Catholics/Is the Church Dying??

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Question
Recently, I've been doing some research. The percentage of Catholics in America were low, around 20%. But for Protestants, rose up to a 44%. In Europe, the number of Catholics there are dropping as well converting to Evangelist or Islam. South America had the largest Catholic drop in Latinos. Is Pope Francis going to be the last Pope if this number keeps dropping?

I know the Bible predicted that the Last Pope will come and Jesus will return to judge everyone, but in modern times, people thought the Last Pope would be a certain name like the monk prophet said, but others think that the Last Pope would mess up big time and lose its members like what is happening now. I've heard some calling Pope Francis a bad pope. After that last resignation, will the catholic church be no more?

Answer
If we take the promises of Christ seriously regarding the Church we know that the Church will never die.  Jesus promised us that the gates of Hell will not prevail.

At the same time we also know that during the final days the Church will grow weak and small and will likely be underground due to persecution.  I celebrate Mass for the Catholic inmates in a local prison.  Once when walking through the prison with the head chaplain I joked "You know, one of these days I will probably be here as an inmate." The chaplain asked me what crime I expect to be convicted of.  I replied "Being Christian"

Whether we are living in the final days or not is anyone's guess--but it is very clear that the Christian Church in particular the Catholic Church has come under attack. From Obama trying to force the Church to cover Contraceptive drugs for employees of the Church to the ACLU demanding that the courts force the church to cover abortion for immigrants, to Anyone who holds to traditional morality and family values. (and that would be the Catholic Church) We are portrayed as intolerant, backward, medieval, etc. When trying to turn popular sentiment against the Church does not work---people seek the power of government to force the Church to conform to liberal secular atheistic humanistic values.

The thing is---people have not learned that this has all been tried and done in the past--and the governments have fallen while the Catholic Church continues.   If 2015 years of history isn't enough to convince people that they cannot and will not win when they take on the Church I don't know what IS.    

Pope Francis might be the last pope before Christ unveils his glory before all the nations, then again we might have a million more popes after Pope Francis.

The truth is--it should not and does not matter whether Pope Francis will be the last pope.  For those who are prepared for the second coming of Christ--that time will be a day of joy. We WANT Christ to come and we PRAY for that every time we celebrate Mass.  

The Catholic Church is going to come under a great persecution towards the end of time and she will indeed shrink and likely have to go underground.  However make no mistake: the Catholic Church will NEVER die. The gates of Hell will not prevail.  The Catholic Church has been around for 2015 years.  She has seen a lot in history and many kings and governments have tried to take her down.  They have all failed and she has only gotten stronger.  Believe me--we have nothing to fear.

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Father Dave Bechtel

Expertise

I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.

Experience

I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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