Church Decline – Laity to Blame… Really?

Church Decline – Laity to Blame… Really?

Editor writes…

It is worth reflecting on the above short video discussion in the context of this assessment of the pontificate of Pope Francis I, asking… do we really want the next conclave to elect a Francis II ?  And is it fair – or even possible – to blame the laity for the current religious decline?  Your thoughts.

Note:  you may have to click the “Translate” button to read the above linked article.  

Comments (18)

  • Faith of Our Fathers Reply

    I like Ann Widdecombe and can always remember the Rotten BBC setting Her up to explain the Good in God and the Catholic Faith . Against the Horrible Stepen Fry and the equal obnoxious Christopher Hitchens on an all U.K Broadcast but is She correct here.

    After all it wasn’t the ordinary Catholic who was told that they Couldn’t attend Holy Mass for over 2 Years. It wasn’t the Ordinary Catholic who has set out to destroy the Latin Mass. As you know I already posted that Mr Toal cancelled our Sunday TLM which was well attended. Last night being the Ascension of course as it’s a Thursday our T.L.Mass is said was well attended. Of course it being a Holiday of Obligation most certainly helped but their were only 3 from my own Parish. Many people came from various parts of Lanarkshire for the Sunday TLM but Mr Toal taking his cue of course from Bergoglios T.C. decided it would be in the best interests of Our Parish to stop the 8.00 Sunday TLM. Of course all of us who attended The 8.00 Mass were saddened rather than Mad . Although I and many others let Mr Toal know our veiws and certainly didn’t miss him but it to no avail . His decision with Bergoglios Blessing went ahead.

    I think in the above Video that Ann gets a Lot of Catholics mixed up with the Nancy Pelosi type although again I believe their was no malice in what She said. Ann though being a Convert at least to Me got mixed up with the word Christian instead of Catholic.

    May 27, 2022 at 1:42 pm
  • Francis de sales Reply

    Quite sad to see Toal banning TLM. Decline down to the laity, big no. Cos all the bishops announced closures of all masses without any input from the laity. Bishops didn’t fight back as they went along with it. Then they ran short of money as they started to fight back especially in Dublin and elsewhere. Consequently as a result of bishops decisions, laity didn’t bother to attend mass nor part with their money.

    TLM here is continuing with same people. Very few on weekdays but bit packed on Sundays. Does Toal think that he would get the red hat by banning TLM or followed PF. Its a big resounding NO. I realised now that they were careerist prior to bishops. Most of them anyway. Once you get to know their mindset, they don’t have your interests at heart and need your money to continue their lifestyle. That’s the impression that I got.

    Syodnsl pathway is bit of a talking shop. It might be useful what’s the point? Your opinions get discarded by bishops or cardinals as it narrows down to their favorable thinking say, HC for divorced et al.

    May 27, 2022 at 2:12 pm
  • Carlos Carrasco Reply

    She’s right. Complaints about the hierarchy miss the point that we have the leaders we deserve.

    May 27, 2022 at 3:14 pm
    • Josephine Reply

      Carlos Carrasco,

      I disagree with that. We deserve good faithful leaders, not bishops without faith. I can never understand that saying, we deserve the politicians we get or now, you saying the leaders/bishops we deserve. We vote in good faith, we trust the promises the politicians make, and we are trusting the Church to give us good priests, bishops and popes. How I can be blamed for them all turning out to be dishonest and faithless, beats me.

      I totally disagree with Ann Widdecombe, who is a convert from Anglicanism but as with most converts from Anglicanism you have to wonder if she actually became a Catholic or just changed to being a nominal Catholic (like so many cradles Catholics have turned out.) It’s not because of the laity that the churches are emptying. It’s due to years and years of malformation in the faith, being told there’s no such thing as sin except against the environment and if we look after the poor, we’ll be saved. We’ve been told there’s no benefit in celibate priesthood, and women should be ordained. The pope is shocking, even to Protestants who can’t believe the stuff he says and does. So, no, the laity are not to blame.

      May 27, 2022 at 6:47 pm
  • Marinaio Reply

    It is my assessment that we often tend to gravitate toward simplistic answers to complicated situations. This is, I believe, particularly true regarding questions like “how did we get here?” While Ann Widdecombe makes some interesting points, I would counsel her to be careful regarding the very slippery slope of blaming the “Christians in the pews” for the disastrous state of the Church.

    It is interesting and timely that this topic of placing the blame for the mess to which the Church has descended on the shoulders of those of us who have witnessed this descent over the last five decades or so. This topic has arisen in these pages within a week or so of another convert, Ann Barnhardt, basically accusing any Catholic alive in the 60s (she makes an exception for Archbishop Lefebvre) of complicity through inaction:

    I am hard-pressed to think of a group of people who have been as much of a collective failure over the past fifty years as Catholic Theologians, Canonists and cradle Catholics. Remember, these are the very people who sat and watched in a state of complete flaccidity the near-total destruction of the Catholic Church and the de facto apostasy of something like 90% of Catholics in the West, and did basically nothing to stop it.

    Now, this is a patently absurd appraisal of a major cataclysm that, taken out of context, may at first appear reasonable enough. But Ann’s “Monday morning quarterback” approach, as we call such tactics here in America, is so far off the mark as to prompt those of us who are cradle Catholics to ask her politely to cease and desist, at least for a moment, from her sometimes over-the-top comments to understand what Archbishop Lefebvre himself wrote regarding this matter in “An Open Letter to Confused Catholics”. This great prelate knows, as most of us who lived through those times do, that the “obedience” cudgel was most effective in silencing practically all dissent. In fact, it was such an insidious strategy, that Archbishop Lefebvre called it “the master stroke of Satan”.

    Unless one lived through the gradual changes of the mid- to late-60s that culminated in the introduction of the Novus Ordo, one would find it very hard to understand what I have alluded to above. But we cradle Catholics did, in fact, hear — with every new novelty — that it was the wishes of the Holy Father or that it was the Holy Spirit moving the Church in a new direction. Our ingrained (really, instinctual) obedience — drilled into us from our earliest years — became our own worst enemy. Archbishop Lefebvre once even likened it to AIDS (SIDA in French), as he often tried to show that the innovators’ use of the obedience tool was precisely like an individual infected with an auto-immune disease. He repeatedly said that the Church had become as one whose own body had turned against itself and was gradually, over time, destroying it.

    Some will argue — and I have pointed out the veracity, to a certain extent, in comments on this page in the past — that there were many who welcomed the “changes”. But it was most certainly not the majority of the faithful. One need only look at the drastic decrease in numbers of practicing Catholics between 1965 and today.

    So, both Ann Widdecombe and Ann Barnhardt make the same presumptuous mistake: this current mess was somehow the fault of those of us in the pews. Well, one thing we can take away from this discussion, from my perspective: at least we can all agree that there IS a big mess, and — as I mentioned in my last comments the other day — if our prelates and clergy refuse to help us fix this problem, we faithful laity must now take the proverbial bull by the horns. As we used to say in the Navy: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!”

    May 27, 2022 at 3:31 pm
    • Faith of Our Fathers Reply

      Interesting to note that both Ann Widdecombe and Ann Barnhardt are converts to The Catholic Faith . I well remember even the small change in the way saying The Our Father was seen as being too Protestant when it was introduced into the Mass i think back in 1966 . Of course little did we know back then that that was exactly what was happening and Protestants were so called advising The Pope on the New Mass . What they both maybe dont understand is that back in the
      60s we unfortunately had more or less complete Faith in Our Catholic Higherarchy and that News travelled much ,very much slowly than today . Now we understand that Bergoglio and His Lavender Brigade are really putting the Boot into Our Catholic Faith on a practically daily basis.

      Probably now the worst thing is that so many Catholics still dont question Bergoglio or the likes of His horrible Henchman Arthur Roche ,who probably wrote T. C. for Bergoglio. Probably to us on here that is the worst Apostacy because they have stopped in many Catholic Churches Worship to Almighty God. I am certainly no Theologian and i have asked this question before. Is T. C. a Sin against The Holy Ghost .?

      May 27, 2022 at 6:36 pm
      • Laura

        Faith of our Fathers,

        If a document could sin, then I’d say yes, TC is a sin against the Holy Ghost! I’m just not sure a document can sin!

        May 27, 2022 at 6:39 pm
      • Nicky


        “If a document could sin…” Agreed! LOL!

        May 27, 2022 at 10:13 pm
    • Laura Reply


      I have a vague memory that Ann Barnhardt is either a sedevacantist or she thinks Benedict is still the pope, something odd like that, so I wouldn’t be paying any attention to her, anyway.

      Love your closing words (or the Navy’s closing words, LOL!)

      May 27, 2022 at 6:38 pm
  • westminsterfly Reply

    “Church Decline – Laity to Blame”. There’s an old saying: ““a fish always rots from the head down”. Very true in this case.
    Besides, look at what Sister Lucia of Fatima said to Fr Fuentes back in 1957: “Father, the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Blessed Virgin. And the devil knows what it is that offends God the most, and which in a short space of time will gain for him the greatest number of souls. Thus the devil does everything to overcome souls consecrated to God, because in this way the devil will succeed in leaving the souls of the faithful abandoned by their leaders, thereby the more easily will he seize them.”

    May 27, 2022 at 5:05 pm
    • Laura Reply


      That’s just what I was thinking – you have to remember that if the people are not being properly taught and led by their priests, they will fall away. That’s what’s happening right now.

      So, no, I don’t think the laity can be blamed for the decline in church attendance. If they knew the truth about God, death and judgment, they’d be filling the pews.

      May 27, 2022 at 6:36 pm
  • RCAVictor Reply

    “No good looking to the Church….” for the answer to this problem.

    How Protestant can you get?

    More later, but just to be contrarian, I did not care for the interviewer at all. I thought he came across as a posturing blowhard (who couldn’t even tie his necktie suitably). Interesting that every British interview I’ve ever seen on this blog (except for Neil Oliver, but I’m sure I’ll be roundly corrected for forgetting others) exhibits the same characteristic hysteria. Refined hysteria, of course, with a British accent.

    May 27, 2022 at 10:53 pm
    • editor Reply

      RCA Victor

      The interviewer is Patrick Christys (unusual surname) and he’s certainly not one of my favourites at GB News, but I think he’s just inexperienced and is probably giving the wrong impression about himself. I think he means well, but maybe tries a bit too hard.

      I’m surprised, though, that you would categorise Dan Wootton and/or Mark Steyn as “a posturing blowhard” – they’re about the only other GB News presenters we feature here, as far as I can remember. So, apart from Neil Oliver, you more or less denounce the rest? I’m wounded! And here’s me always defending Tucker Carlson, come what may.

      In defence of Patrick, you maybe won’t realise that Ann Widdecombe has risen to the level of being regarded as a national treasure in England if not the entire UK, and I think he was a little in awe of having the job of interviewing she who is, more or less, by and large, said national treasure. It’s not really that he’s a blowhard, I think he’s OK, really, albeit not one of my own favourites. I have to defend him, though, given that we share the same patron saint – St Patrick – and also, I’m in a good mood now that I’ve read this very funny (I think) joke…

      A not unusual occurrence in Glasgow city…

      3 drunk guys entered a taxi. The taxi driver knew that they were drunk so he started the engine, turned it off again. Then said, “We have reached your destination”. The 1st guy gave him money the 2nd guy said “Thank you”. The 3rd guy slapped the driver. The driver was shocked thinking the 3rd drunk knew what he did. But then he asked “What was that for?”. The 3rd guy replied, “Control your speed next time, you nearly killed us!”

      Well, I do have a good excuse… it’s Friday night and there WILL be drunks getting into taxis all over the city right now! May each of their Guardian Angels keep them (and their drivers) safe!

      May 27, 2022 at 11:38 pm
      • RCAVictor


        As I said, I’m sure I’d forgotten some interviewers who don’t fit the “posturing blowhard” profile – including the two you mention. What bothers me more and more, though, about these British interviews that you’ve posted, regardless of the status of their guests, is that they invariably fall into the following pattern:

        1. Interviewer (“host”) frames an issue in entirely misleading, deceptive, or oversimplified terms.
        2. Host asks poorly informed “guest,” whether national treasurer or anarchist pervert, to comment.
        3. If guest fails to be controversial enough/strays beyond the supplied framework/fails to affirm the narrative/contradicts the narrative, then host interrupts repeatedly to interject talking points.
        4. If guest takes the bait, talking points are then hurled back and forth ad nauseam.
        5. Allotted time ends, time for a commercial break, so viewers can be reminded that they are owned by corporations, and urged to give even more of their money to said corporations by buying more of their products.

        Well, if that qualifies as an actual conversation and an exchange of ideas, then maybe I should be the next pope. My point being, there WAS no actual conversation, only a reinforcement of media-driven hypnosis and ignorance. In other words, the so-called public square is nothing more than a mirage.

        PS: loved your joke…

        May 28, 2022 at 3:25 pm
      • editor

        RCA Victor,

        I don’t think your profile fits the above interview, since Patrick seems to be one of those “hail, fellow, well met” types and not particularly for or agin religion of any kind. If anything, I think he wasn’t sure where to go with the interview and I was amused at his reaction to Ann calling the Evangelicals “nuisances” – he saw the funny side of that, as does anyone who has had a couple of them at the front door trying to convert us, God bless their tartan socks, and if the Evangelicals south of the border still don’t have tartan socks, well, there you have it – another argument for Scottish independence 😀

        In any event, you loved my joke – that’s the main thing 😀

        May 28, 2022 at 8:15 pm
  • Margaret Mary Reply

    It’s ridiculous to blame the laity for the empty pews, when it wasn’t the laity who decided to close the churches at the start of lockdown. It was the bishops.

    Not only is Ann a convert from the C of E, but she’s English and one of the characteristics of the English is that they are very deferential to the institutions of state, such as royalty, parliament and the Church. That’s how they see the C of E, and Ann hasn’t evolved from that way of thinking despite being a Catholic now, IMHO.

    I’m guessing that the idea of criticising any of the institutions of state does not come easily to an English person. I hope I’m not coming across as racist – I am very much fond of the English, and I admire them for several reasons, I’m just meaning that it’s not surprising that Ann doesn’t want to blame the pope and bishops for the crisis, since her mindset will be one of great respect for church authorities.

    Until we get a pope who has a supernatural grasp of the faith and doesn’t preach environmentalism instead, the pews will keep emptying.

    May 28, 2022 at 9:45 am
  • hofvi Reply

    From America here -ex “nuisance” fundamentalist now Catholic. She has a point. Lay people are the ones who can bring the Gospel into corners of the world that the hierarchy can’t get to. We need to ask for God for the grace to be his light in these places. The state of the hierarchy makes things difficult for me however.

    June 3, 2022 at 12:52 pm
    • Josephine Reply


      “The state of the hierarchy makes things difficult for me, however.”

      It makes things difficult for us all and it’s why we can’t be blamed for the state of the Church. Yes, we can get to people in places that the ordained can’t and speak about the Gospel, but we can’t lie to them, we can’t say the Church is healthy, come join us, when it’s not!

      That’s the main point, IMHO.

      June 3, 2022 at 2:41 pm

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