I was taking another look at a book that came out a few years ago titled Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II. The author, Kenneth Jones, used research from the Official Catholic Directory and similar sources to analyze the trends dating back to the 1930s, and not the 1970s like I've been seeing a number of conciliar trend-trackers doing lately (the difference this reveals in the trends is significant, as one might imagine). The 2003 book is a little dated (so the forward-looking projections need to be revisited), but the older data are reliable.
Here are a few statistics. All information is about the Church in the U.S.
* The number of priests skyrocketed from 27,000 in 1930 to 58,000 in 1965.
* In 1965 there were about 13 priests per 10,000 faithful (58,000 total). In 2002, there were only 7 per 10,000 (45,000 total).
* From 1955 to 1960 there was a 15% increase in the number of priests. From 1960 to 1965 there was only a 9% increase. From 1965 to 1970 there was only a 1% increase. Ever since 1970, the number of priests has decreased from 1% to 16% every five years.
* Between 1965 and 2002, the number of priest-less parishes increased from 549 to 2,928. That number is projected to almost double to 4,656 in the next 10 years, when one in four parishes will have no priest.
* There were more diocesan priests in 1960 than in 2002.
* In 1965, there were 10.73 seminarians per 10,000 Catholics (1,575 total). In 2002, there were only 0.72 per 10,000 (450 total).
* In 1965 there were 22.9 sisters teaching for every 10,000 Catholics (180,000 total). In 2002, there were 1.26 sisters per 10,000 (75,000 total).
* From 1955 to 1960 there was a 3% increase in the number of Catholic high schools. From 1960 to 1965 there was a 4% increase. From 1965 to 1970 there was a 9% decrease, and the decline continued for the next few decades, with a slight increase seen between 1995 and 2002 when the number of Catholic high schools returned to 1985 levels.
* Between 1965 and 2002 the number of parochial high schools dropped from 1,566 to 786, and the number of students dropped from 700,000 to 386,000.
Belief and Practice
* From 1965 to 2002 the number of Catholics increased from 45 million to 65 million.
* In 1965 there were 287 infant baptisms per 10,000 Catholics (1.3 million total). In 2002, there were 154 per 10,000 (1 million total).
* In 1965 there were 27.7 adult converts per 10,000 Catholics (126,000). In 2002, there were 12.2 per 10,000 (80,000).
* In 1965 there were 77.1 marriages per 10,000 Catholics (352,000). In 2002, there were 39.3 per 10,000 (256,000).
* In 1968 there were only 338 annulments. In 1998, there were 50,498.
* In 1965, 65% of Catholics went to Mass weekly. In 2000, only 25% went weekly. Church attendance among Protestants during the same period, meanwhile, changed very little.
A Few More Statistics from Polls
* 1999 Catholic Reporter poll: 77% don't believe a Catholic has to go to weekly Mass; 65% believe good Catholics can divorce and remarry, and 53% believe it is acceptable for Catholics to have abortions.
* 2000 University of Notre Dame poll: only 10% of lay religion teachers accept Church teaching on artificial birth control.
* New York Times/CBS poll: 70% of Catholics age 18-44 believe the Eucharist is merely "a symbolic reminder" of our Lord.
Why the abrupt and severe decline and the radical departure from orthodox belief? This all came about after the Church was modernized in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.
By their fruits we do indeed know them.