I was wondering what effects assimulation might have had on the aftermath of Vatican II in the United States. By the time Vatican II was convened, most of the “ethnic whites” that American associated with the Church had assimulated. As a result of the rise of big corporations, the GI Bill, and the suburbs, areas that had once been relatively homogenous (religiously speaking) were now home to a mish-mash of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. The WWII draft had enabled many young men to associate with different classes, different religions, and sometimes even different races. I wonder if many “ethnic” Catholics saw their traditional Catholicism as being too foreign, when the goal was to achieve 1950s style suburban affluence. When their forefathers came to this country, the Church provided a clear identity and a buffer against nativist prejudice. Now that they had achieved a certain level of material stability, the TLM was perceived as being too foreign or old-fashioned, whereas the NO seemed more Protestant and more acceptable. But because being Catholic had become more of an ethnicity than a religion in many cases, many people could say that they were Catholic even if they hadn’t stepped foot in a church since Confirmation (e.g. well I’m German/Italian/Irish so I must be Catholic!). Does anyone think this theory has any weight to it?
One of the biggest reasons for the decline in attendance in Britain is that the sons and daughters of Irish immigrants are now no longer Irish. Though US society is rather different to ours, I am sure you have a similar effect.
That could very well be. But Britain has for some time been more of an Anglican Catholic country than Roman Catholic anyway. The Anglican Church is probably much more controversial these days than the Roman Catholic Church if I read the news right.
Having said that, what do you think the more severe decline in France is a result of?
Actually I think as far as the US goes it was more the rising affluence of the immigrants descendants that has more to do with a weakening of committment than any thing else. Money and sucess replaced God. In Europe I think that the terror and strains of war in ones own backyard led to a loss of fervor that never came back after the war. The hardest struck areas in particular. The struggle just to survive the war and its aftermath prempted anything else.
That could very well be. But Britain has for some time been more of an Anglican Catholic country than Roman Catholic anyway.
Not true - it has been even since 2005, now the Catholic Church is likely to move ahead of the Anglican Church:
Catholicism was once synonymous with race and class. It was an inseprable part of your identity.
For example, only on the grounds that they were Catholic, could early Mexicans be treated like equals by the spanish.
In the UK, Catholicism was one of the main reasons the Irish wanted their own state. They had no real excuse for attempting to create an Irish free state, except on the grounds that the Queen was Protestant, and the UK was attempting to influence the Church in Ireland.
In the book ‘Father Joe’ Tony Hendra makes a good point, he says more or less
‘At that time being called Catholic or Irish was synonymous, and both was used as an insult’.
Naturally with persecutions from the Communists, Catholicism became a dwindling power in Portugal and Spain. However, people held on to their Catholic Faith because it was a badge of honor.
You can take away somone freedom, somones food, somones children, somones life, but if they are Catholic they die Catholic.
I think the real reason people are leaving the Church for other churches is twofold:
They dont know whats the benefit of being Catholic if Catholicism today seems like a clone of Protestanism just with harder rules.
They dont know anything about Catholicism since people dont teach and pass on knowledge about religion to their children anymore.
Either way its sad…and instead of addressing ecumenism and religious liberty, the second Vatican Council shouldve addressed the dwindling faith of the human race in this era.
Vatican 2 speaks fondly of religious equality and liberty…than people wonder why Catholics are excercising their religious liberty and leaving the Church.
In the book ‘A Church in Search for Itself’ they hit it right on the mark…
"The Vatican fills St. Peter’s Square with people, and empties its pews of parishoners’.
Its so true.
Problem is that the Faith did not start to drop till after VII ( at least in the states)
I agree with everything else stated
I’ve given this some thought and I guess my experience is somewhat different. While there were concrete ethnic parishes in nineteenth century New Orleans and south Louisiana, by the time I grew up in the 50s and 60s, while there were some surviving ethnic practices, insofar as this area goes, we were more conscious of us being Catholic. New Orleans in those days was 75 - 80% Catholic. I went to school with Italians, French, German, Spanish and Irish kids. We had Filipinos and Croats too. The Cubans came in the 60s and never were an “ethnic” group. There were predominately African-American parishes and African-Americans were parishoners in a lot of other parishes (such as my own). The only concrete ethnic group that I can identify as a concrete group are the Vietnamese who came to south Louisiana after 1975. And I think language and culture are identifiable.
I grew up in a culture which was overwhelmingly Catholic. It came as something of an eye opener to talk to fellow Catholics from upnorth and to hear about how Irish Catholics were treated up in Ohio or how different it was for those who grew up in Wisconsin. This was when I was in the Navy in the 70s.
It was a huge shock for me when I entered the business world after grad school in 78. I had spent the first 27 years of my life with a profound Catholic identity which had never been challenged. That’s when I discovered Jack Chick and when our good brother Jimmy Swaggart’s ministries were on the rise.
I now live in protestant east Louisiana where my neighbors do not speak to me and have put out the word that we are “witches” because we are Catholic. Ethnicity doesn’t seem to have any bearing. Rabid anti-Catholicism walks hand-in-hand with racism. The KKK is still active amongst my Anglo-Saxon neighbors. But I am most definitely not living in Catholic south Louisiana. It will be interesting to see the effects of all the Katrina evacuees who have moved here. There are huge subdivisions going up all around me.
I do have to say this. Although my paternal grandfather was Catholic, he met and married my divorced protestant grandmother back in the 1910s. Automatic excommunication back then. My father was raised in an evangelical non-denominational German church in New Orleans. He married my mother in 48 and agreed to raise his kids Catholic - which he did. Who took me to serve all those TLMs at 5:45 am?
My father did not attend the TLMs with us on Sunday. But by 1970 he attended the NOs. My mother never pressured him to convert, but when he passed away in 96, he was buried from our parish church in NO. Reverse-assimilation?