Pius XII and John Paul II
by Patrick J. Buchanan
Now that the mourning for John Paul II has ended and he has been laid to rest in St. Peter's, it is time to consider the state of the church he led for 27 years. For, despite his extraordinary life, his holiness and his critical role in bringing an end to communist rule in Eastern Europe, the condition of the church is grave.
Two years ago, Kenneth C. Jones of St. Louis pulled together a slim book he titled "Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II." As that church council ended 40 years ago this year, what good fruit did it bear? Since 1965:
All this happened during the papacies of Paul VI and John Paul II. Now let us look back to the 35 years previous to the end of Vatican II, from 1930-1965, where the dominant pope was Pius XII, the "Catholic Moment" in America.
In that period, the number of Catholics and priests in America doubled. The most visible prelate was not Cardinal Law, but Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, whose TV ratings bested those of Milton Berle, who cracked, "He has better writers than I do." Parochial schools and Catholic high schools could not be built fast enough to accommodate the baby boomers of Catholic parents. Masses were full on Sundays, and there were long lines outside the confessionals on Saturday.
The papacy of Pius XII was a time of explosive growth in the church, while that of John Paul II coincided with Catholic scandal and decline. Was the Holy Father responsible for the latter? No, but it is regrettably true that the decline that began at the close of Vatican II continued unabated through the papacy of John Paul II. Conceding his sanctity and charisma, he was unable to stop it.
But what was the cause of it? Defenders of Vatican II say that blaming the council "reforms" they cherish for the decline in vocations and devotion is a classic case of the logical fallacy, "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc." After this, therefore, because of this.
Simply because a precipitous Catholic decline began with Vatican II does not mean Vatican II was the cause, they contend. Perhaps not. But there is no question but that – measuring what the council produced against what Catholics were promised – it was, in Jimmy Carter's phrase, "a limited success." Neither Paul VI nor John Paul II was able to arrest the spread of heresy, defections and disbelief that followed the Second Vatican Council.
While the church has maintained her numerical strength in America, this is due only to immigration. As one Chicago priest said, each week he buries a Lithuanian or Polish Catholic – and baptizes two Hispanic babies.
What happened to Catholicism is what happened to America. Both passed through a moral, social and cultural revolution that has altered the most basic beliefs of men and women. There has been a "transvaluation of all values." What was considered scandalous or immoral not long ago – promiscuity, abortion, homosexuality – is now considered progressive. It says everything about our age that, were a judicial nominee in America to echo the views of John Paul II on human life, the Democratic Senate would unanimously filibuster his nomination to death and denounce him as an extremist.
With much of the church having succumbed to the heresy of modernism, it needs an Athanasius. As good a man as the pope was, as great as were his achievements, as noble as was his witness for life, the Catholic Church still awaits that bishop.
J. Buchanan - Chairman | Angela "Bay" Buchanan - President
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