What is happening to Catholicism in North America !?


I was studying with some new friends tonight, both of which consider themselves Catholic. I was talking to this one (very nice) girl about Catholicism. She had mentioned that her boyfriend was not very religious and I asked about what kind of affect this might on their relationship.

Her, answer: it didn’t bother her because she does not go to Church everyweek and he believes in God in some ambigious way. She was telling me that she does not attend Mass everyweek and feels it is not neccessary because her religion is between her God. “You do not need to go to church to be a good person” she said and disagreed that missing Mass was a sin. For this reason she also strongly disagrees with the idea of Confession being required of Catholics.

I responded that Catholicism is a community oriented religion. Not going to Mass does not make you a bad person, but it does not make you a good Catholic. I said to be Catholic means being part of a community- the Church. Salvation is not solely an individual affair and this also explains the neccessity of the Sacrament of Confession. Not only is Confession the most potent weapon against re-occuring sin that I have ever experienced, it and the obligation to Mass every week, prevents a dangerous spiritual individualism. Sin is not solely between “you and God” but between you, God and humanity. This is why Confession involves “you, God and a priest”.

She said she does not think a community is neccessary for a relationship with God. While this may be true, I said Catholicism is not an individual posession that you can carry off on your own. We share the faith as the Church, and while you are to make it your own in the sense that each person is to be completely unique and themselves in the communal life of the Church, it is not “your own” to practice without participation in the Church.

I also said that if you think Confession is not neccessary and do not make use of it, then you should refrain from the Eucharist. You can not refrain from Confession and in doing so declare one’s sins to be solely and individual affair, and then in the same breath go to the altar and recieve the most important Sacrament that declares the unity, community and inter-relationship of all Catholics in the Body of Christ! It’s a sheer contradiction in logic.

Anyways, sorry for my rant. Even though I do not agree with everything the Church says and does, I am trying my best to bring myself into full communion with the Church on the issues that had separated me from communion during my spiritually experimental years. I felt like asking her to not identify as Catholic if she actually believes this, but I figured that would be rude.

Does anyone feel that there are far too many Catholics that just think like Protestants but call themselves Catholic anyways? How can this girl think she is Catholic and at the same time deny the neccesity of going to Mass!?


What is happening is that Priests are NOT taught that they must catechize during the homily, in addition to commenting on scripture. The bishops have no directives for them. Thus they have no clue on what the Church officially teaches.

And by catechize the Church defines in the catechism:

  1. "Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine imparted, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life
    The ONLY way that Christian doctrine can be taught in an organic and systematic way, is by going through the Catechism. The Catechism is simply the teachings of the Gospel that the apostles taught. The Gospel the apostles taught is not written in scripture. The apostles handed it down in the form of the creed, sacraments commandments and prayer.
    That is why it must be taught, using the Catechism, “a sure norm for teaching the faith” Pope JPII.

That is what the council of Trent required.
Priests had to go through the whole Roman catechism at
mass over a period of about 4 years.
The Church has never changed her teaching.

But no priest today is taught they must go through the whole catechism during the homilies and teach “in an organic and systematic way, with a view to initiating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life”.

That is why Catholics are so dumb and are not going to mass and are leaving the faith.

And even if they were taught in Catholic schools correctly, the fact that the doctrines are not repeated by the priest at mass leads them to believe doctrines are not important.


Can you tell us where in the council it says that it must be gone over in four years? I do remember reading how the priests are supposed to explain the mysteries of the mass to the people at solemnities and that the catechism is to be translated into the vernacular and is to be explained on feast days or something of the like.


These are “IWBCs” - I was baptized Catholic. For them, church is a social activity, not a soul-saving one. All you can do is pray that they will be spared the test, as they have been told of the sacrifice that love of God entails. They clearly do not understand that Christ would gladly have suffered and died for them, even if they were the only human left alive!

Christ’s peace.


No doubt about it - there are far too many ‘a la carte’ Catholics about - certainly over here in Ireland anyway!

Certainly, education is one problem. At Mass it is very clear to me that many priests are afraid to talk about actual Church teaching on certain issues and the sacraments. There is often a very tangeable fear that if they say something which does not suit someone in the congregation (even though the teaching is true and correct) they will lose members of their flock, which is already seriously dwindling in many Irish parishes. Many will not preach on something as central to the Faith as the Eucharist - even though their back-up is right there in the Gospels! Priests in socially deprived areas where their is a higher rate of marriage breakdown, teenage pregnancies etc. will neglect to give Church teaching on these issues in case they offend someone (although, obviously, they have to be sensitive too). In our schools, children are not being taught basic teachings - my brother recently started secondary (high) school at the Diocesan College and he says that their religion teacher told them that after the 3 years they should be able to decide what religion is right (for them)! In the diocesan college Catholic teaching should be foremost, even though the curriculum requires them to study different faiths. I hear stories of children in Catholic schools at First Holy Communion being told that they are receiving ‘holy bread’ or that all Churches are the same… It’s no wonder they ignore the Church in later life when they haven’t been given a strong foundation in it from their youth.

Another thing I hear from the type of person you have described is ‘why should the Church be able to tell me what to do?’ They will often bring up abuse scandals, which have rocked the Church here as well as in the U.S., and ask why they should have to listen to an organisation which allowed this abuse…standard rants. This sort of argument is a smoke-screen for those who refuse to accept teachings because they simply don’t like them. Again, I suppose this is down to education, because if they understood the Church - foundation by Christ, sacraments, etc. - they maybe would have more faith. If your friend is interested in the Faith, she should attend instruction classes or lectures… if not it is her choice to be further led astray. At any rate, yes, it really bugs me that people who are clearly not Catholics claim to be so - it not only damages them and their souls by lying about their faith to suit themselves, but it also gives non-Catholics ammo to use against Catholics because such people give them the image that Catholics are completely uneducated in their faith…

Our curate at Mass at the weekend told of how he had once given a lift to a hiker. When the hiker realised that the driver was a priest they started talking about faith, and the hiker said he didn’t really practice his faith, and that when he dies and meets God he’ll just ‘plead ignorance’. As the priest pointed out, this might work here on Earth, but it won’t work before God since he knows everything! Maybe this is what your friend is planning on doing… if she is, she should know that that kind of excuse just won’t wash with God!!:slight_smile:


This encyclical of Pope Pius X summarizes the council of Trent and the 4-5 year coverage of the Catechism of the Council of Trent.
Naturally the new Catechism of Catholic Church should also be used since it is an addition, not replacement, for the Catechism of the Council of Trent, also known as the Roman Catechism.

7. We must now consider upon whom rests the obligation to dissipate this most pernicious ignorance and to impart in its stead the knowledge that is wholly indispensable. There can be no doubt, Venerable Brethren, that this most important duty rests upon all who are pastors of souls. On them, by command of Christ, rest the obligations of knowing and of feeding the flocks committed to their care; and to feed implies, first of all, to teach. “I will give you pastors according to my own heart,” God promised through Jeremias, “and they shall feed you with knowledge and doctrine.”[9] Hence the Apostle Paul said: “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel,”[10] thereby indicating that the first duty of all those who are entrusted in any way with the government of the Church is to instruct the faithful in the things of God.
11. For this reason the Council of Trent, treating of the duties of pastors of souls, decreed that their first and most important work is the instruction of the faithful.[16] It therefore prescribes that they shall teach the truths of religion on Sundays and on the more solemn feast days; moreover during the holy seasons of Advent and Lent they are to give such instruction every day or at least three times a week. This, however, was not considered enough. The Council provided for the instruction of youth by adding that the pastors, either personally or through others, must explain the truths of religion at least on Sundays and feast days to the children of the parish, and inculcate obedience to God and to their parents. When the Sacraments are to be administered, it enjoins upon pastors the duty to explain their efficacy in plain and simple language.
24. VI. Since it is a fact that in these days adults need instruction no less than the young, all pastors and those having the care of souls shall explain the Catechism to the people in a plain and simple style adapted to the intelligence of their hearers. This shall be carried out on all holy days of obligation, at such time as is most convenient for the people, but not during the same hour when the children are instructed, and this instruction must be in addition to the usual homily on the Gospel which is delivered at the parochial Mass on Sundays and holy days. The catechetical instruction shall be based on the Catechism of the Council of Trent; and the matter is to be divided in such a way that in the space of four or five years, treatment will be given to the Apostles’ Creed, the Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Precepts of the Church.


Confusion arose during Vatican II when it said more scripture was required and that the initial part of the homily should be taken from either the readings or the prayers of the mass.
The part about scripture was to fulfill what Pope Pius X also wrote in the above encyclical.

                                       [LEFT]3. The task of the catechist is to take up one or other of the truths of faith or of Christian morality and then explain it in all its parts; and since amendment of life is the chief aim of his instruction, the catechist must needs make a comparison between what God commands us to do and what is our actual conduct. After this, he will use examples appropriately taken from the Holy Scriptures, Church history, and the lives of the saints - thus moving his hearers and clearly pointing out to them how they are to regulate their own conduct. He should, in conclusion, earnestly exhort all present to dread and avoid vice and to practice virtue.  [/LEFT]

This part was not being done. For example, in my whole life, I have never heard a preachers give expamples of mortal sins, as found in scripture. Fornication is very common sin amoung Catholics today. I have never heard a preacher give examples from scripture of how those who die in fornication will end up in hell. There are lots of them. Vatican II wanted every to follow this encyclical above. Because scripture “illuminates” and “nourishes” the faith.

Thus, Vatican II changed none of this. There were other things that confused the bishops and scholars, such as the changing of the wording of the primary duties of priests from instruction of the faithful to “proclamation of the Gospel to all”. Since very few scholars were hanging on every word the Popes had been teaching, they missed the part where the Popes define the Gospel as everything the apostles handed down, (the whole Catholic faith), and instead they understood a more protestant definition of “the written words and deeds of Jesus” as the old Catholic Encyclopedia put it.


A problem is that many of us follow God to the extent that it doesn’t inconvenience us too much. Saying that being a Christian is between ‘me and God’ is in some ways a correct statement, but to be honest is probably based on a mindset that very misguided, relative and self absorbed. I have often previously thought ‘philosophical’ thoughts like 'I believe God is the type of God who I’m sure He is, and in many ways I am naive like this as well. That’s why our faith in the Church of God is critical to a stable life as a Christian.

This girl is probably still maturing on her outlook on life and Faith, and hopefully God willing she will increase in her faith and devotion. Sadly, often the parents do not teach their kids properly or set a good enough example, probably because they do not understand their faith more than the ‘minimum’.


Personally I don’t think that the “I’m a good person” phenomena is unique to Catholicism. Protestantism has been around long enough for there to be social Protestants. I think a lot of it is the age we live in. There are distractions everywhere all day long. Nothing but noise, tv, radio, co-workers, political agenda’s etc. You combine that with just the busyness of life from sunrise to sundown and it can get very difficult to hear the voice of God.

We get mired in tv, and modern music which is virtually Godless, and in some cases anti-God. When God is mentioned at all it is Hollywood’s version of God which is no God at all. add to that the Internet with the extreme proliferation of pornography, and people promoting anything and everything. It’s very easy to get caught up in promiscuity, cohabitation, and all kinds of immorality. Eventually a mental quilt is constructed that tolerates homosexuality, abortion, sexual immorality of every sort, and any spirituality that’s intolerant of any of the above becomes unacceptable. It’s within this frame work that we become “good people!” The more that sin is given into, the more dead the conscience and ability to hear the voice of God becomes. I think all of these factors lead to moral relativism, and secular humanism in practice, and Catholic in name only. Eventually God becomes a distant impersonal nebulous concept. Occasionally God is tended to just to make sure that He hasn’t forgotten us, and just in case there is a hell we won’t go there. One can end up thinking that God will embrace us after death as a total stranger and somehow impart eternal life because of our “Good person hood”. I know… I’ve been there.

Fortunately God out of his infinite goodness, and mercy allows things like natural disasters, illness, terrorist attacks, death of relatives before their time etc… to get our attention and wake us up and see that the “good person syndrome” from a dead conscience, and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee but it will not get you eternal life.

There is a saying that we have two wolves with in us, a good and a bad wolf fighting for out soul. Which one wins? The one we feed!

Don’t be afraid to speak the truth to your friend in love, she may get angry but you WILL plant a seed.

One of the things that got my attention was my Deacon father looking me in the eyes and saying, “Oh how I wish you were hot or cold. Since you are neither, I will vomit you from my mouth”.

That got my attention.


This is exactly the quote that came to mind as I pondered the OPs post.[FONT=Arial][/FONT]

Though I agree a failure to catechize from the pulpit may have contributed to the trend, I think the “root cause” is the wealth and prosperity that modern “first world” countries are experiencing.

“It is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…” and all that sort of stuff.

Like all “great nations” we are quickly becoming victims of our own success.

Rugged individualism and materialism help folks to live the American Dream and at the same time “help” us to see others (and God) as unnecessary to our “happiness”. Relatively few people actually “want” for their basic needs, and so we’ve become more and more concerned about making sure people don’t “feel” bad about anything.

It’s all about “me, me, me” and how “I feel”. So we remake our “god” and what he expects of us in our image. We make him (or her) “my god” and we worship him in whatever way makes us “feel” best about ourselves.

Personally I think your Pastor could belt out a hell fire and brimstone sermon every week and this is how many of the folks in the pew would respond:

Those “laws” don’t really apply to me because times have changed and well “I’m a good person” and since I do those things and I’m a good person, it must be OK to do those things. Besides “everyone” does those things, not “everybody” can be bad so there must be something wrong with the “laws” not with me…

It would be kind of like the kids on Charlie Brown listening to the adults speak “wah…whah wah wannna wa wa” is all they’d hear.

As a society we’ve killed all sense of shame. As one of the Popes said (I forget which) “the biggest sin is the death of sin” (or something to that effect.)

You see it on this forum every day. “A loving god would never let anyone be damned to hell.” So despite the many clear biblical passages that say He will let exactly that happen and despite 2,000 years of tradition that support exactly that belief, many folks choose to believe something else cause, the “truth” would make them “feel bad” and we can’t have that!

It’s much better that people “feel good” on the road to hell than “suffer” any self restraint on the way to heaven.



your friend sounds for the most part indifferent to the catholic faith, despite claiming to be a member of it (which she is, technically, since presumably she’s been baptised).

i recently had a very similar, and frustrating conversation with my own sister, who claimed essentially that her opinion was just as important as that of the church hierarchy in matters of faith and morals. in other words, it’s up to her and not the church to define what makes a person “catholic”. and she also thought that church practices and beliefs were substantially different in different parts of the world. (so much for “one holy catholic and apostolic church.”)

i tried to explain to her where she had got it wrong but because i’m her big brother she is disinclined to give my opinion any weight. i’m thinking of sending her a copy of “catholic and christian” by alan schreck which i found very informative when i was re-embracing the faith after many years away, but i’m not sure how to word my accompanying letter in a way that will not turn her off and ensure that she doesn’t read it.


It seems that your friend already sees it as a social activity and, therefore, not binding. Being a community is not why we are required to attend Holy Mass every Sunday.

It is a commandment from God Himself. Furthermore, the Catholic Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ and gave the Church the Authority and power to bind and loose. “Whatsoever you bind on earth is bound in heaven …”. IThe Church, by here Christ given Authority states that it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on Sunday without a good reason. This must be absolved through the Sacrament of Confession.

In truth, the issue here isn’t about ‘us’ or community; It is about Jesus Christ and obedience to His Church.

God bless and watch over you always.

Your brother in Christ.


Can somebody what, exactly, is a “good person” and what is a “bad person”? We so frequently read or hear that not following our religion does not make one a “bad person” and that they are really a “good person”. Usually the people who insist that they are good people are serious sinners! So how come they are not bad people??? :shrug:


I will agree that there are a lot of catholics like the original poster described. Heck, my sisters can be included in that. I attribute that to poor formation and bad catechism. And lack of teaching the basics of the catholic faith. Too many catholics act like protestants.

But on the flip side, there are a lot of young people who are serious about their faith and want the real catholicism, the real true faith and seek it out. It’s becoming a trend, and I feel that people are getting tired of the fuzzy christianity and seeking the truth in the catholic church. A lot of this is directed by protestants converting to the church as well. And these people will be the keepers of the faith in the years to come.


If people don’t see God as necessary for their happiness do they think that God has a special section of heaven for those who don’t need him? A place that they won’t have to deal with Him there, just like they don’t deal with Him here. Oh wait… He does have a special section for that, and it aint in heaven. If we just don’t deal with it, it will go away or somehow be ok. What’s truly scary about it is the false sense of security in the face of eternity looming ever closer day by day. We lose all perspective on the extreme brevity of life when we think like that, as though what my life is today will somehow continue like this for ever. No worries!

I don’t remember who it was that said, “God made us in His image, and we returned the favor!.”

I do find it interesting that the “A loving God wouldn’t condemn anyone to hell” crowd are arrogant enough to presume to know the infinite mind of God, from an extremely limited intellect without actually looking to see what God Himself has revealed. When it is revealed it is rejected because it doesn’t fit “The beliefs that I created for myself”. Scary stuff! but hey… I’ve been there!

Yeah, I think the presumption is that since everybody does it that God couldn’t send everybody to hell so He must have changed His mind somewhere along the way. it reminds me of Luke 18:8 “However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”


One way to ensure that she will read it is to tell her you’re interested in her opinion, and will she please read this book and tell you where the author gets it wrong. At the very least this will get her to read it and to engage in dialogue with you.

I also highly recommend the audios at biblechristiansociety.com/download

If I were you, I’d listen to them first to see which subjects will help your sister the most. The downloads are free, and you can probably get her to listen to them by asking the same question: Where does this guy get it wrong?

Hope this helps!


I’m hearing that it’s the young people who are really embracing the latin mass. I pray that they are seeing what the seeds of moral relativism, and secular humanism through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s have wrought, and the need for real spiritual authority.

I’m thrilled with the tide of protestants, and protestant pastors who are turning to the true Church. I think they are a very positive and necessary force in Catholicism today. Like Dr. Francis Beckwith the 57th President of the Evangelical Theological Society returning to Catholicism this year. Wonderful stuff!


This is a very interesting thread indeed. I do think the American Catholics have been somewhat influence by the Protestant America than one might think.

Protestants individualize the relationship between you and God, as "Jesus and Me, or “I have a personal relationship with Jesus.”

I think Catholics have often heard this from their non-Catholic friends. They themselves don’t want to depart from the leave the Catholic Church, but like to keep calling themselves Catholic because it is part of them that they grow up with.

When your friend said, "it’s me and God. I don’t need to go to Church to be a “good person.”

Little do they know is that going to Mass and going to confession is what our Lord Jesus has granted us. He gave us the sacraments. I think the most important two, are confession and Eucharist.

With Confession, you can restore the grace which you lost from God when you commit a sin that is mortal (you can also confess your venial sins because it strengthen the soul). You received sanctifying grace from God, and you are made worthy to received the Blessed Eucharist.

I don’t know how well your friend is catechized in the faith, but I assumed she wasn’t taught well. I wonder if your friend is aware that in the Catholic Churches around the world, Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist is very real.

Fr. Corapi once said in his lecture and I’ll paraphrase. No one would think of depriving their body of food everyday; but depriving a spiritual food on your soul will bring a death upon the person. It’s like when you exercise at the gym, your strengthen your muscle. When you don’t work out, your muscle weakens. So when we deprive our Body the Body and Blood of the Lord, we won’t received the many graces God has given us. In time, the person will fall easily into temptation and commit serious sin.

Mass is very important for Catholics. Yet many American Catholics today deprive their Soul, the food which came down from heaven. We need to re-awaken our faith to our fellow Catholics. They need to know that Jesus dwells with us now in the tabernacle, and he awaits for us in Holy Communion (provided that we are free of any mortal sin and fasted one hour before the reception of the Eucharist).


Most of the Catholics I grew up with were solid Chirch goers and made the words they heard manifest in their lives by the things they did and the things they avoided. During the 1960s, even the media, whether it was TV, radio or the movies, was in general harmony with Catholic teaching.

By the end of the 1960s, Hippies and Anarchists were yelling about “tearing the country down.” The birth control Pill, introduced in 1960, meant that, theoretically, they could do what they wanted. A “Woodstock Nation” would rise on the foundation of immoral sex, drugs and a rejection of established authority (The Establishment).

In 1973, abortion was made legal, which eventually meant that it was OK. It went from abortion in case of emergency to abortion on demand.

In the 1980s, divorce went from use in case of emergency to No-Fault Divorce. The National Organization of Women, instead of solving problems between men and women, convinced women that they were the victims of the men in their lives, destroying families in the process.

By the 1990s, the media was rushing headlong into putting porn on television.

Now, men no longer endure sound doctrine. They have become lovers of themselves. Two or three divorces is common now.

Turn away from your sin. The time of renewal is now. Nothing elaborate needs to de done. Put God back as the center of your life and community.

God bless,



Thank you for taking the time to answer this. I’ve never read this particular encyclical, so I’m glad to have looked at it. Pope Pius X laments over the sad lack of knowledge among the people way back in 1905. I suppose this has been an enduring problem throughout history. I wonder if we can find the same problem in the first millennium? I reproduce his comments here, since it sounds much like the current state of affairs:

[quote=Acerbo Nimis]2. It is a common complaint, unfortunately too well founded, that there are large numbers of Christians in our own time who are entirely ignorant of those truths necessary for salvation. And when we mention Christians, We refer not only to the masses or to those in the lower walks of life – for these find some excuse for their ignorance in the fact that the demands of their harsh employers hardly leave them time to take care of themselves or of their dear ones – but We refer to those especially who do not lack culture or talents and, indeed, are possessed of abundant knowledge regarding things of the world but live rashly and imprudently with regard to religion. It is hard to find words to describe how profound is the darkness in which they are engulfed and, what is most deplorable of all, how tranquilly they repose there. They rarely give thought to God, the Supreme Author and Ruler of all things, or to the teachings of the faith of Christ. They know nothing of the Incarnation of the Word of God, nothing of the perfect restoration of the human race which He accomplished. Grace, the greatest of the helps for attaining eternal things, the Holy Sacrifice and the Sacraments by which we obtain grace, are entirely unknown to them. They have no conception of the malice and baseness of sin; hence they show no anxiety to avoid sin or to renounce it. And so they arrive at life’s end in such a condition that, lest all hope of salvation be lost, the priest is obliged to give in the last few moments of life a summary teaching of religion, a time which should be devoted to stimulating the soul to greater love for God. And even this as too often happens only when the dying man is not so sinfully ignorant as to look upon the ministration of the priest as useless, and then calmly faces the fearful passage to eternity without making his peace with God. And so Our Predecessor, Benedict XIV, had just cause to write: “We declare that a great number of those who are condemned to eternal punishment suffer that everlasting calamity because of ignorance of those mysteries of faith which must be known and believed in order to be numbered among the elect.”[3]

I have carefully read the quotes you chose from the encyclical, and I don’t think they mean the 4 years to be strictly at mass. They seem to be requiring the parish priest to do it at a convenient time for the adults, not at the same time as the children. Also, it mentions instruction “in addition to” the usual homily at the regular masses. I think he may be suggesting adult education classes outside of mass. I hadn’t known these were going on at that time. I think the four or five years is probably including this outside instruction.

I found another spot in Trent to add, 24th session reform, chapter 7:

[T]they shall explain at all festivals and solemnities during the solemnization of the mass or the celebration of the divine offices, in the vernacular tongue, the divine commands and the maxims of salvation.

I’ve been hearing more doctrine in the homily. This Sunday, we heard a description of sins of omission verses sins of commission. I’m sure some found this helpful. :slight_smile: And no, I don’t think I’ve really heard much in a homily about sex outside of marriage. I’ve heard about contraception and abortion, though.

I agree, the gospel is more like, hmmm, in a way I sort of think of it like the whole deposit of faith. Here is a quote from CCC. Okay maybe not. See my next post. I’m over the limit.


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