Skip to comments.Why do Catholics leave, and what can be done about it?
Posted on 04/19/2012 11:58:25 AM PDT by NYer
I saw an advance copy of a survey by William J. Byron and Charles Zech, which will appear in the April 30th edition of America magazine.
It was conducted at the request of David OConnell, the bishop of Trenton, and its focus was very simple: it endeavored to discover why Catholics have left the church. No one denies that a rather substantive number of Catholics have taken their leave during the past 20 years, and Byron and Zech wanted to find out why. They did so in the most direct way possible and asked those who had quit.
The answers they got were, in many ways, predictable. Lots of people cited the churchs teachings on divorce and re-marriage, gay marriage, contraception, and the ordination of women. These matters, of course, have been exhaustively discussed in the years following Vatican II, and Id be willing to bet that anyone, even those vaguely connected to the Church, could rehearse the arguments on both sides of those issues. But there just isnt a lot that the church can do about them. No bishop or pastor could make a policy adjustment and announce that divorced and re-married people can receive communion or that a gay couple can come to the altar to be married or a woman present herself for ordination.
What struck me about the survey, however, was that many of the issues that led people to leave the church are indeed matters that can be addressed. Many of the respondents commented that they left because of bad customer relations. One woman said that she felt undervalued by the church and found no mentors. Many more said that their pastors were arrogant, distant, aloof, and insensitive, and still others said that their experiences over the phone with parish staffers were distinctly negative. Now I fully understand that parish priests and lay ministers are on the front lines and hence are the ones who often have to say no when a parishioner asks for something that just cant be granted. Sometimes the recipient of that no can all too facilely accuse the one who says it as arrogant or indifferent. Nevertheless, the survey can and should be a wake-up call to church leadersboth clerical and non-clericalthat simple kindness, compassion, and attention go a rather long way. I distinctly remember the advice that my first pastora wonderful and pastorally skillful priestgave to the parish secretary: for many people, you are the first contact they have with the Catholic Church; you exercise, therefore, an indispensable ministry. One respondent to the survey observed that whenever he asked a priest about a controversial issue, he got rules, and not an invitation to sit down and talk. Unfair? Perhaps. But every priest, even when ultimately he has to say no, can do so in the context of a relationship predicated upon love and respect.
A second major concern that can and should be addressed is that of bad preaching. Again and again, people said that they left the church because homilies were boring, irrelevant, poorly prepared, or delivered in an impenetrable accent. Again, speaking as someone who is called upon to give sermons all the time, I realize how terribly difficult it is to preach, how it involves skill in public speaking, attention to the culture, expertise in biblical interpretation, and sensitivity to the needs and interests of an incredibly diverse audience. That said, homilists can make a great leap forward by being attentive to one fact: sermons become boring in the measure that they dont propose something like answers to real questions. All of the biblical exegesis and oratorical skill in the world will be met with a massive so what? if the preacher has not endeavored to correlate the answers he provides with the questions that beguile the hearts of the people to whom he speaks. Practically every Gospel involves an encounter between Jesus and a personPeter, Mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, Zacchaeus, etc.who is questioning, wondering, suffering, or seeking. An interesting homily identifies that longing and demonstrates, concretely, how Jesus fulfills it. When the homily both reminds people how thirsty they are and provides water to quench the thirst, people will listen.
A third eminently correctable problem is one that I will admit I had never thought about before reading this survey. Many of the respondents commented that, after they left the church, no one from the parish contacted them or reached out to them in any way. Now again, I can anticipate and fully understand the objections from pastoral people: many Catholic parishes are hugeupwards of three or four thousand familiesand staffs are small. Yet, just as major corporations, serving millions of people, attend carefully to lost customers, so Catholic parishes should prioritize an outreach to those who have drifted (or stormed) away. A phone call, a note, an e-mail, a pastoral visitanything that would say, Weve noticed youre not coming to Mass anymore. Can we help? Can you tell us what, if anything, weve done wrong? Wed love to see you back with us.
The problem of Catholics leaving the church is, obviously, serious and complex, and anyone who would suggest an easy solution is naïve. However, having listened to a representative sample of those who have left, parishes, priests, and church administrators might take some relatively simple and direct steps that would go a long way toward ameliorating the situation.
Wisdom, and I thank you for it.
Forgiveness is not a simply a gift we give those who have sinned against us. It is a gift that Jesus has given us that imparts Grace on us and and frees us from the slavery of anger.
In my haste, I overlook that all too much.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing Gods workwhich is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.
We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurersand for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to the gospel concerning the glory of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.
You certainly have the right to your own opinions but you cannot read others hearts so you don't have a right to make your own facts. Seeking for the truth of the Gospel found in the Bible and discovering that the Roman Catholic Church does not teach what Scripture clearly states is not forming "ones own theology as one wishes". I'm sure it must give you small comfort to convince yourself of that, but as the Reformers sought to do - to RESTORE the church back to true gospel - it is much too late to convince those of us here that our experiences are invalid. God has already confirmed the truth by His Spirit within us.
As to your education on the differences between Israel and the Church, the following may help to make these points more clear.
I never said that the doctrinal issues would be dissolved or disappear. Neither did I say that ecumenicalism is a form of negotiation or capitulation or that the Church's doctrines were invalid, only that they are secondary to the two greatest commandments.
As I see it, too often non-Catholic individuals and institutions are not looking simply for a peaceful coexistence with the Church. They demand more than indifference, tolerance or acceptance on behalf of the Church. They demand an endorsement even to the point of demanding that Church doctrines change to accommodate their needs and see an unwillingness to compromise as threatening and hostile.
What I have trouble understanding is the preoccupation with the Catholic Church, especially by the former Catholics. They haunt Catholic topic threads and demand an endorsement of their exegesis and new and often home-spin doctrines from the active Catholics, and ridicule, often very incorrectly, what they believe to be Catholic doctrine and dogma. Unfortunately, like too many active Catholics, the former Catholics are poorly catechized and too often hate the Church for completely invalid reasons. Like some scorned ex lovers they are obsessed with their former beliefs and rejection. While the Christian world is under attack by secular humanists, atheists, radical Islam and the like they spend their every waking moment defending their decisions by biting at the ankles of their biggest champion.
If we can get back that break through maybe we can continue to move toward Christian unity.
I think what Natural Law is trying to state is that the "law" - meaning the Mosaic laws of the Old Testament given to the Jews is NOT the "works" Jesus supposedly commands must be done to acquire His grace. The Catholic Church calls them "corporal works of mercy" AKA the beatitudes, etc. Of course, Paul also addresses this when he stated by Divine inspiration:
But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Perhaps you could share with us where this is located in Scripture?
If you are referring to II Peter 1:19-21, let's look at that:
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
It is clear that this is speaking of the prophets whom God used to pen Holy Scripture not writing what they understood or privately interpreted, but spoke what God gave them by the move of the Holy Spirit. Got anything else?
I don't doubt for a minute that Catholics teach and believe that Jesus replaced the Law He gave Moses with other works designed to procure grace. But grace is not received by works or it would no longer be grace. What is earned for what we do is wages. When we get what we don't deserve, that is grace.
The whole concept is not only unscriptural, it is anti-Scriptural. It is directly contradicted by the clear teaching of Scripture.
Jesus Himself says that only believing is enough to save one.
John 5:21-24 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
I'm sure you are convinced that the Church is wrong is all areas, but in this case you wrong. The Church teaches that Grace is the gratuitous gift of God, that Grace is the help God gives us to respond to His call.
You are correct in one respect, though. Contrary to your earlier posts there are wages, the wages of sin (Romans 6:23).
What God gives is grace FREELY given without the works of the Law or any other law men decide to institute among themselves.
I don't know what it is that Catholics are thinking they're receiving from whom but if they feel they have to do something to get it, it's not grace and it's not from God.
Didn't you say you won't post to me??? I guess you make exceptions sometimes...
You still on that mantra? LOL! It shows one with absolutely NO concept of the supernatural - you are purely on the natural level. I laugh whenever I see it - it's like having a big arrow pointing towards your words "I'm clueless to the ways of God"! Just the way the Vatican/RCC wants it.
"Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is SUPREME over ALL creation.."
"For by HIM all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; ALL things were created by Him and for Him." (The WORD spoke it all into existence)
"He is BEFORE all things, and in Him ALL things hold together".
John 1:1 "In the beginning was THE WORD, and THE WORD was with God, and THE WORD was God."
THE WORD that you discount as a book HOLDS the universe together. Jesus, GOD'S WORD REIGNS, always has and always will! Pushing the RCC man-made doctrine and tradition FAILS BIG TIME!
It's ALL about JESUS, THE WORD!
I do not debate with those who post lies about me on FR.
Nice way of finessing the RF posting guidelines.
A A mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words repeated to effect a transformation. Here is mine:
In the beginning was the LOGOS and the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God....In the beginning was the LOGOS and the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God....In the beginning was the LOGOS and the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God....In the beginning was the LOGOS and the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God....In the beginning was the LOGOS and the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God....In the beginning was the LOGOS and the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God....In the beginning was the LOGOS and the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God....In the beginning was the LOGOS and the LOGOS was with God and the LOGOS was God....
I never get tired of hearing or saying that. Do you?
I realize that.
"...if they feel they have to do something to get it, it's not grace and it's not from God.
We don't. Maybe you do know what we are thinking after all.
Peace be with you.
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,Remember, Paul is describing and recommending this formal liturgy long after the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, and after Paul's dramatic public encounter with the risen Jesus. Remember also that, long prior to all that, YHWH set up specific liturgical forms of worship for the Children of Israel, as extensively documented in the Old Testament. Also, Jesus and his family participated in the liturgical forms of worship prevalent in the Holy Land in their days there, and Jesus was also known to read from the Sacred Scriptures in the Synagogue during their public liturgical celebrations.
24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.
28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.
1 Corinthians 11:23-29 (RSV-CE)