Sunday, October 9, 2011

Actor Mel Gibson, when filming his now classic The Passion of the Christ, was interviewed on the set by Time (January 27, 2003).  For Gibson, Vatican II "corrupted the institution of the Church. Look at the main fruits: dwindling numbers and pedophilia." Gibson misrepresents the moral crisis facing the Church, which is not “pedophilia” but stems from an inordinate amount of  active homosexuals as ordained priests and some inattentive bishops who have run interference for them, all the consequences of a failure to uphold and live the Church’s sexual moral teaching. Accolades to Gibson are in order, though, for his perception of Catholic demographics. The chart which follows gives us the tip of the iceberg (the underwater portion is the subject of the remainder of the book) regarding a few indicators since 1965:

58,000 (doubled from 1930-65)
45,000; projection for 2020 is 31,000
Priestless Parishes
1 percent
15 percent
75,00 (Average age of 68)
Catholic High School Enrollment
Catholic Elementary Enrollment
4.5 million
Less than 2 million
Attendance at Mass
3 out of 4
1 out of 4

An interesting contrasting view to Gibson’s is Temple University professor and Hans Kung protégé Leonard Swidler’s in his introduction to The Church in Anguish: Has the Vatican Betrayed Vatican II? Swidler writes of:

….the anguish engendered in the Catholic church during the past decade[2] through what appears to many Catholics, and non-Catholics, as an attempt by the present leadership in the Vatican to reverse the momentous gains in maturity that were made at the Second Vatican Council (1961-65)....Vatican II was clearly a peak experience. Today we seem to be going through “the valley of the shadow...”[3]

Neither Mssrs. Gibson (who in common parlance is a “traditional” Catholic) nor Swidler have it just right. Mr. Gibson’s “dwindling numbers and pedophilia” are not the fruits of the actual reforms set down in the Documents of Vatican II any more than is Professor Swidler’s claim of “momentous gains in maturity” prior to 1978. The evidence reveals that the true fruits of Vatican Council II are only today beginning to be realized in each of the four main areas addressed by the Council documents, which brings to mind one final assessment of the Council’s fruits I discovered which, when I began understand why it was offered, inspired me to write this book.