The Bad News:

The above picture is a French Catholic priest recently snapped. According to the caption I read online, his Mass vestments reflect the uniform of the French soccer (football) team.  There are not many young people around him as you can see.  Clergy seeking “relevance” among peers in modern culture has made very few converts.  “We’re the exact same as you, so please join our club!”

Why? Why would I join a club of old people trying to act young?

Below are graphs on the Catholic Church in the United States from Index of Leading Catholic Indicators, a book written in 2003 by Kenneth Jones, a graduate of University of Notre Dame.  Notice the great growth of the number of priestly vocations in America before Vatican II:


Religious priests tanked after Vatican II, as seen above.

Diocesan priests tanked after Vatican II, as seen above.

Converts to Catholicism in the USA tanked after Vatican II, as seen above.

We were taught in my regular mainstream NOM seminary to explain the above dismal numbers with an apologetic like this:  “Yes, the numbers look bad for the 1960s forward in regards to growth of the Catholic Church in America, but that was due to the sexual revolution in the United States and Europe, not Vatican II causing people to leave the Church.”  As I have indicated before on this site before, that apologetic doesn’t explain why millions of American Catholics who took the Bible seriously all fled to conservative evangelical Protestant communities in the 1970s and 1980s and 1990s.

Were those evangelical communities influenced by the sexual-revolution?  Of course they were.  The truth is: Catholics fled the Church after “the Council” because their parishes didn’t even seem to be Christian anymore. Furthermore, millions of Catholics fled to Protestant sects during the same decades in Latin America. Religious Latinos justifiably got sick of liberation theology and a flat man-centered liturgy that didn’t even look Catholic anymore.

Recent “Los Angeles REC.”  Dr. Taylor Marshall publicly commented it looked like “1960s witchcraft.”

Some things haven’t changed. Look at how man-centered the above picture is of a 2024 conference in Los Angeles. Besides errors and sacrilege offensive to God, the heresy of modernism even fails at the human level.  While aiming to be relevant, modernists have become anything but relevant.  Most young people see right through the insecure games of baby-booming clerics.  The few who appreciate them don’t want to live lives of celibacy. Why? Because modernism is man-centered, but Catholicism is God-centered.

Sleepy Cardinal

Many younger novus ordo priests are more conservative than the above picture, but they still believe showing people how “human” they are will make people want to become Catholic. Those novus conservatives get a lot more people interested than the liberals, but it still isn’t Catholicism they’re winning people to. Few people endure in this Communio-version of “Catholicism” because it’s still quite silly and shallow, even if they occasionally do Catholic things like pro-life marches.

Because seeking relevance is a man-centered venture instead of a God-centered one, it will always contain compromise on the moral and liturgical and doctrinal fronts.  In attempting to please man instead of God, clergy seeking relevance has ironically lost both reverence and relevance.  This is one reason why all over-eagerly priests trying to be cool has led the Catholic Church being mocked.

I don’t mean we are mocked for our holiness as what happened in pagan nations before their conversions. I mean popularity-seeking Catholics are rightly mocked for trying to be cool and failing miserably. This has obviously led to a reduction in conversions. Why? Because our original Catholic faith was founded upon societal rejection (as found in a crucifixion) not showing the world/flesh/devil we can keep up with them in passing fashions or trends.

Before he died, Padre Pio saw this excessive desire for relevance even among fellow friars in the 1960s, as he warned here:

One day, some confreres were discussing with the Father General the problems in the Order, when Padre Pio, taking a shocked attitude, cried out, with a distant look in his eye: ‘What in the world are you up to in Rome? What are you scheming? You even want to change the Rule of St. Francis! ‘ Father General replied: ‘Padre, changes are being proposed because the youth don’t want to have anything to do with the tonsure, the habit, bare feet….’ ‘Chase them out! Chase them out! What can you be saying? Is it they who are doing St. Francis a favor by taking the habit and following his way of life, or rather, isn’t it St. Francis who is offering them a great gift?'”

The Good News:

For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.—1 Cor 1:22-25.

Thankfully, there is a group of people returning to what Padre Pio wanted, and it’s paying-off in holiness. As we learn from the Apostle Paul above, we follow Christ crucified who is “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” That means Catholicism is inherently counter-cultural. Christianity flourishes only by resisting the world and the flesh and the devil. Modernism (and all the modernist clerics in the world, all the way “to the top”) have made a compromise with the world. And the modern world ironically despises us for trying to be popular like them.

But some people have rejected the ways of modernism and returned to the ways of tradition. For example, consider the life of Sr. Mary Wilhelmena, a traditional African American nun recently found incorrupt below.

Picture I snapped of the incorrupt body of Sr. Mary Wilhelmina.  I got to pray near her holy body for an hour alone one evening.

One priest who was there at the finding of her body told me he estimated that over 80,000 people came the first week to venerate the incorrupt body of Sr. Mary Wilhelmena. The vocations to that congregation of women Benedictines is bursting at the seams. If young people are going to follow Christ, they are going to follow Christ-crucified, not a man-made religion of compromise with the world and flesh and devil.

Chartres Pilgrimage, p/c Edward Pentin

In France, a yearly summer Pilgrimage to an ancient Cathedral may be a bellwether of the future of the entire Catholic Church. France is frequently referred to as “the eldest daughter of the Church,” due to her conversion in early Roman times to the Catholic Faith. So also today, an astonishingly high-percentage of practicing Catholics in France attend the Traditional Latin Mass. As seen in the traditional pilgrimage to Chartres, these are not just old people. The future of Europe’s oldest Catholic country is young as the picture above reveals. And they are also traditionalists.

After the failed experiment of the 1960s still being pushed by the Vatican (ironically, “locked in time,” as they mock traditionalists) the writing on the wall in Europe and the United States is obvious: Young people want holiness and tradition, not relevance or modernism. Nothing is more irrelevant than a Catholic trying to be relevant. On the other hand, nothing is more relevant than going counter-cultural, for the foolishness of God is wiser than men.