Why do people leave the Catholic Church?

The answers in a new study offer some insight, and Fr. Thomas Reese takes a closer look:

The principal reasons given by people who leave the church to become Protestant are that their “spiritual needs were not being met” in the Catholic church (71 percent) and they “found a religion they like more” (70 percent). Eighty-one percent of respondents say they joined their new church because they enjoy the religious service and style of worship of their new faith.

In other words, the Catholic church has failed to deliver what people consider fundamental products of religion: spiritual sustenance and a good worship service. And before conservatives blame the new liturgy, only 11 percent of those leaving complained that Catholicism had drifted too far from traditional practices such as the Latin Mass.

Dissatisfaction with how the church deals with spiritual needs and worship services dwarfs any disagreements over specific doctrines. While half of those who became Protestants say they left because they stopped believing in Catholic teaching, specific questions get much lower responses. Only 23 percent said they left because of the church’s teaching on abortion and homosexuality; only 23 percent because of the church’s teaching on divorce; only 21 percent because of the rule that priests cannot marry; only 16 percent because of the church’s teaching on birth control; only 16 percent because of the way the church treats women; only 11 percent because they were unhappy with the teachings on poverty, war and the death penalty.

The data shows that disagreement over specific doctrines is not the main reason Catholics become Protestants. We also have lots of survey data showing that many Catholics who stay disagree with specific church teachings. Despite what theologians and bishops think, doctrine is not that important either to those who become Protestant or to those who stay Catholic.

People are not becoming Protestants because they disagree with specific Catholic teachings; people are leaving because the church does not meet their spiritual needs and they find Protestant worship service better.

Nor are the people becoming Protestants lazy or lax Christians. In fact, they attend worship services at a higher rate than those who remain Catholic. While 42 percent of Catholics who stay attend services weekly, 63 percent of Catholics who become Protestants go to church every week. That is a 21 percentage-point difference.

Read the rest and come to your own conclusions.

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84 responses to “Why do people leave the Catholic Church?”

  1. I know of multiple lapsed Catholics. The most common reason is that they got remarried without an annulment. The next reason is the sex abuse scandal — to date our parish priests have not mentioned it once during a Mass. And lastly, politics.

    I think — without offending — it is easier to belong to other religions and it takes a lot of effort to be a Catholic. I know that I always feel perpetually guilty, a symptom of my parochial school education and corporal punishment by nuns. LOL.

  2. I am not a big fan of Father Reese, but I think this report is straightforward and helpful to those who are concerned about the fall-off in Catholic practice, which we were just discussing in the recent post about Buffalo NY. Fr. Reese points out that neither of the antagonistic wings of modern US Catholicism got this one right: Catholics who leave–at least those who leave for another church–are not motivated by doctrinal and moral issues so much as by a concern for their spiritual welfare.

    Even in some megachurches, evangelicals manage to make newcomers feel that they are part of a caring community, a sense that is evidently missing in many of our massive suburban parishes (and, increasingly, in blended urban parishes as well). Small faith-sharing communities were once seen as an answer to this problem, but in most places I know about, they involve only a small minority of already zealous parishioners. Addressing this issue will probably not be as much fun as ferreting out heretics (or sighing in dismay at the new mass translation), but it will certainly require more Christian kinds of energy on our part.

  3. The reasons for leaving can be many and varied.

    In my own family, I know of a married couple who left because they underwent in vitro fertilization. Another member left because his (now ex) wife is Protestant, and she didn’t want to take the kids to Catholic mass. He finds the Methodist services friendlier, anyway. Another member of the family is about to remarry without an annulment, so she’ll also be out the door. Among my friends, I know a woman who stopped going to church because of an ugly experience with a priest at her mother’s funeral. And I know a few people who are holding on, but barely, because the sex abuse crisis has left them angry and upset.

    Dcn. G.

  4. I was once asked by a Baptist co-worker if I would change my religion. She had a habit of going to different churches based upon the social atmosphere they offered. I answered, it would be easier to change my skin — it is part of me.

  5. It does not shock me at all. I’m a cradle-catholic but not a cradle-christian, so when I converted to Jesus and then gave the church a second chance, I began to love the doctrines, the dogmas, everything. But then I also began to see that catholics in youth groups were not in fire for Jesus. They could talk to you about devotion to Mary, the saints and all but they couldn’t talk to you about reading and meditating on the Bible. If you had a tribulation or problem they would tell you to pray to saint X but they wouldn’t tell you to read X passage or even leave it to the hands of the Father. I do not judge these people but had it not been for the Charismatic Renewal, I’d probably be a legalistic catholic.

  6. A few Sundays ago the New York Times magazine had an article on the sex abuse scandal in Ireland, “The Irish Affliction.” When a woman, who was voicing her anger, was asked by a reporter if she was ready to leave the Church, she answered: “Where would I go?”

  7. I really can’t blame people who leave the Church, and find the finger-wagging they endure on the way out to be yet another missed opportunity at critical self-reflection.

    In fifty years as a Catholic who has been submersed in my faith and thoroughly involved, I have mostly seen priests who come off as juridical about issues such as in vitro fertilization, divorce and remarriage, contraception, etc. What is lacking is any evangelization and spiritual direction, so the dogmatic seeds fall on unplowed, unfertilized soil. And then we wonder at the mass exodus.

    We don’t lack for a mature and full explication of the Gospels. The post Deacon Greg had a week ago about the 84 year-old Dominican priest with the mall ministry addressed the issue. This wise old priest correctly observed that most priests sit in the rectory waiting for the people to come to them. I would add that this mentality carries over into their homilies as well. It also carries over into the outsourcing of teaching responsibility to the laity.

    Perhaps the protestants lack a good amount of the truths taught by the Magisterium, but they blow us away when it comes to evangelization. The hopeful message I wish seminary rectors would pick up on is the number of people who come back to the Church after years spent in Evangelical churches. They fully embrace the magisterial teaching after having been thoroughly steeped in the Sacred Scriptures. That’s what’s missing.

  8. Four of my siblings left in their teen-young adult years when other churches offered vibrant gatherings for that age. They met their spouses there and stayed. The church used to say they’d come back for marriage or baptism.
    That’s no longer the case. They – and now their teen-young adult kids are very involved in other churches. The Catholic church could learn a lot from megachurches in how to get, and keep, people interested and involved.

  9. Are they really leaving for better entertainment? That’s how I redefine this need to have Spiritual fulfillment – they go where they hear what they want to hear – not what is necessarily full. Where else will they find Jesus on the altar – where is the faith?

    And, before people think I don’t know – I left for Methodism for awhile. I felt good, we had fellowship. Friends who felt the same way about issues. But after awhile I missed the fullness the Catholic Church has and I realized that it’s not about my relationships with others – it’s about my relationship with God.

  10. I wonder if there is some connection to the hours spent watching television. If people are used to being entertained, as opposed to participating, maybe they look for churches that give them entertainment value. Perhaps people become so desensitized that they need more and more stimulation.

    The mass is relatively contemplative. Maybe people don’t know what to do with that anymore. Just a thought.

  11. Don’t judge — listen! Don’t speak or interrupt — listen ! When you listen, you will hear that the pain is in their heart — not in their intellect.

    For years, I worked with an outreach ministry for “Ex-Catholic Fundamentalists.” I never once heard any complaint about dogma or doctrine from those folks but I heard a lot of complaints about callous Catholic pastors, unfriendly and unwelcoming parishioners, and rules that kept sinners out rather than welcoming them in.

    Try this experiment yourself. Contact any local evangelical pastor of a mega-church in your area and ask him/her point blank how many ex-Catholics are in their congregation. Their best guess is that it will be 50-60%. And those ex-Catholics are leaders in those evangelical/fundamentalist parishes, demonstrating skills they could have used for the betterment of our own parishes but we turned them away.

    The fact that they left is not their fault — it is ours!

    NOW — to reverse the insight. Ask yourself how effective is your RCIA program? If you do not have one or have not had a candidate in years, maybe it is time for some serious self-reflection and ask the simple question “Why would a truly searching spirit-filled person NOT want to join my church ?”

  12. I’d really be interested in how “spiritual nourishment” is defined. Are we talking entertainment or actual spirituality? My belief, based on experience with some friends who have left, is that it’s entertainment they seek. Also, I’m not impressed by the Protestant Bible thing. Most Protestants I’ve spoken with about the Bible have no better knowledge than the average Catholic. They just think they have because they know some passages by heart. When actually pressed for meaning, they’re useless.

  13. If I were ever to leave the Church (which, I hope, won’t happen), it would be because of the hypocrisy of certain members of the clergy and those in position of authority within the church

  14. Lots of food for thought! What strikes me in the survey description, and some of the comments, is the sheer number of reasons people have. It’s almost like water bursting through a dike. And the fact that so little has been done to understand and address the problem. It’s like—we are the Hertz of the Christian world. (And we are the one true church anyway, so if people leave, so much the worse for them!)…Of course the church can’t be run by focus groups and bend itself to whatever shapes people may seem to want. And of course there are also reasons (other than inertia) why other people do NOT leave. But then many of those who stay are also dissatisfied… I think it’s a time for collective self examination. And for the church to think more like Avis… One side point: I remember recently passing an imposing-looking church from a distance and wondering whether it was Catholic or not. My eyes lighted next on the words on a sign in front. It said, “All are welcome.” I did not need to look any further to answer my question.

  15. To see how Jesus would have handled these people who felt they are “not being fed” at Mass read John 6: 41-68. Why do we go to mass? We are commanded to keep holy the Sabbath and the God Almighty revealed that this is how He is to be worshipped. There is no difference between the sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice or the Mass. We are at Mass to worship..not to be entertained. Not to be outdone in generosity, the Lord Himself gives us His Body and Blood to be nourishment. What more could anybody want? If it is music you want…go to the opera! Or inspiring oration…go to the theater. If it is life everlasting, go to Mass in the proper spirit! For those of the faith there is no other
    place to be…as St Peter said when asked by Jesus if he too would leave as many of the other disciples did after Jesus gave His Bread of Life sermon, “Lord, where would I go?”
    Note also in John Jesus did not call them back nor run after them. Faith is a decision…God will not take your free will away. Watch The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi to hear
    the faith journeys of those who have reverted as well as converted to the Catholic Church. Do not worry so much about numbers. Even Pope Benedict expresses his opinion as being not concerned about the number of defections but rather reflects on the quality of the faithfuls’ loyalties. Our
    Church is not only defined by the Church Militant (those here on earth) but also the Church Suffering ( those in Purgatory)as well as the Church Triumphant( those who are in Heaven among the saints and martyrs). No poll can accurately give us the correct numbers of the Mystical Body of Christ.

  16. “In other words, the Catholic church has failed to deliver what people consider fundamental products of religion: spiritual sustenance and a good worship service.”

    Yeah in other words, they want a good time. People should know what the Mass is all about, truly, as the re-experience of Christ’s Death on Calvary and the highest form of prayer in the world. That’s a start. More importantly it should be emphasized: MASS IS NOT FO ENTERTAINMENT!!!

    What ThirstforTruth says in less words and commoner language.

  17. I think those who reinterpret the desire to be fed spiritually into a desire for entertainment on the part of many who leave the Church, are misunderstanding the feeling of most such people.

    I think what they want is assurance that they are getting closer to God. If week after week the Mass offers them the same reassurance of God’s love, the same invitation to worship God and receive Communion — as good as that is, where is the growth? I’d suggest that there are many Catholics who understand clearly the great grace of being able to participate fully in Christ’s saving actions by participating fully in the Mass. They are not the ones we are losing. And I’d suggest that changing the Mass — whether by going back to the extraordinary form or by introducing something more “entertaining” will not help very much.

    I think we need lots and lots of opportunities for adult faith formation: Bible studies, discussion groups, prayer groups, missions, etc. The evangelical churches do not confine themselves to Sunday morning worship. Neither should we when it comes to our adults. Of course the sacred liturgy is central. Many Catholics want no more, and we should be glad they at least participate there. But those who leave need more, and we’d better provide it. Those who are actively seeking God aren’t content with giving him only an hour a week. Let’s support them instead of leaving them to their own devices.

    And if your parish is already offering programs for adults, ask what else you can do?

  18. I agree with Mary (#9) & Margaret (#12) & would add that those who would leave the Eucharist have no knowledge what-so-ever of the True Presence.

    It was the Eucharist that brought me back home. I had gone to Evangelical services for a short while. I was really loving the preaching & music until one day they had the blessing of the bread. The pastor said the words of the Priest, “this is my body…” & deep inside I reacted with ‘he can’t do that!’. It was then that I began to understand & find my way back home.

    How odd that people claim they aren’t being “fed” in the Church when the food for which they hunger is the Eucharist.

  19. Spreading the Gospel, and use words if neccesary. welcoming is very important and then letting them know they matter is next. all people are hungry and have a deep desire within. We have the Real Presence. only church to have that. yes Jesus is everywhere and we need to remember that. He speaks of love and we should do no different. Evangelization is key. also adoration. we need to show people Jesus and let Him talk with them. no one is more pwerful..Jesus started the catholic church. we as catholic christians need to do our part. we are not there to be entertained but boring is not so good. the pastor is so important and the youth our oir future. pray pray for all. one does need to read the gospels and the old and new testament. you don’t need to be told and don’t use that for an excuse. God speaks to us in different ways. I can go listen to someone explain and speak about scripture and that is great; but I need to open the bible and be one on one with God in three persons. and let him speak to me and have my relationship with Him. like adoration. Me and the Lord. embrace the cross and join the mission. have a blessed Holy Week.

  20. My opinion echoes some of the preceding comments:

    Many leave because of inadequate catechesis, lack of support groups and the almost non-existence of well informed and balanced spiritual directors. Those who leave just don’t know what the Catholic faith is, because they didn’t receive adequate formative teaching, nor do they receive on-going encouragement and direction. Many don’t have a support group, a spiritual director or anyone else praying for them. They have no peers or a spiritual director to talk to about their faith on a regular basis. A bible discussion group can provide so much more than just discussing the bible, but it takes work, commitment, and knowledge to make it function. There are nowhere near enough ordained clergy to provide the level of spiritual direction needed for the laity; some of the laity must be trained for this function (Moses tried to do it all until Jethro talked some sense into him).

    A lot of those who leave only know that they want something more, they just don’t see how they can get it in the Catholic church. They might think you have to be a monk or a nun to experience on going teaching, communal support and spiritual direction. The laity need these as much or more than any religious order, but they need these in a way that meets their schedule at least part of the way.

    Just my $.02 worth.

  21. My friend left because she found the Episcopal church more welcoming and friendly and there is nothing wrong with wanting that…just “having the Catholic church that has it all” doesn’t translate if the person can’t feel it and it doesn’t matter if the church takes it for granted. She didn’t want a touchy-feely mass, she wanted to feel welcome, smiles, groups that weren’t cliques, and she did find it elsewhere. The Catholic priest and parishoners weren’t so at her Catholic church.
    I work with people that left because they have many gay friends and they don’t understand why secular marriage, not in the Catholic church should be anyones’s business, it doesn’t effect them. Another, many others, because of the scandals and hypocrisy…they aren told to believe but obviously these priests and bishops didn’t. They felt betrayed and embarrassed by the scandals.
    Some left because annulments weren’t available and they thought being told they should be alone with 2 young children because a husband left, the only alternative. When I asked how it was good for a woman to be alone raising children, a priest couldn’t answer me except to say, exhaust all efforts for annulment. Granted, many are given that probably shoudln’t be, but that’s because the concept of livng a martyr when you could find a soulmate (human’s make mistakes no one could forsee in marriage) or a good father for you children, seemed against common sense.

    The list is long, and although I came back for my own reasons, I still have my own feelings about certain things and can’t talk them into trying to come home again.

    It’s hard, but it’s not TV, it’s not wanting to be entertained, it’s feeling God and seeing God at church. It’s being involved and being wanted, it’s having a priest that seems to like being a priest, it’s having reverent practices and showing that the Priest believes.
    Our priest is reaching out a lot more now, trying new things to evangalize and be welcoming, but some can’t come back now, they are remarried and have chidlren, they can’t conform when everything tells them certain things are wrong, but others will come back and I pray that everyone can find peace and live a God filled and holy life wherever they are.

  22. The only reason why someone should stay in the church is because they have found and encountered Jesus Christ. We can stay in denial for years but one day our sinfulness, our brokenness, our need for reconciliation, our need for new life and rebirth will force us to cry out for help and we will finally meet the Mercy of God in Jesus Christ. Those in the church only need to be the best sacrament of Jesus in the world, we do not need to judge others and what is going on in their lives…….the human condition will never change, we all must find this mercy and grace or we perish. and when this need and encounter becomes an existential reality in my life today, my eyes will be open and i will see Jesus in his church and once i know his grace will never leave him.
    When Jesus walked the earth 2000 years ago, many only saw a man from Nazareth and thought “what good can ever come that that place” but others who cried out in their need for grace and mercy found healing and eternal life. It is the same today……..and always will be.

  23. It is somewhat disconcerting during Holy Week to read an article on why people are leaving the Church. Perhaps an article on why thousands will be joining this Easter would be more uplifting.

    I don’t quite get Fr Reese’s point. Should the Church change its teachings on divorce and remarriage, in vitro, homosexuality etc. in order to accomodate people’s feelings? Those joining what they consider more Scripturally based Churches seem to ignore the teachings of Scripture they are not comfortable with.

    People will always walk away from truth when the truth hurts. They walked away from Jesus too. “to whom shall we go”????

  24. Art ND ’76 – I think you’ve hit many nails on the head!

    It makes me so sad that people say they leave because they need more or that they aren’t fulfilled by what Catholicism has to offer.

    My mother in law left the church many years ago – and she claims to have found everything she needs with her little band of non church going fundamentalist type ‘saved’ Christians –

    I have had many conversations with her where I’m left thinking ‘huh? why did you think that wasn’t what we do in the Catholic Church? Why did you think you needed to get that elsewhere when it’s right here in your Catholic Faith all along?’ My only conclusion is that she never truly understood her own faith – and sadly, she has now followed others who attack the Catholic Faith erroneously on things like Our Lady, The Saints, Confession, etc.

    I feel blessed to have been raised in a family with a priest in each of my parents’ families. These uncles have ‘demystified’ priests in a way for me – they are ordinary men, with a very important job of course – but normal, real human beings. My uncles have been great examples for us, and great standard bearers for the Church in their varied roles over the years.

    I would also say that so many Catholics of my generation – younger with young kids, are way too passive in their faith. They wait to ‘receive’ information/teaching/understanding – when in reality if they are to learn and understand fully – they need to actively seek.

  25. “I agree with Mary (#9) & Margaret (#12) & would add that those who would leave the Eucharist have no knowledge what-so-ever of the True Presence. –Janet (#18)”

    Me too, Janet. When one walks into a Catholic Church, their focus should be on Jesus, Our Eucharistic Lord. I find that’s a little more difficult to do going to Mass on Sundays only, and so I partake daily, but one thing my husband said to a daily Mass Catholic who was converting to his wife’s Protestant faith after many years, was, “I’d rather have knives thrown at me throughout the Catholic Mass, than to sit in a Protestant pew” [i.e. where there is no True Body of Jesus distributed].

  26. The radical transformation of the Catholic liturgy after VII is surely one of the main reasons for the massive exodus, regardless of Fr. Reese’s comments and sampling. Just using my own eyes, I continue to see novus ordo masses relatively sparsely attended, but latin masses are packed. I think the advent of the pill was also a major factor; when that became available, sex without responsibility became much easier and it was a siren song that many followed and drifted from the seemingly hard teaching of the Church on sexual morality.

  27. Rambling thoughts here. I’ve stayed Catholic in spite of Catholics. I moved from a large Catholic suburban parish many years ago to a much smaller semi-rural one. I’ve seldom felt like I’ve seen the face of Jesus in my parish. Never felt the friendship and love that I’ve felt since I became music director at a Lutheran parish. Never felt the connection with a pastor as I have with the Lutheran woman pastor. The level of love and sacrifice of time and money given from this parish to the homeless and others in need still blows me away – and I’ve been working here for three years.

    I don’t believe that anyone who joins this parish comes for the entertainment. There isn’t any. Just a weekly liturgy. Do I think they really understand their faith? Most likely, not. But I see the face of Jesus, the face of Love, in how they live, work, and pray. They understand the essentials. It is just a small rural parish where I feel blessed to be working.

    For those who say that those who leave don’t have the understanding of the fullness of faith, I would probably agree to a certain extent. But as I have read in this combox, mostly people are blamed for seeking “entertainment,” or “spiritual fulfillment,” elsewhere. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. What I’m seeing in those comments is the sort of out-of-touch judgementalism that, if I allowed it, would send me into the arms of the Lutheran Church. So what keeps me Catholic? The Eucharist, plain and simple. I’ve been to in-depth Protestant bible studies,and benefited greatly; worked in a couple of Protestant churches. My non-Catholic husband has always expected I’d join ’em. He doesn’t understand the Eucharist, and what it means to me.

    As to converts, my question would be: how many are still Catholic ten years after?

    I said this would be rambling. There is enough “blame” to go around as to why the church is losing members. We need to honestly look at ourselves and ask: Do they see the Face of Jesus in me?

  28. Jeff, you may very well be right when you state… “Just using my own eyes, I continue to see novus ordo masses relatively sparsely attended, but latin masses are packed.”

    However, there’s a problem with your logic there. There are many, many, many N.O. (modern, in the vernacular) masses, so yes, there’s a greater likelihood that any given N.O. mass will be more thinly populated. The folks who are N.O.-oriented (most Catholics, including me) have numerous choices as to which mass to attend. Those folks who prefer the Latin mass have relatively few choices as to which mass time (or place) to attend, so they do end concentrated at that mass.

    However, if the church were to bring back the Latin mass (my initial fear when Josef Ratzinger was elected pope), I’m betting you would see a much steeper (and rapid) falling off of attendance in most parishes. Most people want to be able to understand the prayers of the mass, and participate in them; the average Catholic will likely tell you that he or she does not feel closer to God when the priest celebrates the Eucharist with his back to the congregation, and with the Eucharist and the altar essentially hidden from the people of God because the priest’s body is coming between them and the holy Eucharist. I truly hope neither this pope nor his successor takes us further in the direction of Latin masses.

  29. Ah, yes. Let us return to those thrilling pre-Vatican II days of yesteryear.

    The days of the Mass of the Catechumens and the Mass of the Faithful, when one could fulfill the Sunday Mass obligation by attending only the Offertory, Consecration and Communion parts of the Mass of the Faithful.

  30. # 25 Jeannette

    Maybe some people leave the rcc because they believe the ceremonial mass is unbiblical. I’ll share ( 3 ) scriptures from
    Hebrews. 7 : 23-27; 9 : 24-26 ; & 10: 11-12.
    ” Once for all ” is from the Greek word ( ephapax )
    “Once for all time ” Something happened that was decisive.
    The act accomplished so much that it need never be repeated.
    Jesus Christ became the ” final ” priest and the ” final ” sacrifice.
    Jesus offered himself ” once for all ” and does not have to be sacrificed daily in the mass because the daily sacrifice can not take away sins.
    Come and sit in a ” bible ” believing church !!

  31. I believe this is the product of decades of poor catechesis. Jesus let disciples leave in their disbelief of the Eucharist. Jn 6:67. I do not attend Mass to be entertained. I go to be “fed”. Jesus says, “whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in Me and I in him”. I tend to take His word for it. That my friends is a “personal relationship”.

  32. Jim — The Mass is that once for all time sacrifice. Just as the literal-minded people in John 6 could not accept that Jesus would or could give them his flesh to eat and blood to drink, so literal-minded people cannot accept Jesus’ word that the bread at Mass becomes Jesus’ body, given for us on the cross, and the wine becomes his blood, poured out on the cross so that sins may be forgiven, so that the last supper was the one sacrifice of calvary made present to them just as the Mass is that same one sacrifice made present to us in obedience to Jesus’ command to do what he did in memory of him.

    Masses are not separate sacrifices, they are all God’s gracious making present to us the one sacrifice of Calvary.

  33. Jeff, I’m not sure we can draw any meaningful conclusion in saying that Novus Ordo masses are sparse and latin masses are packed.

    The fact is that there are several orders of magnitude difference in the number of Novus Ordo masses offered versus the tridentine rite mass. The very fact that there are so few tridentine rite masses means that those who want to avail themselves to them have very slim pickings, so of course, by the very fewness, the numbers per mass will be higher.

    I would posit a guess that if the whole latin rite were to suddenly switch back to the older rite, churches wouldn’t suddenly become packed.

  34. Jim, RE post #30.

    Let’s look at scripture:
    Scripture tells us that the lamb was slain from the foundations of the world (Rev 13:8).

    This lifts the event of Christ’s crucifixion from a point within history with a beginning in time and an end in time to the level of an event which transcends time. The Lamb who was slain on Calvary, is also the Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth.

    In truth, He is not only the Lamb slain from the foundations of the earth, but also, in so saying, He is also the Lamb Who is slain beyond all time. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Lamb whose slaying is both historical event and eschatological event. Thus there is no time either before the first century nor since, nor yet to come, in which He is not the Lamb Who was slain.

    This is a very unique and powerful proclamation. Those who would reduce the sacrifice of Christ into a momentary “once and for all” (based in a mis-reading of Hebrews 9:12), reduce the suffering of Christ into a mere three hours, His sacrifice into something which seems less than its fullness and its greatness. The witness of Scripture is otherwise. The Lamb who is slain for us, has been slain from before creation, and remains the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. As long as we suffer, He suffers. He is the Lamb always and for all.

    This does not diminish the efficacy of His sacrifice: it magnifies the measure of the love of God.

  35. IMO, people most leave the Catholic Church because it is hard AND it demands something of us, for starters a cross!

    I’ve never once known of any “MegaChurch” with a cross, yet they call themselves Christian? Impossible. What they really are, are big social halls with warm and fuzzies, telling what they want to hear.

    The more noise we have in the culture, the more moral relativism becomes not only the norm, but the “entitlement norm”, and the more the CC looks like the big bad mean heartless church, when nothing could be more from the truth.

    We have Jesus, in His Real Presence, and Calvary at every mass. To suggest we need to be more “whatever” at the mass (of course to make everyone feel special and entertained), is no different than thinking all who stood under the cross on Good Friday should “ignore the cross, liven’ it up, and for goodness sakes get over the doom and gloom and have a good time.

    All said, this is why we need real and courageous teachers of the faith.

  36. @ Jim

    You left out a very important quote from the Codex (Bible) in regard to celebrating Mass.

    Luke 22:19 Christ: “Do this in remembrance of me”.

    Even the King James bible has this quote. Christians are commanded to celebrate with Eucharist and Wine. I remember as an Altar boy still giving wine to the congregation, now that is gone as well. Man’s law constantly changing the Mass.

  37. Klaire, I don’t know. I would be careful whom you deem Christian or not a Christian. Yes, the folks who populate megachurches seem to have sensibilities far removed from our own. But it seems to me that it’s Christ’s business to decide who is actually Christian (that is, a sincere Christ-follower), not ours. The scriptures warn us not to be presumptuous in speculating as to who is working for and with Christ. There’s no way you can know the hearts of all those folks in the megachurches — whether or not they live the Gospel in their daily lives, whether or not they answer the call to love like Christ loves.

  38. Steve I agree with you that Christ can work through anyone open to His grace. We just appear to disagree on what Christianity is.

    Without judging anyone, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to practice authentic Christianity without a cross. Megachurches are famous for “happy talk” only.

    Christianity without a cross simply can’t be, unless perhaps Jesus was a just a “nice fully human guy.” What would Easter be without a cross? Most Mega churches couldn’t tell you, because they tend to do Easter and Christmas on days of convenience, so as not to interfere with Easter burnches, spring breaks, and gift openings.

  39. Klaire et al…

    How do you explain, then, this news: that the fastest-growing Christian denomination in America is the Seventh Day Adventist Church?

    From the Houston Chronicle:

    Rest on the Sabbath. Heed Old Testament dietary codes. And be ready for Jesus to return at any moment.

    If these practices sound quaint or antiquated, think again. They’re hallmarks of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the fastest-growing Christian denomination in North America.

    Newly released data show Seventh-day Adventism growing by 2.5 percent in North America, a rapid clip for this part of the world, where mainline denominations are declining. Adventists are even growing 75 percent faster than Mormons (1.4 percent), who prioritize numeric growth.

    For observers outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the growth rate in North America is perplexing.

    “You’ve got a denomination that is basically going back to basics … saying, ‘What did God mean by all these rules and regulations, and how can we fit in to be what God wants us to be?’ ” said Daniel Shaw, an expert on Christian missionary outreach at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. “That’s just totally contrary to anything that’s happening in American culture. So I’m saying, ‘Whoa! That’s very interesting.’ And I can’t answer it.”

  40. George — Calling the Precious Blood of Christ “wine” implicitly denies the Catholic theology of the Eucharist. Lots of poorly catechized Catholics make that mistake, but it always touches a nerve with me. When I receive COmmunion from the cup, I am most definitely not drinking wine. I am drinking the Blood of Christ. Of course, each of the sacred species alone is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ, but the host especially signifies the body while the contents of the cup signify the blood.

  41. Deacon Greg since you asked, I think the growth of 7th day Adventism is pretty easy to explain for the following two reasons:

    1. They are obsessed with “end times”, (despite the 19th century prediction which came and went), which, of course, many think we are in. Sensationalism always sells.

    2. They don’t believe in eternal hell

    That said, they DO believe ( or at least profess to believe) in the resurrection and the Trinity, so “technically”, that makes them Christian, I guess; albeit heretical. On a similar note, most mega churches believe in the Trinity and the resurrection. They just leave out the part that Good Friday comes before Easter.

    In summary, both mega churches and 7th dayers , despite the 7th dayers being far stricter in daily life, albeit misguided based on the true teachings of Christ, they both feed into the desires of the culture: no eternal hell or “everyone saved no problem.” In the meantime, end time sensationalism and everyone easily goes to heaven will always sell, another one of satan’s great tricks, distracting souls from the real stuff of Christianty, like “picking up the cross.”

  42. I think whether some really believe in the real presence is from grace, which is given and received in ways we can’t predict or know. It’s not a logical thing. My son is very logical, not autistic but has a few “spectrum” traits, he could never have my childlike belief or “conversational prayer” without a lot of grace, it’s just not him.

    I also think “witness” is a big thing. If the priest doesn’t seem to believe, if all the priests who fall or abuse others don’t seem to care if Jesus would mind, (I’m talking about non-repentive ones) it seems like a sham to ones on the borderline of belief. If bishops move pedophiles for years, do they believe in their reilgion or just money, appearances and power? When you read about priests stealing parish money, do they believe it, really believe it? When they wont have adoration, or don’t follow the rules, do they believe?
    I’ve read thousands of post of people mentioning weird or odd things at their church…it’s not so much whether the priest had a right to do what they did, but if the reverence isn’t there, then they reallly don’t believe, you can’t fake that.

    We all are faces of Jesus, we have to show in action and love, who we are, but most Catholics look to their priest, bishops, etc. and when they seem to be apathetic, what are they to think?

  43. Deacon Greg:

    Here is my take. We have a very complicated Religion. Just brainstorm. We have, in addition to the Scriptures:

    Sacraments, Confession, liturgical rituals, holydays, saints, beatifications, canonizations, religious communities, priests, nuns, monasteries, poverty, chastity, obedience, bishops, popes, Ecumenical Councils, Tridentine Mass, Real Presence, Eucharistic Adoration, Divine Office, rosaries, Mary, Canon Law, in addition to the teachings of of the early Church writers, etc., etc., and so forth.

    Whew! I’m out of breath!

  44. I hope that my comment is relevant for this topic. I think that it is.

    Last night I viewed “The Silence” on Frontline shown on my local PBS station. The topic was the story of the horrendous abuse by clergy in the diocese of Fairbanks Alaska. Almost 150 victims had joined a class action suit against the diocese (which is now bankrupt) and the Jesuit order.

    As part of the settlement of the suit, the bishop of Fairbanks, Donald Kettler, was required to travel to the villages where there were victims and apologize to each of them. At first, the bishop appeared stiff and formal. But I was touched by the listening session when he took the hand of a man, who is one of the people most broken by the abuse. Then he went around the table to the man, put his arm across his shoulder and said, “I’m sorry.” (Maybe, he “gets it” now.)

    I felt so hurt and ashamed as I watched the show. Nevertheless, I am glad that I watched it, because, for the first time I understand what Paul meant when he wrote about the Church as Body of Christ: “If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it.”

  45. I am a cradle Catholic age 60+ — Catholic schools through high school, active in Newman Club in college, Catholic high school administrator, long time Eucharist Minister and Lector, well versed in Catholic doctrine including the “Real Presence” in the eucharist, married 41 years — and ready to move on.

    The recent scandals are inexcusable, seem to have been around for decades if not centuries, and have given me a greater understanding of the original rise of Protestantism.

    I’m through with the fear factor, and through accepting explanations from prelates I no longer trust to be adherents of what they preach.

    I now attend a mainline protestant denomination and for the first time in almost 20 years I attend a Sunday service because I want to, not because it is the rule to do so. The people are friendly, visitors are welcomed, the sermons are grounded in reality, the pastors (male and female) are part of the real world, nobody rushes out of the parking lot as if they are escaping an intolerably boring event, sexism and racism is not tolerated, there is hands-on charity for the community, and all age groups are provided meaningful fellowship.

    “Real Presence” or not, I’m closer to God than at any time in a long time.

  46. I found this to be the best source of opinion so far. I was raised catholic and still associated with the church, at the moment I am in a bit of limbo.I disagree with the current politics of the church and some of the rules that seem one sided insultingly limited in explanation.I have been up to this point a good catholic attended services, youth ministry, alter severing and music ministry. I am married and my reasons for this current limbo is purely out of a need for more spirituality and less dogma and restrictions, Most importantly my happiness.While on this break I put my money where my mouth is,have been serving soup kitchens with my wife and helping charity walks , my family’s cancer foundation , and praying more with a higher sense of connection to god.
    According to the church if I don’t attend mass on the days the dictate then I am hell bound. But I disagree greatly with that opinion,I am at my highest morality to date(still not a saint,only human with my on struggles).I would love somebody’s opinion on this matter if it is meant to be

    many thanks Jeff

  47. I think the scandals settled it for many, I found a lot of people knew things were going on but the hierarchy prevented them from saying anything.

    Many leave because of the man-made rules, imagine telling someone if they eat meat on Friday during lent they are going to hell even if they are sin-free in other areas. Imagine telling someone (before they decided how ignorant this was) that their son/daughter was in hell because they were so depressed they commited suicide or overdosed because of a crushing addiction. We must wait until the bishops and all the higherups decide something so obvious is not a sin, when they are human and fail themselves.
    I always knew,even as a child, that Jesus wouldn’t be as harsh as they were, they drove many away from the church back in the 60’s by not validating abuse in marriages, telling people who had an abortion and were sorry, they might not be saved (all things I witnessed or had friends witness) and many other things.

    I feel for the good priests that have to carry the burdens of the bad, but the Catholic church brought a lot on itself.

    Even the very reverent Dominican church I belonged too, with confession daily (and people went) 3 masses a day, adoration, etc is missing joy. I see people looking almost sad,and thought it was reverence. No one talks to you, they all run out, even though they were there, there isn’t any “community” and except for a few, not veryt good witness’s, are they doing this out of fear or because it brings them closer to God? As a visiting priest once said when leaving the alter at the end of mass, “Smile, you just received Jeus, it looks like a dentist’s office!”
    That evoked a few smiles..

  48. Jeff — Your allegiance is to God, not to an institution. Follow your conscience and you won’t go wrong.

    You aren’t hell-bound for performing an act of charity, praying, or simply being a good father, husband, or neighbor, rather than attending a Catholic mandated event. To think so is to fall victim to fear and guilt — two things a moral person need not be concerned with.

    The current politics of the Catholic Church are the same as the past politics of the church and will likely be the future politics of the church. They are not pretty.

  49. Many thanks frank, I appreciate your opinion and respect it greatly.May god bless you and your (temporary existence on this planet as well as mine and other humans) life to great rewards.


  50. naturgesetz: You mentioned that when you receive the Eucharist, you are drinking the actual blood of Christ—and I know there is a word for that in the church,but I can’t say it, much less spell it! Anyhow, I have often wondered, and again with respect, why doesn’t the drink/wafer represent the body and blood of Christ—and in all reality, how can it actually BE that? IMO, it can’t. Also, and again with respect, isn’t eating human flesh considered wrong– like being a cannibal? In my younger days, I received communion in the Methodist church, and never thought of it as the actual body of Christ—-as we were taught that it represented HIS body.

    Happy Easter to you.

  51. Frank and Jeff, IMO, one should attend whatever religious institution that makes you feel loved and sustains you spiritually. IMO again, there is no single faith that is THE one for all. Humans are fortunately all different, and in the world of religion, one size doesn’t fit all (or most). :o)

    Happy Easter to you both.

  52. Pagansister ( would you consider another nom de plume?),

    The word you are looking for, I think, is transubstantiation. It is the Catholic term for the bread and wine being the actual blood and flesh and no longer bread and wine even though the characteristics of bread and wine are present.

    I think it is the Anglican/Episcopal Communion that uses the term consubstantiation meaning the bread and wine are still bread and wine as well as the flesh and blood at the same time.

    I think you are correct that the Methodist belief is the bread being a symbol for the body of Christ.

    And, as the above is from memory, I bow to a more learned authority for corrections.

  53. Thank God I left this brainwashing institution. After 12 years of being taught by feminine priests and sexually frustrated nuns it was a relief to see sanity in the Protestant church where they allow you to express your natural sexuality through marriage.

  54. Thanks, Frank, for providing the word “transubstantiation”. I just couldn’t think of it last night, or as I said, spell it even if I could remember it! Mentally I don’t think I could consider communion as actually drinking blood and eating the flesh of someone. Representation (as in the Methodist church) is, for me, much better, but since I don’t receive communion anymore it is a mote point.

    I was raised in the Methodist church—leaving at 17 for many reasons. (though did marry in it at 20, to please the parents). Husband is/was lifelong Unitarian, and we raised the children in that church. Much more comfortable for me.

    As to my “non de plume”, that stays. Lots of reasons it isn’t going away. :o)

  55. pagansister — The question of cannibalism is an interesting one. As you may know, in the early centuries, the Romans thought that the Christians were cannibals, for the same reason that you see the Catholic doctrine as implying cannibalism. So it suggests that our doctrine is what the early Christians professed.

    But why isn’t it cannibalism? Because the body that is eaten and the blood that is drunk are sacramental realities, not physical. Nobody has a slice of meat. Every piece is the entire Jesus not just a part, as is every drop.

    And Pope Benedict made a good point in his response to one of the questions he answered on TV. (See one of Deacon Greg’s recent posts for a link.) The sacramental body and blood of Christ which we consume are not the earthly body and blood. They are the glorified, resurrected body and blood, which are in a higher plane of existence.

  56. naturgesetz: Once again I thank you for a clear explanation, this time of “transubstantiation”. By any chance were/are you a teacher?

  57. pagansister — thanks for the appreciative words. I wasn’t a teacher as my career. But I have had some experience in front of a classroom. For about 20 of my 30 years working for the government, one part of my job was employee training, and I averaged maybe two months per year at it.

  58. I have been a catholic for 51 years. I have been a very active catholic for a number of years-have taught religious education for 25 years, cantored for over 30 years, a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store manager for 13 years just to name a few. I attempted to annul my second marriage which ended due to the fact my former spouse molested my daughter from my first marriage. He was convicted on one felony count and two misdemeanor counts. The Tribunal refused to address the molestation and wanted to annul based on the fact we used birth control (we were both almost 40 and had 4 kids between us). Then my parish, which has had a HUGE influx of members from Mexico, did a feasibility survey to see about raising 7.5 million dollars to build a new church (the last time I checked we are in a recession, right?). Only 14% of the over 6000 registered families responded to the survey and they have decided to move forward anyway!!! I am done and will begin church shopping this weekend.

  59. Does the parish need a new church to accommodate the influx? What did the 14% say when they responded? Will they (plus whoever comes on board once the drive begins) be able to give the needed funding? I think it’s always a small minority who have the resources to fund such large undertakings.

  60. naturgesetz: Your experience as a “trainer” shows through in your posts. This pagan appreciates it. I’ve actually learned more from you and this site then in the 10 years as a teacher in an RC school.

  61. Ms Mac — My quest for a new church ended three months ago. I feel liberated. I feel wonderful.

    I wish you well and hope you feel no guilt or fear in making that decision.

  62. I can only tell you why me and my family are leaving. We became disturbed when we realized all of the pagan symbols the Church uses everywhere. The images and statues the church displays for adoration is an abomination to God. All of the dogma and rituals go against Jesus light yoke. I believe the Church has hidden many truths and was/is deceptive in other ways. It has been a tough decision but I cannot stay and feel right about it. My extended family will have a lot to talk about but that’s life.

  63. John “6:66”:

    As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

    I beg all of you to reconsider leaving.

  64. Normally I do not comment more than once on any of these blog-streams but this last series of comments (from #45 forward) points out something I stated way back in Post #11.

    No one leaves the Roman Catholicism of their own family heritage for intellectual reasons. The fact that Gina #62 claims to do just that simply indicates she finds herself today father down the “conversion process.” I would be willing to bet that early on her emotional life was ravaged by some type of pastoral blunder. I won’t ask what it was — I simply know from much experience that it has to be there.

    Once folks leave, and are settled in a new church community, is when our intellect catches up with it all. That is when folks find factual support to justify what they did.

    We see the same thing in RCIA all the time. It is an emotional point of contact with that new convert’s sponsor that starts the “formation” process and it is sometimes years later that we find the new Catholic energetically jumping into the “information” component.

    Gina #62: I pray you find the peace you are seeking! Only the very best of blessings!

  65. Deacon Norb — Interesting, informative posts. I’ll need time to ponder #65.

    I hope you will continue to contribute as you see a need, whether it is one post or a dozen.

  66. These are reasons the people who LEFT say. From experiences with friends and members of my extended family, the basic underlying reason that I see it a *lack of actual belief in the reality of the Eucharist*. For these, a social atmosphere, community experience, and sermons which are entertaining and not controversial are what is desired. For them, the Eucharist, itself, is just a ritual – and a “boring one” at that. These are things these individuals would not usually say (but I have heard is expressed among my separated relatives.)

    In my own experiences, I seriously wonder how many of the people who come to church do not actively think of what the Eucharist is all about, but, for them, church-going is a ritual, duty, or even just a habit. These attitudes make it easy to change.

    Again, among the people I refer to, I see a lack for good Catholic formation in their youth. In working with students in Catholic high schools, it seemed a much larger proportion of the Protestant youth had more interest and a better understanding of their religion than did the born-Catholic students. Often, this actually comes from their parents. I have known many kids who were dropped of at CCD on a Sunday. and then the parent(s) went home and never went to Mass, let alone those for whom the parents never/hardly went at all. “Children learn what they see.”

    The Eucharist, after all, is a fantastic belief and hard to accept in a logical manner. Faith is necessary. It doesn’t come easily.

  67. I agree, I think some priests don’t seem to believe or maybe, time has a way of dulling that first grace when their vocation was born and then when ordained. You can tell the way most people think of it or act around it, how some have to fight for eucharistic adoration in some parish’s, the tabernacle being put “to the side”, lack of reverence, etc.
    I think it is very hard and some Catholics “believe” because they are Catholic, were born Catholic, but the grace to understand and believe isn’t there (yet)

    I also think the scandals in a round-a-bout way, also made it difficult. I’ve heard some who were on the fence say how holy can the eucharist be if these men did those awful things and still celebrated mass? How much can a priest really believe that is Christ when they are having an affair and saying mass, or stealing or many other things. They feel in a child-like way, that it should give them a special grace and power to overcome it all, but we are still human beings with many failings.

  68. Deb #68

    “I also think the scandals in a round-a-bout way, also made it difficult. I’ve heard some who were on the fence say how holy can the eucharist be if these men did those awful things and still celebrated mass? How much can a priest really believe that is Christ when they are having an affair and saying mass, or stealing or many other things.”

    I cannot disagree that this rumor is hanging out there but this line of thinking was actually declared a heresy by an early church council. It was called DONATISM, and the heresy taught — in so many words — that sacraments received from a deacon/priest/bishop who was a grievous public sinner was in fact invalid. The early church father condemned this teaching and affirmed that the whole church is a church of sinners — not a church of saints.

    A second point — your comment about the tabernacle being on the side. In St. Peters in the Vatican, the Eucharistic Chapel/Tabernacle is on the side; at the famous Polish Shrine of the Black Madonna – Jasna Gora — the Eucharistc Chapel is on the side; at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, the Eucharistic Chapel/Tabernacle is on the side; in our local diocesan cathedral, the Eucharistic Chapel/Tabernacle is on the side; and in every church and chapel that we have within twenty miles of where I live, the Eucharistic Chapel/Tabernacle is on the side.

  69. Deb #68

    “how some have to fight for eucharistic adoration in some parish’s,”

    You might want to ask why rather than condemn.

    The rules from the Vatican are very clear. If the Eucharist is exposed (such as in a monstrance) for adoration, it must be adored — never left alone PERIOD. In practical terms that means a scheduled coverage — sometimes 24/7.

    Come up with a plan, show your pastor commitment letters in writing and a hard-copy of a schedule that everyone listed has agreed to, and I’ll just bet you’ll be given a trial.

    Most of the pastors who do have this devotional practice have parishes with 6,000 + “headcount.” That seems — at least in my understanding — to be the critical mass below which it will not support itself and will eventually have to be closed down.

  70. I agree Deacon Norb, I would read many posts from Catholics on EWTN and other sites, but they didn’t say why..maybe the priest thought the few wouldn’t be there consistently, but other times maybe they thought it was more trouble than it was worth. I will in the future, echo your advice.

    And although they gifts and sacraments are valid with a “sinning priest” no matter mortal or venial, I meant it was harder for some to believe it was the body, blood, soul and devinity to them, if they didn’t act like it. I’m not saying it is a viable request, just that people watch, listen and it all helps them be open to grace.

    Maybe some should just ask Jesus to help them believe, to show them the way, it might not be a straight path, but if they are sincere, I’m sure he would guide them.

  71. I left the Catholic Church in 2004. I am 57 my husband is 58 and both of us went to Catholic school, we sent our son to Catholic school. I had been a faithful member all my life except for 10 years I left when I was 18 after a monseigneur told me I committed a mortal sin for reading the Bible. I returned and then left again 21 years later. The reasons I left for good were: The truth. I started going to Bible study classes, and studied several on my own, lead by the Spirit of God in me. I learned that the Catholic teaching were actually not true, if one tries to line up with the teaching of the Lord in the Bible. Examples: We are not to go to another man for the forgiveness of our sins. The curtain was torn when Jesus died, once and for all. We are now able to go to God through Jesus. Nothing in the Bible said to go to a priest, other than in the old testament when the Jews took sacrifices to the high priest. He is just another man, just like me another sinner, who needs the blood of Jesus to cover me, the pope included. Catholics believe in praying to the saints. We are told in the Bible that we are a saint if we are believers. I respect and have high regard for our Lord’s mother, Mary. But I don’t think the teachings are correct to pray to her for intercession through her for favors to get to Jesus. The statues in the church mislead some of the older people. I have seen them kissing the feet of a Mary statue or bring the statue flowers. That is idol worship, not a “reminder,” like I was told by a priest when I asked about it. I don’t believe the wine and bread turn into the body and blood of Christ. Once again you are crucifying Jesus all over again. He told us to do this in remembrance of Him so we would not forget that he died for our sins once and for all, the new Covenant. The priest should also remind the parishioners that if we have something against someone else to leave and go settle the problems and then come back for the Lord’s supper. My mother was sick for a really long time. She laid there paralyzed in her bed for 5 years. During that time I asked the parish priest to come and see her. I think he showed up once. They want to charge you now to say a rosary. The priest in this parish has a very small church. My pastor, and another pastor from one of the hospice nurses came to see mom at least once a week. She had been a devout Catholic all her life. Did you really care about her? “Protestant ministers cared more than her priest did. Just another example how we feel. Catholic church doesn’t care. No compassion. When one is baptized one should really know and accept Jesus as their Savior. The priest who molest children should have been dealt with as it states in the Bible. You swept it under the rug. A child pedophile. Just transferred to another parish. So many men now days are homosexual as a result of what was allowed to happen. I don’t believe there are degrees of sin. I think a sin is a sin no matter how small or great. The church’s mortal sin for not going to Sunday mass is not in the Bible and is an example of what I am talking about. I think that people know that as a Christian you want to go to church and worship and fellowship with others. People now days are starved for the truth. You preach the truth and you will fill up your seats. People are tired of “religion.” We want fellowship and truth and knowledge about God. We want a personal relationship with God. We have a need to know God’s word, truthfully. You could start with these as a beginning

  72. The above post is a perfect example of a major problem in the church today -namely poor catechesis. I too left the Catholic Church for doctrinal reasons – only to return some 18 years later – also for doctrinal reasons. Indeed ALL of the doctrines of the Catholic Church are biblical. They are also the doctrines believed by the earliest Christians. Too much to go into here. If the above person wants more information related to the biblical nature of Catholicism I suggest karl Keatings book Catholicism and Fundamentalism -the attack on Romanism by Bible Christians. It is a little dated but sets forth a sound argument for the Catholic approach to Christianity. Another book is Francis Canon Ripley’s “This is the Faith”. Both books will leave a “bible Christian” with pause to think. At the very least they demonstarte effectively that Catholci Chrisitanity is “Bible Chrisitianity” – even if our particular interpretation is not in agreement with yours.
    For me the problem in today’s Church is one of GRACE. When I grew up Mass was offered every hour on the hour -and every Mass was Jam packed. Of Course these were the days of the Tridentine Mass and immediate post Tridentine Mass era. It seems to me that the change in the Mass from the Traditional form to the present venacularized form – may have been popular with the common folks (I know my Father loved it) but it seems clear that the change did something to Psyche of the man in the Pew. Also the arguments that the Novus Ordo simply does not ask for as many graces from God – so the graces are not given – are not lost on me. God’s plan for salvation requires that we cooperate with His Grace. Part of that cooperation requires that we ask HIM for graces. This is how one way in which we participate in the priesthood of Christ and ultimately act as members of HIS body. Simply put the change in the Mass was likely a prudential error. For readers interested I might suggest Michael Davies “Cramners Godly Order”, or Von Hildebrand’s “Trojan Horse in the City of God”. These books are an easy read but provide good arguments against the present status quo. By the way both men (Now deceased) were loyal churchmen. As for me – even with the problems in the Church – I find myself echoing Peter – “Lord to whom else shall we go . . .”

  73. Also wanted to invite those interested in finding out the true biblical nature of the Cathoic Church’s understanding of the Eucharist to Read Scott Hahn’s article “Hunt for the fourth cup”. This ex-Presbyterian minister outlines the biblical proof of the REAL PRESENCE of Christ in the Eucharist. Likewise Patrck Madrid provides a great biblical explanation of why Catholics pray to Saints in his article “Any friend of God’s is a friend of mine”. Both of these articles are found easily through a google search. My Protestant friends were amazed that there was such biblical evidence for these practices and beliefs. As for me I find there to be even more evidence than these two men provide in the articles but they are a good starting point for those interested in the truth of the Catholic Faith. Both beliefs by the way are found throughout the early church. Yes the early Church – those closest to the Apostles believed in the REAL PRESENCE and prayed to the Saints for intercession (totally predicated on the work of Jesus – of course). God is Humble. He is pleased to allow us to participate in the economy of grace for the salvation of souls. Oh how Humble is our GOD! In this way we actually are true Son’s and Daughters of GOD. This is why the Church -HIS BODY- can forgive sins, can intercede through prayer – can help procreate – through the unitive sex act in marriage. Only God can create a human being – only God can forgive sins – only God (in the person of Christ) can mediate for us and yet in HIS Humility – he allows His adopted sons and daughters to participate in His perogatives through HIS body – the Church.
    I know that my protestant friends will not readily accept what I am saying on these issues – but I urge you to look into these things a bit more. The articles I cite provide a good starting point. Suffice it to know that many of the the greatest Protestant intelects convert to Catholicism. It doesn’t happen the other way around. (E.G.: Cardinal henry Newman, Scott HAHN, Louis Boyer etc).

  74. I have been Catholic all my life and I have recently been led by the Holy Spirit to consider my faith more critically. The biggest problem that I have been running into is the absolute requirement for sacramental confession, with the only other alternative being Hell. Try as I might, I can’t find the part of Christ’s character and teachings that tell us that he came to save us… as long as we do all the right rituals at the right time or else. This comes from my human weakness — it is hard to confess secret sexual sins to a celibate man. But it is a good thing to do just because it’s difficult? Or did Christ envision a more loving, modest means of forgiveness? Think with compassion about a teenage girl struggling with masturbation. Imagine the difficulty of being a 14 or 15 year old female and knowing that your choices are (1) Go sit in a closet and tell a 35-50 year old celibate male who knows your voice because you have been a member of the parish since you were born that you masturbated or (2) burn in hell. It is hard for me to believe that Jesus Christ would put us to that kind of decision. For me, it’s not about me wanting to be able to “get away with” things that the Church teaches are sins — I do not disagree with Catholic teachings about sex, masturbation, birth control, or divorce. What I disagree with is the humiliating, terrifying requirement of having to legalistically confess all of your individual sins before Jesus can forgive you. That seems like trying to put God in a box, and it doesn’t seem right. Interestingly, since I made my first “private” confession to God a few months ago, I feel an outpouring of grace that has helped me repent and turn from sin with so much more success than the fear of confession ever did.

  75. Also a secondary concern for me is the complex and circuitous doctrine like Purgatory and the Immaculate Conception — doctrines that were only made necessary by other doctrines — kind of like when you tell a lie and then you have to tell five more lies to cover your first lie. Jesus didn’t preach a faith that required PhD level study to even “get it” — Jesus himself was not a bookish scholar. He called the Pharisees out for being obsessed with the letter of the law and ignoring the purpose of the law. Read a message board about the torment that people face when they suffer from “scrupulosity” — a mental illness resulting from actually believing the Catholic doctrines about sin. The worst wrong is perpetuated in that the Catholics who take their faith most seriously, who write the catechism on their hearts, are the ones who end up staying up all night tortured by fear of hell. Jesus came to free us, not bind us up in anxiety.

  76. Do not look at the sins of the people, but the faith of the church. You can find bad people in any denomination. Yes, it’s difficult to be a truly faithful Catholic, but shouldn’t we be shooting for the stars in our attempt to imitate the very things Jesus himself taught us? You can’t base your decision of how you worship on what makes you “feel good.” Do you think the Devil would try to scare you onto his side or lure you with the things he knows attracts you most? Sure, you still believe in God’s word. But if you say you found it more difficult as a Catholic in your worship than where you are now, it could be one step closer in the wrong direction. The Catholic church holds more members than any other Christian denomination, so it must meet the spiritual needs of someone. But how can it meet a persons spiritual needs if that person is not willing to wear their heart on their sleeve and dive into a committed relationship, using every aspect of their life as a devotion to the Lord.
    If you think pasture Bob, age 40, who received his degree in Bible school, holds more wisdom and understand on how to worship than 2000 years of studying and consistent teachings passed down from generation to generation, in a church Jesus himself founded when He appointed Peter as the first Pope and died on a cross so that we might have the chance of salvation, go for it. I’m sure God will understand.
    God bless

  77. Well I am one person, a converted Catholic, who is not considering leaving the church because of not being spiritually fed, but rather because of doctrinal, and hierarchal issues. Doctrinally I disagree with the church on the issue of birth control, and I disagree with the church that abortion is always evil. Although I agree with the church on the issue of free will, I do not agree with the idea that one can lose salvation in a moment’s notice because of some grievous sin that cannot be absolved (before the person dies for example). I think that salvation is obviously tilted towards grace as opposed to blind adherance to doctrines that at least in some cases are purely man-made. In speaking of the priest-abuse crisis many make excuses for the church by saying that all churches have bad people that do no act in accord with God’s will, and that is certainly true. However when the hierarchy of the church, those very same people that consecrate the priest who then administer the sacraments to the laity, enable child molesters to continue their heinous acts, then it makes me question the validity of the apostolic succession itself. I don’t know where that leaves me. I really have no place to go, and I do actually love the mass, and many of the good deeds the real Catholics do, but I cannot think that at this point their is anything particularly special about this church over any others.



  80. The way you have written here tells me that I’m making the right choice in stepping away from the Catholic Church for the time being. Your words have only provided impetus to me to step back a few more steps.
    I converted five years ago, even ran the CCD program at our parish, and walked the line while accumulating questions that found no answers EXCEPT tradition. And that is where the church missteps.
    It could be that Bob has more wisdom than 2000 years of people who carried forth. How can you say he does or does not, particularly by presuming on the same tradition that produced the selling of indulgences, the burning of heretics, the coverup of pedophelia? Do you have actual proof that Catholicism is the only way, something that isn’t based upon spurious claims based loosely on scripture, but relies upon evidence?
    To go back to scripture, Christ himself turned over the tables of the money changers in anger at those who had turned his Father’s temple into a house of thieves (perhaps not all the problems of the Church today are the work of the devil, eh?), and the doubting Thomas was provided his proof gently and with evidence, not with smarm and arrogance of presumption. The way you write, you are assuming that:
    1. The church is somehow separate from the people. And yet the assumption is that the people are the church: the laity, the consecrated, all these make up the body of the church, “waiting like a bride for the bridegroom.” if it were not so, then there would be no need for the Eucharist. The notion of teaching church and learning church is emotionally comforting but lacks practicality: by this metric, it could be claimed that anyone could do anything, and bad them, but the church still represents, even if they won’t allow temporal punishment to be served. That heaps scandal upon scandal, two sins for the price of one, if not also adding upon that line from the confiteor: ‘…in what I have done, and what I have failed to do…”. If the church wore its hair shirt for its sins, I would be more inclined to trust the motivations of its leaders as Christ-like.
    2. People who aren’t Catholic aren’t “using every aspect of their life as devotion to the Lord.” No, they are simply not walking your path. The people that Jesus sat with at table were myriad sinners: your particular flavor of sinner needs to be saved as much as the next guy, and was not annointed solely and exclusively. I find that particularly challenging when the very people who claim this annointment also claim that they are the only ones who can save the rest of us, since they hold the power to bind and loose sins in their priests alone, and in their ability to call forth Christ to transsubstantiate the host. For someone who came to save all mankind, who loves us, that rings as a remarkably narrow and controlling statement from the earthly men he left behind.

    I am concerned. I live my life in service to others as an educator and father of three, a monogamous husband and a thinker. I strive to live the Ten Commandments. I strive to recognize truth, however hard that may be to see in its reality. And what I have perceived is this: the Catholic church is arrogant. It is not capable of atoning for its own sins. It seeks, from cradle to grave, to keep the laity under the press of the priests, under the thumb of canon law, under the weight of tradition, without regard for the the welfare of the family (Natural Family Planning, for example, is a sham: as a science teacher, this isn’t hard to spot.), without regard for actual thought and questioning (if you can’t find it in the canon law, it can’t be right, until the infallible doctrine is handed down by a man as fallible as the rest of us), without regard for the also-human need to understand faith, and not just be handed a complete package of religion and dogma.
    I am certain God will understand. He infers this time and again in the New Testament. He created us, and though the story may be apocryphal, he knows we fell, and he has mercy upon us for the confusion wrought by evil in our persons and in our cultures. If he is merciful, he will see our intent, and not just our affiliation: intent is deeper than, from the latin “the brotherhood we keep.” If he is loving, then he will notice who loves and who loves for the sake of their own gain. If he is all-knowing, all-wise, then he will see through the constructions of man far faster than the billions of men, women, and children who are chained to faiths of human design around the world, and he will know the hearts involved. Black ones stand out, even when garbed in white, and white ones stand out even when covered in the dirt hurled by the arrogant.

  81. If it helps, I’m right there with you, Gary. And I’m in the thick of it, with a strongly Catholic father-in-law who can’t stand my thinking on these things, and a wife who is now concerned for my soul. I, too, enjoy the mass, and the good works, and I can remember the perception of greater things at work, but my reservations and my questions on those matters persist, and despite a lot of (continuing!!!) research, I’m not finding any answers.
    I don’t know where to go, either, except directly to God. God without the middle men, who have (what I have observed to be) their own plans. Jesus himself used the word ‘abba’ in the prayer that he handed over to us, and perhaps there is a point of light: if we are to know Him, we have to go to him directly.

  82. I would not use the word ‘fantastic’ belief in that last sentence, Father. That leads to misinterpretation of your point, and also leads me to the reason why I’m leaving the Catholic church.
    Can I ask you: why does Christ require an intermediary to bring his presence into the world? Can he not live in the hearts of people here who do not go to mass?
    And may I also ask: why is it that formation in youth, when a human is so impressionable, is so important to the survival of the church? Is it not with the faculty of reason that we make our choice to sin or not? I would argue that the church wants youths, including my three sons, to be formed early to disallow a much larger perspective on what faith may be in the future, rather than for an altruistic reason. Children learn what they see, absolutely. On the surface. The ritual, the order, the phraseology, the formulaic, dogmatic, quasi-magical surface. But because they are children, they don’t see the totality until they are older, and so children brought up in the church know nothing but. They grow up believing that God’s salvation is a narrow thing, that smacks you when you step out of line, and that doesn’t allow for anyone else to perceive, much less be saved by, the very one who created everything. This is fodder for mental illness, and i would argue that it’s overbearing at the least and patently evil at the worst.

  83. People leave the church because all are not welcome. It’s as simple as that. Jesus did not teach that we need to be catholic to receive communion. Jesus does not want us to be separate from our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to have a welcoming heart. In our church, in order to take communion, you have to be a follower of Christ. That means people of ALL FAITHS are welcome at the communion table. I once attended a catholic funeral where the majority of the sermon the priest gave was how the non-catholics had better not take communion. Imagine that. A friend of mine works for the diocese and told of a time she asked for prayer for a friend of hers who was dying. The priest asked, “Is he catholic?” Seriously? If this is what the catholic church is all about – exclusion – then I want no part of it.

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