12/28/2005 5:33:00 PM original HERE...
by Fr. CJ McCloskey - McCloskey's Perspectives
I have always been very impressed with Fr. McCloskey in the past. He has seemed to me to be a very faithful and effective Catholic Priest one who I presume to be orthodox in theological orientation. I have posted his piece here for several reasons; first, as a way of highlighting important data which demonstrate what the "fruits" of Vatican II have been. Second, to pose some questions in response to certain of his claims. My comments are in bold italics. JPH
The Catholic Church in the United States is in a state of profound transition. Fifty years after the close of the Second Vatican Council, a priest or layman transported through time travel from 1965 to 2005 would be astonished and most likely disconcerted by the evident changes that had taken place in those forty years. Of course, the hierarchical and sacramental nature of the Church remains unchanged.
It is certainly true that a pre-Vatican II Catholic priest or layman should be absolutely astonished--better yet appalled by the changes which have occurred subsequent to the Second Vatican Council. By and large many have been anti-Catholic as that word was understood for almost 2 millennia. Fr. McCloskey's view that "the hierarchical and sacramental nature of the Church remain unchanged" does not seem accurate in light of the documents of Vatican II which address Collegiality, the Sacred Liturgy and the evolutionary character of the Counciliar Church--as the progressivists who prevailed during the Council freely admit.
What, however clearly has changed and which we will examine in this article, are the numbers, status, and in many case, the understanding of the roles of laity and, religious, and clergy in the mystical Body of Christ.
Vatican II replaced the Roman Catholic understanding which regarded the Church as the "mystical body of Christ" with a much more potentially broad and vague formulation "the people of God." This potentially allows even non-Christian theists, possibly even agnostics or atheists to be counted among those for whom Christ's atoning work on the Cross has salvific character. It is not clear to what extent Fr. McCloskey actually means "the mystical body of Christ" as understood in the Traditional sense prior to 1965. Obviously Christ's atoning work on the Cross is capable of saving the entire human race in potency but according to Christ's own teaching not in act since only those who believe in Christ, submit their lives to his Lordship ("If you love me obey my commandments") and persevere to the end will be saved.
I am writing this article in the aftermath of what the well know convert Fr. Richard John Neuhaus referred to as " The long Lent" that the Church in America has undergone. This was the painful unraveling of the revelation and cover-up of thousands of accusations, some well founded; others not, against Catholic clergy of sexual abuse of young people. Although brutally disillusioning to many of lay faithful, nonetheless those accused formed less than 2% of Catholic clergy during this time period. Some of the cases dated back to even to the pre-Vatican II era. This has resulted in part to the dismissal from the clerical state of hundreds of Catholic priests and the resultant scandal to the lay faithful.
I find that Fr. McCloskey has too easily accepted the Vatican explanation--also trumpeted by many of the clerical rank in the US—that since some 98% of the Catholic clergy were not guilty of perpetrating sexual abuse against minors especially since “some of the cases dated back to even the pre-Vatican II era” (as if that is any consolation) and that while “brutally disillusioning to many of the faithful” (what an understatement that) “the dismissal from the clerical state of hundreds of Catholic priests” (as if somehow that alone is adequate reparation) “and the resultant scandal to the lay faithful” (to refer to what happened as simply a scandal is an extreme, understatement) that somehow the terrible life changing reality for the victims--and the distrust of the Church itself--of what happened is not really so bad.
Fr. McCloskey’s treatment of the sexual abuse crisis in such a cursory fashion lacking almost completely in empathy and compassion for the victims yet missing no opportunity to defend the clergy who are not guilty of these heinous crimes is extremely disappointing. This is standard Vatican misdirection (spin or sophistry) in my view and represents an obvious attempt at mitigating the severity of what happened. The Holy See is guilty of a total lack of discipline with respect to its duty to insure that the Catholic clergy remains--in word and deed--committed to the very highest ideals of Catholic faith and practice. After the close of the Second Vatican Council in 1965, all disciplinary action designed to insure orthodoxy functionally ceased. There is simply no excuse for the flock to have been subjected to the wolves who for decades have been allowed to ravage them without limitation.
Where was the justifiable outrage from Fr. McCloskey, who could easily have taken this opportunity to reiterate the Traditional Catholic teaching that; homosexual activity of any kind is gravely sinful? Where does he state clearly that clerics must never utilize their power and sacred trust to intimidate children and adolescents into sexually or otherwise compromising situations which are not compatible with their ultimate salvation? Sacred Scripture is abundantly clear in multiple Old and New Testament passages that the abuse of one’s sexuality especially in a homosexual capacity is an abomination and left unrepented is grounds for eternal damnation. Even worse is Christ’s own concise statement that it would be better for a cleric to have a stone tied about his neck and be cast into the sea than to harm one of the “little ones” who come to him. Think of the harm that has been irrevocably caused without any response by the Vatican to formally defrock and excommunicate the offenders.
Nevertheless, contrary to the dire predictions of prognosticators both within and without the Church, the scandal has not seemed to lessen the sacramental or even financial contributions to the 195 dioceses that compose the Church in America. Indeed, as we will see, it appears that according to the statistics, the situation in many areas of the Church is bottoming out and that it may well be on cusp of a more vibrant, faith Church firmly rooted in the authentic teachings of the Second Vatican Council as mediated through the magisterium of Pope John Paul (who visited the US seven times during his pontificate) and his able successor and close collaborator, Pope Benedict XVI, respectively a Father and peritus of Vatican II. If the Church in the US is entering, as I firmly believe, a many decades march into the New Evangelization, given its status as the world's only world power, it can have a tremendous effect both in the United States which finds itself deeply divided on issues that are largely moral based, witness; the well known division between the so-called blue and red states in the last several national elections.
I fear that Fr. McCloskey evinces here a belief in Neoconservative politics in his use of words which seem overly enamored with the notion of American exceptionalism i.e, "the world's only world power." There is a certain contingent of American Catholics who seem to have embraced the neocon political agenda in such a way as to make it fit with their view of Roman Catholicism or vice-versa, a view which is certainly not Traditional and in many respects not even orthodox.
Moreover, many of the beliefs which Fr. McCloskey seems to hold most fervantly have either been completely ignored or severely attenuated e.g. the twin evils of procurred abortion and artificial contraception in the wake of Vatican II where clear majorities of Roman Catholics openly reject Church teaching. This is temporally related to one event--Vatican II. It seems that someone with Fr. McCloskey's obvious theological sophistication would easily recognize that his committment to orthodoxy was not shared by the Vatican II Council Father's or those who promulgated it thereafter. Why the lack of candor and his praise for and endorsement of Vatican II writ-large?
The purpose of this article is not to compare and contrast with other continents but is quite clear that in many areas, the Church in the US compares very favorably, as we will see, with the imploding and apostatizing situation in Europe and the chaotic situation inLatin America. Of course, Africa, and Asia are another case as they are in full evangelical bloom of an enculturation that may take centuries to complete not unlike the Christianizing of the barbarians in the latter part of the first millennium. Their growth rates have been off the charts in the last century . This clearly presages that the demographic center of the Church will continue moving East and South in the centuries to come thus fulfilling Christ's commandment that the Gospel be preached to all the nations.
There are presently approximately 67 million Catholics in the US representing 6 percent of the global Catholic population of 1.1 billion. Interestingly enough, the percentage of Catholic in the American population has remained rather steady in the last forty years hovering around a quarter of the population. This actually is rather encouraging given that gradual disintegration of traditional mainstream Protestantism and the growth of the larger number of people who practice no religion in any real sense. The actual number may be many millions more given the high level of illegal immigration of Hispanics from Latin America, the majority being Mexican. The enculturation and evangelization of both the legal and immigrants from Latin America will be crucial to the health of the Church in America as this trend may continue and the Hispanics generally have a considerably a higher birth rate than the " Anglo", Black, or Asian American Catholics. Happily many seminaries are increasing requiring or at least encouraging Spanish classes as a pre-requisite for education as increasingly the Catholic Church in America is bi-lingual.
If it were not for the massive immigration of Hispanic Catholics into the US, the total number of Catholics would clearly be signficantly reduced over the period in question.
The growth of the Church in the US both in its origins and throughout its history until the 1930's was an immigrant Church. Yet no immigration by any ethnic group, not even the Irish has been so rapid and overwhelming as the deluge from South of the Border. Indeed that continuing immigration has been so massive that some people refer to our large most westward state as "Mexifornia" one of the big questions affecting both the U.S. as a country and the Catholic Church in it, is to what extent the Hispanics will assimilate by learning English as other immigrants historically have or may well form almost a separate region in side of the United States, almost a " Balkanization" of America.
On the handling of the Hispanic question rests the real future of the Church in the U.S. Even though the Church in the US is large it still trails Brazil (144 million), Mexico (126 million), and the Philippines 70 million) in number of believers. Even though the boundaries between the US and Mexico as commented upon a moment ago are increasingly blurred.
Obviously none of the above-mentioned countries, all of which could be placed in the category of "developing" match the United States, for the time being, in wealth or power or cultural influence . This is also reflected, not surprisingly in ecclesiastical "politics," if you will, The US has 13 cardinals, as contrasted to Brazil with 8 cardinals, Mexico with 5 cardinals, and the Philippines with 2 cardinals. Those three countries represent a block of 340 million Catholics, more than 30% of the global total). American votes in the recent conclave outnumbered all of Africa.
The above is a testament to the hypocrisy of the current hierarchy steeped in political concerns it would seem than a statement of support for the effectiveness of the Catholic Church in the US. Of all the nations with a large Catholic population, the US has had the most dismal and outwardly visible problems post-Vatican II.
Naturally the universal Church and its particular churches in countries cannot be measured only in statistics but certainly the stature of the Church in the US plays a very significant if not predominant role in the universal Church. For example, Catholics in the US have six percent of the population but 12 percent of the bishops in the Church and 14 percent of the priests. The US has more priests by itself than the top three Catholic countries combined (41,00 in the US to 37,00 in Brazil, Mexico and the Philippines combined.) This makes the notion of a " priest shortage" in the US almost laughable at least in comparison with these countries with a much larger total Catholic population.
There is no joke involved with the current situation in the US. A very unfortunate choice of words were utilized there.
Now we can move on to the state of the priesthood, always a key sign when looking at the state of the Church. Before starting, I will add that statistics mirror in many ways the statistics from Europe, whether it is a result of the post World War II secular hedonism in Western Europe or the effects of Soviet communism in the East. In any case, the primary cause of the quasi- collapse in the levels of practicing Catholics, whether in America or Europe was the post-conciliar malaise and utter confusion. But that is another article.
Here, he is at least partially correct. Why not go all the way and indict the Council itself for the confusion and malaise since it is the ambiguity and outright incompatibility of the documents themselves with Sacred Tradition which is the real problem.
Let's look at the numbers first in the US first. In 1965, at the end of the Council there were 58,00 priests. Now there are 41,000 .By 2020 if present trends continue (and there is no sign of a dramatic upsurge in vocations) there will be only 31, 000, and half will be over 70. To give an example, I was ordained in 1981 at the age of 27. Today at the age of 52, I can still attend priest's meeting and be one of the younger priests there. In 1965, 1575 new priests were ordained, In 2005, the number 454, less than a third and remember that the Catholic population in the US increased from 45.6 million in 1965 to the 64.8 million of 2005, almost a 50% increase. The Venerable John Henry Newman said, " Growth is the only evidence of life." By his definition, the Church in the United States has been and continues to be in sharp decline. Now, quite clearly, there has been a sharp decline in the number of seminarians over this time period. Between 1965 and 2005, the number of seminarians fell from 50,000 (some 42000 high school and college seminarians, and 8000 or so graduate seminarians) to today's approximate 5000, a drop of ninety percent. The increasingly affluence and integration of the American Catholic into society was responsible for part of this drop, as entry into the priesthood became only one of more options into professional priesthood. Also the average size of the American family due to both to, again, affluence, and to the increased availability of contraception means simply there were fewer men being procreated from fewer generous families that might be open to total dedication to the celibate priesthood. This trend had already begun as early as the 1940's when the number of priests per Catholic layperson began to decline, well before the Second Vatican Council. While there certainly has been a modest increase in seminarians and an up tick in ordinations, there is unlikely to be large upsurge in priestly vocations in the US, at least in comparison to its apex in 1965. I will touch on this again later but there is greater hope as more and more bishops come on board who were ordained during the pontificate off John Paul II take a more aggressive and positive recruitment of young men to the priesthood. There has been considerable success in more than a several dioceses with this approach.
My understanding is that only in those dioceses which adhere to very orthodox Catholic teaching reminiscent of pre-Vatican II theology is there an increase in vocations of any appreciable degree.
At the same time, as I write there has begun a Vatican mandated countrywide investigation of American seminaries. This investigation was mandated over three years ago as a result of the explosion priestly abuse scandals of the years 2001 -2003. It is quite clear that this crisis was brought about in part by the presence of active homosexuals in the seminary and in the priesthood.
At least we have here an admission that homosexuality in the Catholic Priesthood is a huge problem. However, he does not go nearly far enough.
With this the conclusions and recommendations of this investigation and the issuing of a recent document forbidding the entrance into the seminary of homosexuals, it can be anticipated that seminaries will once again be strongly faithful to the Churches in its teaching and that the moral atmosphere at the seminaries themselves will be much improved. This alone will make a big difference in attracting virile, pious young men and also in families encouraging their sons to contemplate a priestly vocation.
The recent document "Concerning..." referred to previously on this site HERE...is extremely ambiguous and it is not at all clear that there will be a reduction in the number of homosexuals admitted to the seminary. Quite the contrary, since the seminary directors who are homosexual themselves or are sympathetic to homosexuality have not been removed, it is logical to presume nothing will change. There exists a virulent homosexual subculture at many US seminaries and among the US Catholic clergy which is growing not decreasing.
Also certainly the priestly example of recently canonized men like, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Pio of Pieltracina and St. Josemaria Escriva along with the long pontificate and recent death of the exemplary in every way priesthood Pope John Paul II surely will attract many young men to the priesthood.
This statement at least with regard to Pope John Paul II is demonstrably false no matter how much Fr. McCloskey may admire the late Pope John Paul II. He was a simply awful disciplinarian and allowed the “wolves” to ravage his flock. He failed in his primary duty to protect them from doctrinal error and malevolent clerics whose actions threatened their very salvation. How one wishes that it were not so. Intellectual honesty forces us to admit the truth.
Mention should also be made of the gradual appearance in the US of the various new ecclesial realities so favored by Popes John Paul land Benedict are already providing vocations to the diocesan priesthood. the Neo-Catechumenate being the most notable in this regard.
The religious men and women (those taking vows) have even more precipitously declined in the US over this time period. In 1965, there were 22,707 priests; today there are 14,137 with a much high percentage of them well over the age of 65. . Religious brothers have gone from 12,271 to 5,451, and woman religious from the astounding number of 179,954 in 1965 to 68, 634 in 2005. I should mention here that the attrition in these number, as well as that of diocesan is not only due to deaths and a dearth of priestly or religious vocations but also a massive defection whether a sanctioned or not by the Church. Again we do not have time to analyze the multiple causes that caused this precipitous decline in belief and practice, the doubting into questions of faith and morals that was widely spread in the post-conciliar Church after the Council also led many priests and religious to abandon ship in to lay married life. Naturally this also has a depressing effect on the recruitment of response to a vocation by young men and women who had seen this exodus in full play. Quite clearly the abandonment or radical changes on the part of many religious congregations of their historical rules, community life, and clothing also had a deleterious effect both on perseverance and recruitment in vocations. There are many more women religious over the age of ninety than under the age of 30 in the US. The number of Catholic nuns, 180,000 in 1965, has fallen by 60%. Their average age is now 68. The number of teaching nuns has fallen 94% from the close of the Council. The number of young men studying to become members of the two principal teaching orders: the Jesuits and Christian Brothers have fallen by 90 percent and 99%, respectively. There is little sign of growth in this part of the Church in the US. However there are some signs of hope with the arrival of some new religious congregations and revival of others.
All of the above are further evidence of the general "rot" which occured post-Vatican II.
The only religious congregations showing signs of life and getting vocations are strongly faith evangelizing men's congregations like the Friars of the Renewal and the Legionaries of Christ. Among the women it is the same. those who wear full habit and have a strong prayer and community life are drawing many vocations; the Nashville Dominicans, and Mother Angelica's Poor Clares being outstanding examples. The traditional Carmels continue to draw a steady stream of young vocations.
We can now examine the state of what was in many ways, the pride and joy of the pre-Vatican Catholic Church in America: the educational system that extended from grammar school through hundreds (yes, hundreds) of Catholic colleges and universities. It is accurate to say that there had never been such an extensive, and at least in appearance, such a fundamentally sound, education system, in any place or at any time in the history of the Church. Elementary education was basically taken care of by the parish following the pioneering work of St. John Neumann. . The parish also directed many highs schools but there were also many directed by the armies of men and women religious. Virtually all of the high schools were single-sex while some were co-institutional i.e. boys and girls in the same building but educated separately. Naturally the combination of a stable marriages, relatively, large families, and strong catechesis produced not only vocations but also well formed men and women who lived their Fifth in a coherent way in there professional work, including politics and marital life. . That is all virtually gone now.
Almost half the Catholic schools open in 1965 have closed. There were 4.5 million students in Catholic schools in the mid-1960. Today there is about half that number. What is even more troubling is that those children still attending Catholic schools (grammar and high) are taught by lay poorly formed Generation X Catholics who often themselves have serious difficulties with aspects of Catholic doctrinal and moral life. Only 10 percent of lay religious teachers accept church teaching on contraception, 53 percent believed a Catholic woman could get an abortion and remain a good Catholic, 65 percent said Catholics have a right to divorce and remarry, and in a New York Times poll, 70 percent of Catholics ages 18-54 said they believed the Holy Eucharist was but a " symbolic reminder" of Jesus.
What more is required to demonstrate the complete failure in belief and practice of Catholic education and catechesis post-Vatican II? The majority of professing Catholics do not even believe what the Church teaches subsequent to the Council let alone the much more strict pre-Vatican II doctrinal corpus.
There are 224 existing Catholic colleges and universities formally recognized by the US Bishops as Catholic. Two of them, Georgetown and Notre Dame University are generally included among the top 25 universities in the US. . However the world " Catholic" tends to be very loosely applied with in many cases only the name and the statuary remaining to signify the Catholic origins of the universities. At least, if one judges the most important part of any catholic university to be the faithfulness of its theology departments, only some fifteen of the 224, less than 10% of the theology faculties as a whole have received the Mandatum" from the competent ecclesiastical authority as required by the Congregation of Catholic Education according the Apostolic Constitution on Higher Education (1990), Ex Corde Ecclesiae. "
One could ask why has the Vatican not insisted that "Catholic" colleges and universities insure full compliance with the Mandatum requirement in their departments of theology? This suggests that the Holy See is not serious about orthdoxy. Those which fail to achieve full compliance should no longer be allowed to use the "Catholic" moniker at all.
Nonetheless, there are signs of hope. Over the last thirty years or so, there have been a dozen or so Catholic colleges founded, in part, in reaction to the increasing secularization of the nominal Catholic institutions. Generally, they are flourishing even though still not large in the quantity of students attending. Franciscan University of Steubenville, The University of Dallas, and the newly founded Ave Maria University stand out among the larger faithful institutions, while Thomas Aquinas College and Christendom College stand out among the smaller schools. All of them have a required core curriculum for the liberal arts with theology and philosophy required. Another sign of hope among the larger universities is what appears to be a gradual return to Catholicity of Notre Dame University spurred in part by a new President and by generally better catechized student body and also by alumni demand for a return to faithfulness to the Church's teaching. Some other good signs are that bishops are in some case now informing colleges that they can no longer refer to themselves as Catholic and that there are at least six new Catholic colleges and universities under development.
These are all very favorable developments. They implicitly are based however upon a return to pre-Vatican II teaching if not explicitly so. Orthodoxy of belief and practice are core to their success albeit without a candid admission that the Vatican II (New Theology) is incompatible with Sacred Tradition.
However, none of these "positive" changes have been associated with any real criticism of those parts of the Second Vatican Council which conflict with Sacred Tradition. For the most part, even the more orthodox educational facilities tow the line in upholding the Council as a positive ecclesiological development. This suggests that there is a hollowness or shallowness to their appreciation of Traditional Catholicism in its splendor and entirety.
As we come to an end, we now can look at some of the quantitative participation of lay Catholics in the sacramental life. Before the Second Vatican Council, approximate 75% of Catholics attended Mass on Sundays. As of 2004 approximately 32% of American Catholic attend Mass every Sunday. On any given Sunday as many as 40% of American Catholics may be attending Mass even though some of them do not attend Mass regularly. Thus there are only more or less half as many Catholics attending Mass now as before the Council.
These statistics should tell us all we need to know about the contemporary Catholic Church. How could one not conclude that a very serious problem exists when over 50% of the Catholic population has abandoned regular Catholic worship many having abandoned a belief in God altogether?
This may also suggest that there really is no priest shortage at all although there clearly is a surplus of Church buildings since the practicing congregations are nowhere as near as large. This accounts for the multiples closing of parishes, particularly in the large metropolitan areas, over the last fifteen years.
Fr. McCloskey engages in some very spurious logic above.The reason why there may not actually be a priest shortage is that in the wake of Vatican II over 50% of Catholics have either abandoned the Church in favor of some other religion entirely or have effectively become secularists/atheists.
However, what is even more distressing is the American custom of virtually every layperson that attends Mass on Sundays also receives Holy Communion. Given the dramatic fall-off in the in the reception of the Sacrament of Penance and the drop in belief in the divine presence in the Eucharist, it is clear there are many objectively sacrilegious communions. Much work of catechesis is to be done.
This is all very true. Unfortunately, it is beyond reasonable doubt the direct effect of Vatican II ecclesiology which Fr. McCloskey seems to support overwhelmingly at least in theory but not in practice. The Conciliar documents and the post-Conciliar promulgation of same have all but removed the “Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” as a foundational principle meaning that the Mass is no longer presented as a propitiatory sacrifice that is, a re-presentation in an extra space/time dimensional way of the salvific work that Christ performed on the Cross of Calvary as recompense to HIS father for the sins of the world.
Rather the Mass is most often referred to as a celebratory meal in which the "table" aspect has become the primary focus in almost complete contrast to the stressing of the “alter of sacrifice” which was intrinsic to the pre-Vatican II Mass. The latter development was purposeful as can be appreciated by noting that Protestant ministers were involved in altering the Sacred Liturgy in such a way as to make it more amenable to Protestant sensibilities, their main objection to the Mass being its sacrificial nature which they saw as barbaric even idolatrous. Why the Council Fathers who should have known better would have been willing to alter something so central to Catholic doctrine remains debatable. The best answer would appear to be that the Modernism which Pope St. Pius X opposed was able to rear its ugly head again in the form of the Neo-modernist Periti (now known as Progressivists) who ultimately prevailed over the theological conservatives at Vatican II.
Moreover, part and parcel of the New (post-Conciliary) Theology is the virtual disappearance of personal sin, the individual responsibility for same and the need to confess it to a Priest. Precious little discussion of Hell is found in the Conciliar documents and no anathemas were forthcoming from the Council which while presented as “Pastoral” contained much that was clearly Dogmatic/Doctrinal.
Also of interest from a cultural viewpoint are the voting patterns of American Catholics over the last forty years, there has been a clear shift towards the Republican party away from the Democratic party among Catholic voters. When the polls differentiate between church going and non-Church going Catholics, the Republican dominate by a wider margin among the Church going, and Democrats among the non-Church going. I would extrapolate the more orthodox in belief and regular in Church attendance the Catholic person, the more he votes for Republicans whose national platform particularly upon non-opinionable teachings, are clearly more in synch with the Church's teachings particularly on non-negotiable matters such as abortion, homosexuality, marriage, and embryonic experimentation.
This is only partly true. As outlined above, while the Catholic Church pays some lip service to the grave sinfulness of homosexual activity, the clergy virtually ignores the issue in the pulpit and in catechesis. Moreover, the post-Vatican II statements on homosexuality tend to legitimize the view that homosexual inclinations/tendencies are not in themselves morally wrong as if they do not represent the near occassion of sin. The idea that one could avoid acting on such inclinations--particularly if they are regarded as uncontrollable or somehow part of the individual's personna or outward affect--is simply naive in the extreme.
The Roman Catholic clergy and heirarchy leave the impression that homosexuality is simply normal for some people yet it represents an aberation which affects only 2% of the population when not encouraged or normalized. Similar statistics could be sited for other sexually related abberent behavior such as blatent promiscuity, heterosexual sodomy--which is now apparently engaged in to an even greater extent than that of the homosexual variety--due in large part to the widespread viewing of pornography in the developed West. These images depict multiple partners of both sexes engaging in both vaginal and anal intercourse often simultaneously in "3-some's." Such sexually aberrant behaviors are not yet considered entirely normal or legitimate among secularists yet some individuals are strongly motivated to engage in them. Bestiality has even become fashionable in some quarters yet to date it has not yet become "normalized." It seems that the Roman Catholic Church has accepted the homosexual personna but not that of those individuals who are driven to engage in other impure sexual practices which violate the natural law. Is such a distinction not hypocritical? It would seem to be contrary to right reason and must be corrected in such a way as to make it clear that sexual activity in order to be morally licit must be compatible with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Natural Law.
Moreover, now that the Republican Party has become the predominate "war party" through its blatent "war mongering" and acceptance of preventive wars of aggression, the fact that regular church going Catholics are more likely to vote Republican is as morally deficient as those Catholics who vote Democratic knowing that the party supports unrestricted access to abortion, in-vitro fertilization and destructive embryo research on human beings. All of these are immoral practices according to Catholic teaching. Neither political party can righfully claim that its policy positions are compatible with Catholic teaching.
As regards the living out by American Catholic of the moral aspects of marriage and family, life the statistics available are somewhat less exact. Catholics are 30 percent less likely to divorce than the rest of the population. Active Catholics are 50% less likely to divorce than unaffiliated-secular Americans. About 20% of all Catholic marriage ends in divorce where at least one spouse attends Mass weekly.
If true, these statistics are encouraging. Yet, overall, Catholics have the same rates of divorce and abortion as the general population in most sociological studies. It would be nice if Fr. McCloskey provided some documentation for the assertions above. Unmarried Catholic women are known to contracept at the same rate as the general population and this is well-known on simply anecdotal grounds.
Unfortunately but not surprisingly Catholics tend to contracept the same as rest of the world Hence the number of children per family is not significantly different from non-Catholics. Catholics tend to have less abortions that the rest of the population but not by a large percentage. The key always is how to define Catholic. On these moral issues, there is a huge difference between the Catholic who worships weekly and the one who goes a few times a year. I would suggest that one of the major issues for the Church in the decades ahead would be clarity as to who is considered Catholic and who is not.
It would be more appropriate to clearly define what is Catholic and what is not in the realms of doctrine/dogma and praxis. This would no doubt include significant corrections to the Vatican II documents themselves where they are incompatible with Sacred Tradition or an outright rejection of same through a subsequent Vatican III corrective council.
This may result in a smaller but much more fervent and evangelizing Church. They will carry out the New Evangelization in the United States that can bear so much fruit in the 25 years ahead with the resulting positive impact throughout the globe.
Fr. McCloskey seems to have drawn the wrong conclusions from his own assembled data. In my opinion he is much too forgiving of the mess that is the post-Vatican II Catholic Church in failing to recognize the doctrinal incompatibilities with much of what was written in the documents there. The new view of the "Church of Christ" being broader than the Roman Catholic Church is but one example. Someone of his obvious intellect and gifts would be expected to derive a more realistic set of conclusions from the current almost completely negative fruits which have been forthcoming from the Second Vatican Council. Obviously, it is not easy to deal with the realization that something has gone terribly wrong with Roman Catholicism in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. Maybe this is his attempt at putting the best interpretation he can muster on it. However, I believe his confidence is misplaced.
This article was originally published in the January 2006 issue of Palabra
What/Where is the Roman Catholic Church?
In light of Traditional Catholic dogma/doctrine, how should the Second Vatican Council be viewed ? Is it consistent with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and prior Magisterial teaching?
What explains the tremendous amount of "bad fruit" which has been forthcoming since the close of the Council in 1965? “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matt. 7:16)
This site explores these questions and more in an attempt to place the Second Vatican Council in proper perspective.
What explains the tremendous amount of "bad fruit" which has been forthcoming since the close of the Council in 1965? “By their fruits you shall know them” (Matt. 7:16)
This site explores these questions and more in an attempt to place the Second Vatican Council in proper perspective.