Many factors have lead to the modification of the views and customs of the Church including...
How is the Catholic Church different today to what it was like in the 1940’s/50’s?
The Roman Catholic Religion is the largest Christian Church and one of the most followed religion in the world with it having around 1.1 Billion Followers around the world. As it is also one of the oldest religions, it has changed in many ways from the beginning and now. Many factors have lead to the modification of the views and customs of the Church including the introduction of Vatican II in 1962, the significance of the new Pope Francis and the changes he has done for the Catholic Church, and the issues that the Church is facing today and how it responds to them.
In 1958, a new Pope was elected who chose the name Pope John XXIII. Shortly after the election, Pope John did something that was highly unexpected from all people around the world. Pope John XXIII called for a Vatican Council in 1959 to renew the Catholic Church and to seek Christian Unity. After World War II, the Catholic Church needed to change in practices to suggest reconciliation of the World. The Vatican Council consisted of around 2,000 Bishops from all around the World and thousands of sisters, auditors, laymen and laywomen which the sessions commenced in St Peters Basilica from 1962 to 1965. Unfortunately, Pope John died before the ending of the Vatican II meetings, but on his deathbed, he said, “The moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity and to look far ahead.” After four years, many changes were brought to the Catholic Church, which shaped the Church today. Examples of what Vatican II changed include; the language a mass is spoken in allowing people to understand what the priest is saying as he is speaking in their preferred tongue, Mass attendees were now allowed to touch the Eucharist as before the Priest would place it in the mouth to receive Christ. The redesigning of the lifestyles of the nuns and clothing opened up the Church for society to show that the Catholic Church is not extremely private and strict as people may think. The church changed to become less strict in rules and more about Family and unity of all Christians around the world.
After the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013, Pope Francis I was elected as the new Pope and became to first Non-European Pope in over 1,000 years. Pope Francis is a very different Pope compared to all the other Popes before him; he prepared his own meals, he rode on public transport rather than private vehicles, and he also lives in a Vatican guest house where he lived before being Pope. Because of the actions, Pope Francis has been called by society as a humble, simple living man. Pope Francis dared to make a difference in the world in ways as he could do. He said and did things that no other Pope has ever said publicly. He wants the church to be more hands on with helping the poor, vulnerable and the sick; he accepts all people no matter what their beliefs or sexuality are as he criticises the church for “forgetting the important belief of love, and prioritising moral doctrines before serving the poor and marginalising.” Pope Francis has had a more positive than negative impact on the views of the Catholic Church through Non-Catholic and Catholics. He speaks on real life issues that the Church and society are facing and speaks out to all on how to change it to make the world a safer place for all. In a survey commenced by Pew Research Centre, shows that 28% of US adults say that they have a positive view of the Catholic Church because of Pope Francis, 6% say that they have a more negative view of the Catholic church due to Pope Francis. The remaining 58% say their views have not changed.
As the Catholic Church may seem ideal in the eyes of the public, some issues are facing the Church are beginning to become public to the world. Some include the decline of weekly church attendance, the decline in believers, and sexual misconduct of younger children by Church members. All round numbers of people who affiliate with the (Western Roman) Catholic Religion and the numbers of frequent attendance of Church have declined drastically and are still declining. According to the Australian Census, statistics show that in 2006, 64% had an affiliation with the Catholic religion compared to the 88% in 1947. Another survey shows that 17% frequently attend church in 2007 compared to the 44% who regularly attended church in 1950. The 1940/50s where the so-called ‘Golden Era’ of the Church as nowadays there are other ways of ‘attending mass’ without physically going to a church. One of the most sensitive and controversial issues affecting the Catholic Church today in Australia is the sexual abuse scandal where it has been reported that Catholic Priest are taking advantage of minors in church communities. There have been over 100 cases in Australia where priests have been charged with sex offenses against children and these situations are giving the religion a bad name. Parents are afraid for their children’s life and see churches as an unsafe place to take young vulnerable children. This scandal may be a factor in the decline in church attendance and believers in Australia since the Catholic Church have lost their good reputation and is now seen as an unsafe place to some. Pope Francis has responded to the scandal and said that there is “zero tolerance for sex abuse by clergy” and that “Persons responsible for the protection of those children destroyed their dignity.”
The Catholic Church has evolved and changed to become what it is today compared to what it was in the 1940s/50. Vatican II changed many rules including the allowance of church attendees to hold the Eucharist instead of receiving it from the priest and the change of language depending on the country a mass is held in and the focus of reconciliation and family unity in the world. The new Pope Francis I opened up the church in another view, as he was different to many Pope as he is more hands on with Society as he is very honest and humble in everything he does. The issues that have been facing the Catholic Church and how they have been facing them has also shaped the church today and made it the way it is today.