Is the Church’s “status quo” (ante) reason for its failure?

I’m a born Catholic of many decades and strong believer like most of us. But due to my career as an industrial engineer I also learned to question things.
One of the burning issues I have noticed over the past half century is that the Church is miserably failing to hold on to its members, let alone attract new ones (and that is for Western Countries – Europe, US, Australia). Church attendance is now around 24% in the US, less than 14% in Germany, my original home country, with churches there being sold off and converted to businesses. Particularly young people are leaving the Church in droves (US). It saddens me to see that development and I wonder how many Catholics are out there aware of this situation and possibly would want to help reverse that trend???

As I experienced many times in the business world, a failing business can be turned around IF there is the WILL to analyze, find conditions for the failure and correct them. 90% of the time failure starts at management and leadership. And precisely therein lies the problem. And before I continue, I love Pope Francis but am also convinced that he has quite a few adversaries in the Vatican who don’t see things his way. Anyway, the leadership is stuck in a status quo ante, in principle they are saying that the Church in its current form worked for 2000 years and it will continue working. Their learning curve is very slow and the reaction time even slower, all of which is exacerbating the problem. Here is a fact that they apparently missed: The 1960’s is the starting point. Vatican II just had addressed some important issues like language (i.e. Latin Mass to English) etc. and that was great. But at the same time the “Cultural Revolution” had started AND unlike before that time masses of young folks started to go to college and universities. Secularism and liberal secularism in the edu system triggered a lot of questioning of traditional values, still does. Counteraction of the Church was what? Even more predominantly today (or better since about 2004) we have another revolution: Instant Communication and Social Media. The Church is evidently not addressing any of it in a sufficient way. Why? Your thoughts?

My observation is that the Church is not a business, and bishops are not managers.

Welcome to CAF! :wave:

I think the picture you have painted is overly simplistic (which is perhaps inevitable when trying to sum up the status of the Church is one forum post). Further, I think it places too much emphasis on the clergy.

Our priests and bishops cannot be everywhere. If we want the world to be set on fire with love for Jesus (and we all should want that), we need to do our part. Our priests and bishops aren’t going to be hanging around the water cooler at our office. They’re not going to be next to us at our kid’s soccer game. Who is going to bring the Gospel to such places? We are.

I would recommend that you read the book Forming Intentional Disciples. The author goes through a lot of the concerns that you raise (and there are definitely reasons to be concerned).

The Global Catholic Population

Over the past century, the number of Catholics around the globe has more than tripled, from an estimated 291 million in 1910 to nearly 1.1 billion as of 2010, according to a comprehensive demographic study by the Pew Research Center.
But over the same period, the world’s overall population also has risen rapidly. As a result, Catholics have made up a remarkably stable share of all people on Earth. In 1910, Catholics comprised about half (48%) of all Christians and 17% of the world’s total population, according to historical estimates from the World Christian Database. A century later, the Pew Research study found, Catholics still comprise about half (50%) of Christians worldwide and 16% of the total global population.
What has changed substantially over the past century is the geographic distribution of the world’s Catholics. In 1910, Europe was home to about two-thirds of all Catholics, and nearly nine-in-ten lived either in Europe (65%) or Latin America (24%). By 2010, by contrast, only about a quarter of all Catholics (24%) were in Europe. The largest share (39%) were in Latin America and the Caribbean.

more:
pewforum.org/2013/02/13/the-global-catholic-population/

I dislike questions with a premise. In this case the premise, or presumption, is that the Church has failed.

The only way the Holy Roman Catholic can “fail” is when it ceases to provide the means of salvation.

The loss of “cafeteria” Christians and a drop in attendance are problems the Church has solved before. Hardly an indication of “failure”.

Welcome! A troubling portion of our faith journey is the difficulty we encounter when we apply human expectations and desires - things grounded in nature - to that which is supernatural. If a natural analogy may be made, it is one of the Church being the mystical Body of Christ. That Church, that Body, is living and breathing. We must not despair should we experience or examine the Church as she exhales, as inhalation shall follow until the Parousia. At the Parousia, all else is rendered moot.

Our Lord was God incarnate. He was the perfect preacher - the perfect everything. Yet, as we in John 6, “most” of His disciples left Him over the harsh words He used in His preaching. Yet, the Church will be re-constituted, strengthened and consolidated once the true tribulation begins in earnest.

It is then, under the supreme test, when the blood flows as deep as the horse’s bridle, that all other faith communities on earth will fail and there will be one house left standing, one ship left afloat. The Lord in His kindness and mercy, will both shorten those days as well as provide the barque which will rescue those outside.

I believe that it will help you to draw back and take the long view.

As this western society continues to decline, so also will the tares among the wheat within the church in the west. The increase in secularism and immorality will reduce the number of those not willing to follow Christ’s teachings and so, perhaps numbers fall.

However, I will say that the majority of the new converts I see coming into the faith are of a caliber that I am very impressed with. These are people who are hungry for the fullness of truth and love and practice their faith.

If you think we are witnessing the demise of the Catholic Church then I’d say you are lacking in faith in Christ’s promises to remain with her always. I don’t see that at all, and where I am I see my parish growing nicely over the last 10 years or so.

CPNweb #1
The 1960’s is the starting point. Vatican II just had addressed some important issues like language (i.e. Latin Mass to English) etc. and that was great. But at the same time the “Cultural Revolution” had started AND unlike before that time masses of young folks started to go to college and universities. Secularism and liberal secularism in the edu system triggered a lot of questioning of traditional values, still does. Counteraction of the Church was what? Even more predominantly today (or better since about 2004) we have another revolution: Instant Communication and Social Media. The Church is evidently not addressing any of it in a sufficient way. Why? Your thoughts?

No, the “status quo” is not the reason because She cannot, and does not therefore, change Christ’s teaching and She has not failed as has been pointed out with the growth of numbers to some 1.1 billion souls.

The first truth is that the Church is “held, as a matter of faith, to be unfailingly holy.” [Vatican II, *Lumen Gentium, art 39].

The second truth is that more and more people have succumbed to the devil, the world and the flesh because of their free will and the dissent of many who chose to reject Christ’s Way, Truth and Life, as well as the lack in some of the priests and hierarchy.

After the development of doctrine in Vatican II, and the faithful stewardship of Bl John Paul the Great and Pope Benedict XVI, readers should know that:
The crisis in Christ’s Church is due to the modernist errors abroad before Vatican II, whose promoters tried to take over the Council, referred to in *Christ Denied *TAN, 1982, by Fr Paul Wickens).

But before Vatican II, by May of 1964, the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) had approved the sex education program put forward by 2 Swedish delegates, and the whole sordid conglomerate is exposed in Claire Chambers The SIECUS Circle, 1977. The power structure exerts pressure on local schools and the gullible public for its school sex education program. The network promoted population control, legalised abortion, homosexuality, pornography, sensitivity training and drugs. (p xv). We surely know how dissenters have spread these into the People of God.

The '60’s saw the rise of anarchy in the USA with much that was good in society decried and destroyed with nothing worthy to replace it. The new religion of the so-called Enlightenment was welcomed by selfists.

The degradation of sacred order, at the invitation of nuns, occurred from 1967 in the USA through humanistic psychologists especially Carl Rogers, and I have heard one of his lieutenants, Dr J W Coulson in person, apologising for the grave harm caused. [See *The Emperor’s New Clothes by William Kirk Kilpatrick, 1985, p 149-150]. The destruction of whole Catholic school systems and religious orders occurred.

Then followed the disgraceful public dissent against *Humanae Vitae *by Rahner and numerous dissenting theologians, Richard McBrien’s Catholicism (full of errors), the revolt of the Catholic universities and the bureaucratic/theological tail wagging the episcopal dog so to speak – coupled with lax or dissenting bishops this resulted in a grave crisis, which is worldwide with relativism, selfism and secularism.

How many Catholics know this? The great papal teaching and guidance of popes St John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI have nurtured the reform of seminaries and the rejuvenation of the apostolate of the laity, with a resurgence of faith and action among the young, in the midst of the secular chaos of today.

Falling church attendance does not directly correlate with falling belief.

While Catholicism is a little different (through the direct instruction to attend church regularly), one of the current trends in Anglicanism might be worth considering: we now have plentiful survey data (q.v. Westminster Faith Debates, etc) demonstrating that a considerable proportion of the UK population self-identify as Anglican but do not go to church.

What we are seeing these days is not the disappearance of belief, but the transformation of practice. For Catholicism, that might mean more “lapsed Catholics”, or whatever you want to call them, but it does not necessarily mean that those people have given up on the faith. They just might be looking for a version of a church service which they do not see being made available.

Mystophilus #9
For Catholicism, that might mean more “lapsed Catholics”, or whatever you want to call them, but it does not necessarily mean that those people have given up on the faith. They just might be looking for a version of a church service which they do not see being made available.

The essentials for a real Catholic are to assent to Christ’s teaching through His Church which includes celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Sunday Mass as a minimum. Those who thus value their faith can and should encourage others in need to see the real worth of being faithful to Christ.

The western world has become a consumer society, and attempts are earnestly being made to conform the Church to the current needs of the “faithful.” In effect, some are asking Christ to deny Himself, take up their cross, and follow them.

Some of you are absolutely right some of you are not.
And yes, I should not have generalized failure in my title, but failure in western countries instead as I later stated in my thought.
The “not’s” : I know that the Church as a whole has grown in Asia, South America, Africa, all predominantly poor countries. It is declining in Western countries, that’s a fact (see also CARA stats on that). Western countries however provided the financial needs.
And yes the Church is Holy but in spite of that their leaders are not infallible as one member implied. They are humans and make mistakes as everyone else (see history on that). It is also a fact that the Church is a huge organization with all kinds of functions including business, investments, etc. (refer to balance sheets of some dioceses and charities). And not all is great there either!
So let me make another point; as the Church was ready in the 1450’s to up their communication using the Gutenberg press why can’t the leadership get their heads around modern tools of this time and age? O.k. I know they use websites and all, but they do not use technology or related issues to even half of its potential. Case in point: majority of Catholic websites are one-way streets. So do they want parishioners to be involved or not? This would be my major goal to get people, especially young folks reacquainted with the Church.
Regarding the decline issue: my (flourishing) Parish of 10k+ put out a call to parishioners on how to counteract the (overall) declining trend. My Pastor said there were 2 (!!) replies. The media used to put out the call was - you guessed right - the Parish Bulletin.
So, all in all and in the spirit of improvement shouldn’t we Parishioners AND Clergy work together on solutions on how to reverse the declining trend? That’s really my point.
And as a reply to the person who mentioned that the decline of attendance does not mean decline in faith. This is true, but decline in attendance certainly means decline in donations on which the Church depends to pay their Clergy, catch 22 right?

Parish websites are set up by employees whose livelihood depends on protecting their positions. It is an entrenched bureaucracy, however unintended.

An anecdote: Our local parish, which we sadly abandoned years ago, has a DRE that is the “my way or the highway” type. Our son and daughter were the only servers at the vigil mass. She was due for confirmation. She had already exceeded the requirements at her Catholic high school, was in the honors program and did not want to duplicate everything locally as time would not permit it. As well, the DRE’s program had required activities that were modern, trendy, almost new-agey. So, she went to our former Priest, who was glad to have her in his class, and she was confirmed at another parish in the Diocese by the local Bishop.

Back at our parish, the DRE declared her Confirmation to be “illicit” and would not allow her to serve at mass except that she complete a probationary period. We had apparently offended him. Both of our children quit serving. We left and never looked back. That parish has been in the red for 6 years now and attendance is dismal. They have had a series of foreign extern Priests, who do not have the authority of a local diocesan priest.

The Diocese has heard many complaints about this person, whose three primary money-making projects are exactly 0% Catholic. He has been reported and investigated for poor accounting of revenue. He reportedly has friends at the Diocese, and that squares with his continued employment.

Multiply this how many times on a national scale?

CPNweb #
the Church is Holy but in spite of that their leaders are not infallible as one member implied.

The Magisterium teaches infallibly on faith and morals.

The development of doctrine has proceeded from the institution of the Church and the development of the mission of the laity corresponds to the needs of the times as seen in Christifideles Laici (The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World), the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of St John Paul II, 1988, #3:
“A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle."

This would be my major goal to get people, especially young folks reacquainted with the Church.

Then promote and carry out the teaching of Christifideles Laici, as many of us do.

The reality is that the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation *Christifideles Laici *(on the Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World) 1988, detailed “the ‘Criteria of Ecclesiality’ for Lay Groups” as requiring **“The responsibility of professing the Catholic faith, embracing and proclaiming the truth about Christ, the Church and humanity, in obedience to the Church’s Magisterium, as the Church interprets it.” **#30, my emphasis].

  1. “Without doubt a mending of the Christian fabric of society is urgently needed in all parts of the world. But for this to come about what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself present in these countries and nations.

“In the case of coming generations, the lay faithful must offer the very valuable contribution, more necessary than ever, of a systematic work in catechesis. The Synod Fathers have gratefully taken note of the work of catechists, acknowledging that they “have a task that carries great importance in animating ecclesial communities”(125). It goes without saying that Christian parents are the primary and irreplaceable catechists of their children, a task for which they are given the grace by the Sacrament of Matrimony. At the same time, however, we all ought to be aware of the “rights” that each baptized person has to being instructed, educated and supported in the faith and the Christian life.

“At this moment the lay faithful, in virtue of their participation in the prophetic mission of Christ, are fully part of this work of the Church. Their responsibility, in particular, is to testify how the Christian faith constitutes the only fully valid response-consciously perceived and stated by all in varying degrees-to the problems and hopes that life poses to every person and society.”

My understanding is that the most important mission and purpose of the Catholic Church is to hold and teach the Truth as entrusted to her by Christ.

As long as that is being met, can it be said that the Church is failing?

po18guy you made a good point and I can relate to your anecdote coz it happened to me the same way dozens of times.I have attended Churches all over Europe, some in Asia and lots in the US due to my travel activities. I have made appointments with dozens and emailed hundreds of priests trying to show ways how to improve things in various areas. Result of my efforts: ZERO Not one was ready for discussion!
So that obviously solidified my believe that there is quite a bit of disconnect and thus flaws in leadership and leadership culture. And again,I can see why. In the not too distant past the priest was a central figure in most (smaller) communities which as an ordained member of Christ he should be. And there are lots of good examples out there. However there were and are also quite a few that abused their power. Now you would think that - as it is in the business world - there are consequences to certain actions. But the Church leadership does not follow through. One case out of many: Cardinal “Bling” who (Edited) the Church for some 40 Million and got"repositioned", as a secondary result losing hundreds of parishioners having lost trust. Forgiving . . . fine by me but “repositioning” thus still getting paid using our donations? Absolutely not!

As one member here suggested, priests cannot do everything and be everywhere. Right!
But priests and leadership should be open to listen and DO instead of listen and DISCARD. Again this is not to generalize. It’s just that I have not found ONE yet that would take advice for improvements.

Thank God the Church never changes.

This will not be initially satisfying, but you are called to pray over the situation. The problem you speak of is universal to mankind’s fallen state. As unpopular as the supernatural realm is these days, we must appeal to the Holy Spirit, as He alone is the motivator of all good that occurs on earth. Not initially satisfying, but ultimately, yes.

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