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U.S. Catholic Parishes Experience Resurgence of Traditional Practices

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The character of Catholic worship in a quiet Wisconsin neighborhood was the first noticeable shift when traditional elements began replacing modern practices at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church. This change, which intensified in 2021 with the appointment of a new pastor, is part of a broader national trend where a growing number of U.S. Catholic parishes are adopting more orthodox practices.

Photo credit: Josh Applegate

Photo credit: Josh Applegate


By Catholic Online (California Network)
5/1/2024 (3 weeks ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Catholic Church, traditionalism, Vatican II, religious conservatism, church doctrine, parish changes

According to an article from the Associated Press, under the new leadership, St. Maria Goretti saw its longstanding choir director replaced and its music repertoire shifted back to melodies from medieval Europe. The sermons began to emphasize themes of sin and repentance more heavily, and the priests adopted traditional cassocks as their daily wear. Changes even extended into the parish school, where discussions on abortion and eternal damnation became part of the curriculum.

This shift is reflective of a larger movement within the Catholic Church in America, as reported by the Associated Press. Over the past few decades, the influence of Vatican II, which introduced a wave of modernization to the church in the 1960s, has been increasingly questioned by religious conservatives. They argue that the church's essence has been diluted by too many modern influences ranging from guitar masses to a lax approach towards church doctrines.

This resurgence of traditionalism is driven by various factors including declining church attendance and a new generation of priests who are significantly more conservative than their predecessors. Although these traditionalists are still a minority, their impact on the church's culture is profound and growing.

Younger priests and parishioners alike are seeking a return to what they perceive as the foundational elements of their faith, including the extensive use of Latin, Gregorian chants, and a stronger emphasis on the sacrament of confession. This swing back to conservatism is also visible in the educational institutions associated with the church, such as Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, which has seen growth even as overall college enrollments decline in the U.S.

The college promotes rigorous adherence to Catholic doctrines, integrating these teachings into various aspects of student life and academics. Students there often describe experiencing a form of Catholicism that feels both out of time and profoundly countercultural, especially in today†s liberal and secular society.

This trend has not been without its controversies and challenges. The transition toward more traditional practices has sometimes led to divisions within parishes, with some members leaving in search of communities that align more closely with a "modern" yet questionable interpretation of Catholicism. In other cases, conservative reforms have been embraced by parishioners who appreciate a more traditional and faithful approach.

Despite the growing pains associated with these changes, proponents argue that this return to traditional practices offers a necessary correction to decades of liberal drift within the Church. They point to a rejuvenation of faith among young Catholics and a deepening commitment to the church's doctrinal foundations.

As the U.S. Catholic Church continues to evolve, the dialogue between tradition and modernity remains ongoing, with the future likely holding a complex blend of both.

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