Why they left

Kudos to Bishop David O’Connell of the Diocese of Trenton for asking the question. Here’s an excerpt from the NCR article on this story:

In his email to NCR O’Connell highlighted one of the conclusions of the Zech-Byron study, that one of the most immediate challenges the U.S. church faces is to bring home to Catholics the central importance of the Eucharist in their lives.

“If only 25 percent or less of our Catholics are participating in the Eucharist regularly, I think we have a serious concern,” he said. “The national average is about the same [as in the Trenton diocese]. We need to engage our Catholics in such a way that we see the Eucharist as the ‘source and summit’ of the Christian life, a necessary part of who we are in the church.”

Zech and Byron recommended to O’Connell that he focus most immediately on “a fresh explanation of the nature of the Eucharist” and “a creative liturgical, pastoral, doctrinal and practical response” to complaints about the quality of weekend Catholic liturgies, especially about music and homilies.

Rather than “a fresh explanation of the nature of the Eucharist,” I think we need more of a “show, don’t tell” strategy. You can explain the nature of the Eucharist all you want, but if the way we celebrate the Eucharist doesn’t convert hearts (and according to the study, some of the biggest needs for improvement are in the areas of music and homilies), then you will still have disaffected participants. We need both first-order and second-order language (a good, basic explanation of these terms is here, p. 12-13) with more focus on the first-order language of the doing of the liturgy followed by substantial second-order language of theological reflection and explanation that connect what was done in the liturgy to the real life needs of the real life people who celebrate the liturgy.

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56 comments

  1. Many years ago, a fellow administrator in the mental health system asked a young and particularly articulate person with mental illness what he wanted from the mental health system.

    “I don’t want the most expensive system, or even the system with best practices. I want a system that I have helped to shape, and I know it will be there when I need it.”

    His comment is one of the most profound that I have heard about institutions. It certainly sums up my own experience whether in education, the mental health system, or parish life. Was I able to shape my experience in these institutions in ways that I contributed and shaped the life of the institutions at the same time that they contributed and shaped my life.

    When I consider fellow professionals whether in higher education, mental health, or in religion, the vast majority of them seem to think that only if they had more money, and could hire more staff and build bigger and better facilities things would be better. As both a researcher and professional I am very skeptical of that assumption. In many cases I have seen lost of money and resources actually make professionals and institutions much better.

    But most professionals whether in education, mental health or religion don’t spend their time dreaming about money. They spend their time arguing about best practices. PrayTell is one endless debate about best practices. However if you go out and ask consumers about all these best practice debates, they would say that many of them are barely intelligible, most are probably uninteresting, and few are relevant to their lives.

    Studies are a good first step to starting a conversation with people. The results should lead to more than a conversation among professionals about best practices but rather be the beginning of conversations and collaborations with nonprofessionals that allows the consumers to reshape the institution so that it will there when they need it.

    1. I intuitively agree on your point about ‘user-participation’. However I think we ought to be extremely careful how we apply this to the Church. We must always be aware that it is not us who have created the Church – God has, and any developments we humans have made have happened (hopefully to a great extent at least) under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Also, the Church (unlike a mental health facility) exists for God’s sake, not for the sake of the people (strictly speaking – though God created the Church for our salvation, he created us for His glory). So there are limits to how much the Church can allow random people to ‘shape’ her. It certainly cannot be done by any form of democratic process. It must always take into account the principles on which the Church is founded and on which it operates, and the fact that many of the things people think would be good to have in the Church really are not good.

      1. Gideon, read church history. God didn’t create everything in the Church’s structures, for heaven’s sake. Humans did to a very large part. History shows huge changes and develops, and huge secular influence when the Church took on secular models of governance (empire, monarchy, etc.) It is historically ungrounded, bordering on fundamentalism, to divinize all the past developments and say they can’t change any further. It is a bit much to be so skeptical of “democratic process” when the Church has been influenced historically by secular models – and when the Church had more of such democratic processes in past historical eras.
        awr

      2. Church history, as Anthony notes, goes both ways. In my first Ancient Church History course, the professor organized the syllabus in such a way as to force us to consider that back-and-forth movement. For each era we covered, we’d look at how the church influenced society and then how society influenced the church.

        If you want a biblical example of outsiders influencing the society of God’s people , you might consider Cyrus.

      3. re: Anthony Ruff, OSB on March 30, 2012 – 4:33 am

        Fr. Ruff, You are undoubtedly right that the corporate Church is forever entwined within temporal societies. I describe the corporate Church as “it” purposefully, not only because of the pronoun’s not-gendered-status and contemporary usage, but also because the pronoun “it” better reflects the corporate church as an agent in history and not a self-referential personification. The 1967 translation of the Roman Canon’s te igitur wisely refers to the Church as “it” even though this is not congruent with the Latin grammar.

        A personification of the corporate Church as “she” implies that the Church is impervious to various forms of government raised up around and through it. A personified Church is cast as a deceptively independent actor. Some governmental forms have arguably been favorable to the Church, others perhaps hostile. At all times, the Church has not resembled a reified emblem of government, but rather a dynamic participant in governments, as Father notes.

        I am far from convinced that the social justice documents of Vatican II have advanced the corporate Church past confessionalism as an ideal form of government. I suspect that, for as long as the corporate Church exists, some Catholics will always desire theocracy. History tells us that a confessional state is often little better, and frequently quite worse, than governments devised without the input of the hierarchy.

      4. Fr. Anthony, I did not say that God created everything in the Church, just that He created the Church. At the same time, He created it with a certain constitution and He did not just leave everything else up to us. We do not believe in ecclesiological Deism, where God has retreated and left everything up to us. I am not saying that everything that has happened in the Church’s history has been good and the express will of God, because it certainly hasn’t. But as Catholic Christians we do believe that God guides the Church by His Holy Spirit, especially through her pastors, and that must imply that by and large things have worked out as He wanted, minor details and momentary lapses notwithstanding.

        It is of course true that there has been a large amount of secular influence in the Church – but are you saying that is a good thing? If you want to criticize the Church of past ages for letting itself be influenced by secular rulers and customs, I don’t understand why you are defending doing the same thing in our age.

    2. Liturgies, like bread and wine, are “fruit of the earth and work of human hands.” God’s providence joins with human labor to create a new reality that is best reflected by the union of human and divine in Christ. The humman part needs to be careful, whether it is fashioned by Popes, theologians, liturgists or laity; the liturgy is a joint effort of God and people.

      God plants the desire to worship in our hearts, and from our hearts we form the liturgy. Democracy might actually be better at this than oligarchy or monarchy. God loves each of us, and all of us shape the prayer we pray together. God would have it no other way.

      1. While there is a human element in the formation of the liturgy, we do not “all of us shape the prayer we pray together.” This has always been the task of the pastors of the Church as they are the ones who have the competence and the guidance from the Holy Spirit to determine what is in conformance with the doctrine of Christ and what is not. Popular devotions are another matter; here the ordinary faithful have a great role – but they are not liturgy strictly speaking.

      2. The liturgy is not the work of the people? That is a novel idea.

        There is as much art to being a person in the pews as there is to being a pastor, and the way it is done shapes the prayer. People mumbling through the prayers, texting, private devotions during liturgy is one way of praying. Enthusiastic response, attentive postures, lively singing is another. Punctuating the celebration with ejaculations, speaking in tongues and prophesying is another. Complete silence is another. These, and other forms of prayer, mix in different ways in every community under the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The pastor “guides” them cautiously.

  2. Rather than “a fresh explanation of the nature of the Eucharist,” I think we need more of a “show, don’t tell” strategy. You can explain the nature of the Eucharist all you want, but if the way we celebrate the Eucharist doesn’t convert hearts (and according to the study, some of the biggest needs for improvement are in the areas of music and homilies), then you will still have disaffected participants.

    Agree a gazillion percent with this. The ex opere operato position no longer works with this. (Did it ever?)

    I spend a significant proportion of my time with people who have left, or who are dipping their toes in the water and are not sure whether to come in or not.

    Outreach is what we need to be doing, not putting barriers in people’s ways. We are not the gatekeepers, God is.

    1. Mr. Inwood, please take this as the light-hearted joke at your expense it is intended as – who made the music that is complained about? 🙂

      1. I think Paul’s point is that we need more of the welcoming “Alleluia Ch-Ch” mentality and less of the unfriendly “Alleluia Tsk-Tsk.”

      2. Gideon and Emily,

        Be careful not to confuse, as some others have done, music that I wrote for children, to engage them in the rite, and music that I have written for adults. They are not the same thing at all.

    2. Agree wholeheartedly, Paul. Case in point from the other post on B16 and the sacrifice of the mass:

      “The catechesis for the the Tridentine Mass in most
      pre-Vatican II catechisms separate the discussion of the Mass from the “Sacrifice of the Mass” and “Receiving the Holy Eucharist.” It is made clear, though, that both are a part of the Mass itself. But your point of calling these parts of the Mass, “The True and Perfect Sacrifice” and “The Sacred Banquet” are spot on as well.
      It’s not either/or but both/and. But I think what is lost on most laity today is the necessity of the priest to complete the Sacrifice of the Mass by His consumption of the Sacrificial Victim. As everyone here knows, out of a false sense of hospitality or allowing home etiquette to trump liturgical theology and the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass, it has been suggested and even executed in some parishes in the past that the priest-celebrant receive Holy Communion last, after everyone else has. That’s an over-emphasis on “home etiquette” and truly a deformation of the meaning of how the priest-celebrant completes the Sacrifice by consuming the Offerings first.”

      This line alone is chilling in its definition of what happens in the eucharistic community action – “But I think what is lost on most laity today is the necessity of the priest to complete the Sacrifice of the Mass by His consumption of the Sacrificial Victim.”

      Note the use of “necessity”; “priest”, “complete”, “sacrifice”, “consumption”, and “victim”

      Example of narrow and one school of theology thinking that blames by not understanding eucharistic theology development; rejects without asking or listening first (see Jack Rakofsky’s post today on the bishop survey); condemns by focusing on a minor point (clerical, father first, priest as cultic vs. servant, minimizes ecclesiology, etc.) and constructs a straw man with the “home etiquette” remark rather than the meaning of the total communal action.

  3. Huh? Did I read a different article?

    From the article: “Byron and Zech told conference participants at The Catholic University of America that many of the responses from lapsed or disaffiliated Catholics in the Trenton diocese matched what researchers have known from other surveys: They object to what they see as the church’s unwelcoming attitude toward gays and lesbians or toward the divorced and remarried, they find homilies uninspiring, the parish unwelcoming, the pastor arrogant or parish staff uncaring, or they have suffered terrible personal experiences with a priest or other church official, such as rejection for being divorced.”

    Nothing there about catholics leaving because they don’t understand the importance of the Eucharist. Catholics are aware of the importance of the Mass/Eucharist but that is not why they are leaving…. But I guess if we focus on that, put the blame on lapsed catholics because they somehow don’t understand the centrality of the Eucharist, then somehow we will ignore all the other issues. Just “pay, pray and obey”.
    Yup, that will bring them back in droves alright.

  4. There are so many and varied reasons why Catholics are not engaged in their parishes or even actively disengaged. There is a benign disengagement because of apathy or the faith simply isn’t important to some people; they don’t hate the Church but they simply don’t want to be bothered by it either.
    Others have been hurt or marginalized by clergy or by fellow laity and this has led to their disengagement.
    Others get so wrapped up in the politics and power plays in parishes that when their point of view or grasp of power fails, so does their enthusiasm for the faith.
    I know many parishes in my own diocese where parish and liturgical life is abysmal and many have left the Catholic faith for Protestant church life that nourishes and sustains them in the ways they want to be nourished and sustained.
    But shouldn’t we also encourage those faithful Catholics who remain in their parishes despite the lack of having a truly good experience realizing that at least they are receiving the sacraments even if poorly celebrated? There are many faithful Catholics who stay through thick and thin and they should be encouraged and not overlooked.
    But I would tend to agree that in parishes where parishioners are encouraged to take ownership, be active in the various ministries, allowed to take initiatives, those parishes are the strongest regardless of being labeled “progressive or traditional.”

    1. I agree. But addressing the Eucharist as a response to why people are leaving is the wrong way to go because this will give an “out” to bishops and clergy to say, oh, we’ll address the Eucharist because it’s not about our lousy leadership and bad fruit but rather the fault of the laity because they don’t understand the Eucharist. Also, it just “preaches to the choir” and doesn’t do anything to bring back those who have left.

      We definitely need to stop the exodus. We are in REALLY big trouble. It only takes one generation to stay away permanently to damage and destroy the church. Remember HoJo’s and Lums? They were as ubiquitous as Catholic churches, now no more. I think it will take something big and flashy to bring them back, Vatican III perhaps, to get their attention.
      If this doesn’t happen and the church continues to lose credibility then we lose our moral standing. The secular media, federal government and Hollywood now think nothing of attacking the church. If you want to know what people will turn to in that vacuum then turn on your TV.

      Taking moral lessons from the Kardashians is truly frightening!

    2. My biggest concern with the young people in my parish whose parents send them to a Catholic private middle and high school as well as with many parents sending their children to our elementary school, which goes to 6th grade, is “disinterest” in radically or even minimally living out one’s faith within the context of the Church. Amongst some there is truly a deep seated apathy that goes to the heart of this exodus or lack of engagement and its more sloth than anything else, not any real anger or disgust at the Church and her bishops and clergy.
      In the past, Catholic parents who used Catholic education were usually the ones most engaged in their parishes and their home life reflected a profound “Catholicity.”
      Today, we have a significant number of Catholic children in our schools whose parents don’t bother to attend Sunday Mass and delegate the religious component of the children’s life to the faculty of the Catholic school. Weekly Mass attendance and yearly penance services at the school suffices for their religious experience since Sunday Mass doesn’t figure into their parents Sunday habit. I’m not sure how to address that apathy which has taken two to three generations of post-Vatican II confusion to now impact this third generation this ambivalent way.

      1. How much of your parish receives a Catholic education?
        Do you really think those problems arose only in the last 50 years?

      2. Well, yes, I have 32 years of experience of being in parishes with parish schools and yes, not only my experience but the experience of pastors my age and older will say that in previous generations the Catholic parents of students that used Catholic schools were some of the most engaged parishioners parishes had, not only in the parish school but in the parish at large. That is not necessarily the case today and Catholic parents in my city are quite willing to send their children to private non-sectarian elementary schools and pay up to $12,000 annually for tuition when our tuition for registered parishioners is $4,500. That is rather significant a shift too.

      3. Fr Allen, I personally wouldn’t necessarily blame post VII confusion for the lack of attendance. A big reason is “time”. Society had placed so many burdens on everybody’s time that there is no time left for areas that are deemed luxuries ie Mass and personal time, etc.
        When both parents now have to work (to pay that tuition fee) and put food on the table for the kids then Mass attendance takes a back seat especially when the experience is sometim es awful. Also, people aren’t stupid. They hear bishops preach but know that they themselves don’t practive what they preach, nothing like the hypocricy to poison attendance. Look at Ireland. When they allowed stores to be open on Sunday Mass attendance plummeted.

      4. I personally wouldn’t blame post VII confusion for the lack of attendance. A big reason is “time”. Society had placed so many burdens on everybody’s time that there is no time left for areas that are deemed luxuries ie Mass and personal time, etc.
        When both parents now have to work (to pay that tuition fee) and put food on the table for the kids then Mass attendance takes a back seat especially when the experience is sometim es awful.
        Also, people aren’t stupid. They hear bishops preach but know that many bishops themselves are out of touch and don’t practice what they preach, nothing like the hypocrisy to poison attendance.

      5. To be honest with you in my neck of the woods there aren’t a lot of complaints about the bishop or the pope, the pope is in Rome and the bishop 190 miles away from here. Even the scandals haven’t created a huge anger here. The problem is ambivalence and I don’t think being over worked is the problem, ambivalence is and that has taken about two generations to develop. And it is not about monarchy in the church or even authority issues, it is about ambivalence.

      6. Have you spoken directly w/ many who have left?
        I have and believe me they are angry, not at any specific bishop but “the bishops” and their response to abuse.

        Many feel that their conscience is a better guide.
        Every catholic is aware of the ban on artificial contraception but 92+% use contraceptives, many know about the church’s stance on gay marriage but don’t understand that while “matrimony” in the church is unaffected the bishops still push for the ban on civil marriage for gay catholics, protestants, Jews and the rest. Why not a ban on civil divorce? Isn’t that worse?

        Believe me, they are aware and it is usually those who are “keen” enough that leave.

        Also, it’s easy to blame post VII but remember, the church was led by conservative popes the past 34 years.

      7. I see the non-practicing Catholics every day before school begins as they drop their children off and after school as they pick them up. They are nice people. Many of them hate their bosses too and despise where they work, but they keep on working. Ambivalence is my experience of them in terms of the Church. Everything else is a smoke screen or they would stop working too; but, I see, their lives depend on working but I guess they don’t give too much thought to their eternal salvation, but hedging the bet that they should at least give their children a Catholic education not just for our good academics but also to have someone other than them teach the faith to them and make sure they get some religion and Mass during the week.

      8. But Allan, for every non practicing Catholic who sends their child to Catholic school there are one hundred former Catholics who don’t.
        Those are the ones to talk to. The Zech-Byron study did just that and listed the reasons in the study, apathy isn’t one of them.
        I find it easier to bring non Catholics into the fold than former Catholics who are disgusted with the “baggage”.

        Incidentally, have you spoken w/ these parents and asked them why they don’t attend church or do you just “see” them drop off their kids?
        Ask them what YOU can do specifically to bring them back into the fold. You’ll be surprised and I hope you don’t blush easily.

      9. Of course I speak to them about this, they are very cordial. I make a point about it any time I have them as a captive audience such as sacramental preparation when they are required to attend with their children and I make a point of asking their children to beg their parents to bring them to Mass every Sunday. But I must say that maybe it is our southern culture,but those who do not use our school or come to Church except for funerals, weddings and baptisms and the receptions that follow these events at which I do speak to them, are not angry Catholics, they just have left the church over this, that or the other, but they aren’t really angry, they are ambivalent. That’s not to say that there aren’t angry fallen away Catholics, there are. The stories that I hear most often is that they were excommunicated when they divorced or got remarried outside of the Church. Of course, I suggest to them otherwise and that we should meet to discuss their situation with the Church. Sometimes I’ve been most successful in those situations.

      10. It may well be that some of the parents send their children to your school not to get a Catholic education but to get a good education. It may be that your school is the cheapest private alternative to the local public schools.

        Again, the active Catholics who send their children to the more expensive private school may perceive that to offer a better education and/or they may disagree with the image of Catholicism presented at your school.

        Of course, if you want to know the actual reasons, you will have to ask the people themselves, and you may not like the answers.

  5. I would suggest we need to ask a lot more people about this, and actually pay attention to the answers before coming up with solutions. It would also be worthwhile to ask those who have stayed why they stayed, whether they are thinking of leaving, and what it would take to make them stay or leave.

    1. Right now, I see nothing that would bring me back…it has been years and years and years of “stuff” that finally did reach that proverbial last straw (the “new” translation)…this after K-8, high school, college & grad school in “Catholic” institutions…who would’ve seen it coming; I didn’t.

  6. The Eucharist is not the problem. People don ‘t need to have it explained to them; they need to feel it celebrated in a way that profoundly engages, challenges and stirs them. The problem is all the things that surround or make up the Eucharist: presider, homilist, music, environment, spirit of the assembly, etc. There are so few parishes where a strong emphasis is given to liturgy and the budget to back. So many parishes are simply just willing to “have masses” for the people in which the liturgy is routine, lifeless, sometimes confusing and often just routine if not boring and/or sloppy. At times a presider can make it more authentic but without all the other ministers doing a good job, he can hardly make a dent. The environment comes many time from the liturgical stores where one product fits all needs and there is little or no sense of beauty in the objects, vestments, etc. It will take much more than stronger catechesis to make the Eucharist what is should be in the life of the pairsh community. In the meantime, sadly, so many are seeking for it elsewhere.

  7. CNN reports on the study here:
    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/30/7-reasons-catholics-leave-church-in-trenton-1-is-sex-abuse-crisis/

    It lists the top 7 reasons why Catholcis say they leave:
    1. The sex abuse crisis
    2. The church’s stance on homosexuality
    3. Dissatisfaction with the priest
    4. Uninspiring homilies on Sundays
    5. Perception that church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics
    6. Church’s stance toward divorced and remarried Catholics
    7. The status of women

    1. I will, perhaps unwisely, comment on (5). My regrettable and nonsensical post earlier in the thread did not address the American hierarchy’s increasing involvement in American politics well or at all. I temper my strong reservations with the knowledge that the Church has always been a political body active within the regimes it inhabits.

      Still, I am certain that the politicization of American Catholicism will eventually marginalize rather than strengthen Catholicism’s position in public discourse. The Church will not only lose esteem among skeptical Catholics but also the electorate at large, as the charitable institutions of the Church cannot forever be leveraged for political power. This loss of esteem stems in part from the politicization of a few hinge issues over many other aspects of the Church’s social justice mission.

      Can the life of the unborn be protected without political maneuvers? Certainly, as the world cannot be swept clean of sin through political compromise. Individual Catholics must bear witness to Catholic moral instruction as individuals and not merely as voters.

    2. Those seven reasons sound more or less like what I’ve heard from a number of lapsed Catholics I know. Particularly numbers 2, 4, and 7.

      I find most Catholics don’t really know much about their faith and attend banal Masses with useless homilies. For many people the Church just seems like it wants to control them in the bedroom without offering anything positive in return.

    3. Well, it’s really very, very, heartening that the Church’s position on abortion is not among the ‘reasons people leave’

      And, germane to that, many Catholics may want to be aware of the following: after purchasing at a restaurant a pink discount card to benfit a well-known women’s breast cancer fund, I discovered some months later that breast cancer is not the only crusade they are supporting: namely Planned Parenthood and Abortion. I shall never buy another one of their cards, and hope that Catholics will want to be aware of this and withhold their support from this pink-card ‘breast cancer’ organisation. Deny your help to the American holocaust carried out at our own macabbre little Aushwitzes all over the countery.

  8. As someone who doesn’t go to church anymore, I can say that I do agree with most of what the people in the study said. It’s not about the eucharist. It’s about sex abuse and its cover-up, about the church’s treatment of women, gays and lesbians, the bishops’ connection to conservative politics, the Vatican’s refusal to consider married priests. It’s about us having no voice at all in church decisions, and also knowing that the church really doesn’t care if we’re there or not ….. this study will most likely change nothing, the policies and practices will remain the same and instead the problem will be blamed on those who leave, that they’re too dim or evil to understand the importance of the eucharist.

    1. Maybe if priests and bishops have to explain the power of the Eucharist, they will begin to feel that power. Maybe they will recognize the distortions of clericalism cannot survive in a grateful, loving Eucharistic community.

      We can always hope.

  9. Crystal, your words ring of truth. I’m one of those who has been on the fence as of late about belonging to the RC church. It’s not because of poor worship (personally, I have yet to experience a parish with the liturgy was not top shelf). The reason I stay is precisely because of the Eucharist, as well as the open and lovely community I experience. But beyond the local parish – yea, all those reasons, more or less in that order, ring true for me. You did hit one of the issues on the head – the not having a voice in church decisions. The NRM is a prime example of something being forced upon us, with absolutely no input from the folks in the pew. I suspect that most folks in the pew (well, except for Fr.Allan’s parish) could care less about “greater fidelity to the Latin text.” What they want is a language that is understandable and that makes sense. Another issue is accountability, especially financial, but accountablity for decisions made as well. All that nonsense the last year or so about the apostolic visitation to women’s communities in the US is a perfect example. No one said why it was happening, who instigated it, who paid for it, let alone what are the findings from it. The hierarchy continues to refuse to accept the idea that the laity are well educated, thoughtful adults and expect to be treated that way. The days of “just do as Father/Bishop/Pope says are over for many Catholics.

  10. In terms of the CNN’s report on the study of why Catholics leave the Church, it would seem to me as I remember my sociology studies that these same questions have to be applied to other Christians to get a more accurate understanding of our age. In other words there must be context. Episcopalians and other liberal Protestant denominations are possibly facing extinction as they lose more and more members each year and each of them is quite liberal on all the issues in the CNN report and each of them too has sex abuse issues although CNN and other liberal news outlets could care less about that since the other aspects of liberal Protestantism fit in so neatly with the mindset of secular liberalism espoused by these media companies.
    The survey suggests too that there is dissatisfaction with bishops being politically pro-active and thus this is called the politicization of the Church. And yet one comment above has a person no longer going to Church because she has no voice in the Church and no one seems to care she is missing. That sounds like more to me of the “politicization” of the Church when one wants to be a member in order to participate in the process of manipulating the Church for intra-political purposes. Let’s face it, the biggest reason people are leaving the faith and evidently most are not joining liberal Protestant denominations, in fact more are going to conservative evangelical denominations, while perhaps the majority are not joining any organized religious group, the biggest problem is secularism and the ambivalence it creates toward religion and personal salvation. If at the heart of our participation in the Church isn’t personal and communal salvation and experiencing the Saving Passion of Our Lord in “The True and Perfect Sacrifice of the Mass” and receiving Him worthily in “The Sacred Banquet” then why be Catholic? Why be Christian? Why be religious? Be secular and be ambivalent about salvation and damnation. It seems to me that people are leaving the Church over those damn sinners who create the problems that the CNN report indicates are the reasons they leave. I’m sorry that the saints who don’t stay with the Church are missing out on our (us sinners who stay) salvation in the Holy Eucharist.

    1. One last note on one of the reasons Catholics stop practicing their faith: “Perception that church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics.”
      Yet most of the reasons in this biased survey as to why Catholics supposedly make excuses for leaving is based upon the liberal, secular political bias of those leaving, thus their hypocrisy, for they wouldn’t mind a liberal political bias from the hierarchy and yet we all know that a liberal bias in the areas surveyed would lead to infidelity to Scripture and Tradition whereas a conservative bias doesn’t.
      This whole survey reads like godless, political,liberal secular bias and the ambivalence secularism creates and promotes toward revealed truth.

      1. “and yet we all know that a liberal bias in the areas surveyed would lead to infidelity to Scripture and Tradition whereas a conservative bias doesn’t.” Father Allan J. McDonald

        Really? The founder of the Legionaries of Christ wasn’t inclined to infidelity to scripture and/or tradition? Or, albeit in another way, the Lefebvrists?

        You have used the word hypocrisy on two occasions recently here, which is interesting given some of your more egregious comments. Chris Grady’s earlier questions to you are still as apt as the day he asked them: Have you no hungry and thirsty to feed? No sick or imprisoned to visit? No naked to clothe?

        In this part of the world you comments on this thread would be described as ‘pious waffle,’ and your evasive smattering of platitudes on another thread as ‘woolly thinking.’

      2. G., in terms of what I wrote about liberal politics, it referred to “women’s ordination” which was implied with “women’s roles in the Church” since most parishes I know of employ more women in all paid positions that males. I was also referring to same sex marriage which the rail against the Catholic Church’s position on natural law is all about.
        Obviously (and secularists hate this word) there are people who are disordered in their affections in both traditional and liberal expressions of the Church. But secularists only care about the disordered affections of conservatives. There is just as much abuse of teenagers and children in liberal circles but the secular media doesn’t care about that, just look at how sex abuse is reported about public schools–it isn’t. As well in the Protestant communities the sex abuse is more directed to underage females, but since these Protestant communities have bought into secularized morality and politics, there is little or no mention of this in news coverage. On top of that the abuse of under age males seems to be more important to the secular media then female abuse (there is a current story of a public school male teacher who has an underage female student as his lover and the press coverage of it is astounding!), yet they have been very careful to point out that underage male abuse isn’t done by homosexuals but celibates who are repressed. Yet we know that celibates who act out with any gender aren’t celibate are they, but they well might be disordered in their heterosexual or homosexual orientations.

    2. ‘And yet one comment above has a person no longer going to Church because she has no voice in the Church and no one seems to care she is missing. That sounds like more to me of the “politicization” of the Church when one wants to be a member in order to participate in the process of manipulating the Church for intra-political purposes”

      Really? How do you know that?

      Yup, clericalism is alive and well…
      can’t question anything father says or does.

      Maybe if there was a process of “manipulating” by the laity there would have been fewer priests raping altar boys behind those Tridentine altars.

      BTW, recently a neighbor Episcopal church built a brand new church to replace their smaller one. They built a new large sanctuary costing several million dollars and have 5 priests… they needed room for all the converts from catholicism. So I can’t help but chuckle when we hear that these liberal churches are close to extinction.

      Attack the messenger to create confusion. Sounds like you’re part of the problem Allan. No wonder people are leaving.

      1. Kim said: “Maybe if there was a process of “manipulating” by the laity there would have been fewer priests raping altar boys behind those Tridentine altars.”

        So sexual abuse and cover ups only occur where the Latin Mass is celebrated?

        That certainly wasn’t the case in my diocese.

  11. Fr. Allan – your comments reach the level of ridiculousness, again.

    The survey only summarizes what people responded to these questions. “Biased” – only in your mind. Sociology did teach you that every survey is biased because of the questions asked, the arrangement of questions, the survey compiler, etc. Does that invalidate every survey?

    “Secular” – you define in such a way to reveal your bias. Secular is a neutral word that only gets defined negatively by some. You connect secular, liberal, political. Again, balanced sociologists know how each of these is distinct and neutral. So much for southern catholicism. And then to take your “biased” definition and compare to “revealed truth” – again, you are watching EWTN, reading Fr. Z. FT, and NLM and your own SO way too much.

  12. If at the heart of our participation in the Church isn’t personal and communal salvation and experiencing the Saving Passion of Our Lord in “The True and Perfect Sacrifice of the Mass” and receiving Him worthily in “The Sacred Banquet” then why be Catholic? Why be Christian?

    Jesus said the important things were to love God and love others. I don’t think those loves can be or are restricted to doing communion at a Catholic church. Our church has leaders who are, if all that has come out in transcripts and in reports is true, fairly unrepentant liars and protectors of child abusers. There is also not doubt, at least to me, that the leaders of our church have made the lives of gays and lesbians harder than they have to be. And as for politics, the bishops support a party who’s policies doom the poor. Maybe there’s an inconsistency for some in participating in communion while overlooking the practical moral failure of the leadership that provides it – they may not be able to see how they can stay and also be faithful to what Jesus asked of us.

      1. It’s one thing to love the bishops but it’s another thing to ignore their acts, especially when those acts harm others. If Jesus had been for this kind of love, he’d never have told off the religious leaders of his time.

      2. Allan, Crystal said that Jesus told off the religious leaders. You then jump to Jesus dying for them…. That is NOT what Crystal meant and you know better than that.
        Jesus said to Peter: “get thee behind me satan”. Apparently Jesus didn’t always love his apostles Allan.
        Jesus wasn’t a kiss up.

        I guess that when it comes to the salvation of the laity it’s pro multis but when it comes to dying for the clergy and religious leaders it’s pro omnibus.

  13. Wow, noone complained that the church wasn’t homophobic enough, or that women weren’t being put in their proper place, or the priest wasn’t whispering most of the prayers of the mass in latin. Another good reason to stop reading traditionalist publications.

    1. This kind of ties in to the other thread on the reading of the Passion on Palm Sunday.
      The parish I attend now is a large suburban, Vatican II parish with many children and many youth programs. Yet yesterday, I found myself drifting away during all the readings. They were given in an uninflected, rather rushed fashion. The deacon read the short version of the Gospel, and seemed to pause at the end of every line rather than at the end of every sentence. The Eucharistic Prayer rambles on so long that I even lost track during the Consecration.
      Now, i think people will stay because of the strong sense of community. But the liturgy needs lots of work!

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