The lack of Catholic culture and community in the West in the 21st century

Sorry I know this is a huge topic! I have just been reading a few sociological thoughts on the change in Catholic culture. I know a lot of this happened as a result of Vatican II but I’m not here to knock the Council.

I believe in Europe Two World Wars had a massive impact on faith and foundations of culture and belief were rocked to the core. Growing up in an atheist family in Europe in the 1970s and 80s, I knew noone who believed or practiced any form of Christianity.

Then in the US in particular the built environment seems to have had a major impact. It’s hard to create a diverse and creative community that includes everyone with the huge growth in suburbs that are built for the convenience of the car rather than the human person.

It also encouraged segregation of society by economic class and race. You can see why, when they became young adults the biggest generation in American history (at that point) rebelled against conformity. While I’m sure very comforting to their parents after the Great Depression and Workd War II, the suburbs prevented a nuanced culture to develop and instead encouraged an oppressive conformity, which isn’t Catholic in its expression. Catholic churches should be accessible to all and not only those in leafy neighborhoods witth cars. It obviously divides the People of God.

So apologies again for this long post. I am a European immigrant now in an American suburb feeling like there is no remnant of Catholic culture around me. In prayer I have felt the Lord encourage me to look for new ways to help bring into being a more caring, connected and obvious Catholic culture but its hard to know where we might start when I find myself feeling pretty alienated from the Catholic church here myself, despite going to Mass and praying daily. In prayer I felt the Lord saying “Do you feel and know you and love you?” Yes. "Do you feel known and loved by your parish? No.

I think there are many wonderful people here but many don’t feel loved or known by their parish community even when they serve there frequently!

How can we love each other better? In the past being part of a community and Catholic culture gave so much support but that really doesn’t exist for most people any longer.

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I don’t understand what you are using as your basis for comparison then.

I was Catholic before and after Vatican II, so what remnants are you looking for, because I see Catholic culture all around us.

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There are Catholic Churches all over my city. Nobody is being excluded unless they want to be.

Go visit a different Catholic Church or go to another city.

What exactly are you looking for?


Agreed. In the big city up north of me, they’re all over the place, in both rich and poor neighborhoods.


America in the 1950s had kind of a generic Judeo Christian culture. Catholicism was still somewhat connected to ethnic groups, specifically gathered into neighborhoods. Media favorable to religion.

The shift to suburbs weakened neighborhood parish communities, as did ethnic assimilation.

The biggest change was the fairly sudden centralization of the media into a very few national corporate entities, dominated by the culture of Secular Humanism.

In every place I’ve lived in several U.S. states, I’ve found a vibrant Catholic community and culture. But you have to look for it and, if it doesn’t appear, work to create it. Start at the parish and become involved. Volunteer. Meet a few like minded people and invite them for a meal or book discussion or to pray together. Visit elderly Catholics and support priests and religious. Help out at a Catholic school. Join a prolife group. In short you will find active and devout Catholics everywhere if you start to look.


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