Thursday, July 06, 2006

"UK Church In Decline" - NY Times

This article from the New York Times first appeared on The Cafeteria Is Closed, hat tip to Gerald Augustinus for this.

THE Roman Catholic Church in Britain is facing its greatest threat since the Reformation, according to research.

Over three decades Mass attendance has slumped by 40 per cent, baptisms by 50 per cent, Catholic marriages by 60 per cent and confirmations by 60 per cent.

The 260-page study of the Church indicates that the number of adult converts fell by 55 per cent and first communions by nearly 40 per cent, described as the “greatest pastoral and demographic catastrophe” since the Reformation of the 16th century.

The study covers the period from 1963 to 1991. But more recent figures, from 2004, indicate little improvement.

In 1991 Mass attendance in England and Wales stood at 1.3 million, compared with 960,000 in 2004. Deaths among congregations rose by nearly 40 per cent between 1963 and 1991, reflecting the growing elderly profile. However, the Catholic population of England and Wales increased by 6 per cent.

According to the study, carried out by Anthony Spencer of the Pastoral Research Centre, the number of “late baptisms”, of children aged 1 to 14, also increased.

The only comment I could make is that whilst it may be true that numbers going to Church are decreasing, there are pockets of hope as the old liberals grow old and die, and the sound young people enter orders that haven't been corrupted by liberalism. In many ways there's a dying Church within the Church - that's to say the liberals are dying out, but there is growth. For instance, the Faith Winter Conference - a series of talks and socials organised by the Faith Movement - was the biggest ever this year with over 200 young people attending!

There are many thriving houses of monks, nuns, religious sisters etc... here's a list I've compliled of one's I can think of, to prove the Church is very much alive! This list is by no means exhaustive:

Pluscarden Abbey, Elgin, Scotland;
St Cecilia's Abbey, Ryde, Isle of Wight;
Quarr Abbey, Isle of Wight;
St Michael's Abbey, Farnborough, England;
The Bridgittines in Manchester, England;
Norbertines in Miles Platting, Manchester, England;
St Hugh's Charterhouse, Parkminster England;
Missionaries of Charity of Mother Th
eresa of Calcutta, Bravington Road, London, England;
Tyburn Convent, Marble Arch, London, England;

The Poor Clare Colettines, Hawarden, Wales;

The Brompton Oratory, London England;

And finally...
The Blessed Sacrament Fathers (in Manchester) hadn't had any vocations for 15 years... until now! This September three young men are beginning their novitiate in Dublin!

If you open a secular paper, I bet you won't see articles on the wonderful things happening in the Church. So perhaps I'll have to write a little about these exciting houses of monks and nuns on this blog!

Photo I took a couple of weeks ago on the Feast of St John Southworth at whose Coffin this young Mother T nun prays with others.


Blogger 'JDH' said...


Look at that girls bare shoulders!
In a Cathedral!
Burn the Liberal!!!!

Thursday, July 06, 2006 6:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, nice shoulders.

It's a funny old game, the numbers... there's even a special word in German for the "decline of the Church" - "Kirchenschwinden".

I often feel like we are living "at the end of all things", as Sam says to Frodo in LOTR part 3, where everything seems to be finished, we have "used up our Christian capital", as Chesterton puts it somewhere.

But also the Church is re-building. I think eventually a new "Church of the centre" has to emerge, because neither "liberal" nor "traditionalist" versions can ultimately be convincing.

Thursday, July 06, 2006 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1dayin7, could u drop me an email please?

Thursday, July 06, 2006 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Iacobus said...

Nothing we haven’t heard before, but still a reminder that the garden isn’t looking especially rosy at present, in The Times this week... Continue Reading...

Depressing stuff in the article, right enough, but it's God we're dealing with and He knows what he's doing.

And Joee's right, the Church is alive and the Church is young. Most of the people practising the Faith with fervour nowadays and the only people coming forward for ordination and the religious life are good and orthodox.

If you'll forgive the irony, it would seem that "the times they are a-changing..."

Thursday, July 06, 2006 4:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just out of interest where are the Blessed Sacrament Fathers in Manchester? I'm looking at my Salford Almanac and not a sausage! I think they might be in Liverpool but not Manchester as far as I can tell... Anyone help?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006 1:38:00 PM  
Blogger Jeffrey Smith said...

Well, there are certainly enough British saints to intercede. Perhaps someone should write a litany?

Saturday, July 15, 2006 7:03:00 PM  

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