IS THERE A WAR AGAINST CATHOLICISM IN THE UNITED STATES?
Is there really a war against Catholicism in America? We believe there definitely is, at least since the 1960s and 1970s. Now throughout history there have been many “wars” against Catholicism, but thankfully the Church has survived them all. Will it survive the current one? Would it shock all American Catholics if we told them that 1)they are not “Following in the Footsteps of Jesus Christ”, 2)they are in a losing war with anti-catholicism which is alive and well and 3)that American Catholics are members of a dying church here in the United States.
Was Jesus politically correct? NO. Was Jesus afraid to speak out against the establishment? NO. Was Jesus (generally a man of peace) a fighter? YES.
How can we be following in the footsteps of Jesus when our, otherwise beloved leaders(clergy) do not speak out against those that act, write and preach against the teachings of the Church that Jesus founded? Just look at the evil forces we should be fighting? Do we not have a dying church when for the last 30 or 40 years the number of American priests is decreasing(See Chart I above), when the number of American Catholics in relation to our total population has been decreasing(see Chart II above) and when projecting these decreases out into the future, the Catholic church in the United States will be reduced to a relatively small church and subject to all the bad things that happen to all other minor religions around the world.
Look at the increase in divorces, the increase in murder of unborn babies (61 million since 1973), the increase in all kinds of permissiveness and materialism and related sinful behaviors and more. Believe us when we say the Devil is at work and he has many, many helpers. Who are they? We will not and need not name names (you know who they are), but consider the many so called “Catholic” politicians, the elite entertainers, the elite professors in many of our colleges and universities, many members of the media, various organizations and wealthy individuals who champion behaviors contrary to the beliefs of the Catholic Church. Thus, does the Catholic Church in the United States have a problem? YES. It is at war with anti-catholics, but either does not know it, does not know what to do about it or simply refuses to “fight”.
Now, of course, there are many, many wonderful clergy and lay people throughout the United States who are doing great things in the name of Jesus, but these great things are and have not obviously been enough to stop the bleeding.
We recognize that there can be different kinds of growth, as stated by Gary McIntosh
“A church can be alive and growing even though the number of members/attendees is not changing. If those in the church are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus, submitting to His will for their lives, both individually and corporately, that is a church that is experiencing true growth. At the same time, a church can be adding to its rolls weekly, have huge numbers, and still be spiritually stagnant.”
So maybe we should not be overly fixated on the numbers issue. Still it is very normal to be concerned when the numbers are almost all against us. Add to that the fact that too many Catholics and even clergy do not support the Church’s teachings on some issues. Nothing that we found in the Bible quoted Jesus as saying we needed to grow the Church in numbers. However, Jesus did say:
“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”
We can debate whether “build my church” means growing it in numbers, but we believe the majority of Catholics believe it does. Also, keep in mind that numbers are an important source of the very resources we need to keep the Church strong.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
Many people ask why is the Catholic Church in a state of decline here in the United States and in other parts of the world?
The PROBLEM in the United States, at least in terms of numbers, is very well described in a number of documents two of which are summarized below. Other sources are the various web sites of Catholic dioceses and Catholic organizations in the US. See the complete CARA Statistical Summary in Appendix IV. One source is in “The four signs of a Dynamic Catholic” by Matthew Kelly who has done extensive research on the subject. Of the 7 billion people on planet, 33% or 2.3 billion are Christian and 1.2 billion are Catholics. There are 77 million Catholics in USA, however 30 million are fallen away Catholics (largest religious group in USA next to Catholics).
- 50% of fast growing non-denominational megachurches are fallen away Catholics
- Only 17% of Catholics attend church every Sunday
- Only 7% are ‘dynamic Catholics’ (=involved in many
Catholic events, daily prayer, continuous learning, weekly donations)
- Only 1% attend daily mass
- Catholic weddings have decreased by over 60,000 in past 4 decades
- Over 3,000 parishes were closed in past 20 years
- Projected that in next 10 years-50% of parishes won’t have a priest
- Many parishes and entire dioceses are in serious financial trouble
Other revealing statistics
- Total priests-58,000 in 1980; 37,000 in 2017
- Parishes-19,000 in 1980; 17,000 in 2017
- Parishes w/o priests-800 in 1980; 3,500 in 2017
- Catholic population-57million in 1980; 74 million in 2017
- Foreign-born catholics-4 million in 1980; 17 million in 20173
- Former catholics-8 million in 1980; 30 million in 2017
- Students in catholic elementary & secondary schools-
3.4 million in 1980; 1.8 million in 2017
One of the few bright spots in these statistics is that the number of permanent deacons has risen dramatically in the last 30 years from about 900 in 1975 to over 18,000 in 2017.
It should be noted that these problems are not unique to the Catholic religion. Virtually all religions suffer the same or similar problems to varying degrees, except for the Christian megachurches. However, a 2014 Pew Research study found-
“The greatest net losses [in the number of Americans claiming a religious affiliation] by far, have been experienced by Catholics. Nearly one-third of American adults (31.7%) say they were raised Catholic. Among that group, fully 41% no longer identify with Catholicism. This means that 12.9% of American adults are former Catholics.”
Keep in mind that former Catholics, who were raised Catholic, include many of our own children, relatives and friends and are usually very good people, believe in God and Jesus Christ, but most belong to some other Christian church.
 “How you can work with God to build a Faithful Church” by Gary McIntosh
 Matthew 16:18
 “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic”, Matthew Kelly, Beacon Publishing, 2012
 The Official Catholic Directory and other CARA research and databases
 Due primarily to immigration.
 Pew Research Report, http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/new-pew-research-center-study-examines-americas-changing-religious-landscape/