A short Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal responding to a book review concerning the impact of Vatican II pretty scary data on what has happened to the Roman Catholic Church in the 40+ years since Vatican II. However, I believe that what has happened in terms of the decline in the number of priests and nuns has less to do with the impact of Vatican II that with the changes in the larger context of western society, including an increased refusal of the laity to just blindly follow the dictates of the senile, reactionary leadership of the Vatican. As much as Benedict XVI and his compatriots want to turn back to a 13th century world view and to cling to a "natural law" that science is showing to be false, rank and file Catholics in educated western societies are simply no longer buying the bullshit peddled by the Vatican. Only in the most uneducated and backward areas of the world is Church membership growing significantly. I believe that too will change as those Catholics attain higher levels of education and knowledge. Here are a few highlights:
Kenneth C. Jones compiled an "Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II," published in 2003. Among his findings: While the number of priests in the U.S. more than doubled to 58,000 between 1930 and 1965, that number has fallen to 45,000, and by 2020 there will be only 31,000. In 1965, there were 180,000 Catholic nuns, but by 2002 that number had fallen to 75,000; 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. (Regarding the annulment process, it is said that, for better or worse, psychological factors have been taken into consideration much more so post-Vatican II.) And, of course, we have the clergy sdecline in priests and nuns, decline in Catholic marriagesex abuse scandal that culminated in 2002 and continues to this day.
Such statistics and events are sobering for any assenting Catholic. The cause? I submit that the zeitgeist and the activities of a number of morally corrupt churchmen are responsible for the problems in the Catholic Church since Vatican II and prior to the council, for that matter.