Where, oh where, have the real Catholics gone?

One of the worst mistakes American Catholicism ever made was the scrapping in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s of the subculture that had served it well up to that time. That was the era of the great flight from what Catholic intellectuals snobbishly called the “Catholic ghetto.” Yes, the subculture as it then existed did need updating and renewal. But instead of that, what we got was a foolish, self-imposed dismantling — the secularization of Catholic colleges and universities, the deliberate withering of Catholic organizations — driven largely by the craving of academic and religious elitists to be trendy and in step with the times.

To a great extent, ecclesiastical officialdom went along with it. “When I was growing up,” a friend recalls, “I watched the Legion of Mary and other local Catholic organizations struggling for lack of interest by the priests and chancery office staff who considered them anachronisms. Even as a young man, I saw the sadness and frustration in the faces of many of the older members, especially as nothing was being offered as a replacement.”

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