One of the few “racially insensitive” things I have said in my life (and by “insensitive” I mean how as a liberal, I spoke as a liberal, that is, talking down to ethnic folks while sounding like you’re talking up to them) happened several years after my priestly ordination and I was visiting the FSSP seminary in Denton, NE. I met a Nigerian seminarian in the refectory and we talked about my mission work. (I told him how I had been on mission to Rwanda in 2014 as a priest. Then, I was still doing both the Novus Ordo and the TLM. See above picture and below picture.)
In our conversation (around 2015, when I was nearly excluseively-TLM) I said to this Nigerian seminarian of the FSSP that I believed we in the West needed the Traditional Latin Mass, but Africa probably still thrived on the charismatic movement to keep growing. Actually, I didn’t mean this as “racist” since I still had a bit of my own charismatic-background flowing through my veins. It was more of a compliment at that point in my life to give a nod to the charismatic movement. At least I wasn’t as obtuse as the neo-cons who assert that while white Americans thrive on the TLM, Africans need to bang their drums in the charismatic movement.
The Nigerian seminarian gently corrected me in explaining that the bishops of Nigeria shortly after Vatican II were extremely hesitant to enact “the changes,” so convinced they were of the importance and power of tradition to reaching the people of Africa. In fact, he explained that the bishops of his region of Nigeria waited until the late 1970s to make “the changes” to the sacraments. And this was only done (if I remember our conversation correctly) at the behest of pressure from liberals in Europe! I left our conversation dazed first by his gentle respect for the priesthood, but even more by his solid presentation of the truth, namely, that Africa was doing much better under traditional sacraments than the new sacraments. So much for my “enlightened” theory.
Still, many conservative Americans who are not traditionalists promote that same silly myth of Africa and Vatican II that I had imbibed. What has been my traditional answer to these neo-cons? First, I normally say I believe this is due to the martyrs at the hands of Muslims, as the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church. The faith always grows where there are martyrs, and African Christians are constantly being slaughtered by African Muslims. I also point out that African bishops held to more of tradition even after Vatican II than European and American bishops did. In other words, the “reverent Novus Ordo” and decent catechesis helps explain the significant growth of the Catholic faith on the African continent since 1969.
But I have more recently learned from the work of Mr. Casey on Twitter and Dr. Peter Kwasniewski at New Liturgical Movement that the minimal growth of African Catholics since “the Council” was due only to birth rates. Mr. Casey sources the liberal Religion News Service for some of his own stats in his Tweets. He has a stat-based disproof of Bishop Barron’s tired old myth that Vatican II actually “succeeded” in Africa:
…citing this graph…
…and also tweeting…
And if you doubt Mr. Casey’s work as “rad-trad” statistics, keep in mind he quotes ultra-liberal sources like National Catholic Reporter and the more neutral Pew Research for the Protestant development stats.
The truth is now obvious: Africa—like every continent—was booming with conversions from missionary work before Vatican II in the 20th century. Again, from the above stats, the percentage of Catholics in Africa went up from 2% to 13% during 1900 to 1962 alone. (Re-read that last sentence to see how astonishing that is—a 650% increase in baptisms on one continent alone due to pre-Vatican II missionaries and Africans evangelizing Africans.) But after Vatican II, that 13% of Catholics continent-wide went up to only 15% of the population. And that is only due to the birth-rate in most African countries. So much for “opening the doors of the Church to the rest of the world.” Turns out “the rest of the world” wanted our old-tyme religion, not sensational Pentecostalism mixed in with Catholicism.
Mr. Casey also shows (again, extrapolating data from the above liberal websites hyperlinked) that the percentage of Protestant believers in Africa went up after Vatican II from 15% to 29%. This obviously disproves the easy milquetoast-Catholic rebuttal that says “Well, Western secular culture and industrialization tanked Catholic numbers in the 1980s, not Vatican II.” If such an assertion were true, we would not see skyrocketing numbers of evangelicals in Africa. Were not evangelical communities also affected by Western secularization and industrialization? Of course they were. It’s a red-herring of neo-con non-trad Catholics to say anything and everything must be to blame for tanking the faith, except Vatican II. They’re getting desperate now to not have their sacred-cow knocked over by even statistics.
Again, compare those dwindling Catholic numbers after Vatican II to the boom that pre-conciliar missionaries like Archbishop Lefebvre saw on numbers practicing the faith going up 650% higher on the African continent before Vatican II in the 20th century alone. Once again, we see that Apostolic Catholicism works not only in Europe and the United States, but also Africa and Asia. Looks like the True Faith and Roman Rite never needed much reforming to reach the nations. Looks like Christ got it right the first time in what He gave the Apostles. Imagine that: God Himself is wiser than the freemasons and Protestants who attended “the Council.”