March 05, 2005

How the Zeitgeist Affected the Catholic Church in the U.S. after Vatican II

The Conservative Voice

By Matt C. Abbott

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, held from 1962 to 1965 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, had as its objectives the renewal of the Catholic Church and to modernize its forms and institutions.1 Unfortunately, during and after the Council, the Zeitgeist – the German term for “spirit of the age” – was largely responsible for the decline in certain key aspects of the Catholic Church in the U.S. These aspects are the number of priests and religious, weekly church attendance by its members, and the state of Catholic marriage. The Zeitgeist also fostered the rise of dissident Catholic organizations and individuals who have often misrepresented the teachings of Vatican II in order to promote their own agendas.

Kenneth C. Jones of St. Louis researched and compiled a number of statistics which he titled “Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II,” published in 2003. Among his findings:2 While the number of priests in the U.S. more than doubled to 58,000 between 1930 and 1965, since then, that number has fallen to 45,000, and by 2020, there will be only 31,000 priests left; the number of seminarians declined over 90 percent between 1965 and 2002; in 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns, but by 2002, that number had fallen to 75,000; a 1958 Gallup Poll reported that three in four Catholics attended Mass on Sundays, but a recent study by the University of Notre Dame found that only one in four now attend; Catholic marriages have fallen in number by one-third since 1965, while the annual number of annulments rose from 338 in 1968 to 50,000 in 2002. ...

Also between 1960 and 1991, child abuse increased more than 500 percent.12 This, of course, has been a problem even in the Church, specifically in regard to sexual abuse by members of the clergy and religious, which has made national and world headlines in the last few years. A study commissioned in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), done in response to hundreds of sex-abuse accusations that were made in nearly every U.S. Catholic diocese, found that from 1950 to 2002, there were 10,667 cases of abuse.13 Interestingly, the study found that 81 percent of sex crimes committed against children by Catholic priests during the past 52 years were homosexual men preying on boys.14

Such is an illustration of how the Cultural/Sexual Revolution influenced – perhaps “infected” would be a better term – a number of Church officials who seemingly let sexual deviants into the priesthood. Indeed, one could even say that deviancy was promoted at certain seminaries. Catholic author Michael S. Rose, in his 2002 book Goodbye! Good Men, quotes Father John Trigilio about an incident at the seminary in the 1980’s: 15

Posted by kshaw at March 5, 2005 02:41 AM