Sunday, May 29, 2022


Is Vatican II the blame for about 80% of Catholics no longer attending Mass and most of them no longer even claiming cultural Catholicism for themselves? 

If Christmas and Easter are any indication, in Richmond Hill, a small but very fast growing suburb of Savannah, about 70% of those attending these “high holy days” don’t attend other than Christmas or Easter. At least, though, they still have some cultural or emotional connection with the Church.

But there are more who don’t even attend these “high holy days”. Either they have joined the mega non-denominational church in Metro Savannah, “Compassion Christian Church.” (BTW, I think our next parish in Richmond Hill should be called “Most Compassion Catholic Church”) or, as many suspect,  the majority of non identifying former Catholics attend no church, they are indeed “nones.” 

Why are so many no longer attending? 

Is it:
Vatican II’s deemphasis on obligation and recommendation that one want to go not be forced to go?
Vatican II’s deconstruction of the church’s cultural heritage or trappings for churches, religious and lay Catholics?
Vatican II’s erasure of cultural practices such as fast and abstinence?
Vatican II’s noble simplicity and anything goes for the liturgy and blurring of Catholicism with Protestantism?

I often wonder if we had parishes that mimicked non-denominational churches with lively liturgies, worship and praise rock music and strong fellowship and service oriented small groups, that these parishes would prosper compared to even those EF parishes.

What say you?


TJM said...

No - we tried “lively” liturgies starting in the 1960s and they drove people away

William said...

And now Wally McElroy is going to be a Cardinal! Times are grim indeed.

TJM said...

Totally unfit for office let alone a red hat

Servimus Unum Deum said...

Uh Father we kind of do come close to that with Praise and Worship being used in liturgies for EVERY song, with a youth/young adult band to boot. Save throwing out the basic liturgy of the Catholic Mass we are already there.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"Is Vatican II the blame for about 80% of Catholics no longer attending Mass and most of them no longer even claiming cultural Catholicism for themselves?"

No. The suggestion looks at the Catholic Church in isolation from the broader Western culture. If it were the case that the Catholic Church alone had experienced the decline in attendance, one might look exclusively to Catholic problems/solutions.

We know, however, that that is not the case. Most mainline denominations have experienced the same decline in participation, some to a greater degree, some to a lesser.

We also know that participation in many voluntary organizations that focus on serving the larger community, as the Catholic Church does, has declined dramatically since the 1970s. groups like the Jaycees, the Lions Club, Sertoma, Rotary Clubs has also seen numbers drop. Vatican Two can hardly be blamed for the declines in Protestant denominations of Social Service organizations.

The problem goes far, far beyond the very parochial solution that "Vatican Two is to blame." That's an simplistic solution to a far broader and more complex social phenomenon. If you misdiagnose the cause, then your solution to the problem will also be way off the mark.

"Just reverse the liturgical changes that came about after Vatican Two" is exactly that sort of misdiagnosis with its ineffective treatment.

"Why are so many no longer attending?" Because people are choosing to live for themselves and not for others, a cultural shift that predates Vatican Two and that we will be living with for generations to come. People don't want to hear a message that presents them with a true diagnosis - sin - and an effective treatment - repentance and rebirth by grace, a rebirth that is necessarily enfleshed (incarnated) in serving others.

"Vatican II’s deconstruction of the church’s cultural heritage or trappings for churches, religious and lay Catholics?"

The Church's cultural heritage was never limited to European ways of thinking and worshipping. Oh, we thought it was when European thinking and worshipping held sway in the Catholic Church and decisions for the Church were made by Europeans. But all that came to be with little or no knowledge of the great value of the cultural expressions of most of the rest of the world. The European Church suppressed attempts through the centuries to develop a truly catholic (universal) manner of being. Only when the world-outside-Europe could no longer be ignored did the value, the necessity, of inculturation begin to be part of how we understand the Church in the Modern World.

Jerome Merwick said...

Is Vatican II to blame for everything wrong in the Church?

No. Our conformity to the world and diabolic infiltration are.

However, it cannot be argued that, for some unexplainable reason, only ONE kind of liturgy consistently brings in the younger Catholics and experiences any kind of solid growth. And it ain't the happy-clappy Up With People Mass.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"...only ONE kind of liturgy consistently brings in the younger Catholics and experiences any kind of solid growth."

Interesting claim. Any supporting evidence, something beyond anecdotes?

Jerome Merwick said...

Here's a link to an article that cites several studies and provides links to them:

This quote sums it up well:

"Another survey by Kloster and others, conducted online last year, found that
among adults aged 18 to 39 who attend Latin Mass, 98 percent report going every
Sunday. This stands in stark contrast to the findings of a 2018 Gallup poll,
which showed dramatic declines in weekly Mass attendance among all Catholics,
with the sharpest decline in the 21 to 29-year-old demographic, from 73 percent
in 1955 to 25 percent in 2017, the lowest of all age groups.

Even more striking, the survey by Kloster found that 90 percent of these young
Catholics were not raised in the Latin rite and that the vast majority were
drawn to it by forces from within their own generation, rather than by their
parents. A plurality, 35 percent, cited “reverence” as what prompted them to
seek out the Latin rite."

TJM said...

Some priests can’t even answer why so many OF attendees do not believe in the Real Presence, so they would not understand how Vatican II was the catalyst for our current sad state of affairs

Jerome Merwick said...

There is no explaining to someone who has not witnessed it.

To attend the TLM for the first time is almost always a shock. Part of that shock is the large number of young people present, many of them looking as "rebellious" and "alternative" as possible. What I have witnessed IS anecdotal, to be sure. But I am not fabricating my witness.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Jerome - The Kloster survey, from what I am able to read, was conducted among attendees of the TLM almost exclusively.

"This second and follow up Kloster 2019-2020 Survey was an attempt to measure the amount of interest and participation in the Traditional Latin Mass from the demographic of the Traditional Catholic adults 18-39 years of age. Many samples were collected as a result of two large Traditional Latin Mass gatherings.

On February 1, 2020 in Philadelphia, PA over 800 were in attendance for a Sarum Rite Vespers. On February 15, 2020 in New York, New York 950 gathered for a Solemn High Mass at the Lepanto Conference with Cardinal Zen. A great number of the attendees at these two events were in the target age group (300+ online samples gained) of the Kloster 2019-2020 Study."

The number surveyed was a bit under 2,000. So, it seems a rather targeted survey. That's OK if you want skewed results.

Are there any factors besides the "one kind of liturgy" that might play into the religious sensibilities of the "younger Catholics"? Family life, religious education in Catholic schoools, CCD, etc?

ALso, are there no younger Catholics who, despite never having attended am older style mass, are faithful Catholics?

John Nolan said...

I would remind Fr MJK that for an historian anecdotal evidence (evidence based on individual accounts) is of considerable importance. To give one example, how does one write a history of the Holocaust without it?

TJM said...

Jerome Merwick,

He will not read it - contra agenda.

I frequently attend the EF and I am usually the oldest person there. The bulk of the congregation are families with young children. In my diocese, 5 priests are being ordained this year and all 5 have been trained to celebrate the EF. They will be around way longer than the losers in Rome huffing and puffing in one last modernist gasp.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

I thank John for his reminder.

I would remind him that anecdotal evidence:
1. Is often highly personal and may not reflect the facts or the thinking of others
2. Lacks verification and is often based on very limited context
3. Is often unreliable due to cherry-picked or non-representative samples.

One does not write a "history" of the Holocaust based on anecdotal evidence. One might write a memoir, a personal reflection, or an essay. But a history of an historical event is based on data, not personal memories of reactions to facts.

Some time ago Fr. ALLAN McDonald reported anecdotal evidence of the impact of the "TLM" on teenagers by noting that a student had attended such a mass at his church and found it "Awesome."

I would strongly suspect that the same or a similar individual would have the same reaction to a monster truck rally, a Hip-Hop concert performance, or the victory of his/her high school football team over an arch-rival.

TJM said...

John Nolan,

Because you are rational can you help me understand why Father K is stuck on the OF and can’t address why only a minority of Catholics attending the OF believe in the Real Presence? He can’t seem to answer a simple question. I wonder why?

John Nolan said...


Data-based evidence can be equally unreliable. David Irving probably knows more about the archival records of Nazi Germany than any man living. Yet he used this data to absolve Adolf Hitler from responsibility for the 'Final Solution'.

'But a history of an historical event is based on data, not personal memories of reactions to facts'. This is to confuse historical evidence with scientific or empirical evidence (which itself does not necessarily lead to a consensus).

The accounts of contemporaries, based on personal experience, are to the historian indispensible. They might indeed have radically different takes on events, which is why history is an art, not a science.

Your final paragraph is rather condescending, don't you think? 'Awesome' is an overused expression, and not only by the young, but to 'strongly suspect' that the student did not experience genuine (religious) awe smacks of the smug loftiness you are quick to castigate in others.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Oh, yes, John, please explain to TJM why I don't respond to him. He worships the ground you walk on, so hearng it from you just might sink in.

John Nolan said...


To do as you suggest would require me to impute motives to others. This might be the stock-in-trade of the prosecuting barrister but is best avoided in academic debate.

Quite often 'simple questions' do not have simple answers, and statistics derived from sample surveys are unreliable, since responses are influenced by the way the questions are framed.

Traditional (i.e. 'Prayer Book') Anglicans, now a dying breed, do not subscribe to the Catholic dogma concerning the Eucharist but take the sacrament very seriously and partake of it reverently. They do not receive routinely every Sunday, and lament the fact that in most churches Morning Prayer has been displaced by a Communion service, usually in 'modern' English.

How do I know? By meeting some of them and talking to them, and reading what many others of like opinion have committed to print. Anecdotal evidence, of course, but what else is there?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - Inasmuch as I have posted my reasons for not responding to TJM three times, I thought you might be aware of what I had posted. No "imputation" needed. Seems you missed it...

I imagine that your extensive experience with American teens stands you in good stead to comment on the validity of what may have been the teen's religious experience. Or maybe not... You do have that experience, don't you? Or are you imputing?

Historical facts are facts. There is no "art" in saying that General X commanded a battle at Location Y during War Z, or that millions of Jews, among other "undersirables," were murdered by the Nazi reginem in WW2.

TJM said...

Fr. K,

You don't respond to me because I state facts which burst your delusions about the Church, whether its the fact that the OF is a failure and no priest should be voting for a Party which raises funds, proudly saying they are being used to preserve the right of women to commit infanticide. If Catholics had witheld their support from the Democrats, I think the Democrats would have changed their tune very quickly. Besides, the Democrats do not do anything for the poor or the common man, other than keeping them poor and dependent on government. Why is Obama living in Martha's Vineyard, rather than being back on the south side of Chicago where he could make a difference!

John Nolan said...


I have studied and taught history all my life, and have two degrees in the subject. Please don't insult me by stating the obvious.

I don't know the student concerned, and I doubt if you do either. I still teach teenagers, however. In judging his (or her) reactions, I would be inclined to err on the side of charity. Unless American teens are a breed apart from teens generally, I believe they could distinguish between a Mass and a pop concert (unless, of course, they attend the Novus Ordo in a progressive parish).

That said, I strongly suspect that the main target of your diatribe was not the hapless teenager, but the classic Roman Rite.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - I made no comment about the ability of a teen to distinguish between a mass and a pop concert. PLAINLY I made no such comment, and someone with TWO degrees in history ought to be able to apprehend that.

I DID comment on the reaction - NOTE: THE REACTION - of the teen Fr. ALLAN McDonald mentioned.

Because you failed to understand that nature of my comment, you surmise that I am attacking the "classic Roman Rite." You are wrong.

John Nolan said...


If you gave more thought to the implications of what you write, and if your use of English were less ham-fisted, you would not have to justify yourself retrospectively by claiming that you have been misunderstood. You haven't been, and your stock defence is tiresomely predictable.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John, for a person with TWO degrees, you capacity for understanding the written word is sadly sub-par.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John, and with TWO degrees, it is not even remotely possible, at least in your own self-perception of course, that your understanding is lacking.

And you accuse me of being smug?

John Nolan said...


It doesn't require a Master's degree to understand the gist of your argument (such as it is), although someone who can write such gems as 'historical facts are facts', 'a history of an historical event' and 'personal memories of reactions to facts' perhaps needs to express himself more clearly. Clue: the first two are tautological and the third assumes that the facts are established.

Since you always want to have the last word (a decidedly feminine trait), toddle off and compose a response. Don't forget the typos and capitalization (internet shouting). And when I don't reply, having had enough of your tendentious nonsense, don't be tempted to apply the legal maxim 'qui tacet, consentire videtur'.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Oh, no, John has said that I exhibit "feminine traits!" What am I to do? I know, I'll slip into a very feminine Victorian depression and eat feminine bonbons while draped over the end of my decidedly feminine fainting couch

What a childish way to express disagreement.

Be that as it may (such as it is), you can smugly blame your own deficincies or anyone and everyone, since that makes you feel superior. Why not sign up at the Paddington Institute and add another "degree" to your overcompensation repertoire.

Servimus Unum Deum said...

Hahahahahhaah!!!! Father Kavanaugh’s response is hilarious! I may not agree always with his left leanings here but no one can’t say he’s on point with his witty barbs against Radical Traditonalists! This made my day.