Northern Europe is clearly one of the world’s most Godless regions. Yet, at the same time, the Catholic Church, while a minority denomination, is experiencing a revival that only Counterreformation popes could have dreamed of.
While vocations have dwindled in the west, the increase in Scandinavia is striking. 680 nuns in Scandinavia, making the proportion one nun for 880 Catholics in the region. In the US, the proportion is one in 1400 and many of those nuns are uber-liberals who have been severely criticized by recent popes.
In Sweden, there are 103,000 Catholics and 17 seminarians; by contrast, Vienna has 13 times as many Catholics, but fewer than 35 seminarians. So what is going on?
Apparently, lots of immigration from countries like Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, and Lithuania. But this doesn't explain what is happening in Britain where the number of seminarians has increased four-fold and practising Catholics now outnumber Anglicans.
It seems that the strong moral stand of the Catholic Church is one of the factors explaining these numbers. Mainline Protestant churches have caved on issues of sexual morality, now accepting same-sex unions and avoiding the issue of abortion.
There is something to be said for orthodoxy. Let us hope and pray that this spirit will flourish in North America as well, bringing new and fervent converts back to faith.