THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: I would like to preface this blog entry by pointing out that 'The Catholic Knight' accepts the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, and does not deny the Council's validity. The criticism I have is not of the Council itself, but rather the deficient way in which the reforms of the Council were implemented after 1965. It seems the confusion of the post-conciliar period, coupled with the influence of liberal modernists, created an atmosphere that was nothing short of toxic to the Roman Catholic Church -- especially in the western world.
The figure above reflects the "decay rate" of Catholic seminarians since the Second Vatican Council. The raw statistics come from the 'Index of Leading Catholic Indicators' by Ken Jones, and were illustrated graphically by David L. Sonnier on his blog here. You can view more statistical graphics there. You'll notice the problem period begins between 1965 (after the close of the council) and 1970, when the new mass (Novus Ordo) was promulgated by Pope Paul VI. The old mass (Tridentine) was suppressed simultaneously at this time. Calculating the losses, the Church has lost some 327,746 vocations since 1965. That's inconceivable! Can you imagine the potential of worldwide evangelism if we had another 300,000 priests in service today. Alas, all of that is lost now. This next figure illustrates where we are today, verses where we should be if the growth rate had only remained the same since the pre-conciliar period...
So the next logical question is why? Why did this happen, and of course, what can be done to fix it? Hindsight always being 20/20, it's pretty clear now what went wrong. The Council did a fine job outlining the necessary reforms the Church needed for the 21st century, but it did an exceedingly poor job instructing everyone on exactly how these reforms were to be implemented. The result was massive confusion on the part of both the clergy and the laity. Sadly, liberal modernists seized the opportunity to introduce their own agenda, and as a result the institutions of Catholicism that made the religion strong were undermined. In other words, while Catholics were still trying to figure out what the meaning of Vatican II was, they had the rug pulled out from under them by liberal modernists claiming to have the answers. This loss of Catholic institutions, both in private prayer and public worship, created a lot of problems, but most noticeable was the dramatic loss in seminarians of the last 30+ years.
There has been but one glimmer of hope. Though repressed and marginalized, there has been a remnant of Catholics who saw the dangers of the post-conciliar period, and as a result they refused to change with the rest of the Church. These Catholics have been dubbed "traditionalists," and some have been fortunate enough to remain within the canonical structures of the Church. Though repressed by bishops who show no interest in preserving historic Catholic tradition, this marginalized minority is the ONLY Catholic group that has seen a growth in seminary vocations since the Second Vatican Council...
The figure above illustrates the rapid growth of "traditionalist" seminaries, (operating within the canonical structures of the Catholic Church), over the last 12 years. This does not include SSPX seminarians, which I understand to reflect a similar trend.
So the conclusion is clear. All over the world, Catholic seminaries have experienced a dramatic fall in the number of seminarians entering vocation life. That's not really news, because everyone has known that for decades. What hasn't been widely reported is how closely this drop relates to the deficient post-conciliar reform period after Vatican II. Nor has it been reported how this trend fails to apply to traditional Catholic societies, and how quite the opposite trend seems to be developing in those groups exclusively. Traditional Catholicism is growing rapidly, and with it a surge in the number of traditional priestly vocations.
Clearly there is something terribly wrong with the post-conciliar Church, and this is reflected in priestly vocation trends since 1965. The cause can be attributed to a near total loss in the traditional institutions that made Catholicism strong prior to Vatican II. So the only solution is to bring those institutions back, and this process begins with the "Traditional Catholic Movement" (or "TCM"). If we Catholics want to save our Church for the future, than we're going to have to start looking to our past. As for Vatican II, we must remember that the Council was held during a time when all of the traditional institutions existed and were fully in force. We need to re-examine the documents of the Council with the understanding that everything written therein comes to us in the context of what we know today as "Traditional Catholicism." During the Second Vatican Council, they celebrated the old Tridentine mass in Latin. Priests and laity observed time honored prayers and devotions. Women covered their hair, and men dressed up for mass. It was a very different time from what we know today, and it was from that time (not our own), Vatican II speaks to us.