The news last week that the birth rate in America has fallen to the lowest level in American history has been greeted with a yawn in practically all circles of media — but not here at Church Militant.
You will recall a few years ago, we and a handful of other faithful apostolates were sounding the warning that two things were about to happen: First, the birth rate would decline to a level where the population would not be replacing itself; and second, after a small interval of this recurring problem, the actual number of Americans would begin to decrease as well.
This is already happening in Russia, Japan, Italy and France. There are now actually fewer Italians in Italy then there were 10 years ago. Same in the other countries as well. While that has not yet begun in America, it does not take very long once you have low birth rates for the overall population to begin to decrease. The only thing that has masked this in America has been illegal immigration.
This is having and will continue to have a worsening effect on the economy — and that's just for starters. The more people a nation has, the healthier the economy. This has been recognized as so obvious that hundreds of years ago, the 17th-century economist Jean Bodin made the statement, "The only wealth is people."
The reality of shrinking national populations is starting to take its toll. The major behind-the-scenes debates, arguments and fights going on in governments all over the globe is how to deal with this financially. No matter what policy or new regulation is fought over or is in place, it all comes down to this one single unsolvable reality, the hard truth: The fewer young workers a nation has in order to pay for entitlements for the elderly non-workers, the steeper the cost becomes for the whole country.
What does this stark economic reality have to do with the Catholic faith, you may be asking? Well, the same thing is happening to the Church that is happening to countries all over the industrialized world. The Catholic population is about to start shrinking, in raw numbers. We already know that there are a large number, a well-defined majority, of Catholics who are Catholic in name only. But at least they are still on the rolls, bolstering that number of 70 million Catholics in America, however artificial that really is.
Because so many of those Catholics are non-practicing and don't have any meaningful connection to the Church anymore, and their number keeps increasing each year, bishops have already had to start closing parishes, shutting down schools and manage the decline. Managing the decline is in fact the major pressing agenda in practically every diocese in the United States. Not to mention almost every other country in the west.
But however severe the problem may present itself today, in a few short years, probably fewer than 10, the bottom will fall out and the whole house of cards is going to come tumbling down. That's because many of those fake Catholics will not be around anymore because they are going to die. They will no longer be able to be used to give the appearance of a robust Church, even if that is all a sham right now.
In a handful of years, the number 70 million will begin to fall, slowly at first, and then like a death spiral, and it will not be able to recover. There will be no recovery from it, for the same reason that the death spiral began in the first place — one word: contraception. Catholic bishops caved in to the culture decades ago on this issue and their successors, today's bishops, followed suit. As a result, the Catholic laity felt no problem whatsoever in simply going along and embracing contraception, so today Catholic families are smaller.
And because the parents who use contraception are not faithful themselves, these smaller families are not only producing fewer Catholics, they are also producing the next generation of non-Catholics. There is less faith and fewer people who believe it. That is a recipe for exactly where the Church finds Herself today.
There are fewer vocations, for example, because one, there is less interest because there is less faith, and two, there are fewer men because their parents had fewer children who might one day grow up and become priests or religious. This is not hard to figure out. It's simple math. Today's bishops might think they can come up with slick marketing campaigns, or sophisticated financial approaches, or stupid emotion-laden programs like ALPHA, but they will all fall flat.
The mission of the Church is to evangelize and convert. But the last 50 years of bishops on the whole have slammed that process into reverse and are now in a panic. Pray that they may see the light in time before they die. Pray that they may come to understand that all their manmade approaches are destined to fail.
They have one duty: to preach the truth in all its terrible glory.