IT IS HARD TO IMAGINE THAT SUCH A THING COULD HAPPEN, YET, STATISTICS DO NOT LIE AND IN THIS CASE THEY INDICATE THE CONTINUING DECLINE OF MAIN LINE PROTESTANTISM.
IT MAY BE TEMPTING TO THINK THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH WILL FLOURISH WITH THE DECLINE OF MAIN LINE PROTESTANTISM, BUT LIKE MOST TEMPTATIONS THIS ONE IS DANGEROUS.
In the first place Catholics are increasingly falling into the same traps of liberalism/materialism/secularism that have destroyed much of mail line protestantism.
Catholics practice birth contol, Catholics have abortions, Catholics stop worshiping God in a Sunday worshiping community. In short, it is probably because of conversions to the Faith that our number continue to increase.
Catholics need to avoid growing smug over what is happening to our Protestant brothers and sister and start living their faith with greater fervor.
Here is Father George W. Rutler’s take on the subject:
February 28, 2010
by Fr. George W. Rutler
In the Transfiguration, Christ showed that everything must center on Him to be of right service to humanity. Moses, representing the law and social order, defers to Him, as does Elijah, representing the intellect and spiritual order. The Church recounts this in Lent, because Jesus revealed His glory in preparation for the Crucifixion.
Christ’s glory sheds light on His three temptations in the wilderness. Satan tested Him to see if He would succumb to the deceits of secularism (turning stones to bread, as though matter were the only thing that really matters) and power (control of governments in exchange for cooperating with evil) and fantasy (attaining celebrity by flouting the laws of nature).
The Catholic Church is, as Pope John Paul II said, “expert in humanity.” Satan’s chief enemy is the Church, for this is Christ alive in the world. From hard experience the Church knows the temptations of secularism (reducing Christianity to philanthropic humanism), clericalism (bartering supernatural grace for social power) and subjectivism (living in a parallel universe contemptuous of moral reality).
To succumb to these temptations is to die, both personally and institutionally. The latest figures show that those denominations that surrendered to “the spirit of the age” are vanishing. The liberal Protestant denominations are evaporating. One of their leaders has said that their numbers are dropping because their members are too well educated to have children. It is hardly intelligent to design one’s own demise. Our social fabric will have to adjust to the disappearance of these groups, which for a long while defined the public face of society. At the same time, the Catholic Church continues to grow, and would have done so even more had not many Catholics themselves yielded to the threefold temptations. In the most recently recorded year, 2007 to 2008, the number of Catholics worldwide increased by 19 million people. Priests increased from 405,178 to 409,166. Seminarians increased from 115,919 to 117,024. As in the religious orders, the growth is invariably in those where the Faith is kept.
In the early nineteenth century, Tocqueville predicted that, one day, the only options in the United States would be Catholicism and unbelief. In the early twentieth century, Chesterton said that “every man would end up either in utter pessimistic skepticism or as a member of the Catholic creed.” In a famous vision, St. John Bosco saw little boats tying up with the Barque of Peter. This September, the Successor of Peter will speak in Westminster Hall on the very spot where St. Thomas More was sentenced to death (and eternal glory) for defending the papacy. This is not a time for self-satisfaction. It is a summons to Lenten penance for our own subtle dalliances with temptations against the Faith, in the hope that we may respond more faithfully to the work of saving souls.