Year of Religion

August 8, 1975

Report Outline
Reassessment After Activest Decade
Religious Ideas in the United States
Currents in Nation's Religious Life
Special Focus

Reassessment After Activest Decade

Major church events in 1975; Themes of Renewal

The turmoil that buffeted the nation's churches during the stormy 1960s appears to have receded, but all is still far from quiet in the realm of organized religion in the United States. While clergymen are not taking to the streets as they did a few years ago, the social problems that aroused them have not disappeared and the churches continue to be torn by dissension on both social and ecclesiastical questions. Conservative-liberal tensions and defections from the ranks of both clergy and lay communicants are among the troubles that beset major churches. Worldly matters continue to press on the religious conscience. In the Protestant Episcopal Church, the issue of ordaining women as priests has provoked open challenges to ecclesiastical authority.

These and other troubling issues disturb the major denominations in a year marked by several major churchly conclaves, accompanied by calls for a renewal of faith and piety. Pope Paul's proclamation of 1975 as Holy Year draws the attention of Christians to its theme of “Renewal and Reconciliation.” Preparations for Holy Year—the first such celebration since 1950—inspired not only meetings of national church leaders but, at the specific behest of the Pope, special evangelical activities by local parish churches. The Pope also invited non-Catholic Christians to participate in the celebration. Holy Year will climax with the Christmas Eve mass in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

St. Peter's will also be the setting Sept. 14 for a ceremony in which Mother Elizabeth Seton will be declared the first American-born saint. The 19th century nun has been formally credited by the Vatican after years of exhaustive investigation to have performed miracles and to have been pure in thought and deed. And yet, indicative of the spirit of questioning that is abroad among all organized church groups, other motives are also being attributed to Rome's decision to canonize her at this time. Joel Wells, editor of a liberal Chicago-based Catholic quarterly, The Critic, thinks that the event is intended “to lift sagging morale in the U.S. church.” He adds, however, that “it probably won't.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Oct. 28, 2022  Church and State
May 29, 2020  Christians in the Mideast
Sep. 28, 2018  Christianity in America
Jun. 23, 2017  Future of the Christian Right
Jun. 07, 2013  Future of the Catholic Church
Jan. 2011  Crisis in the Catholic Church
Sep. 21, 2007  Rise of Megachurches
Sep. 14, 2001  Evangelical Christians
Feb. 26, 1999  Future of the Papacy
Dec. 11, 1998  Searching for Jesus
Jul. 22, 1988  The Revival of Religion in America
Dec. 02, 1983  Christmas Customs and Origins
Jun. 10, 1983  Martin Luther After 500 Years
Aug. 08, 1975  Year of Religion
Jul. 26, 1972  Fundamentalist Revival
Jan. 04, 1967  Religion in Upheaval
Aug. 03, 1966  Religious Rivalries in South Viet Nam
Nov. 11, 1964  Church Tax Exemption
Aug. 05, 1964  Catholic Schools
Oct. 14, 1963  Churches and Social Action
Jun. 19, 1963  Vatican Policy in a Revolutionary World
Jan. 05, 1962  Rome and Christian Unity
Mar. 26, 1958  Church-Related Education
Dec. 18, 1957  Church Consolidation
Jun. 05, 1957  Evangelism in America
Jun. 23, 1955  Religious Boom
Aug. 13, 1952  Church Unity in America
Feb. 12, 1947  Relations with the Vatican
Dec. 21, 1923  The New Schism in the Church and the Immaculate Conception