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Is Benedict to Blame?

We’re all familiar with the dismal statistics: The Catholic Church has suffered massive numerical losses since the close of the Second Vatican Council in virtually every category: baptisms, marriages, holy orders, Mass attendance, school enrollment, you name it. Naturally, this deplorable situation has caused Catholics concerned about the condition of their Church to cast about for someone, something — anything — to blame. And the blame often falls on Vatican II, or rather its embattled legacy. If Vatican II itself is not condemned as the cause of the current crisis, then its implementation is: Critics either contend that the Council’s mandates were not fully implemented or that, somewhere along the way, the implementation went haywire.

Arguing in favor of the former, Commonweal columnist Rita Ferrone poses a provocative question, set forth in the title of her article, “Late to the Font: Whatever Happened to Adult Baptism?” (Oct. 9).

Adult baptism is, of course, the initiation rite of adult converts to the faith. As such, it is a handy barometer of how many converts the Church is attracting at any given point in time.

So, how are we doing? The answer, as you might expect, is: not good. Ferrone informs us that adult baptisms in the U.S. “fell by a startling 43 percent between 2005 and 2013.”

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