Decline Of Catholicism (Oral) Picture this if you will. In the beginning (being 1945) god created a shepherd (the Catholic Church) in which we the sheep followed blindly. Everywhere the shepherd took us, we would follow without complaint. A sheep dared not question the Shepherd or stray from the flock in fear of being labeled a bad sheep (catholic) and suffering the consequences of eternal damnation. But as time went on and the sheep modernized, however the shepherd was stubborn and conservative in his ways and refused to change.
So the sheep began to stray from the shepherd with little fear, scattering, going to other pastures and other flocks with other Shepherds. The Shepherd realized his flock was depleting so he began to modernize as well and changed his ways. With this now modern shepherd, the modern sheep began to gradually come back. But living in a modern pasture the relationship between the two had changed. Mr.Houston fellow students, “What were the reasons for the decline of Catholicism in America since 1945”, this has been the topic of my research for the previous three terms. The previous analogy, although being far fetched, if you put it into perspective outlines my opinion on the development of Catholicism since 1945 to the present day.
That initially we followed the Catholic Church unquestionably and devoutly, mass on Sundays, fish on Fridays (etc). But as society modernized and became increasingly secular in education, the media and politics, people began to question some of the church teachings and the church authorities. Though the church, lead by conservatives initially would not change.As Catholics began to move away, the church realizing the situation reassessed their position at Vatican 2, which resulted in the modernized Catholic Church.
Consequently from here catholic membership began to increase, however the nature of Catholicism changed. This leads me to my hypothesis: In our modernized secular society, catholic membership began to drop initially, due to the conservative views of the church. As a result of Vatican 2 Catholicism was modernized and membership within the religion was re-established. Although the nature of Catholicism has changed in this age of materialism and consumerism, this does not necessarily indicate direction of decline.
Before I begin my findings I would like to define the nature of secularism which is a word you will hear throughout my research. Secularism: rejection of religious and sacred forms and practices in favour of rational assessment and decision-making, and civil institutions of government Within my assignment I broke my research into 6 main areas 1.How have the changes in politics affected Catholicism since 1945 2. How has America’s rapid social change and culture affected Catholicism 3.
How has modernisation, science and technology affected Catholicism in America 4. How has the mass media affected Catholicism since 1945 5. How has modern education affected Catholicism 6. Whether Catholicism has declined in America To my first sub-question whether Catholicism has declined in America.
The Gallup Poll, a world-leading source of public opinion established in 1935, that showed catholic membership has actually increased over the years with slight dips at various points.Although does this really mean that Catholicism is not in decline. For example the Gallup Poll states church attendance fell from 74% 1958 to 48% 1988.
So devotion has dropped considerably over the years, but as a result of what? At Vatican 2 1960’s one of the many changes that precipitated was that Sunday Mass attendance was no longer a serious sin. Also another cause of devotional decay occurred as a result of the Popes birth control encyclical in 1968. According to Greeley “it sent the church into a sudden and dramatic decline; Sunday and weekly mass attendance dropped off sharply”.Although does this drop in devotion translated to the decline in Catholicism. Not necessarily for as Greeley states ‘Religious behaviour may change but that change is not in the direction of decline’. So consequently I found through an analysis of 20th century Catholicism that catholic membership in this century has not diminished but that devotion has and that the decline in devotion is inextricably linked to a decline in credibility or leadership and acceptance of sexual teaching. There are two possibilities- the Vatican council and the birth control encyclical. Does it not seem reasonable to assume- until someone deduces contrary evidence-that the council heightened expectations for change and the encyclical shattered them especially since the devotional change occurred after the encyclical.
So to my second research question, How have the changes in politics affected Catholicism since 1945. It seems Abraham Lincolns ‘One Nation Under God’ plays a very little role in politics as over the years the political arena has become very secular in nature. According to Moyer after “1945 in particular, the political agenda seemed to revolve almost entirely around the humdrum business of ‘who gets what, when, how.'” Much of the blame for this secularity in politics is placed on liberals operating through the federal government. Liehman and Wuthnow mention “America is in a spiritual crisis and the cause of this crisis is simply the application by the federal government of liberal ideas and politics.” Thus what is now seen is a bias in politics by these powerful liberal minorities in charge who tend to shrug off religious issues that the majority of the population are concerned about. Wuthnow states “The current leaders of government are overly hostile to religion. As a result people of faith are either prevented from participating fully and actively in discussions about important public issues or they voluntarily withdraw because they recognise their efforts would be ineffective.
” So what I have discovered is there is not really a decline in Catholicism but there is merely an unfair representation of individuals (secular liberal politicians) in high places who tend to ignore Catholicism and other religious issues, but the faith in the population remains.Now to my third research question, How has America’s rapid social change and culture affected Catholicism. Carlin Suggests” For better or for worse the U.S has always been and likely will be nation of incorrigible religious pluralism.” Which is a society that recognises more than one religious principle. For a long time American Catholics stood outside the circle of general tolerance towards other denominations, insisting it was the one true church. Catholics lived in ghettos and believed salvation only came through their religion.
However as a result of Vatican 2 in 1960s Catholicism witnessed great cultural change. From the council emerged denominational tolerance and the disappearance of these ghettos. Their was a lot more freedom in Catholicism, instead of we are the only way to s …