The following is from the book "Index of Leading Catholic Indicators" by Kenneth C JOnes
These statistics are astounding and the situation in Canada and Western Europe are far worse.
"Priests: After skyrocketing from about 27,000 in 1930 to 58,000 in 1965, the number of priests in the United States thereafter dropped to 45,000 in 2002. By 2020, there will be about 31,000 priests — and only 15,000 will be under the age of 70. Right now there are more priests age 80 to 84 than there are age 30 to 34.
"Ordinations: In 1965 there were 1,575 American ordinations to the priesthood, in 2002 there were 450, a decline of 350 percent. Taking into account ordinations, deaths and departures, in 1965 there was a net gain of 725 priests. In 1998, there was a net loss of 810.
"Priest-less parishes: About 3 percent of U.S. parishes, or 549, were without a resident priest in 1965. In 2002 there were 2,928 priest-less parishes, about 15 percent of U.S. parishes. By 2020, a quarter of all parishes, 4,656, will have no priest.
"Seminaries: Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700 — a 90 percent decrease. Without any students, seminaries across the country have been sold or shuttered. There were 596 seminaries in 1965, and only 200 in 2002. There were over three times as many total seminarians in 1930 as in 2002. There were over seven times as many religious order seminarians in 1945 as in 2002. There were over three times as many diocesan seminarians in 1945 as in 2002. There were more seminaries in 1955 than in 2002. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of U.S. diocesan seminaries decreased by 33 percent. In that same thirty seven year period, the number of U.S. religious seminaries decreased by 75 percent.
"Sisters: 180,000 sisters were the backbone of the American Catholic education and health systems in 1965. In 2002, there were 75,000 sisters, with an average age of 68. By 2020, the number of sisters will drop to 40,000 — and of these, only 21,000 will be age 70 or under. In 1965, 104,000 sisters were teaching, while in 2002 there were only 8,200 teachers. That is a reduction of about 92 percent. There were over nine times as many sisters teaching in 1945 as in 2002.
"Brothers: The number of professed brothers decreased from about 12,000 in 1965 to 5,700 in 2002, with a further drop to 3,100 in 2020. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of brothers teaching decreased by 80 percent. There were three times as many brothers teaching in 1945 as in 2002.
"Religious Orders: The religious orders will soon be virtually nonexistent in the United States. For example, in 1965 there were 5,277 Jesuit priests and 3,559 seminarians; in 2000 there were 3,172 priests and 389 seminarians. There were 2,534 OFM Franciscan priests and 2,251 seminarians in 1965; in 2000 there were 1,492 priests and 60 seminarians. There were 2,434 Christian Brothers in 1965 and 912 seminarians; in 2000 there were 959 Brothers and 7 seminarians. There were 1,148 Redemptorist priests in 1965 and 1,128 seminarians; in 2000 there were 349 priests and 24 seminarians. Every major religious order in the United States mirrors these statistics of decline.
"High Schools: Between 1965 and 2002 the number of diocesan high schools fell from 1,566 to 786. At the same time the number of students dropped from almost 700,000 to 386,000. There were more private Catholic high schools in 1945 than in 2002. There were more than twice as many diocesan high schools in 1945 as in 2002.
"Parochial Grade Schools: There were 10,503 parochial grade schools in 1965 and 6,623 in 2002. The number of students plummeted from 4.5 million to 1.9 million. There were more parochial grade schools in 1930 than in 2002.
"Sacramental Life: In 1965 there were 1.3 million infant baptisms, in 2002 there were 1 million. There were more infant baptisms in 1955 than in 2002. (In the same period the number of Catholics in the United States rose from 45 million to 65 million.) In 1965 there were 126,000 adult baptisms — converts — in 2002 there were 80,000. In 1965 there were 352,000 Catholic marriages, in 2002 there were 256,000. There were more Catholic marriages in 1950 than in 2002. There were extremely few annulments in the U.S. in 1968. In 1968 there were 338 annulments, in 2002 there were 50,000. Jones quotes the highly respected canon lawyer Edward Peters from his November, 1996 Homiletic and Pastoral Review article Annulments in America: "According to the 1994 Catholic Almanac, 59,220,000 American Catholics make up 6.2% of the world's 949,578,000 Catholic population. In 1991, the U.S. accounted for 63,900 (79%) of the world's 80,700 annulments."
"Mass attendance: A 1958 Gallup poll reported that 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1958. A 1994 University of Notre Dame study found that the attendance rate was 26.6 percent. A more recent study by Fordham University professor James Lothian concluded that 65 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1965, while the rate dropped to 25 percent in 2000."
Jones points out that "Mass attendance of U.S. Catholics fell precipitously in the decade following the liturgical changes and has continued to decline ever since." "This decline" he writes, "is not an isolated phenomenon, confined solely to the Church in America. In England and Wales, the time pattern of Mass attendance has been just as bad, perhaps even worse."
Jones' next point is critical: "Church attendance of Protestants, in contrast, has followed a much different path. For most of the period it was without any discernable trend, either up or down. In recent years it has actually risen. The notion that the Catholic fall off was simply one part of a larger societal trend, therefore, receives absolutely no support in these data."
But these sad statistics may even miss the worse news. That news is that the actual spiritual state of the remaining "Catholics" may be even more weakened than these miserable, falling numbers reveal. That is because those reduced numbers of "Catholic" people are still baptizing their fewer babies, are still going to deficient Novus Ordo Masses, and are still following the graduates of homosexualized seminaries. They are led by priests and religious who probably do not, doctrinally, believe what the Catholic Church requires them to believe. In other words, even these positive numbers — drastically reduced though they are — may be extremely soft because these positive "Catholics" may be practical Protestants, or even profoundly non-Christian in their beliefs.
Only 10 percent of lay religion teachers, Jones writes in citing a 2000 Notre Dame poll, accept Catholic Church teaching on artificial birth control. Although even Vatican II taught that the Eucharist was the source and summit of the Catholic faith, a New York Times/CBS poll revealed that 70 percent of Catholics age 18-44 believe the Eucharist is merely a "symbolic reminder" of Jesus. How ironic that the post-Vatican II freefall from the faith even left behind what good Traditional teaching could be gleaned from the sometimes ambiguous Council documents.
Jones presents the following data compiled from the National Catholic Reporter of October 29, 1999:
PERCENTAGE OF CATHOLICS WHO BELIEVE A PERSON CAN BE A GOOD CATHOLIC WITHOUT PERFORMING THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS:
Without going to Church every Sunday: 77
Without obeying Church teaching on birth control: 72
Without obeying Church teaching on divorce and remarriage: 65
Without obeying Church teaching on abortion: 53
Without believing that in the Mass the bread and wine actually become the Body and Blood of Jesus: 38
Without their marriage being approved by the Catholic Church: 68
Without donating their time or money to help the poor: 56
Without donating their time or money to help the parish: 60
Without believing that Jesus physically rose from the dead: 23