(CNA)- A new study on American religion finds that Catholicism is facing a “stunning” decline in the northeast United States as the population center of U.S. Catholics shifts towards the southwest. Secularism continues to grow in all regions, while mainline Protestant denominations face the most significant population decline.THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: There are a few points I'd like to address with this story. The first has to do with the Catholic demographic shift from the Northeast to the Southwest USA. This was predicable. Both the Northeast and West Coast USA are becoming increasingly liberal, embracing the ideas of Modernism, as Europe did in the early 20th century. North America is steadily following the trends of Western Europe, but about 50 years behind the curve. Give North America another half century, it it will mirror Western Europe today - spiritually dead and sterile, with increasing Muslim populations. That is unless there is a dramatic event that changes the hearts and minds of North Americans, leading them back toward God, but that would be nothing short of a miracle. The increase in Catholicism in the Southwest was also predictable, because it reflects the massive migration from Mexican nationals into the Southwest United States. While the presence of these immigrants (both legal and illegal) is beneficial to U.S. Catholicism, it does not offset the lack of Catholic growth among U.S. natives. As a footnote to this, I should point out that Mexican Catholics in the U.S. are not impressed with U.S. Catholicism. Our lack of reverence during mass, compounded with the liberal attitudes of half of U.S. Catholics is a significant turnoff to them. This helps explain why many have chosen not to integrate with English-speaking Catholics in the United States, and a growing number of them are starting to attend the Traditional Latin Mass (Tridentine or Extraordinary Form Liturgy). The long-term effect of Mexican nationals on U.S. Catholicism in the Southwest will be interesting to watch. Perhaps when the current generation of Modernist clerics dies off, we may see a more traditional Catholicism there. Don't expect very many masses in English though. Spanish will probably become the norm, with a smattering of Vietnamese and English here and there.
The study, titled the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), was conducted by the Program on Public Values at Trinity College.
According to the ARIS report, Catholic numbers and percentages rose in many states in the South and West mainly due to immigration.
“Catholics increased their share in California and Texas to about one-third of the adult population and in Florida to over one-fourth. In terms of numbers they gained about 8 million adherents in these three states in the past two decades,” the report says.
In the Northeast, Catholic adherents fell from 46 percent to 36 percent of the adult population...
read full story here
The second point I'd like to address is not covered by the above story at all, but I think it's very significant. That is the emergence of Traditional Catholicism in the Southeast United States. This area is called the Bible Belt, because of it's overwhelming Evangelical Protestant population and influence. With the exception of Louisiana and Southern Florida, Catholics are virtually nonexistent in this area. The whole region is considered a missionary field by the U.S. Catholic Church. That is significant, because for a missionary field, there is a surprising interest in Traditional Catholicism here. By that I mean not just an interest in the Traditional Latin Mass (Tridentine or Extraordinary Form), but also an interest in a more conservative and orthodox celebration of the English mass (Novus Ordo or Ordinary Form). A good example of this is the influence of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) located near Birmingham Alabama, which regularly broadcasts a fairly conservative and orthodox Catholicism both in liturgy and teaching. This has developed significant appeal for searching souls in the American Southeast, and with the development of traditional parishes and monasteries in the region, the Old South (Dixie) may become the emerging Catholicism of North American English-speaking people during the 21st century. Keep an eye on Catholicism in this area.
Finally, I would like to address the overall decline of religion in North America, not just in Catholicism but in all Christian denominations, affiliations and sects. What we are witnessing is a repeat of what happened in Western Europe over half a century ago. It is the product of Modernism (1800-1900s), which is the child of the Enlightenment (1700-1800s), conceived in the Protestant Reformation of the 1500 to 1600s. In other words, to move away from the sacraments, and authentic apostolic secession, is to move away from the faith entirely. When the first Protestants broke with Rome some 500 years ago, they had no way of knowing where their rebellion would lead western civilization. The break with the sacraments and apostolic secession broke their physical connection with Christ. What followed a couple centuries later was an intellectual break with Christ in the form of the Enlightenment. Finally, within a couple hundred years after that, what followed was a break with Christ both on a faith and moral level in the form of Modernism. One thing leads to another, and we're witnessing the fruit of these things in our time. It's a societal problem, not just a denominational problem.
As Northern Europe abandoned Catholicism to become Protestant, it led to an eventual disconnect with the faith entirely. We see this happen in various stages though history, and we're now seeing it happen in North America as well. Mainstream Protestantism in North America embraced the Modernist errors during the middle 1900s, and because of that there was a split that occurred during the later 1900s. Conservative Protestants gravitated toward the emerging Evangelical and nondenominational free churches, leaving liberals and moderates to stagnate in their older mainline denominations. Those denominations are collapsing now, and will continue to do so over the next several decades. However, what conservative Protestants in Evangelical and nondenominational churches don't yet realize is that the same thing will happen again some time in the not too distant future, leaving the currently growing Evangelical churches stagnate and empty. Each time the conservatives will scatter, starting their own new affiliations and repeating the process over and over again, until all of Protestantism has splintered into oblivion. What will remain in it's wake is a desolate wasteland of searching souls who have lost their faith entirely. Sadly, mainstream Catholicism has been caught up in this process as well, many clerics and lay people having embraced the errors of Modernism during the late 1900s. The only cure to this decline is conservative and orthodox Catholicism, in which the errors of Modernism are abandoned, and the full Catholic Christian faith is embraced morally, intellectually and physically. In other words, the last 500 years of religious development (Reformation, Enlightenment & Modernism) in Northern Europe and North America must be completely rejected. Failure to do so will ultimately result in more Atheism and Agnosticism, ultimately resulting in the rise of the occult and finally Islam.