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Does the American Catholic Church Have a Numbers Problem?
US News & World Report ^ | April 27, 2009 | Dan Gilgoff

Posted on 04/28/2009 11:10:26 AM PDT by Alex Murphy

A fascinating Pew report out today finds that most Americans have changed religious affiliation at least once and that within this dramatic religious churn, Roman Catholicism is the biggest loser. Four times as many Catholics are leaving the faith as are joining it, the study finds.

And yet an upbeat E-mail from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops landed in my inbox today, with this triumphant first sentence:

A Pew Forum poll on Americans and their religious affiliation finds Catholics have one of the highest retention rates, 68 percent, among Christian churches when it comes to carrying the Catholic faith into adulthood.

How could the American religious tradition that boasts one of the highest retention rates be losing the most members? Easy, says Pew: because Catholicism is attracting so few newcomers.

Catholics are leaving the faith at four times the rate that newcomers are joining. "Religious change is not simply a function of retention; it's a function of recruitment. It's both sides of the ledger," explains the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's Greg Smith. "In no other religious groups we looked at did we see this high a ratio people leaving versus joining."

And yet Catholics still account for just under a quarter of the population, as they have for many years. That's because the surge in Hispanic immigration has offset the steady decline of white Catholics. Roughly 2 in 3 Latino immigrants are Catholic, according to Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum. He also notes that Hispanic fertility rates are higher than those of white Americans, ensuring more Latino Catholic growth in the United States.

These countervailing trends in American Catholicism raise a question: Does the American Catholic Church have a numbers problem? Or, facing an American demographic future that's much less white than today, is the church's complexion merely changing with the nation's?


TOPICS: Catholic; Ministry/Outreach; Religion & Culture; Worship
KEYWORDS: suspectmethodology
Catholics are leaving the faith at four times the rate that newcomers are joining. "Religious change is not simply a function of retention; it's a function of recruitment. It's both sides of the ledger," explains the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life's Greg Smith. "In no other religious groups we looked at did we see this high a ratio people leaving versus joining."

And yet Catholics still account for just under a quarter of the population, as they have for many years. That's because the surge in Hispanic immigration has offset the steady decline of white Catholics. Roughly 2 in 3 Latino immigrants are Catholic, according to Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum. He also notes that Hispanic fertility rates are higher than those of white Americans, ensuring more Latino Catholic growth in the United States.

1 posted on 04/28/2009 11:10:26 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
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To: Alex Murphy

Given the profoundly countercultural nature of Catholicism, it is a miracle there are any Catholics left in the US.


2 posted on 04/28/2009 11:15:40 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: Alex Murphy

Here in Los Angeles, the Catholic weekly paper Tidings is apparently aimed only at the growing Mexican population. Plenty of brown power, reconquista, prison outreach articles and nothing relating to archbishop Mahoney’s criminal behavior.

It has become impossible to recruit converts in the current environment.


3 posted on 04/28/2009 11:16:53 AM PDT by moodyskeptic (the counterculture votes R)
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To: Alex Murphy

They don’t DO numbers- they do bingo.


4 posted on 04/28/2009 11:18:09 AM PDT by George Smiley (They're not drinking the Kool-Aid any more. They're eating it straight out of the packet.)
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To: Alex Murphy
Now the vultures come out...

If you look at the numbers, 22% of Protestants change denominations or drop out.

More of the same.

5 posted on 04/28/2009 11:28:09 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: Alex Murphy

bookmark


6 posted on 04/28/2009 11:34:06 AM PDT by GOP Poet
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To: annalex

Do I count as a miracle? I went to the Catholic church that I was baptized in 39 years ago last week and signed up for the classes to become a full fledged Catholic. It was a long journey. I went to my first mass last Sunday. I felt that it was time. When I signed up last week at their office they said “Welcome Back” which gave me a wonderful feeling.


7 posted on 04/28/2009 11:49:17 AM PDT by FreeManWhoCan ("Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K.")
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To: FreeManWhoCan
May the Good Lord bless you richly and shine his face upon you forever.

In the name of the Father, of the Son, and the Holy Ghost, amen.

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the word of life: 2 For the life was manifested; and we have seen and do bear witness, and declare unto you the life eternal, which was with the Father, and hath appeared to us: 3 That which we have seen and have heard, we declare unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us, and our fellowship may be with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And these things we write to you, that you may rejoice, and your joy may be full. 5 And this is the declaration which we have heard from him, and declare unto you: That God is light, and in him there is no darkness.

6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he also is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

[...]

1 Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. Therefore the world knoweth not us, because it knew not him. 2 Dearly beloved, we are now the sons of God; and it hath not yet appeared what we shall be. We know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like to him: because we shall see him as he is. 3 And every one that hath this hope in him, sanctifieth himself, as he also is holy.

(1 John 1,3)

Welcome home.

8 posted on 04/28/2009 11:58:24 AM PDT by annalex (http://www.catecheticsonline.com/CatenaAurea.php)
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To: FreeManWhoCan

I’m right with you. I was never baptized, although my gramps on my mom’s side was a Baptisth minister. He passed before I was born. Oddly, I never had a strong religious background growing up, but I considered myself a Christian. I married into a strong Irish Catholic family, and a couple of years ago, my wife & I mutually agreed that we would start attending her mom’s church. The pastor is very engaging, and I was impressed with the positive message of love and giving. I signed up officially for RCIA recently, and, God willing, my goal is to be baptized, confirmed and receive Holy Communion at Easter Vigil 2010.

So, count me as one of the converted.

So,


9 posted on 04/28/2009 12:07:11 PM PDT by Jobu Needs A Refill (Piper Palin 2036.)
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Roughly 2 in 3 Latino immigrants are Catholic, according to Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum.

I call BS on Lugo's claim.

10 posted on 04/28/2009 1:10:18 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: Alex Murphy

Our little parish has three masses every Sunday, and all three are usually SRO or close to it.

Why? We have NO lady priests, NO extraordinary chicks, NO altar girls, NO nuns with guitars, NO praise orchestra, NO felt banners, NO liturgical dance, NO overhead projector, NO clap-along baby songs, NO cry room, NO Jesus-On-The-Side Chapel, NO Holy Hot Tub, and NO gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender ministry. We are not open-minded, inclusive, or in touch with the freaky flower-power Now Generation, or whatever the current term for hip is.

What we DO have is the OLD mass, complete with lots of scary Latin, a priest who faces AWAY from the congregation, plenty of beautiful TRADITIONAL music played on an organ, and the Body and Blood of Christ Himself, front and center.

And babies. Lots and lots of beautiful, uncontracepted, unaborted Catholic babies. One family in our parish has nine kids (including two nets of twins); another has seven; and plenty have fives and threes. Hell, even Team B-Chan has one, with hopes for more. We are in your schools, in your businesses, breeding, breeding...

So let the Devil tempt away who he can. The dross will burn away, leaving pure gold. Parishes like ours are the future.


11 posted on 04/28/2009 1:10:24 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: A.A. Cunningham

“I call BS on Lugo’s claim.”

Why??


12 posted on 04/28/2009 1:26:08 PM PDT by ga medic
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To: FreeManWhoCan
Check out JF Noll's, Father Smith Instructs Jackson. I read it when my mom sang in one of her choirs in the sixties, and is still current, I believe.
13 posted on 04/28/2009 1:32:51 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: Alex Murphy

**Does the American Catholic Church Have a Numbers Problem?**

These reporters are so ill-informed. There is absolutely NO SUCH THING as an American Catholic Church.

Roman Catholic
or other rites of Catholicism — yes,
but not American Catholic.

When will they ever smart-up?


14 posted on 04/28/2009 2:26:57 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: FreeManWhoCan

Welcome Home! Let us know how we can help.


15 posted on 04/28/2009 2:28:43 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Jobu Needs A Refill

Welcome home to you, too!


16 posted on 04/28/2009 2:30:31 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Thank you! We went to Easter Vigil this year to see what I was in for in 2010...oh, man, 3 hours long, but it was awesome.


17 posted on 04/28/2009 2:47:26 PM PDT by Jobu Needs A Refill (Piper Palin 2036.)
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To: Jobu Needs A Refill

Once one attends an Easter Vigil, they never miss it again.

Four rites:

The Rite of Light
The Rite of the Liturgy — lots of readings
The Rite of Baptism (and Confirmation and Eucharist)
The Rite of the Eucharist

It really is beautiful — and then we have a huge reception afterward. We have 25 baptisms this year and 20 people come into Full Communion with the Catholic Church. That’s a lot!

As I said above, welcome home, and let us know if there are any questions we might answer.


18 posted on 04/28/2009 2:53:59 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Salvation

Thank you very much. Althoug B-Chan might be a bit off put by this, we do have a “Holy Hot Tub” at our parish - the baptisms are full immersions, and I am so looking forward to it. A lot of work to do over the next year, though. In fact, I have class tonight!


19 posted on 04/28/2009 3:11:44 PM PDT by Jobu Needs A Refill (Piper Palin 2036.)
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To: Alex Murphy
Four times as many Catholics are leaving the faith as are joining it, the study finds.

The surrender of the church to the "Gay Pervert Lottery" is the root cause.
Many Catholics simply refused to pay the bill, directly or indirectly.

They would have preferred to throw the pervert priests under the bus. The religion wasn't to blame; nor the parishoners.

Why should they bear the payment of billion$?
Most would have spent the money, defending the parishioners' church.

20 posted on 04/28/2009 5:51:30 PM PDT by Publius6961 (Change is not a plan; Hope is not a strategy.)
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To: moodyskeptic

And here is the odd part.

Many of the Mexican Catholics become Protestants (of some flavor) after a bit.

So the real question is, why are all the born Americans leaving the faith (Catholic or non Catholic).


21 posted on 04/28/2009 6:39:26 PM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: ga medic
Because
22 posted on 04/28/2009 6:49:56 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: Salvation
There is absolutely NO SUCH THING as an American Catholic Church.

Incorrect. They are heretics but they do exist.

http://www.accus.us/

Mistakes like this are why you take anything from Pew, along with most other pollsters, with a healthy dose of skepticism.

23 posted on 04/28/2009 6:58:23 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham (Barry Soetoro is a Kenyan communist)
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To: annalex

Thank you!


24 posted on 04/28/2009 7:17:51 PM PDT by FreeManWhoCan ("Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K.")
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To: Jobu Needs A Refill

Awesome and great news!


25 posted on 04/28/2009 7:19:30 PM PDT by FreeManWhoCan ("Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K.")
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To: George Smiley
They don’t DO numbers- they do bingo.

Yeah! That's Letters as well as numbers. Jeesh.

26 posted on 04/28/2009 8:00:40 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: Jobu Needs A Refill
If you were the only person ever made, and you sinned, IHS would come and die for you so that you could be grafted into His living body.

When I think how much Jesus loves you, and how grateful I am that He loves me, well, I get all sappy.

Do keep us posted through the year. I hope you have a good RCIA class.

27 posted on 04/28/2009 8:00:47 PM PDT by Mad Dawg (Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.)
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To: markomalley; Alex Murphy
If you look at the numbers, 22% of Protestants change denominations or drop out.

lol. There's a world of difference between "changing denominations" and "dropping out."

28 posted on 04/28/2009 8:11:13 PM PDT by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
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To: A.A. Cunningham

Learn something every day.

I still think the reporters are ignorant.


29 posted on 04/28/2009 10:49:46 PM PDT by Salvation ( †With God all things are possible.†)
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To: Dr. Eckleburg
lol. There's a world of difference between "changing denominations" and "dropping out."

OK, have it your way.

Raised Catholic, now unaffiliated 4%
Raised Catholic, now Protestant 5%
Raised Protestant, now Unaffiliated 7%
Raised Protestant, now different Protestant denomination 15%
Raised unaffiliated, now affiliated 4%
Other change in religious affiliation* 9%
Not in the graphic, but buried in text --
part of that 9% above

Raised other than Catholic, now Catholic
2.6%

From Executive Summary, page 1.

So we can look at 5% of Catholics switching to another denomination and 17.6% of Protestants switching to another denomination (15% to another Protestant denomination and 2.6% to being Catholic). Since they don't break down the "other change in affiliation", we could say most accurately that between 5% and 14% of Catholics switch to another denomination and that between 15% and 24% of Protestants switch to another denomination.

But either way, the way the story is being reported really doesn't reflect the data. Hopefully you can get past your blinding hatred of the Catholic Church to recognize that fact.

30 posted on 04/29/2009 3:01:55 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: Publius6961; Salvation; redgolum; A.A. Cunningham; Mad Dawg
The surrender of the church to the "Gay Pervert Lottery" is the root cause. Many Catholics simply refused to pay the bill, directly or indirectly.

According to the data gained by this report, that's not true (and it surprised me to read that, as well).

There is a whole section of the report, beginning on p23, that discuss the reasons why Catholics left.

When asked to say whether or not each of a number of specific items was a reason for leaving Catholicism, most former Catholics say they gradually drifted away from Catholicism. Nearly three-quarters of former Catholics who are now unaffiliated (71%) say this, as do more than half of those who have left Catholicism for Protestantism (54%).

Majorities of former Catholics who are now unaffiliated also cite having stopped believing in Catholicism’s teachings overall (65%) or dissatisfaction with Catholic teachings about abortion and homosexuality (56%), and almost half (48%) cite dissatisfaction with church teachings about birth control, as reasons for leaving Catholicism. These reasons are cited less commonly by former Catholics who have become Protestant; 50% say they stopped believing in Catholicism’s teachings, 23% say they differed with the Catholic Church on issues such as abortion and homosexuality, and only 16% say they were unhappy with Catholic teachings on birth control.

Perhaps not surprisingly, those who express dissatisfaction with the Catholic Church’s teachings on birth control, among those who are currently unaffiliated and Protestant alike, overwhelmingly contend that the Catholic Church is too strict and conservative on this issue; very few say the Catholic Church is too relaxed and liberal about birth control.

Among former Catholics who are now Protestant, 71% say they left Catholicism because their spiritual needs were not being met, making this the most commonly cited reason for leaving the Catholic Church among this group. A similar number (70%) say they left the Catholic Church because they found another religion they liked more. Having found a religion they liked more than Catholicism is cited by almost equal numbers of formerly Catholic evangelical and mainline Protestants (70% and 69%, respectively). By contrast, lack of spiritual fulfillment is a particularly common impetus for leaving Catholicism among those who are now members of evangelical Protestant churches (78%) but is cited less often by former Catholics who have become members of mainline Protestant churches (57%).

The survey finds other interesting differences between those who have left Catholicism for evangelical and mainline Protestant churches. Most converts to evangelicalism (55%), for instance, say that dissatisfaction with teachings about the Bible was a reason for leaving the Catholic Church, compared with only 16% among current mainline Protestants. The two groups also express concerns of a different nature about the Bible. Most evangelicals who left Catholicism over concerns about teachings on the Bible (46% of all formerly Catholic evangelicals) say the Catholic Church did not view the Bible literally enough. Mainline Protestants, however, are not only much less likely to say concerns about the Bible led them away from Catholicism, but those who were led away by such concerns are also much more evenly divided as to whether the church viewed the Bible too literally (6%) or not literally enough (8%).

Mainline Protestants are much more likely than their evangelical counterparts to say they left Catholicism because they married a non-Catholic (44% vs. 22%) or due to dissatisfaction with the priests at their parish (39% vs. 23%). In addition, nearly one-third of formerly Catholic mainline Protestants (31%) say unhappiness with the Catholic Church’s treatment of women led them away from Catholicism, compared with only 11% among evangelicals.

Overall, fewer than three-in-ten former Catholics agree that the clergy sexual abuse scandal played a role in their departure from the Catholic Church (27% among those now unaffiliated, 21% among those now Protestant). About one-in-five former Catholics (19% of those now unaffiliated and 20% of those now Protestant) say they left Catholicism due to discomfort with the feeling of community at their parish. Those who take this view tend to say their parish did not have enough sense of community. Significant minorities, however, say their parish community was too close, with too many people involved in other people’s business.

Please actually open up the PDF at the above link and look at the section starting on p23. There are some tables there that I don't want to take the time to reproduce here that break the numbers down further.

Bottom line is that it appears to me that most who left were either not properly catechized or were CINOs to begin with. To the CINOs, I say "have fun." But we can fix the problem with the ones who weren't properly catechized.

31 posted on 04/29/2009 3:15:03 AM PDT by markomalley (Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus)
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To: Mad Dawg

Will do. Had a great class last night, even though, yeah, I was the only one who showed. Nuthin’ like a teacher/student ration of 2:1.

God Bless!


32 posted on 04/29/2009 10:34:04 AM PDT by Jobu Needs A Refill (Piper Palin 2036.)
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