Theres a new book, only 113 pages, which concisely tells the story of the calamitous decline of the Catholic Church in America since the end of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. It is Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II, by Kenneth C. Jones, a Catholic attorney and father of seven children. The statistics in the book are all from the public record, most from numerous editions of The Official Catholic Directory. Until this time, it seems that no one has bothered to pull all the stats together into a coherent whole. Its amazing that this blockbuster of a book was published by an unknown (to us) publisher: Oriens Publishing (11939 Manchester Rd., #217, St. Louis MO 63131; email: firstname.lastname@example.org).
The book is full of stats and charts, and they are definitely user-friendly. Still, the authors Introduction provides the highlights:
- Priests. After skyrocketing to 58,000 in 1965, the number of priests in the United States 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.
- Ordinations. In 1965 there were 1,575 ordinations to the priesthood, in 2002 there were 450, a decline of 350 percent.
- Priestless parishes. About 1 percent of parishes, 549, were without a resident priest in 1965. In 2002 there were 2,928 priestless parishes, about 15 percent of U.S. parishes. By 2020, a quarter of all parishes, 4,656, will have no priest.
- Seminarians. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700 a 90 percent decrease . There were 596 seminaries in 1965, and only 200 in 2002.
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