Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Belloc's prognostications about Catholicism in America

From 1937. America | The National Catholic Weekly - The Church in America As Viewed By Belloc This part sounds a lot like what Fr. Isaac Hecker thought nearly a 100 years prior:
As to converts, so far the numbers are not there, any more than they are here, sufficient to be of great and immediate effect. But it is to be remembered that in America, even more than in Europe, and certainly more than in England, the rapid breakdown of all other philosophies except the Catholic may make for a big movement towards Catholicism, not by individual conversions, but by mass conversions; it is a factor to be watched in the future.
This part sounds a bit prophetic
As it is, the Catholic Church is everywhere becoming the sole champion of certain parts of traditional morality which num­bers of people who have never associated the idea with Catholicism desire to preserve. One has only to mention the private property of the small man, the authority of the family and the permanence of marriage to see the truth of this.
What is clear is that Belloc just simply cannot imagine the wholesale dissolution of Catholic culture that followed in the wake of Vatican II. In this essay, he talks about Boston ... I wonder what he'd make of Phil Lawler's study of the decay of Boston's Catholic Culture (see Amy's post on the faithful departed.).

In a very insightful essay in Communio in 2005, William Portier (a theologian at the U. of Dayton) suggests that more than the Council, it was sociological changes -- the rise of religion as a voluntary social phenomenon -- that really lead to the gradual disappearance of the pre-Conciliar Catholic culture. [The article, "Here come the evangelical Catholics" is, as far as I know, not available online. A brief version of his thesis appears in an essay in "Being Catholic in a Culture of Choice [pdf link]"

I don't think Belloc, or anyone else could have foreseen that.

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