), Italy (31%), and Peru (39%); though about half of Catholic members in Mexico go to Mass, their membership dropped from about 73% of the nation’s population in 2000 to 69% in 2014.
Globally in 1900 about 68% of all Catholics were in Europe and 27% in the Americas, with only 5% in Asia and 1% in Africa. By 2010, only 24% lived in Europe; about half in North and South America; 11% in Asia and 15% in Africa.
The Crisis and Decline
In 2010, speaking of their decline; the National Catholic Reporter said that it’s ‘the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history.’ At that time, the Roman Catholic Church had 1.1 billion members, compared to 1.5 Muslims and about 600 million Protestants. In European nations, former strongholds such as France, Spain and Ireland, have seen a devastating loss of practicing members.
|November 2014, in the article Falling number of Latin American Catholics…, the National Catholic Reporter said, “a recent survey report by Pew Research Center… portrays the loss of members by the Catholic church (from 90% of the population 50 years ago to 69% and falling today) amid the growth of Protestant churches particularly Pentecostal groups… What did we see 50 years ago… brutal military dictatorships all over Catholic Latin America. Incredible poverty; societies sunk in their colonial cultural roots of medieval Spain and Portugal… Ninety percent illiteracy in indigenous populations closed out of elitist public educational systems. Infant mortality rates up to 30%… a general social acceptance of torture …and Marxist atheism. Institutional corruption in all judicial and governmental structures of society…”|
According to a 2016 GALLUP Poll article there has been substantial change in religious beliefs in America over the last two generations:
|Numbers from Gallup (2016) ‘What is your religious preference?’
Americans by (%) Percentage; (2% who not answer survey)
|Year||Protestant||Catholic||Other Christian||None||Other Religions|
Some blame the decline of Catholics on Vatican II and others on changes in the Mass; however, there are other very significant reasons for the decline. The main reasons include: (1) Positions from the Vatican; (2) the general rise in the non-religious and agnostic nature of people under age 40; (3) the exploration of new ideologies by those 40 and under; (4) the politics and immigration of Muslims; (5) the lack of ability to address the modern educated church; (6) the differences in doctrine and worship as compared to the evangelicals; (7) the crisis from sexual abuse by priest and the manner the sex-scandal was handled; (8) and the restriction for priest to marry.
(1) Vatican Decisions since WWII
According to the article, Catholics in Crisis by The Week (4/2010), “After Pope John’s death, in 1963, the traditionalists increased their power within the Vatican, culminating with the elevation of John Paul II to the papacy, in 1978. He undid many of his predecessor’s reforms, and millions of liberal Catholics drifted away, fed up with what they saw as Vatican authoritarianism as well as its unstinting opposition to abortion and artificial contraception.”
An August 2015 article from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI.org) entitled The Francis Effect? U.S. Catholic Attitudes on Pope Francis, the Catholic Church…, reported that ‘Catholics account for roughly one in five American adults… roughly one-third (35%) of Americans say they were raised in a Catholic household… today 15% of Americans are former Catholics.’ Though 59% of U.S. Catholic say their ‘feelings have become more favorable’ of the Catholic Church; 36% say ‘they have become more unfavorable.’ American Catholics were nearly evenly divided on Pope Francis’ relaxed immigration stance; and only 48% agreed with his position on same-sex marriage.
Yet, it is hard to known Francis’ exact position on civil unions and same-sex marriage (though the Bible is clear on homosexual relations). In a 2013 interview with the Italian Jesuit magazine La Civilta Cattolica, Pope Francis said, “”A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me, when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person… In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.”
About two months after becoming Pope, July 2013, Francis said concerning gays and the sexuality of priests, ‘If a person is gay, seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?’ Well your beloved ‘pope’ apostle Peter certain did; as did all the apostles of Jesus Christ. The Cardinals of the Vatican quickly reminded him and he recanted his statement, saying as that the Catholic Church still declares homosexuality is a sin.
In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI stated, men with ‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies should be barred from ordination.’ Yet, if the Catholic Church, as the Anglicans and certain Methodist and Lutherans did, gives in to the wave of ‘worldly mercy’ on homosexual as to welcome them in the pulpit and marry them, then they will also have abandoned the teachings of Christ, His apostles and the prophets; as well as will see another great division in their membership.
However, Francis’ will to consider allowing contraception is a reasonable move to not lose members. Though the pill keeps live from happening chemically; a condom does without chemicals. Yet, for a number of obvious reasons, married couples choose to use the pill. I will note, my wife and I did so for years (and would again); however, she had two miscarriages after getting off the pill (before 2 children, another miscarriage and 2 more children). I personally feel trying to have a child within a few months of being on the pill for years, increases the chances of a miscarriage and this is based beyond only our situation.
Nevertheless, the 2015 PRRI study revealed that 38% of Catholics believed that Pope Francis ‘supports allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.’ Alarmingly, now 60% of American Catholics favor allowing same-sex marriages. Concerning abortion, 53% of Republican Catholics agreed the issue should be emphasized; yet only 33% of Democratic Catholics agreed. And 51% of all Catholics agreed that abortion should be legal (although the argument of legal, and second-trimester abortions is another matter).
As far as the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) or Vatican II and its allowing Mass in the common vernacular, as opposed to Latin, it did actually help the Church and not disassociate it from educated Catholics that truly wanted the understand the message. Though some ‘traditionalist Catholics’ oppose many of Vatican II’s choices, many of their church offered a Latin Mass and they are now very much overshadowed by today’s Catholics – the future of their Church. The Catholic Church still teaches two sources of revelation ‘Scripture and Tradition.’ And the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd Edition) greatly explains the Church’s teachings and positions. Whether the Vatican and their ‘Holy See’ of cardinals and bishops will continue to follow it is another debate.
(2) The rise in the non-religious and agnostic
In the last 40 years there has been a significant change in rise of non-religious and agnostic people in America and the world; especially for those under age 40. In 2015 less than 1 in 4 Europeans are Christians. According to a 2011 Eurostat Census, 48% marked on their Census that they were ‘Catholic;’ yet only 72% of those stated they were Christian. And according to the French Institute of Public Opinion (2012) less than 3% of France’s population is practicing Catholics.
In 2015 Gallup stated 61% of the Chinese describe themselves as atheists and likewise for over 30% of Japan and the Czech Republic. In a 2010 Eurobarometer opinion poll 37% of England’s respondents stated they did not ‘believe there is a God.’ And in Latin America, out of the hundreds of millions of projected Catholics, likely less than 1 in 5 are practicing their faith and attending Mass even once a month. And in the Middle East and Africa where it is stated that 84+% are religious; note that it is a crime in most of those Muslim controlled areas not to be Muslim. And in India, although about 80% say they are religious, studies show at least 17% are avowed atheists; 30%+ do not believe in ‘a supreme’ God; many are pressured by their parents and even the government in many places forced a religious choice on birth certificates and their census.
According to an exhaustive study by TheTruthSource, the article Quantitative Analysis: the World, shows that about 77% of the world’s population is non-Christian (about 24% Muslim) and only about 23% Christian – and that does not account for the stated doctrines and practices of those calling themselves such. In America in 1990, 8.4% of those surveyed by the American Religious Identification Survey stated they had ‘no religion;’ and in a 2015 Pew Research Center article on Millennials increasingly …’nones,’ it reported that group of young adults up from 25% in 2007 to 34% in 2015. We now find (2017) a trend where the number of non-religious and non-Christians with other religions are out growing Christians in America; and soon if not already practicing Christians are a minority of the total population.
Quantitative Analysis: the World
(3) The exploration of new ideologies
In 2013, NPR.org did an article under the topic ‘losing our religion.’ It contained responses from an interview with several young Americans concerning why they left their religions. It reiterated that ‘a third of young Americans say they don’t belong to any religion.’ A 29 year old stated she was “Jewish with an agnostic bent;’ saying ‘I don’t think I need to answer that question (about ‘belief in God’) in order to participate in the traditions I was brought up with.”
A 33 year old former Muslim said he was an atheist because he could no longer believe the ‘stories’ he was told from the Koran. He said ‘like the story of Abraham – His God tells him to sacrifice his son… and he turns into a goat.’ Well I am not sure of the Quran version; but the Judeo-Christian verse tells that Yahweh or Yehovah-Jireh (God our Provider) provided the ram (Gen. 22:14) and certainly did not turn Isaac into one.
Another one interview (age 27) said, “I don’t believe in God, but I really want to …I’m constantly struggling. But looking right at the facts – evolution and science – they’re saying, no there is none. But what about love? What about the ideas of forgiveness? I like to believe they are true…”
Another (age 30) said she went to a Catholic school and was raised Catholic. She stated, “we got the lessons about why premarital sex was not ok, why active homosexuality was not ok, and growing up in American culture, kids automatically pushed back on those things… the reason I moved away from Catholicism was because without accepting a lot of these core beliefs, I just didn’t think that I could still be part of that community. I remember a theology test in eighth grade where there was a question about homosexuality, and the right answer (for the teacher) was that if you are homosexual, then that is not a sin because that’s how God made you, but acting upon it would be a sin. That’s what I put down as the answer, but I vividly remember thinking that was not the right answer.”
Another Seventh-day Adventist (30) cited abuse in his home and that his brother committed suicide in 2001. He felt prayers were not heard and life is cruel and without any divine help. And another raised by a Jewish mother and Christian father lost her brother to cancer and stated, “I realized the purpose and meaning of his life had nothing to do with heaven, but it had to do with how I could make choices in my life… And that had a lot more weight with me than any kind of faith.”
In a similar 2013 article Listening to Young Atheists…, by The Atlantic, one “atheist college student’ said, “Church became all about ceremony, handholding and kumbaya; I missed my old youth pastor. He actually knew the Bible.” The article speaks of the ‘New Atheism… as a movement that is ruthlessly scientific… rational and objective.’ The student added, “I really can’t consider a Christian a good, moral person if he isn’t trying to convert me.” Larry Taunton of the Fixed Point Foundation conducted the interview and added, “Christianity, when it is taken seriously, compels its adherents to engage the world, not retreat from it…” Taunton publicly debated Christopher Hitchens and clashed with Richard Dawkins.
Taunton in his article to The Atlantic spoke of engages groups like the Secular Student Alliances (SSA) and Freethought Societies (FS) growing on college or university campuses. He noted that these ‘are not mere irreligious; they are actively, determinedly irreligious;’ thus, going after our children and future generations of leaders and teachers.
The atheist, Phil, which he interviewed ‘was once the president of his Methodist church’s youth group;’ and is now ‘the president of his campus’ SSA.’ Phil explained that as his former Church got members by attracting young adults with ‘more playing’ and ‘less teaching’ about the Bible; but Taunton notes in the secular-like process they loss Phil. Stephanie, another that he interviewed stated ‘the connection between Jesus and a person’s life was not clear’ at her Church.
|Taunton noted “these students heard plenty of messages encouraging ‘social justice,’ community involvement and ‘being good,’ but they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.” What was alarming is that he reported that ‘for most, the high school years were the time when they embraced unbelief.’
Taunton concluded, “these students were, above all else, idealists who longed for authenticity, and having failed to find it in their churches, they settled for a non-belief that, while less grand in its promises, felt more genuine and attainable… Sincerity does not trump truth… one can be sincerely wrong. But sincerity is indispensable to any truth we wish others to believe.”
In a 2016 article on ‘Youth in Singapore shunning religion,’ the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, led by Archbishop Goh, reported that ‘…traditional religions have been slow to engage young people.” One youth that grew up Buddhist and then Catholic, is now an atheist and she said, “I think it is highly improbable that any god exists. There is no evidence for it.”
The Department of Statistics’ General Household Survey 2015 showed an increased to 18.5% non-religious from 17% in 2010. And among those ages 15-34 it was 23%. Studies and interviews show that today’s youth around the world are more engaging, intelligent, resourceful with most forms of media, and searching for truth according to meet their ideologies. In an interview with India college students, they reported that they would search to internet for answers; and many explore atheists’ sites on the internet.
(4) The politics and immigration of Muslims
According to a 2017 article by PewResearch.org entitled, Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world, “Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State (ISIS) and other extremist groups… have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries…” The article states there are 1.6 billion Muslims and estimates their growth from 2010 to 2050 to be 73%, while for Christians it is 35%.
Most Muslims are in the Asia-Pacific region from Turkey and Iran, through India and Pakistan to Bangladesh and Indonesia (which has the largest Muslim population in the world). However, in the UK and France they are changing the traditional landscape. In France, more mosques are being built and more Catholic and Protestant churches are being sold. Still in 2016, less than 30% surveyed in France, Germany and the UK viewed Muslims as unfavorable; whereas, in Italy and Hungary about 70% viewed them unfavorably.
One thing rarely talked about is the inequity of political treatment of the Christian religion versus the Muslim religion. For example, though the United States was a Christian Nation, even its colonies required their representatives to be Christians in good standing; but now we welcome all religions. We not only allow temples and mosques, but also allow public advertisement and preaching of all religions. However, in many Muslim nations; not only is Islam the state religion, but it is illegal to preach Christianity in public or have churches for worship.
In Indonesia it is reported that over 600 Christian churches have been destroyed since 1996. In China, tens of millions of believers are forced to go to underground churches. In Africa, Christians have been pushed out of their homes, such as in Nigeria or Sudan, where the struggle was so terrible that the country divided in two. Pakistan has blasphemy laws, which carry the death penalty for speaking in certain manner against Mohammed. ISIS has attacked Christians not only in Syria and the Middle East, and Africa; but also in America and Europe. The Somalia Christian Church has been driven underground, along with others in many nations.
In Turkey, Christians represented about 1 in 5 people around 1900, and was spread in the area 600 years before Islam; yet now less than 1 in 200 people are Christians. In Kuwait, which America helped free, Christians are free to live and work, but are restricted in where they can worship and evangelism is illegal. In Saudi Arabia, the land of Mecca and Medina, a citizen that converts from Islam to any other religion could face the death penalty under Sharia Law. And this is the law the Islamic State (ISIS) desires to impose on all Muslims and all people of the world. In Iran, Shi’a Islam is the state religion and Christianity or conversions are illegal and subject to death or prison. All Christian literature is ban and churches are monitored.
In Iraq, Christians are being killed every month and perhaps every week; and Afghanistan is not much better. Even in Nepal, Hindus persecute practicing Christians. Many states in India have anti-conversion laws that carry penalties of prison or fines. In Bangladesh, Islam is the state religion and in Burma Christians have been force to leave or be killed.
According to various sources and reports, it has been estimated that more Christians were killed (martyred) in the last 100 years, than all in the 19th centuries that came before. According to a Vatican report to the United Nations, about 100,000 Christians were killed in 2012. The Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) reported 90,000 killed in 2016; and between 2005 and 2017 over a million Christian martyrs worldwide.
(5) The lack of ability to address the modern educated church
Today’s issues are far beyond whether women should wear a veil when they pray. As stated in section 3, today’s youth and young adult are literate and intelligent; as oppose to talented, but illiterate masses even a century ago. In an interview with the National Catholic Reporter, one priest stated, ‘the all-or-nothing approach to Catholicism has been waning since the progressive reforms of Vatican II… people are more educated and making up their minds on these issues, not just accepting what father says from the pulpit.’
The vast majorities of people under 40 are not willing to hear a message in Latin, and can’t read Jerome’s original Vulgate. They do not want a simple minded message with little passion. The can see through hypocrisy much easier than in the past; and they look to the internet and social media for answers and an outlet.
The Catholic Church is in a crisis. A Pew Research Survey (2015) found: 65% of Catholics saying that ‘cohabitation without marriage’ is not a sin; and 51% of those were regular Mass attendees. Likewise, 50% said that ‘Homosexual behavior’ is not a sin; 36% attended Mass regularly. Other struggles over the issues of contraception and divorce are not as grave. The apostles specifically stated that homosexuality and fornication were sins in which if one continues in – they will not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor. 6:9; Gal. 5:19-; Heb. 10:26). About two-thirds of all Catholics see no wrong in a same-sex couple marrying or living together and adoption children.
The Catholic Church should take a lesson from the Methodist, Lutherans and Episcopal that no matter the decision on same-sex marriage it will divide the church; and more such as the African conferences will walk away from the flagship denomination if they don’t follow the lessons of Christ, the prophets and the apostles. After the same-sex issue the Episcopal Church loss more than 200,000 members and 300 parishes between 2006 and 2010 alone.
The Global South had 80% of all Anglicans in 2010, with Nigeria as the second-largest Anglican population and soon to be first (2017). The Wesleyan Methodist Church was established there in 1842. Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, South India and Australia, all have more Anglican members than in the United States. Moreover, from 1990 to 2017, the top five dioceses have a net loss of membership and loss in 4 of its top five dioceses (about 250,000 members). In 2017 Anglicans in Africa, about 50 million nearly double those in Europe (26 million) and are more than 14 times the number in both North (2.5 M) and South America (.9 M).
Church leaders in the ‘global south,’ specifically most of the African churches were prepared in 2016 to walk out of the meetings and Anglican Communion in order to follow the Holy Scriptures. And most of the more liberal and declining Anglican/Episcopal bishops of North American and the UK agreed to agree that marriage was between a man and a woman only – and the Bible has always in the most simply vernacular stated. “Jesus answered, ‘At the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and …a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ (Matt. 19:4-5).”
And these are not the sole issues that educated members consider. There are the following issues: should priests be allowed to marriage (as their ‘first Pontiff’ Peter – Matt. 8:14-; Mark 1:29-; Luke 4:38-; 1Tim. 3:2 – ‘a bishop… husband of one wife.’); can one can confession to Christ our Mediator; is their salvation in the wafer; should Mary be exalted to the position of Queen of Heaven; should there be more Cardinals from Africa, Asia and Latin America; what is the position of lay elders; should priests known guilty of sexual abuse be forced to resign rather than be relocated; should contemporarily worship music be expanded; etc.?
(6) The differences in doctrine and worship as compared to the evangelicals
Passion and One Thing Conferences show the power of worship among the youth. I understand that thousands often gather for annual Catholic events, but the truth of the matter is that the Church was not acceptance modern worship. And this is also the case with many Protestant churches that are losing members; especially the Lutheran, Episcopal and Methodist. And Baptists are only maintaining their numbers with an offering of contemporary services in America.
But let the numbers speak; ‘catholic worship songs’ have less than 130,000 Youtube views on many of their most current songs. They do have over 6 million views on ‘Catholic Hymns for Mass’ for numerous songs. Hillsong worship, sung in every Evangelical church and most Protestant churches (and many Catholic) have about a quarter BILLION (250+ million) views on two songs – I Surrender, and Oceans; and an additional 100+ million on two others (Oceans and ; and another 100+ million views on their next 10. Likewise, Jesus Culture and Bethel both have over 100+ million views on Youtube. Likewise, Elevation Worship and others have tens of millions of views. It is a fact that worship music moves people; and all the churches should considered their youth. Augustine and Charles Wesley and others would have celebrated seeing a great multitude of today’s young adults with hands lifted like Daniel and David giving praises ‘to Him that sits on the throne and the Lamb;’ and many of those falling on their knees in worship.
Best New Christian Worship Songs
As to doctrinal differences, one only needs to look to North and South America and the Catholics that left the church to join evangelical churches. According to several sources, the Catholic Church more real estate than parishioners to fill it or support it without Vatican gold or their Euro printing press. In the last forty years (1977-1917) Catholics have had serious losses in Latin America to the Evangelical message. Many see a different message in repentance and salvation through Christ and the Scriptures alone; and the message of the wafer from a priest carries very little weight in the Americas and likely the entire educated world. And likewise, though Mary was the Virgin mother of Jesus and blessed beyond all women, she is not the ‘Queen of Heaven’ or perpetual ‘ever-virgin’ as the 1994 Catechism teaches (Matt. 1:23-; 13:55; Mark 6:3). Prayers to Mary were confusing to many, as to whether she was ‘the mediator between man and Christ’ or Jesus alone fills that roll. And infant baptism was and is a dividing doctrine that caused many to leave.
(7) The sexual abuse scandal
In several studies the manner in which priests abused a multitude of young children and young adults; as well as to the method from the highest positions it was dealt with and even covered up was upon the top 3 reasons for leaving the Catholic Church. And documentaries such as ‘Deliver us From Evil (2006)’ or HBO’s Mea Maxima Culpa continue to remind people. And Childabuserecovery.com reported the recent discovers of as many as over 350,000 children suspected to be in Catholic child mass graves sites in Spain, Ireland and Canada caused the International Common Law Court of Justice in Brussels to raise charges against Pope Francis and the Catholic Church in 2014.
Chick publications in the past have claimed that centuries ago priest and nuns had sex and abortions and accused of murdering babies which are in nearby crypts. Apostasie.org claims ‘40% of Catholic Nuns have been sexually abuse’ and many ‘got pregnant and their babies were murdered.’ They site 9th century monasteries and convents practices. They use a 1996 survey of 34,000 nuns also for their accusations.
Nevertheless, there have been sexual abuse legal settlements since for decades; and the mid-1990s, when the first wave of abuse charges surfaced, church attendance in the U.S. significantly dropped. When the next wave saw allegations of negligence by Pope Benedict XVI more left the church all around the world. In Latin American, sexual abuse scandals in Mexico and Brazil caused masses to leave to evangelical churches or simply become non-religious. In one German city (Wurzburg), a thousand members quit in one month.
Just from 2001 to 2010 the Holy See was dealing with cases involving over 3,000 priests over the past 50 years. In 2012, just the Australian state of Victoria reported 40 suicides by children due to sexual abuse. A 2004 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice for the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops found 4,392 priests and deacons (in process of becoming a priest) between 1950 and 2002 accused by 10,667 individuals of sexual abuse of a youth under 18. A report estimated that 4% of all priests have sex with minors.
The Catholic Church was warned by many of its own high level advisors to come forward years and even perhaps decades earlier; or that it will cost the Church millions of members and a billion dollars. Well it cost tens of millions (and maybe hundreds of millions of potential future Catholics) of members and about $4 billion so far. The National Catholic Reporter in November 2015 stated, ‘The U.S. Catholic church has incurred nearly $ 4 billion in costs related to the priest sex abuse crisis during the past 65 years.’ Who knows how many billions it has cost worldwide, but it is very sad shame that their tons of gold or Euro reserve could not have found better use – say many to care for the poor.
(8) The restriction for priest to marry
The archaic tradition of Canon 33 by the Council of Elvira in 306, FORBIDDENING priest to marry (unless they convert from another denominations) not only causes very significant shortages in the number of their priests; strains on meeting the needs of parishioners; but is more so unfounded biblical. As stated before, Peter was married and Paul stated bishops (and of course priests) such be ‘husbands of one wife.’ The very foolish rule has at least indirectly promoted homosexual relations and sexual abuse by its priests. It is welcome by few and seen as an ancient tradition that needs to change by many more.
Even Archbishop Parolin, perhaps the second to the pope, stated the subject of marriage for priests should be up for discussion because ‘it’s an ecclesiastical tradition and not a dogma of the Church.’ Several polls, such as by PewResearch show the majority of American Catholics wanting priest to be allowed to marry; in 2013 it was 58% and now more. And 78% in a DNO (Dominicanewsonline) poll said yes; and currently and ongoing online poll (2013 to 2017) is at 83% yes. BTW about 60% now want women priests; but that is another discussion.
(9) Other statistics
Catholics in Europe have only grow 6% from 1980 to 2012 far below Europe’s population percent growth and the increase of non-religious.
In Brazil, which has the world’s largest Catholic population at about 125 million, the church lost around 9 million members between October 2014 and December 2016 and a Pew Research Center study from 2014 found that only 69 percent of Latin American adults identified as Catholic, down from an estimated 90 percent for much of the 20th century.
A new sociological study conducted in France revealed that only 1.8 percent of the entire French population are practicing Catholics. The survey further determined that “French Catholicism has become a festive reality” for those who do practice their faith.
Results showed that most French Catholics who do go to Church only do so on certain major feast days and for baptisms, marriages or funerals. Just five percent of Catholics in France attend Holy Mass on a regular basis, according to the poll.
Ireland dropping by one-third:
According to Irish Times (Jan. 2016): “Weekly Mass attendances in Dublin’s archdiocese are projected to drop by a third over the next 15 years, while the number of priests serving in parishes is expected to fall by over 60 per cent…”
International Mass Attendance by CARA: 2000-2014
2018 Mass Attendance:
According to theCatholicThing in the U.S.: “In a three-year survey, 39 percent of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days – down from an average of 45 percent a decade ago — and way down from 75 percent in 1955.”
Sophia Institute Press; article reviews: Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church (2013):
Book was written by David Carlin in 2013, but the review was posted 2018, ”
Many Catholics blame Vatican II for the woes of the Catholic Church in America. Traditionalists claim that changes in the Mass brought on the decline while liberals say it was caused by failure of the Church to bring its theology in step with the times.
In this groundbreaking study, David Carlin challenges both views. The roots of the crisis in America are not theological, he says; they’re cultural. Forty years ago the Church in America unwittingly sailed into a perfect storm spawned by the unprecedented confluence of three powerful social forces.
Changes introduced by Vatican II unsettled the self-identity of American Catholics just as their improved social status began to draw them from their Catholic enclaves into full communion with American culture. Then, as they struggled to adjust to unfamiliar roles in the Church and in society, American culture shifted out from under them, abandoning its traditional Protestant character to become openly secularist, libertine, and boldly anti-authoritarian.
American Catholicism might have withstood one of these transformations, says Carlin, or perhaps even two. But together, the three combined into a perfect storm that capsized the Church in America.
Demoralized and adrift, American Catholics forged a compromise with their new secular culture. They downplayed specifically Catholic elements of their faith. They stopped seeing Catholicism as the one true Church to which all are called and came to think of it as just another denomination among many.
That led to a widespread loss of Catholic identity in America, a general weakening of fidelity to Catholic doctrine, and the exodus of many from the Church.
Carlin shows that it has taken more than bad priests, weak bishops, and liturgical abuses to cripple this once formidable institution; it will take more than good priests, strong bishops, and a reverent liturgy to save it. Fundamental changes must be made. Unfortunately, Carlin’s diagnosis leaves little reason to hope the American Church can make those changes soon enough to save itself.”