This is an interesting review of an interesting book. The key proposition in the book is that powerful factors outside the Second Vatican Council were the efficient cause of the Church’s collapse and not the council documents themselves, despite the shameless leftist political agitation in the council’s session. Fr Jennings writes that historian of religion Callum Brown observed:
For organised Christianity, the sixties constituted the most concentrated period of crisis since the Reformation; but what was at stake became perceived as the very survival of Christian society and values. In this respect certainly, the sixties may turn out to have been more important than even the Renaissance and Reformation. (p. 135)
I lived through the 1960s as a young adult and I can well believe it. The cultural revolution turned everything on its head. I look closely at the student radical activity at Sydney University in my book TONY ABBOTT AND THE TIMES OF REVOLUTION.
Why have all the Catholics gone?
A masterful examination of historical, moral and theological factors in the diminution of the Catholic Church in the UK and US after Vatican II.
by Fr Gavan JenningsMar 11, 2021
Mass Exodus: Catholic disaffiliation in Britain and America since Vatican II
by Stephen Bullivant, Oxford University Press, 2019, 309 pp
Stephen Bullivant is Professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion, and Director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society. He holds doctorates in Theology (Oxford, 2009) and Sociology (Warwick, 2019). He has written several books on the Catholic faith, the loss of faith, and atheism.
The book is essentially a dispassionate, intensely scholarly examination of the question whether the unprecedented “mass exodus” of Catholics from the Church since the 1960s is a direct consequence, as many believe, of the reforms inaugurated by Vatican Council II (1962-’65).
Bullivant begins his investigation by looking at one of the great aims of the Council: to stir the lay faithful of the Church from passivity and insularity and to waken in them their baptismal call to holiness and apostolate. Instead, the Council appears to have succeeded only in having the faithful disaffiliate as never before in Church history.
From this unprecedented falling away in the years following the Council, it is tempting to draw the inference: post concilium, ergo propter concilium (after the Council, therefore because of the Council). And so “One of the primary purposes of this monograph is to investigate whether, how, and to what extent that implication is true — at least, in Britain and the USA” ( p. 12).