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.
You should get these guys to help you "Stay out the bigots".
Seriously, the RCC does _NOT_ teach the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9.
Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)
"For by grace you are saved through faith,
and that not of yourselves,
for it is the gift of God;
Not of works, that no man may glory."
I have no clue as to what you are saying.
It is my desire that you too put aside your injuries, hatreds and prejudices and come to a more true and loving relationship with Christ. Those feelings you carry towards the Catholic Church and Catholics are corrosive to your soul and salvation. The belief that they do not love Christ who do not love like as do is a vanity. Anyone who professes a love of Jesus already has the Holy Spirit working within them. You need to forgive whatever wrongs you may have suffered and release yourself from that burden. Forgiveness is not a gift you bestow on others, the ability to forgive is a gift bestowed on you by Jesus when he paid the price all sins on the Cross.
God does not need or ask you to hate sinners or to destroy or diminish the Church. What glory or gain would there be for Him in that. If He wanted it destroyed or diminished it would already be so. Instead, after 2000 years, it is growing and vibrant in spite of its human flaws.
"For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God. - Acts 5:38-39
I simply suggest that, before you hit the post button on your future posts you perform a simple check to see if the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is evident in them and to see if the recipient of your posts will have their hearts opened and become more receptive of the Holy Spirit or if you might be responsible for further hardening of hearts. The choice to help or hinder the Holy Spirit is your along with the consequences.
Not talent, Mom, GENUIS.
I’m not sure what the great painters of the Renaissance would have done without the Church and the great Catholic patrons (my favorite, the somewhat comical Il Moro) who supplied them with money, housing and vast canvases to create the greatest of Western art or - as Jean Brodie might say - MY favorite.
The drive to artistic perfection was driven by the Thomistic belief that to pursue beauty was to pursue God because God Himself is infinitely beautiful. The degree to which any society is Catholic is manifest in the relative beauty of it's art. That is nowhere more apparent than in the drab gray and brown environments of Protestant iconoclasm and the stark facilities where they gather, not to celebrate and worship, but to lecture.
Nobody ever said that we don’t have to respond.
We are convicted of our sin and sinfulness, we repent and confess our sin and our faith in Jesus and we ARE saved.
Not hope to be. Not if we try hard enough. Not if the good works outweigh the bad works because works to not garner salvation. It is given to us FREELY. God is not an Indian giver.
We are transferred into the kingdom of the Son He loves. We are clothed with the righteousness of Christ which God sees when He looks at us instead of the filthy rags of our own righteousness that He’d see otherwise.
Once we are saved and become a child of God, He does not disown us every time we slip up and sin. A parent is certainly grieved when their child sins and the child is chastised, but NEVER disowned.
We may not get all the reward we’re entitled to in heaven, but we’re not kicked out of heaven.
If you're calling them Christians, they ARE saved.
Individual sins committed after being born again do not cause us to lose our salvation. They break the fellowship with God that He would like to have with us. They may make us ineffective in our ministry. They may cause us to lose our reward in heaven. They may cause others to stumble. But they do NOT damn us.
The damnation for our sins was dealt with on the cross. If you don't think so then what you are essentially saying is that the cross wasn't and isn't sufficient.
The idea that Catholics or the Catholic church take credit for the talent of the great painters is the height of arrogance.
They are NOT responsible for the greats, even if they did provide a venue for them. If the church wasn’t there, there would have been some other outlet for them. You can’t keep good men down.
Regardless of your own antipathy toward the Church denying the Church's role in forming the inspiration and providing the incentive and opportunity for the artistic masters of the Renaissance is unfounded.
A reward is by definition something given or received in recompense for worthy behavior, in other words, works. This is different than the presumption of Salvation you have claimed in the past. Of the two kinds of presumption of Salvation, one either presumes his own Salvation based upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save oneself without help from God), or one presumes upon God's almighty power and mercy (hoping to obtain God's forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit). You have often presumed the later. I am hoping you have had a change of heart and did not simply misspeak.
What you now appear to be professing is completely in line with Catholic Teaching and with the Gospel. Remember also that Jesus taught the consequences of unworthy behavior in what we have done or failed to do.
Then He will answer them, Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me. These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. - Matthew 25:45-46.
I say all this because there are artistic masters in every age. But what I don't find is God directing men to paint frescos or ceilings or buildings with pictures supposedly depicting Jesus Christ. Or Peter. Or Paul. Or angels. God has directed and given instructions for two items: The Ark and the Jewish Temple. The rest is man's reaching out to God. The opposite of God's reaching out to man. This world is about God reconciling man to Himself through the finished work of Jesus Christ. Everything else, no matter how "inspiring" or "masterful" takes away from His Word of reconciliation. Meant to please the eye and feed the senses, but void of truth.
Sometimes I think we care tooooo much that's why we step on each others toes on these threads! Lol!!
What with what all the enemy throws at the human race. We can see the light from a different angle at times. We then do not understand why the other one does not see it like us.
To explain this simply I need to introduce and define several Latin Terms used by the Church that I am certain are completely foreign to Sola Screiptura Protestants; Ipsissima verba and ipsissima vox.
Ipsissima verba means the actual words used (ipsissima verba Jesu the actual words used by Jesus, Ipsissima verba Deus the actual words used by God, ipsissima verba Scriptura the actual words used in Scripture, etc.). Ipsissima vox means the actual meaning accurately conveyed (either by paraphrasing, or analogy, etc.).
An example would be if I invited you for dinner and asked that we meet at 6:45 at a Ruths Cris. If, in response to a question about it by someone you replied 6:45 at Ruths Cris you would be exercising ipsissima verba. If, on the other hand you answered a quarter to 7:00 at that really good steak house on Broadway you would be practicing ipsissima vox. You would have, with 100% fidelity relayed what I meant without actually using my exact words.
If we try to reconcile minor differences in accounts of the same event in Scripture we will find that Scripture contains numerous examples where ipsissima vox is used. Catholics and Catholicism, in reading the entire Bible, in the context of 100% of itself and in the context of the Apostolic Tradition substantiate many doctrines by the Magisterium determining Ipsissima vox Jesu, Ipsissima vox Deus and Ipsissima vox Scriptura.
Masters have existed in every age. Man is by nature and vocation a religious being. Coming from God, going toward God, man lives a fully human life only if he freely lives by his bond with God. Absent divine revelation, by only natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of His works and His creation.
CCC2501 - Created "in the image of God," man also expresses the truth of his relationship with God the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works. Indeed, art is a distinctively human form of expression; beyond the search for the necessities of life which is common to all living creatures, art is a freely given superabundance of the human being's inner riches. Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man's own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God's activity in what he has created. Like any other human activity, art is not an absolute end in itself, but is ordered to and ennobled by the ultimate end of man.
. Yes, this city:
Rev.17  And the woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.
Tell me. What kings of the earth does Rome reign over? Let's see. The top dude in Rome is the mayor, and he has a city council. Which 'kings of the earth' do they boss?
That's not what Bob Vila says. :)
Jesus, being God, does not lie. Paul, while being a salesman, does not lie. Once again, we come down to YOPIOS versus the Faith. The same division we have had since we've had the pleasure of chatting to each other on FR. Either add up the time and incidents that Paul spent with the Jews and in synagogues and reconcile it with that statement or else admit that YOPIOS isn't working for you.
Scripture is correct. Private interpretation of Scripture is often wrong.
The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; Proverbs 30:27
Does that really apply here? Do you consider yourselves locusts, looking to lay waste to entire lands? Or would something like this apply a little better?
Matthew 28: 16 And the eleven disciples went into Galilee, unto the mountain where Jesus had appointed them. 17 And seeing them they adored: but some doubted. 18 And Jesus coming, spoke to them, saying: All power is given to me in heaven and in earth. 19 Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.
Now is it becoming obvious to you?
Certain things are becoming clearer.
Catholics need to learn they are part of that swarm of God, whether they like or not...many Godly Catholics I know understand that already!
Men are not locusts, mindless organic eating machines. They are the pinnacle of God's Creation, able to love Him (also to reject Him).
Ehh, it happens on occasion. Your friends have your back, though.
From Matthew through Acts 8 you will find Israel's prophesied and long awaited Kingdom promised to them and offered to them through Christ's earthly ministry and the day of Pentecost, up until the stoning of Stephen. Acts 8 ends with Stephen looking up into heaven, and seeing the glory of God, and Jesus Christ STANDING on the right hand of God. STANDING, NOT SITTING. WHY? Judgement was about to fall. Standing means judgement. Israel had allowed the murder of John the Baptist, demanded the murder of Jesus Christ, and actually murdered Stephan themselves. Strike three. They're out. Judgement time.
Except for one thing. Instead of judgement falling, God in His grace reached down and saved Saul, the chief sinner, as Paul called himself. Paul was saved and sent with a new commission, whereby Gentiles could be saved WITHOUT Israel. Purely on the finished work of Christ.
So, why did Paul go to the Jews first? And he did, all the way until Israel was finally blinded and set aside, in Acts 28. Until God proclaimed them "lo ammi", not my people. We have from Acts 10 to Acts 28 to find out what was going on with Paul and the Jews and the Gentiles.
Paul was commissioned to a two-fold ministry during the Acts period (Acts 9:15 with Acts 13:3, 47; 26:16-19). FIRST, Paul had a ministry of CONFIRMATION to the JEWS. That Jesus Christ was INDEED the Messiah. Remember, Paul was both Jew and Roman. Paul preached to the Jews concerning Jesus, the promised Messiah (Acts 13:14-41; 18:5; 26:22, 28:23). HENCE, Paul went to the JEW FIRST (Rom. 1:16 with Acts 13:5,24,46).
SECONDLY, Paul had a ministry of REVELATION. Paul preached the UNSEARCHABLE (UNPROPHESIED) riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8); that is, the gospel of the UNCIRCUMCISION (Gal. 2:7), or the ministry of reconciliation by grace alone (2 Cor. 5:18-19; Eph. 2:8-9). This means that Paul preached the dispensation (fellowship) of the mystery (Eph. 3:9).
Paul was sent out to proclaim "the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24; Eph. 3:1-3). While he CONFIRMED the FACT that Jesus was Israel's Messiah, he NEVER PROCLAIMED THE KINGDOM AT HAND OR OFFERED IT FOR ISRAEL'S ACCEPTANCE. BTW: NOR had the TWELVE UNTIL PAUL was given his commission, EVER PROCLAIMED THE GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD.
One more thing, for your consideration: The message and commission of the twelve was based on Israel's ACCEPTANCE of Christ. The message and commission of Paul was based on Israel's REJECTION of Christ.
Oh, and one more one more thing. Have you ever read in any of Paul's epistles that he was given authority to remit sins? He was an apostle. Yet you will not find a single Scripture that says Paul remitted sins. Have you ever wondered why?
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