The future of the Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has seen dramatic falls in weekly attendance and number of people of who proclaim themselves Catholic is getting smaller and smaller. The number of people who are actually Catholic in the sense that they obey the Precepts of the Church are even smaller.

Baby boomers, seem to think that the proper response to younger members of the church wanting more tradition is to implement folk bands and guitars at the mass. Goodness, I have even seen tambourines at some masses.

But ask a new, young, convert and they will tell you, they at least want Latin and more structure to the mass. Altar rails are making a comeback, most converts and pious young people receive the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist on the tongue and kneeling. Some might call this converts Zeal. But could it be a guide to what actually attracts members and keeps them there. The only young Catholics I know who have been Catholic all their life and never turned from the Church are ones who’s parents are far more traditional than most.

What do people see as the future of the Church. What do they think the Pope in 50 years will be like. Will we see more traditional interpretations of Vatican 2 being implemented. Welcome to thoughts.


Okay. I’m going to be “that” person and say this–
It’s not my problem.
What is my problem is to hold fast to Jesus, take advantage of the sacraments, pray and read the Bible, and avoid sin.
I also have the responsibility to evangelize.
But how it will play out is anybody’s guess.
I have enough on my plate keeping myself out of trouble.


Per Pope Benedict XVI (as Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger), it will be:

  1. Smaller.
  2. More fervent.

However, Archbishop Charles Chaput, in his book Strangers in a Strange Land, cites something on the order of 9 million new members on the continent of Africa. And the Chinese Church is growing.


A friend of mine forwarded this post by Church Militant on the numbers in the US. It is a new post (like last week) and it offered some interesting advice.

They said the “answer” to the problem was personal holiness. I thought that was interesting because it seems like most people believe the answer must be to change up the Mass, offer donuts after Mass or get better teachers to teach the faith. I thought personal holiness was kinda brilliant. And a lot like what 0Scarlett_nidlyllll said.


It comes down to what feeds the spiritual hunger we all have. That hunger is for Christ, of course. But how is it feed in a practical down to earth way? Liturgy needs to be meaningful and powerful. That can be vernacular as well as Latin. I think more Catholic culture integrated into daily life will be needed. Home prayer, advent wreaths, Friday abstain, thins like that. A vibrant parish with adult education opportunities and fellowships. It needs to be more relevant, nurturing, and inspiring.

As Fr. Donald Calloway notes in the book “Under the Mantle”, it all centers around devotion to Jesus through Mary. The Church is in crisis now because of weak Marian devotion. We need a huge revival of Marian devotion, especially in the Rosary and in simply going to the heart of our Mother . To the extent we go to Mary, who brings us to Jesus, the Church will be vibrant.


It seems to me what we need is spiritual experience through the heart and mind, encounters with Jesus.

FROM YOU’R:thinking::disappointed_relieved: Lips to GOD’S ear my friend!:thinking::disappointed_relieved:

God Bless you, pray very much



I also wonder if it might become more urban and ethnic ie in the cities with a bigger concentration of people and more people from different parts of the world such as international students and immigrants there are more likely to be enough Catholics for a parish to thrive. A thriving parish is more likely to attract people to itself.

In the suburbs and rural areas parishes could have to be more basic due to the lower numbers, maybe only one mass per weekend, struggle to find someone to do music and outreach etc. It could be harder for these places to be self sustaining and closures and mergers could happen cutting some people off from access to the Catholic church.

I don’t think it would completely die out.

The people need to come to the personal realization that their life is BETTER when they are active in a Church and not ‘winging it’. I know this from my personal experience. Attending mass is about being in the presence of the Lord and being reminded of his teachings.

Returning to Latin, returning to railings, just seems like adding barriers between the Lord and myself…but that’s just me.

Future Church, it will be here long after I am gone…

1 Like

I’ve been seeing them at Masses since about 1967 off and on. This isn’t news.

This is actually happening big time, and it’s a good thing.
The only thing I personally can do about Kim Jong Il and his missiles is grab my rosary. Same as my mother and grandma grabbed theirs during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As for the Church, I’ve often done stuff that wasn’t “popular”. I used to see bands every week that were lucky if they got 30 people to show up. If the Church gets to the point where 30 people are showing up for Mass, as long as one of those people is Jesus in the Host, I’ll be there. I don’t care what other people do, or how big the Church is.


Fervent, mobile, mission-minded, God & others oriented.

The gospels tell us there will come a falling away; we should pay attention. This is no surprise.

1 Like

I have to take exception to the first part of this, and have no idea how you can know the second part. By the numbers, I think this is a little bit “sky is falling.” There has been an increase of 130 million Catholics since 2000.

While Mass attendance in the Americas declined for twenty year 1980-2000, it seems to have leveled, and then risen since then.

Then there is Africa.

I have seen a real shortage of under 35s in parishes. As an under 35 myself the temptation to give up and go to a church that has fellowship and knows what to do with people your age is always there.


Nope. The Church has never been larger than today.


Not around here (California.)

OK. That’s not been my experience.

I think some Latin (and Greek) is great. I personally love the Kyrie in Greek and the Gloria, Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei in Latin. What exactly do you mean by “more structure” to the Mass? Both the OF and EF Masses have a well defined order to them.

Naw. That’s simply not true. I’d like to see your sources. The implication that receiving communion on one’s tongue while kneel = more pious, is an offensive and to be honest and old and tiresome claim.

“Zeal”? No, just personal preferences.

Were that true in general, the celebration of the EF Mass would be exploding in numbers (as many predicted it would with the release of Summorum Pontificum) and it is not.

I’d question your sample size…

You want the truth as I see it?

  • The current pontificate will play a HUGE role in what the Church will be like in 50 years based on the cardinals Francis chooses which will ultimately pick his replacement.

  • While I wish this were not the case, I think the celebration of the EF Mass will show very little growth and quite likely some material decline in the next 50 years. Not due to the structure or language of the EF Mass or insufficient support from the hierarchy of the Church. The EF Mass will struggle due to the personalities, often reactionary, that surround the EF Mass and put a face to it.

  • I think most of the Eastern Catholic churches will be hurting even more than they are today. I also think there might be some rather awkward consolidations of EC churches, at least in the USA.

  • The Church will become ever more Hispanic in the US, particularly in the Western States. That’s going to have a major economic impact on the Church in the USA.

  • Some very difficult decisions will have to be made in those 50 years as a way to finally deal with the shortage of priests. How well this is handled could do either great good or great harm to the Church.

  • The Church is currently still healing not from the letter of Vatican II, but from the boatload of bad things done under the guise of the “spirit” of Vatican II. As this healing continues the Church will see positive things – more orthodox priests and ordinaries, even great reform or replacement of the USCCB, a very stable OF Mass, etc.

  • Catholic education (K-12) will (continue to) surge in many parts of the world as an alternative to state-run, secular education. In the next 50 years, Catholic education will also begin to improve.

  • Due largely to the availability of information and education via the Internet, a lot of excuses (such as "the spirit of Vatican II) will no longer be tolerated. This already happening.

  • The Church will continue to grow in membership, driven by its presence in second and third world countries.

  • An interesting alliance will strengthen between the Church, some of the Orthodox state churches, some branches of Protestantism, Judaism and secular organizations to form a bulwark against Islam.

  • The world (particularly the West), led by gov’t and Islam will finally be involved in a horrifying train-wreck. Islam will not prevail but the carnage to the world will be far greater than WWII.

  • God and His Son will prevail, but sadly, there is going to be an ocean of blood spilled before He comes again.

1 Like

Married men to be ordained priests, is that what you’re hinting at?
And what about women’s ordination?

My hunch is that we’ll see some form of limited permission for married men to be ordained, but no more than that…

Married men, yes. “Second vocation” men too (married or not) who have jobs or had jobs (much like today’s permanent deacons) and their ministry within the Church will not to be pastors but to celebrate the Mass and hear confessions wherever they are needed.

That’s impossible. A complete non-starter.

I am amazed at just how much better many Evangelical Protestant fellowships are at providing fellowship opportunities (for all ages) compared to Catholic parishes around here. For the most part Catholic parishes have become like gov’t-run Sunday ticket-punching stations in these parts.

In talking to a good deacon friend of mine, I think much of the woes in this area boil down to just a few things:

  • Limited expectations. I don’t think most people even expect to experience good fellowship at their Catholic parishes anymore. If they do, then it’s a great extra, but if they don’t, it’s par for the course. Few things improve with limited expectations.

  • Lack of competition. Catholics often don’t have the option of just attending another parish. Protestants almost always do. Lack of competition has a huge impact on any organization.

  • Indolence. Before I hear again about how most parish priests work 140 hours or more per week, please take a look at just how how hard and long the Protestant pastors and their staffs work at thriving Protestant parishes (not the mainliners who are struggling just like the Catholic Church.)

  • Arrogance. “We have the Eucharist and they do not.” ARGH!

  • Silliness. Excuses like “we don’t go to Sunday Mass” for fellowship are just that, noisy excuses for not performing.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit