Matt C. Abbott
What hath 'the spirit of Vatican II' wrought?
By Matt C. Abbott
January 19, 2010

The following is a reprint of a chapter (minus endnotes) from Catholic attorney/scholar Peter B. Kelly's book Cleansing Fire (which I've featured in previous columns as well — here, here and here). The chapter contains substantial information from another book: Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church since Vatican II, authored by Kenneth C. Jones. Many thanks to Mr. Kelly and Mr. Jones for allowing me to reprint their material.

Chapter 38

A Statistical Analysis

"The message (of the Third Secret of Fatima) was not to be opened before 1960. I asked Lucy: 'Why this date?' And she answered me: 'Because then it will be clearer (mais claro).' This made me think that the message was prophetic in tone, precisely because the prophesies, as we see in Sacred Scripture, are covered with a veil of mystery. ... In 1960, she said, the message would be clearer."

    — Cardinal Ottaviani (speaking about the Third Secret of Fatima at the great hall of the Antonianum, Pontifical Marian Academy, February 11, 1967)

"The devil is in the process of engaging in a decisive battle with the Virgin. And the devil knows what it is that most offends God and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God because in this way, the devil will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, and thereby the more easily will he seize them."

    — Sister Lucy's disclosures to Father Fuentes

"What some refer to as a 'vocations crisis' is, rather, one of the many fruits of the Second Vatican Council, a sign of God's deep love for the Church, and an invitation to a more creative and effective ordering of gifts and energy in the Body of Christ."

    — Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Holy Thursday, April 20, 2000.

"Without priests the sacramental nature of the Church will disappear. We'll become a Protestant church without the sacraments."

    — Cardinal Godfried Daneels, London Catholic Times, May, 2000.

"Certainly the results (of Vatican II) seem cruelly opposed to the expectations of everyone, beginning with those of Pope John XXIII and then of Pope Paul VI: expected was a new Catholic unity and instead we have been exposed to dissension which, to use the words of Pope Paul VI, seems to have gone from self-criticism to self-destruction. Expected was a new enthusiasm, and many wound up discouraged and bored. Expected was a great step forward, instead we find ourselves faced with a progressive process of decadence which has developed for the most part under the sign of a calling back to the Council, and has therefore contributed to discrediting it for many. The net result therefore seems negative. I am repeating here what I said ten years after the conclusion of the work: it is incontrovertible that this period has definitely been unfavorable for the Catholic Church."

    — Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, 1984.

"It's chic to declare yourself a Protestant in France these days. In intellectual circles, it is also chic to reveal yourself as a Jew. But if you admit to being a Roman Catholic, you'll trigger howls of derisive laughter."

    — Sociologist Daniele Hervieu-Leger, UPI, March 13, 2001.

"And will not God revenge his elect who cry to him day and night? And will he have patience in their regard? I say to you that he will quickly revenge them. But yet the Son of man, when he cometh, shall he find, think you, faith on earth?"

    — Luke 18:7-8

"The dechristianization of Europe is a reality."

    — Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Le Spectacle du Monde, January, 2000.


Re: Statistical Analysis of the Post-Vatican II Collapse of the Catholic Church in America

Source: Jones, Kenneth C.: Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II

Roman Catholic Books, P. O. Box 2286, Fort Collins, CO 80522-2286. (Original ISBN: 0-9728688-0-1)

In the introduction to his book, Kenneth Jones begins by accurately explaining that when Pope John XXIII began his Second Vatican Council in 1962, the American Catholic Church "was in the midst of an unprecedented period of growth." He reports that "bishops were ordaining record numbers of priests and building scores of seminaries to handle the surge in vocations. Young women by the thousands gave up lives of comfort for the austerity of the convent. These nuns taught millions of students in the huge system of parochial and private schools. The ranks of Catholics swelled as parents brought in their babies for baptism and adult converts flocked to the Church. Lines outside the confessional were long, and by some estimates three quarters of the faithful went to Mass every Sunday."

There is an old American proverb that is still in constant use because it is both practical and profound. The saying is used to both preserve successes and avoid unnecessary failures on both a large and small scale. If only Pope John XXIII had chosen to reject those Modernist voices looking for a Conciliar opportunity to derail the efficient and on-time train of Roman Catholicism by simply reciting, with the Italian accent of a practical peasant: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

John XXIII was dubbed "Good" Pope John by his manipulators and Modernist "puppet masters" — as if to distinguish him from his saintly, sophisticated and uncompromising predecessors who the Modernists must have considered "bad" because they saw their corrupting progressive agendas for what they were.

Poor Pope John! He appeared to have been selected by the Modernists in the conclave precisely because of his naïveté as a curial outsider and a non-theologian diplomat who could be easily manipulated and sold on the false promise of a new Council. If even the inside player, Paul VI, could be subsequently betrayed into tears by the Modernist plan to re-spin Lumen Gentium after the Council, leading him to compose the nota explicativa, Pope John was a pathetically easy mark. He was a pious man, so giving him the benefit of the doubt, he was probably unaware that he was being completely used by the Modernists to bring on a Council intended to stall-out a revving Traditional Church.

Pope John gave the ironic opening speech at the Council. There he chided those Catholics who saw no need for a Council when everything was going so well. He said: "We feel we must disagree with those prophets of gloom, who are always forecasting disaster, as though the end of the world were at hand." The Holy Ghost led Pope John to his election and, as a favor, must have blessed him with truthful, if gloomy, prophets to guide him regarding his Second Vatican Council. But just as Moses struck the rock twice, even God's chosen leader can fail to always use good judgment. Pope John gave the order that marched his Church into a complete disaster — that, at least, was forecast by some.

Mr. Jones had gathered and presented in his book various American body counts resulting from the internal ecclesial war that tumbled out on to the streets as a result of Vatican II. If the goal of the enemy of the Church was to strategically diminish the Catholic Church as an effective organization in saving souls for eternity, the enemy must have been gloating since 1965 when the Council ended.

Jones' presentation speaks for itself:

"Priests: After skyrocketing from about 27,000 in 1930 to 58,000 in 1965, the number of priests in the United States thereafter dropped to 45,000 in 2002. By 2020, there will be about 31,000 priests — and only 15,000 will be under the age of 70. Right now there are more priests age 80 to 84 than there are age 30 to 34.

"Ordinations: In 1965 there were 1,575 American ordinations to the priesthood, in 2002 there were 450, a decline of 350 percent. Taking into account ordinations, deaths and departures, in 1965 there was a net gain of 725 priests. In 1998, there was a net loss of 810.

"Priest-less parishes: About 3 percent of U.S. parishes, or 549, were without a resident priest in 1965. In 2002 there were 2,928 priest-less parishes, about 15 percent of U.S. parishes. By 2020, a quarter of all parishes, 4,656, will have no priest.

"Seminaries: Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700 — a 90 percent decrease. Without any students, seminaries across the country have been sold or shuttered. There were 596 seminaries in 1965, and only 200 in 2002. There were over three times as many total seminarians in 1930 as in 2002. There were over seven times as many religious order seminarians in 1945 as in 2002. There were over three times as many diocesan seminarians in 1945 as in 2002. There were more seminaries in 1955 than in 2002. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of U.S. diocesan seminaries decreased by 33 percent. In that same thirty seven year period, the number of U.S. religious seminaries decreased by 75 percent.

"Sisters: 180,000 sisters were the backbone of the American Catholic education and health systems in 1965. In 2002, there were 75,000 sisters, with an average age of 68. By 2020, the number of sisters will drop to 40,000 — and of these, only 21,000 will be age 70 or under. In 1965, 104,000 sisters were teaching, while in 2002 there were only 8,200 teachers. That is a reduction of about 92 percent. There were over nine times as many sisters teaching in 1945 as in 2002.

"Brothers: The number of professed brothers decreased from about 12,000 in 1965 to 5,700 in 2002, with a further drop to 3,100 in 2020. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of brothers teaching decreased by 80 percent. There were three times as many brothers teaching in 1945 as in 2002.

"Religious Orders: The religious orders will soon be virtually nonexistent in the United States. For example, in 1965 there were 5,277 Jesuit priests and 3,559 seminarians; in 2000 there were 3,172 priests and 389 seminarians. There were 2,534 OFM Franciscan priests and 2,251 seminarians in 1965; in 2000 there were 1,492 priests and 60 seminarians. There were 2,434 Christian Brothers in 1965 and 912 seminarians; in 2000 there were 959 Brothers and 7 seminarians. There were 1,148 Redemptorist priests in 1965 and 1,128 seminarians; in 2000 there were 349 priests and 24 seminarians. Every major religious order in the United States mirrors these statistics of decline.

"High Schools: Between 1965 and 2002 the number of diocesan high schools fell from 1,566 to 786. At the same time the number of students dropped from almost 700,000 to 386,000. There were more private Catholic high schools in 1945 than in 2002. There were more than twice as many diocesan high schools in 1945 as in 2002.

"Parochial Grade Schools: There were 10,503 parochial grade schools in 1965 and 6,623 in 2002. The number of students plummeted from 4.5 million to 1.9 million. There were more parochial grade schools in 1930 than in 2002.

"Sacramental Life: In 1965 there were 1.3 million infant baptisms, in 2002 there were 1 million. There were more infant baptisms in 1955 than in 2002. (In the same period the number of Catholics in the United States rose from 45 million to 65 million.) In 1965 there were 126,000 adult baptisms — converts — in 2002 there were 80,000. In 1965 there were 352,000 Catholic marriages, in 2002 there were 256,000. There were more Catholic marriages in 1950 than in 2002. There were extremely few annulments in the U.S. in 1968. In 1968 there were 338 annulments, in 2002 there were 50,000. Jones quotes the highly respected canon lawyer Edward Peters from his November, 1996 Homiletic and Pastoral Review article Annulments in America: "According to the 1994 Catholic Almanac, 59,220,000 American Catholics make up 6.2% of the world's 949,578,000 Catholic population. In 1991, the U.S. accounted for 63,900 (79%) of the world's 80,700 annulments."

"Mass attendance: A 1958 Gallup poll reported that 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1958. A 1994 University of Notre Dame study found that the attendance rate was 26.6 percent. A more recent study by Fordham University professor James Lothian concluded that 65 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1965, while the rate dropped to 25 percent in 2000."

Jones points out that "Mass attendance of U.S. Catholics fell precipitously in the decade following the liturgical changes and has continued to decline ever since." "This decline" he writes, "is not an isolated phenomenon, confined solely to the Church in America. In England and Wales, the time pattern of Mass attendance has been just as bad, perhaps even worse."

Jones' next point is critical: "Church attendance of Protestants, in contrast, has followed a much different path. For most of the period it was without any discernable trend, either up or down. In recent years it has actually risen. The notion that the Catholic fall off was simply one part of a larger societal trend, therefore, receives absolutely no support in these data."

But these sad statistics may even miss the worse news. That news is that the actual spiritual state of the remaining "Catholics" may be even more weakened than these miserable, falling numbers reveal. That is because those reduced numbers of "Catholic" people are still baptizing their fewer babies, are still going to deficient Novus Ordo Masses, and are still following the graduates of homosexualized seminaries. They are led by priests and religious who probably do not, doctrinally, believe what the Catholic Church requires them to believe. In other words, even these positive numbers — drastically reduced though they are — may be extremely soft because these positive "Catholics" may be practical Protestants, or even profoundly non-Christian in their beliefs.

Only 10 percent of lay religion teachers, Jones writes in citing a 2000 Notre Dame poll, accept Catholic Church teaching on artificial birth control. Although even Vatican II taught that the Eucharist was the source and summit of the Catholic faith, a New York Times/CBS poll revealed that 70 percent of Catholics age 18-44 believe the Eucharist is merely a "symbolic reminder" of Jesus. How ironic that the post-Vatican II freefall from the faith even left behind what good Traditional teaching could be gleaned from the sometimes ambiguous Council documents.

Jones presents the following data compiled from the National Catholic Reporter of October 29, 1999:



    Without going to Church every Sunday: 77

    Without obeying Church teaching on birth control: 72

    Without obeying Church teaching on divorce and remarriage: 65

    Without obeying Church teaching on abortion: 53

    Without believing that in the Mass the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Jesus: 38

    Without their marriage being approved by the Catholic Church: 68

    Without donating their time or money to help the poor: 56

    Without donating their time or money to help the parish: 60

    Without believing that Jesus physically rose from the dead: 23

So how have the American Catholic bishops addressed this crisis? The sad truth is that they have addressed it in much the same way they have addressed the widespread infestation of active homosexuals within the clergy, or the general acceptance by the laity of the use of forbidden artificial birth control — they changed the subject.

At their twice-yearly meetings, rather than address the obvious loss of faith among their flocks and the eternal destination of souls, the American bishops prefer to play Congress as they debate immigration reform, economic policy, nuclear weapons and many other popular liberal political issues they lack both the competence and the authority to change.

Then, after doodling up silly political documents that no one will take seriously, if they are ever even read at all, they return to their comfortable gay-friendly, Tradition-intolerant, and Democratic National Committee-inspired chancery offices to "consolidate" parishes and close down more schools. Of course, they might focus on some diocesan-wide teaching initiatives. Unfortunately these initiatives all too often have nothing to do with the teaching of Traditional Catholic theology and a great deal to do with the sex education of children in their dioceses — the same children they have so terribly failed to protect from predominantly clerical homosexual abuse.

A relative few American bishops might worry about the vocation crisis and the best ones might even ordain a small number of seminarians each year. However, usually a relatively small subset of these ordained seminarians will be heterosexual and not suffering from what even the post-conciliar Catechism of the Catholic Church called, in paragraph 2357, "an inherently disordered condition." Even fewer will hold a Traditional Catholic theology that Pius XII or even John XXIII would have approved of.

The future is bleak. All in all, there is very little to inspire a faithful Catholic heterosexual young man to enter into one of the remaining seminaries in America these days. Of course, the few men fitting that description would probably not make it past the liberal feminist, pro-homosexual woman who is the seminaries' gate keeper.

Assuming by some fluke the good man gets through the admissions process, he is likely to be forced out at other points before ordination lest he might inspire more young men to pursue his faithful kind of priesthood.

We should not be surprised. The elimination or suppression of the faithful clergy has been Satan's plan since the beginning. Since martyrdom tends to make more, not less, faithful priests, the preferred tactic by the Evil One is to make priests appear effeminate, ineffective, uninspiring and unnecessary. That approach has been working well for him lately.

Without priests the sacramental nature of the Church will disappear. Then the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church will become, save for a few faithful Traditional remnants, just another Protestant church without the sacraments.

Such a weakened, sickly entity occupying what little real estate it has not already sold off, torn down or abandoned will easily fit into the mosaic of a one world, Masonic religion that is anything but holy, anything but life-giving, and anything but sanctifying.

May God help the remnants of Christ's true Church.

Related link:

"The teacher, with the knife, in the (Catholic) parish school?"

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media, and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on HLN, MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 ‘Unsolved’ podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, Alex Shuman's 'Smoke Screen: Fake Priest' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wisconsin. He’s been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He’s mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)


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