Please Look Behind the Bishops' Potemkin Village

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For contrast, consider a letter an 84-year-old Catholic layman in a midwestern diocese sent his bishop a while ago, with a copy to me.

After reviewing things like the loss of the sense of sin, the huge decline in receiving the sacrament of penance, and the increase in “Catholic divorces, abortions, premarital sex, the practice of birth control, etc.,” this man wrote: “The problem, as I see it, is a possible deterioration of Catholicism of our youth two or three generations down the line if the liberalization enjoyed by their parents is absorbed.” In particular, he remarked, “a great majority of the children of those families” are certain to attend public high schools and state universities “where materialism, hedonism, and immorality prevail.”

I disagree with just two points: first, the idea that the “deterioration of Catholicism of our youth” lies somewhere in the future, when in fact it’s been happening for years; second, the assumption that the faith of Catholic young people can be assumed to be safe in Catholic schools. Otherwise, this elderly layman has it all over Professor Davidson when it comes to facing facts.

There is plentiful evidence for saying that. Passing over such familiar data as the decline in Sunday Mass attendance (from 75 percent of American Catholics to about 30 percent today), and the falling numbers of priests (nearly 59,000 in 1965, about 42,000 now) and religious women (180,000 then, 64,000 now), I call your attention to other numbers that may shed even more light on prospects for the transmission—or non-transmission—of the Catholic faith.
Orestes Brownson turned on Isaah Heckler but both were converts. Heckler founded the Paulists and Brownson understood the culture and it’s effect on practicing Catholics better than the Catholics did according to this article! Protestant Converts seem to see many things we are blind to or don’t want to see.
I mean the institutionalization of theoretical and practical dissent, a process memorably signaled by the 1967 Land O’ Lakes declaration by the presidents of major Catholic universities proclaiming their schools’ independence from the magisterium.
First time I have heard of this.
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