Unfortunately, in the second half of the 20th century the Church deliberately, if uncomprehendingly, inflicted a grave wound on herself. Although apart from a few ambiguities the conciliar documents themselves are unproblematic, it does not seem to admit of reasonable disagreement that the conduct of the Second Vatican Council, and much more its aftermath and application, by and large have been a disaster for the Church, a disaster at once pastoral, intellectual and institutional. As a result of this disaster the popular Catholic life that had existed was in large part destroyed. Although Catholic culture is much broader than simply the reception of the sacraments and catechesis, it depends upon such formal elements of Catholic life. Without them it cannot last.
It is thus hard to envisage any ready way out of our present situation, since both the formal and the popular sides of Catholic life have been affected. So how can we respond to that situation, in which the Church neither enjoys the patronage of any powerful government nor commands widespread enthusiasm and loyalty on the part of the Catholic people at-large? In such circumstances how can the Church and Catholic life be maintained, nourished, and extended?
Sadly, the measures that can be suggested to achieve this end seem woefully inadequate. Attention to a beautiful and historically rooted liturgy, deliberate cultivation of a consciousness of the Catholic intellectual tradition, including am emphatic stress on the Church’s social teaching, new or restored Catholic schools at all levels, constant popular education through the media—these seem to me to be the chief means that are possible and that have some hope of success. None of them is easy to establish and of those that have been initiated many are already more than tainted by alien influences: e.g., in the United States, by fatal compromises with the worldview of classical liberalism on the part of uncomprehending Catholics unable to distinguish between a Catholic view of the social order and that of classical liberalism, simply because the latter seems to be at odds with the trajectory of more recent and obviously harmful liberalism. That both forms of liberalism are rooted in the same errors is seemingly impossible for many to grasp.
I am not hopeful for the immediate future. About the long term there is no doubt and there should be no fear, for it is Jesus Christ who is head of the Church, his Mystical Body. How long this long term may be is hardly our concern—short or long it is not in our hands. Meanwhile, success should not the norm of our activity, but simply faithfulness: faithfulness to the mandate given to the Church by her Founder to go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.
. (Rockford : TAN,  1992) p. 2.
. The Dividing of Christendom (Garden City : Image, 1967), p. 162.
. Bruno Nettl, Folk and Traditional Music of the Western Continents (Englewood Cliffs, NJ : Prentice-Hall, 2d ed. 1973) p. 191.
. “The Two Cultures of the West,” in Essays of a Catholic (Rockford : TAN,  1992), p. 244.
. Survivals and New Arrivals (London : Sheed & Ward, 1939), p. 80.
. When Argentina observed March 25 as the Day of the Unborn Child for the first time, to symbolize its rejection of abortion, her President, Carlos Menem, wrote to the heads of state of all the Latin American countries, and of Spain, Portugal and the Philippines, inviting them to join in this observance. He noted that “the common historical roots of our nations bind us together not only on matters of language but also in an understanding of man and society based on the fundamental dignity of the human person” (Catholic World News feature, 3/25/1999). This is an echo of the Hispanic world’s former status as the geopolitical bulwark of Catholicism.