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Today marks 60 years since the opening of the Second Vatican Council — a seismic event in the history of the Church. The interpretation and implementation of Vatican II's broad agenda triggered an unprecedented tsunami that rocked the Barque of Peter.
Joining us now is Church Militant's Kristine Christlieb to explore the cataclysm that followed.
Vatican II and the culture it encountered generated a tidal wave of change. In tonight's In-Depth Report, we'll discuss the countless priests, religious and laity who were swept overboard in its wake.
The naive optimism permeating Rome's closing ceremonies in 1965 soon turned to pessimism as the spirit of Vatican II converged with the spirit of the age.
In spite of Council Fathers expressing concern for the Ministry and Life of Priests, by 1975 a staggering 100,000 clerics worldwide had left the priesthood.
In the United States alone, the number of seminarians plummeted 90% — from 49,000 in 1965 to a mere 4,700 by 2002.
These men were handed over to be formed by notorious homopredator Theodore McCarrick and others of his ilk.
The men who refused to be malformed were branded rigid and turned away by corrupt vocation directors.
United States religious orders suffered a similar exodus.
In their 1965 document on Renewal of Religious Life, Council Fathers opened the door to so-called prudent experimentation.
A year later, Pope Paul VI nudged the door open even further by calling for "adequate experimentation" in the life of religious.
This experimental period ran amok, as sisters and nuns put themselves into the hands of neo-pagan psychologists, whose encounter groups spurred tens of thousands of sisters to lose their faith and renounce their vows.
Sr. Betty Wolcott: "I don't spend a lot of time reflecting on the Holy Father. It's not a big deal for me, really."
In 1983, Pope John Paul II slammed the door shut, "ending the period of special experimentation."
But it was too late. In 1965, there were 180,000 U.S. nuns. By 2002 there were only 75,000 left. By 2021 that number had fallen to a meager 40,000.
Meanwhile, lay Catholics were also swept out of the Church.
The number of adults self-identifying as "former Catholics" skyrocketed from less than 4 million in 1970 to nearly 31 million by 2021.
This is the group that ignored Vatican II's ominous warning: "Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved."
In spite of the Council's desire for the laity's "full and active participation" in sacred liturgy, Mass attendance dropped by nearly half between 1955 and 2014.
Of those Catholics who remain, 7 in 10 don't believe Christ is really present in the Eucharist.
All that Vatican II presented could've been interpreted and implemented in light of sacred Catholic Tradition.
But many Church leaders after the Council failed on both counts, endangering the souls of untold numbers of priests, religious and laity.
Catholics are still struggling because of weak formation. In 1970 there were approximately 425,000 Catholic marriages. By 2021 there were only 100,000. One million infants were baptized Catholic in 1970. By 2021, fewer than a half million received baptism.
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