Lifesite has a very good interview with Cardinal Willem Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht. You can read the full interview HERE.
But this is a brief excerpt:
LifeSite: What is the state of religious practice in the Netherlands, and of faith itself? This is basically the same question as the one relating to the Catechism: you said that many people who are now 50 or 60 years old do not know much about their faith. Has the way Catechism is taught to children been changed?
Eijk: Yes, there has been a turning point. As I said, the crisis broke out during the period when I was a student at a high school in Amsterdam, between 1965 and 1971. In 1965, all students at my Catholic high school still went to mass on Sundays with their parents. Moreover, it was something you didn’t argue about. In 1971, in the final year of high school, there were only two of us. So you see how quickly all this happened. A whole generation of young people was then willing to wage war on Sunday mornings to refuse to go to church. They decided en masse: “We will no longer go, we will walk out of the Church.” Don’t forget that these are today’s grandparents. They have not passed on the faith to their children, let alone their grandchildren. That is the situation we are facing. This situation is also revealed by the number of Catholics. In the year 2000, there were still more than 5 million Catholics in the Netherlands. By 2015, there were only 3.8 million of us left: you can see the rate at which the figure is falling. Older Catholics are dying; and now, more than 50 percent of the time, Catholic parents no longer have their children baptized. It is impossible that the number of faithful will not decrease. According to statistics, some 17 percent of Catholics attend church from time to time. It can be, for example, at a funeral, because you know the person, and of course you go. But if we look at the real participation in Sunday Mass, it has collapsed: it is currently between 4 and 5 percent.
MY COMMENTS: We all have nostalgia for the days that all students and their parents went to Sunday Mass. This was up until about 1965.
But by 1971, the year I graduated from high school, in the Netherlands and many other places so few attended Mass. "A whole generation of young people was then willing to wage war on Sunday mornings to refuse to go to Church. Don't forget these are today's grandparents. They have not passed on the faith to their children, let alone their grandchildren!"
We have to deduce from this that Catholic formation was highly authoritarian prior to Vatican II and there wasn't much internalization of the truths of what was memorized. Once the yoke of authoritarianism and eternal damnation was removed, so was the practice of the faith.
What accounts for this superficiality in the pre-Vatican II Church??????