The Church’s problem in a nutshell

The Church’s problem in a nutshell

Thanks to Deacon Mike for pointing out this article in USA Today addressing the crisis in the Catholic Church, not the Scandal, but the precipitous decline in the numbers of people who actually take part in the life of the Church, which then leads to empty pews, fewer priests, financial problems, and so on.

I may not agree with everyone in the article, but I think it’s a decent round up of the situation without a lot of ideological bias.

  • “The “most damaging change in Catholic life is the precipitous decline in Mass attendance. It’s the sign of a church collapsing,” says Catholic University sociologist William D’Antonio, co-author of statistical studies of American Catholics.”

    To borrow a catch-phrase: “It’s the liturgy, stupid!”

    Maybe if the majority of Masses resembled a Eucharistic Sacrifice more than they evoked folk concerts or a round of miniature-golf, we wouldn’t be in this problem.

    Ahh, but the fruits of this new liturgy are still pending, I’m sure…

  • The above comment reminded me of Mass at my parish yesterday. The 10am Sunday Mass has a “Folk Group” that does the music. The principle for my daughters’ school runs it, and there is also another nun teacher in it. They are actually very talented, but also very Marty Haugenesque. They have a keyboard player and on one of the songs they performed, the keyboard sounded like Jimmy Buffet’s “Margueritaville”. It took some self-control not to burst out laughing. It is a “kid’s” Mass, with the parents and children of the parish school making up the majority in attendence, but it is still sad that we think kids will not connect with our patrimony of liturgical music.

  • Forty years of reform and look what happened.  Lessons learned by the experts quoted by USA Today?  None that will reverse the decline.

    How does that maxim go—those that refuse to learn from history are forced to repeat the past?

    So we get an increase in liturgical dance (sic), more treacly (Haugenish) hymns, homilies on the scale of Bill Clinton’s speeches, improvisational liturgies, more kids on the altar at the Consecration, more priests down from the altar at the “sign of peace’, Pax Christi and 8th Day Center for Justice heterodox inserts in the bulletin, carnations instead of pro-life sermons, and the ubiquitous Sister Smileys.  This is not LA, but Chicago, the see of Cardinal George.

    Who, by the way, celebrated our (above) parish’s 100th anniversary recently with hopes for our new parish community center.  We have to have one because other nearby parishes are building them—and all have declining mass attendance.

    When Christ instructed his apostles to preach to all nations, I don’t think that he was deluded as to the actual number of people who would seriously accept his message.  Something there about the narrow gate and the narrow path that leads to it…and few there are who find it.

    But with the dumbing down of the Church at the parish level through inane practices and conversion to some sort of World Council of Churches feel-goodisms,
    we can soon close off the back three-quarters of most churches for Sunday mass.

    Yes, blame the bishops.  Not simply for their inept handing of diocesan budgets, not simply for their toleration (and occasional approval) of homosexual predator priests (and bishops), but for their spinelessness in acting as shepherds of the flock and allowing every sort of heresy to sprout like weeds through the Church.

  • DEMOGRAPHICS people, much of it is as simple as that. Declining attendance due to Haugenesque music is not an issue here in Bridgeport, where we burn him in effigy each year. Declining attendance is one thing, but my sisters and brothers out west go to bursting churhces, that can’t build expanded schools fast enough…

  • It’s not just sheer numbers since they track percentage of Catholics going to Mass and the percentage has dropped. Yes, the number of Catholics in the Northeast has decreased, but so has the percentage of those remaining, causing a double dip.

  • Two local parishes that offer Eucharistic Adoration, one 24/7 and the other 30+ hours on First Friday, and encourage the faithful to participate in Confession are full at almost each Mass on Sunday.

    One has Sunday Masses at 6AM, 7AM, 9AM, 10:30, noon, 2PM, 5PM, and 7:30PM.  Most are pack full during masses (500+).

    It looks like encouraging reverence to Catholic practices is a winning formula.

  • No ideological bias, you say?

    “Bishops wp:comment_author_url>
    2004-11-09 12:01:33
    2004-11-09 16:01:33
    Family, absolutely. Liturgy, absolutely. But beware of any word that needs a ship to push it.

    God owns our faith—we’re to willingly be open to it , willingly to keep learning about it from true authority, willingly to follow it, willingly to grow in it, and willingly to keep it healthy through willingly adhering to its rules (even when inconvenient), willingly and actively disseminating its truths and performing its good works, and willingly praying and listening to the True Owner in the Blessed Trinity.

    What we lack in these super-consumer-ridden times is a Sacrificial Will. And, believe me, I’m one of the worst.  We all need to pray for one another, really hard.

    Now Christmas (oops, the Holidays) is coming and, like lemmings, we can’t wait to throw caution to the winds as we stock up on baubles and mostly useless gifts for people in order to get some gifts back.  Maybe we’ll get a minute or two of family feeling or fellowship and Christmas spirit. That’s the idea as, in the middle of it all, we spend an hour at Mass to give a nod to “the Reason for the Season.” (At least most of the music at Midnight Mass or Christmas Mass is traditional. With luck they’ll use the organ instead of the piano this year.


  • Jeff, find the caps lock key on your keyboard and press it.

    And the Church’s problems aren’t just financial. They’re primarily spiritual. All the money in the world won’t fix that.

  • Thanks for responding.  Yes, of course, the churches problems are spiritual as well as financial,  that goes without saying…  but, with extra money to keep the parishes open, via, rent, utilities, etc.  they could put some money aside to form youth groups, put ad’s on t.v. & in the papers, etc. to educate, stimulate & promote others into considering a spiritual devotion.  It is a start, and we must start somewhere?  I also hope, you care about saving our churches from closing?  Thanks, God bless,  Jeff Del toro

  • If you’re talking about churches in the Boston archdiocese, I do want them to close. I want some churches to close because they are where there aren’t as many people any more. People have moved from the cities to the outer suburbs and that’s where parishes are thriving.

    As for your telethon, how much money do you think such a thing would raise? A couple million? Do you know that in the Boston archdiocese alone, just to repair the buildings in dire need, would cost $50 million?

    And what incentive would Sky Angel or TBN, run by Protestant groups, have to interrupt their programming to run a telethon for the Catholic Church? Sorry Jeff, but it’s little too unrealistic for me.

  • Thx again for responding.  I understand that parish attendance is dwindling,,,  so should we just keep open the churches that are “making money”, is that right?

    The parish attendance that is dwindling, needs our prayes & immediate attention, not the closing of their doors…

    As for a telethon?  There are an estimated 2 billion christians world-wide. 
    I believe we can raise at least 50 million dollars with a church-a-thon, if not triple that amount.  I have faith in the other denominations & we all need to unite— Not, automatically judge!  I also believe that they would not only stand with us and donate their money, but, perhaps their time & efforts as well…

    We are not fighting against other christians for who’s church is right or wrong, but, instead, we are UNITING for the backbone of christianity itself…

    I know of many non-catholics who believe it is vitally important to keep the catholic churches alive!

    I also, for one have faith in TBN & the SKY ANGEL networks,  to donate some of their air time, to save THE “BODY OF CHRIST”.
    thanks for your time and input, Jeff Del Toro