The Catholic Hiroshima

September 2001By Dermott J. Mullan

Dermott J. Mullan is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Delaware, and the father of 10 children.

The distinction between sickness and health is usually apparent. But it is not always so. Sometimes outward appearances of health are deceptive, and people who seem to be well may actually be seriously ill. For example, shortly after the atomic bomb fell in Hiroshima, certain inhabitants of the city appeared healthy, but many would eventually die from the hidden effects of radiation sickness.

An analogous situation exists in the spiritual realm among Catholics in America today. A powerful “radiation” of a spiritual nature has spread far and wide, causing serious damage to the spiritual life of Catholics in America. Many Catholics do not even know that they are spiritually ill. The “spiritual radiation” can be traced to a certain event on July 30, 1968. This event has had such serious consequences that it deserves the doleful title of “The Catholic Hiroshima.”

The Catholic Church in America: Then & Now

Some 40 years ago, the Catholic Church in the U.S. was healthy, with almost 170,000 nuns, more than 50,000 priests, more than 10,000 brothers, and more than 40,000 seminarians. Seventy-five percent of the laity attended Sunday Mass, and approximately 150,000 people converted each year. But today, conditions are very different. The Official Catholic Directory for the year 2000 lists only 81,000 nuns, 46,000 priests (with 8,000 listed as retired, sick, or “absent”), less than 6,000 brothers, and only 4,500 seminarians. In my diocese (Wilmington, Delaware), statistics gathered in October 1998 and October 1999 revealed that only 30 percent of registered parishioners attend Sunday Mass. Reports from other dioceses also show typically only 25 to 30 percent attendance.

Widely publicized opinion polls indicate that many Catholics reject numerous Church teachings. For example, a USA Today survey in 1993 showed that 87 percent of Catholics reject Church teaching on contraception.

In light of statistics such as these even the mild-mannered Russell Shaw (for many years an official spokesman for the American bishops) has said that the Catholic Church in the U.S. “may be entering an era of institutional collapse. Nearly every indicator of anything that can be measured and quantified suggests as much.” In contrast to the healthy condition of the Church in 1960, it appears that a serious sickness has struck the spiritual lives of many American Catholics.

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What needs to be done to turn around this on-going spiritual collapse of the Catholic Church in America (where the majority no longer bothers to go to Mass [or confession], and the majority believes that whatever it believes is right and good and Godly trumps whatever the Church teaches) - is the exact opposite of what so many milquetoast priests and Church 'leaders' believe. And what is that?

It is simply to go out, unafraid and unabashed, to preach and model the Gospel of Christ and the teachings of the Church faithfully and cheerfully and lovingly - and to call people to repent of their sins.

That's all that's required - really. Christ was not afraid; neither should we be.

The Protestant churches which are most true to the Bible and Christ grow and prosper; the Catholic orders which are most true grow and prosper. EWTN does this (more or less), and it prospers.

What is making the church ill is the lack of faith among its own priests and leaders - who are so terribly afraid of being opposed to the world (as Christ calls us to be).

And finally, the Pope (yes, that's right, the Pope) needs to get rid of all the dissenters, no matter how much temporary pain that entails. Yes - that's right - get rid of those who do not believe, and who hold positions in the Church hierarchy. You cannot sell someone on a Church which does not believe in itself. So - get rid of the outrageous dissenting bishops, and the heretical priests and the venomous Church-hating teachers in the Catholic universities, and so on. Tell Georgetown U. the truth - it's a fake Catholic university. Make it a privilege and honor to be called Catholic.

Let people who are opposed to Church teaching turn away. Many will come back. Others will not. Being a Catholic requires making choices. Many turned away from Christ himself.

Prune it, and it will grow - the Benedictine motto - is right on. Yet someone, somewhere (Pope Benedict?) - has got to do the pruning. Otherwise, serious Catholics, and those who want to hold out the Catholic faith for their children, become continuously dismayed and afraid for the well-being of their own kids.

Be not afraid, take on the world, and get rid of the dissenters. THAT - is all it takes.

Is there anyone in the Church who will do that?

Posted by: luke
February 02, 2007 01:22 PM EST
I've said it before: Thank God for the Cardinal Newman Society and the 'Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College'. Posted by: rad314
November 10, 2008 07:59 AM EST
"luke" is right: All it takes is for the Pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, AND laity of the Catholic Church to stand up for correct teaching and say "Enough!"

We seem to have forgotten what Christ said in Matthew 10:34-35:

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter—in—law against her mother—in—law."
Posted by: luvgabe
November 25, 2008 02:03 PM EST
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