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.

Comments

  1. George says:

    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. ron chandonia says:

    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. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    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. George says:

    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. MBd says:

    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. HMS says:

    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. Gerard Nadal says:

    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. Marylynn says:

    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. Mary says:

    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. Holly in Nebraska says:

    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. Deacon Norb says:

    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. JL says:

    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. Bill McGeveran says:

    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. ThirstforTruth says:

    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. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    “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. naturgesetz says:

    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. janet says:

    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. Randy says:

    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. Art ND'76 says:

    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. Debra says:

    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. anthony says:

    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. RomCath says:

    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. Annie says:

    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. jeff says:

    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. Barbara says:

    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. Steve says:

    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. HMS says:

    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. Jim says:

    # 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. ecb says:

    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. naturgesetz says:

    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. Dan S says:

    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. Dan S says:

    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. Klaire says:

    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. George says:

    @ 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. Steve says:

    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. Klaire says:

    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. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    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. naturgesetz says:

    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. Klaire says:

    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. Gabrielle says:

    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. HMS says:

    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. HMS says:

    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. Frank says:

    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. Jeff says:

    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. Deb says:

    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. Frank says:

    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. Jeff says:

    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.

    Sincerity,
    Jeff

  50. pagansister says:

    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. pagansister says:

    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. Frank says:

    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. MikeL says:

    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. pagansister says:

    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. naturgesetz says:

    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. pagansister says:

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

  57. naturgesetz says:

    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. Ms Mac says:

    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. naturgesetz says:

    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. pagansister says:

    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. Frank says:

    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. Gina says:

    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. pagansister says:

    Pagan symbols in the church Gina? Where are you going when you leave?

  64. Jim Dotter says:

    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.

  65. Deacon Norb says:

    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!

  66. Frank says:

    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.

  67. Fr. Richard Cressman S.D.B says:

    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.

  68. Deb says:

    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.

  69. Fiergenholt says:

    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.

  70. Deacon Norb says:

    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.

  71. Deb says:

    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.

  72. Jean Browder says:

    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

  73. Michael O'Connor says:

    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 . . .”

  74. Michael O'Connor says:

    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).

  75. Lisa says:

    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.

  76. Lisa says:

    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.

  77. faithfulcatholic says:

    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

  78. Gary Wheeler says:

    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.

  79. CAROL says:

    THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH BROUGHT ALL CHRISTIANS THE BIBLE , BY HAVING THE MONKS WHO WERE CATHOLIC , HAND WRITE IT, AND COMPILE IT IN A BOOK FORM, IT THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, HAS BEEN THE KEEPER OF THE BIBLE FOR ALL THESE CENTURIES, THEY THE CHURCH HAS ALSO BEEN THE INTERPERTER OF THE BIBLE , FOR CENTURIES BEING THERE WERE VERY FEW BIBLES AVAILABLE AND ONLY THE ELITE HAD THE ABILITY TO READ AND WRITE, AND TO MAKE SURE IT WAS INTERPETED IN THE RIGHT WAY, INSTEAD OF WHAT WE HAVE TODAY WHICH IS OVER 10,000 NEW DENOMINATIONS ALL INTERPETING A BIBLE IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT, THAT IS WHY THEY ALL STARTED THERE OWN CHURCH THEY DIDNT BELEAVE IN THE INTERPETATION THAT THE LAST GUY THOUGHT WAS CORRECT, IS IT NOT JUST SO EVIDENT WHAT HAPPENED THREW THE CENTURIES OF WHY WE HAVE TEN THOUSAND DIFFERENT DENOMINATIONS OF CHRISTIANS.? WELL OUR LORD AND SAVIOR SAID THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT PREVAIL AGAINST THE CHURCH AND THAT MY FREINDS IS HISTORICALLY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH.

  80. CAROL says:

    IN REGARDS TO GARY WHEELER, YOU HAVE TO THINK A LITTLE HARDER THAN YOU ARE DOING , THINK OF YOUR REASON TO BECOME A CATHOLIC? WAS IT BECASUSE YOU KNEW THIS IS THE TRUE CHURCH THE ONE CHRIST FOUNDED ? WHICH IS HISTORICALLY FOUNDED IT IS THEY OLDEST CHRISTIAN RELIGION ON EARTH THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, CHRIST CHOSE 12 APOSTLES KNOWING EACH AND EVERYONE BEFORE HE CHOSE THEM WHO THEY WERE AND WHAT THEY WERE ABOUT, OF COURSE YOU KNOW JUDAS WAS THE ONE TO BETRAY HIM WITH A KISS , CAN YOU COMPREHEAD HE CHOSE THIS TRATOR THIS CROOK AND LIAR AND WHAT ELSE CAN WE CALL JUDAS, AS FAR AS DISSPICABLE A PERSON AS YOU CAN FIND IT WAS JUDAS YET OUR LORD CHOSE HIM, ? WHY WHY BECASUE HE KNEW THERE WOULD BE GUYS LIKE YOU WHO IF YOU DIDNT GET YOUR WAY WOULD LEAVE HIM , AND GUYS LIKE GAY PREIST WHO ACT ON THERE SEXUALITY WITH OTHER MEN, AND PREIST WHO CAME INTO THE CHURCH TO MOLEST CHILDREN, AND WOMEN WHO WOULD FORNICATE AND ADULTERS AND ON AND ON , THERE WOULD BE THESE IN THE CHURCH, GOD KNEW THIS WOULD COME INTO THE CHURCH, SO THE FIRST EXAMPLE HE SHOWED US WAS JUDAS, NOW DOES THIS MEAN YOU LEAVE THE CHURCH THAT CHRIST FOUNDED , ? EVEN PETER WAS SCREAMING I DONT KNOW THIS GUY NEVER SAW HIM BEFORE IN MY LIFE? HE WAS A LIAR ALSO, WE CAN SHOW CAUSE FOR EVERY HUMAN BEING THAT HAS OFFENDED GOD IN ONE BIG WAY OR A SMALL WAY , IT IS CALLED SIN, BIG SIN LITTLE SIN, GOD WILL JUDGE US IN THE RIGHT TIME , BUT THREW THE CENTURIES THE CHURCH STILL GOES ON WITHOUT YOU GARY OR WITH YOU IT WILL GO ON , BECAUSE GOD SAID THE GATES OF HELL SHALL NOT BRING IT DOWN, IT WILL STAND TILL THE END EVEN IF THERE IS JUST ONE ONE LEFT IN IT. SO GARY WERE ARE YOU GOING TO GO TO FIND YOUR PEACE AND SACRAMENTS AND INTERPETATION OF THE HOLY SCRIPTURES WHO AND WHAT DENOMINATION IS GOING TO GIVE THAT TO YOU? YOU HAVE THOUSAND TO SELECT FROM GO TO WIKIPEDIA AND THEY WILL GIVE YOU THE LIST STARTING WITH THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THEN THE FIRST BREAK WAS ORTHODOX , THEN LUTHER , HENERY THE EIGHT, AND SO ON AND ON THREW THE YEARS MORE TO COME YET HEY MAYBE NEXT YEAR THERE WILL BE ONE THAT MEETS YOUR NEEDS?, THINK ABOUT IT , JUST THINK WERE ARE YOU GONNA GO TO FIND THE ONE TRUE HOLY CATHOLIC ASPOSOLIC CHURCH ? THE WORD CATHOLIC MEAN UNIVERSAL LOOK IN UP IN THE DICTIONARY, APOSTOLIC MEANS FROM THE FIRST APOSTLES. GOD HELP YOU TO SEE CLEAR I HOPE YOU READ ABOUT THE LIVES OF THE SAINTS WHO SUFFERED MUCH TO HELP BRING YOU THE WORD.

  81. Chris says:

    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.

  82. Chris says:

    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.

  83. Chris says:

    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.

  84. Jan says:

    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.

  85. JR says:

    I’m considering leaving the church because- yes my spiritual needs are not being met- I feel like the church is just loosely worshiping Jesus when I need Him every day. I’m on fire for God and I need to be around others who feel that way too., I also despise the “new/old” 2011 mass- it’s clunky, sexist, and the Latin translation is incorrect. I miss the ’73 mass!! It just doesn’t feel like “home” anymore., I’m disgusted that I have to bow down to “some dude(s)” when we all know humans are flawed- what happened to obedience to CHRIST!!, and my biggest reason…the Church seems to have deviated from the bible- Why is it when I mention that I believe in Creation (I am a young-earth creationist), I’m treated like a monster by my fellow Catholics (even some priests and nuns!!) but evolutionary theory is treated like biblical doctrine?

  86. MKL says:

    I am a Catholic convert as of 4 years ago. I am now contemplating leaving after reading our bishop’s letter regarding the HHS ruling that employers have to cover contraception, sterilization, etc. in their health insurance plans for workers. How in the world can the Church not realize that as a CHURCH, it can tell members not to use contraception, but that as an EMPLOYER, it has to follow the laws which pertain to employers? The bishop said, “We cannot–we will not–comply with this unjust law.” Doesn’t that mean that Church officials are intending to engage in criminal behavior. Do they not realize that the Church hasn’t made the law since the fourteenth century? I’m not sure that I can continue as a Catholic–I am SO angry that the Church is so regressive and out of touch with today’s realities.

    I managed to get past the child molestation stuff and the fact that I could not remarry if I became Catholic because of my divorce, but really, come on! I don’t think I can get past this. The Church needs to get over itself.

  87. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    MKL…

    You might find this post or this one informative and helpful.

    The fact is: the law would pressure the Catholic Church into violating its own teachings, or else be penalized. The Church is being required, by law, to cooperate in (and implicitly support) something it teaches as a grave evil. This is something unprecedented in this country. There are conscience provisions for other religions when it comes to health care and other matters, but not for the Catholic Church. This law is both odious, and ominous.

    Dcn. G.

  88. MKL says:

    Thank you for taking time to respond, Deacon, but I still totally disagree.

  89. Kiki says:

    My class is going to be Confirmed soon. One of my best friends in the whole world doesn’t want to get Confirmed because he is having trouble believing. He says that now “any druggie could claim to be Jesus and get a bunch of followers”. As his friend I want what is best for him in every way and this worries me deeply. Any suggestions as to how to guide him back to the Faith would be greatly appreciated.

  90. Kiki says:

    Now, I have been raised a Catholic and by the time I’m out of high school I will have spent 12 years in the Catholic education system. I have always been taught that abortion is ALWAYS a horrible, heinous, evil thing. Now I agree with this but, I am very curious what your view on the matter is and why that is. I’m not being judgmental, I like to hear others out.

  91. E. Francis says:

    Wow…I am in the midst of considering leaving the church as well. I received my first communion in my thirties and have struggled with many parts of the church since. The judgement is very hard for me, as I prefer to live more Chirst-like rather than “church-like”. When I read your response, Chris, it makes me also know that it is in my best interest also to move forward. And, people like the above being so “faithful” is exactly what I will not miss in any church. I believe I will be heading off to the Unity Church instead. Thank you both for helping me get along with this decision a little bit easier.
    I married for the very first time last year. I waited my whole life to find this man. But he is divorced and I have since found that not only does he need to have his marriage of 7 years and two children annulled, but I am considered an adulterer in the Catholic Church for marrying him! As they said “he chose to marry her, and you chose to marry him.” Like I’ve somehow broken my way into a marriage…that was already divorced when I got there…but somehow, I’m the dirty one. I’m just so disappointed in the whole thing. I am doing my research, meeting with the priests at the monastery, the arch diases, the local parish, going to other religions and looking there too. When I make my choice it will not be in haste…but reading this, helps.
    So thanks.

  92. E. Francis says:

    Jeff,
    You make me happy to hear your remarks. I am so grateful that you are out there and truly being of service. I too am on the brink of leaving the church, not because I do not absolutely love certain things about it, but because I absolutely hate certain things about it. I feel the need to emulate Christ himself…and the judgement and the finger pointing and the way that I feel when I talk to other Catholics especially most priests and even the arch diaces, it is not Christ like. Christ himself is love. All encompassing love. He must be laughing at how crazy we all are running around thinking that there is only one way to get to him and to love him or to even claim him! Christ himself loves us all-whether we attend Sunday Mass or we don’t! I keep having to remind myself that I follow a much higher standard than what certain people would like to think that I do based on my church attendance. Good for you finding the place that you feel closest to your walk with Christ! Go in Peace with it!
    Emily

  93. Alan R says:

    Amen, Brother!!

  94. Alan R says:

    Matthew 18:20

    These are Jesus’ words from the Holy Bible;

    “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

    Try reading the Bible, it can be enlightening.

  95. Mynona Revetahw says:

    This is why I left the church:
    1. Priests: I had dealings with some of the most disgusting people who call themselves religious professionals, through my business and on a personal level. The personal level was definitely the harder one to take, with their “holier than thou” attitude. To me, they are just full of all that b.s. nonsense that they are getting fed with in the seminary, especially their bias against women, their closed-mindedness and general arrogance towards anyone who dares to ask questions.
    2. Ratzinger: I cannot accept him as my pope. This guy in his Armani suits and gold cufflings and pink silk shoes is despicable. He lives in his own world. Like all popes before him he is only interested in increasing the church’s power by controlling the minds of his “subjects”. And the sheep follow willingly.
    3. I am deeply spiritual, I believe in God the Creator of us all. I pray. But leave me alone with all that religious nonsense, especially of the catholic church. This church with its 2000 year shameful history and man-made canon laws has nothing to do anymore with what the man Jesus taught.

  96. Julie says:

    I truly agree. I am a cradle Catholic and went to Catholic grade school and high school and didn’t understand much of anything until a College bible study with a protestant friend. I began getting my spiritual information from protestant preaching and it FINALLY made sense. The message of salvation, the purpose of Jesus, my role, the Lord’s role, the gift of Grace. The Catholic church doesn’t make much sense until you have this first. I am about to take my children and myself to another non-denominational church so that they can begin to understand these truths and then once they are grounded in Scripture and me too, THEN maybe we will come back, but I can’t waste time and just “hope” that my children will “get it”. The priests need some help in how to preach the gospel message and truth and we need a much stronger youth program.

  97. Elizabeth says:

    My reason for leaving the Church was specifically doctrinal. I felt I was living a lie by being a “cafeteria” Catholic, mouthing the words, but actually became more and more appalled by the Church’s teachings. I agree that there are bad people in any denomination, and that wanting to leave for a friendlier social atmosphere are bad reasons to leave. In fact, I miss it, and find other religions to be missing something without that core reverence, wonder, and love for Christ’s body and blood. I resolve the issue by attending mass without receiving Communion, even though I stand out like a sore thumb. Oh well.

  98. Michael says:

    While I can understand the difficulty with Sacremental confession, (I mean a teenage girl confessing the sin of masturbation to the middle aged celebate priest surely must be embarrassing), I know that the Church must continue the practice as it comes to us directly from Christ. The thing that I like about confession is that we are forced to confront our sins. As a Protestant I never really had to confront my sin in such a direct manner. Likewise as a Protestant I lived under the false and unbiblical notion that our sins were forgiven by accepting Jesus as my Savior. For certain all forgiveness is predicated upon Christ and the Sacrifice on the Cross. But how this forgiveness occurs is a whole other matter. Confession is superior to confessing our sins to God in prayer on three levels. First it is the common way in which our Lord intended sins to be forgiven (John 20: 22-23, matthew 18:18 ). The fact that this power was passed on can be found in the Scripture (Mk 16: 15 -16,Jn 20:21) and seems an obvious necessity since our Lord would not always be physically present as He was in 30 AD. Second the christian receives both forgiveness of his or sins, and Sacremental grace to help that person not to sin again, and finally the person has the opportunity to recieve practical advice on how not to sin again. The glorious thing about the Catholic understanding of the Gospel is that as a Catholic we actually become adopted sons of God. So perogatives of the Son are exercised in his other sons and daughters in His body – The Church. So as Christ forgave Sins -His other Sons can forgive sins (within the body which is the Church). As Christ offered the Sacrifice of His body to the Father (on the cross) – His Church offers Sacrifice (The Mass) and so on. All of this is ultimately an action of Christ and totally dependent on Him.

  99. Michael says:

    jan says that people leave the Church because all are not welcome. In her post she advocates open communion so that even those who do not believe that the Eucharist is the actual body and Blood of Christ – be permitted to recieve. Jan – I am certain that you have good intentions. But to allow for that would be a disservice to those individuals. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 11 that to recieve without recognizing the body of the Lord is heaping Damnation on that person. The Catholic church is about Salvation and certainly cannot be in the business of handing a person to Hell by encouraging open communion against what the Scripture teaches.
    Lisa has problems with the biblical doctrine of Purgatory and the seemingly extra-biblical doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. As far as Purgatory goes – it is spoken directly of in scripture in 1 Cor3 11-15. Scripture testifies to the fact that there can be an intermediate state between heaven and Hell after death (1 Pet 3 19-20, Matt 5: 25- 26, 8:11 Philipians 2: 10 -11(can’t be Hell here as the souls there won’t profess that Jesus is Lord). Indeed 2 Maccabees 12:46 tells us to pray for the dead and Our Lord tells us directly that sins can be forgiven after death (Matt 12:12). This whole issue as well as the Immaculate conception issue can be found on Dave Armstrong’s web site “biblical evidence for Catholicism” – Just Google it. Once again individuals might not agree with the Church’s interpretation of these verses – but these doctrines are not without biblical warrant.
    The Immaculate Conception essentially says that Mary (the new Eve) was conceived in the same state as the first Eve was created. Namely in a state without sin. while there is much to support this Scripturally, Catholics do not need every doctrine to be found EXPLICITLY in Scripture. The necessity of explicit verification is a Protestant Arguement – not a Catholic one. The belief however, is not opposed to Scripture and there is an abundance of Scriptural support. I suggest to those who want to inquire more deeply and article by Father Mateo Called “Refuting the Attack on Mary”. This can be purchased from Catholic Answers. Or you can read a rather sound defense of the Doctrine at the following link: http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/Articles/the_bible_on_the_blessed_virgin_mary.pdf
    This piece gives a pretty comprehensive biblical exegesis on the doctrines of mary as found in Scripture. I do not reccomend the the website in general. The authors at times seem uncharitable but this particular article gives the biblical evidence in a clear and articulate manner.
    I might add at this point – for those who do not like cannon law or the present state of things in the Church – you might try the Eastern rite Catholic Church. These rites come under the Pope, are apostolic, yet provide a different flavor of Catholicism. Their philosophical approach is different yet equal to the west. The rule of faith for the eastern Catholic is the Liturgy. I worship in the east and I must say I love it. ( I am not talking about the Orthodox here but rather the Byzantine, Ukranian, Marionite, and other eastern rites that have remained united to the Pope)

  100. Kathy says:

    When you study the scripture with this non-denominational church. I hope you will learn that it is NOT a Youth program that is necessary to catechize your children, it is the children’s parents that the Lord calls to do this.

    Youth programs are nothing but a social club for teens, that parents falsely think are safe, because after all they are in a church, and they do activities under the pretense of being Christian. Don’t be fooled. Get some good books on leading your children to God and open that Bible as a family and read and discuss it every single day.

    That is just one of my issues with the Church, that they somehow think it is their place to teach my children the truth. When the Bible clearly tells me it is MY job.

    Why should my children be required to attend a Faith Formation Program run by laity that hold varying ideas/beliefs and often have no clue what the Church or Bible really teaches on such topics. I often have to unteach what they have been taught.

  101. Rob says:

    We recently left the Catholic Church. My wife was the daughter of a catholic deacon and I followed her to the new church. As mentioned above in your article, my wife enjoyed the Methodist service better, the openness and friendly welcome we received. We felt left out and alienated from our parish. Our two young sons were baptized Catholic, but enjoyed the new church’s programs for young children. We felt that over the years some clergy were insincere and were always looking for money. The sad thing is… I love the Catholic Church, but many of the wrongs over the ages really hurt us, the committed believers. The front doors of our local parish were donated by my wife’s grandmother; we were married there by her father with special permission from the archdiocese. I was never a “church goer” on a regular basis when my father-in-law was living. Today I teach bible school at our new church and stand on the education board for their Christian School. I just came back from a meeting with a priest about a friend from high school who is getting married. He was kind of mean until he found out we left the church. I will pray for the church, I will do as Jesus did… love all and forgive. It’s a shame good Christian’s are turned away from such a corrupt and evil behavior of a few. I felt my friend was on trial. After watching the nightly news, it all just makes me feel sick.

    Luke 6:37:
    “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

    God Bless you all:-)

  102. Christian says:

    This reply is to Rob, but I think the point I want to make is applicable to many of the responses both here in the comments and in the original survey cited in the post.

    Perhaps there is an “openess” in other denominations that is not present in the Catholic Mass…though I must confess, I’m not quite sure what that means. I do think that a large flaw in the way that many of the masses are celebrated nowadays is that the focus is on the “meal” and not what is being consumed.

    That is to say, there is at times an effort to make the Mass this social event. A dinner party.

    But it’s not about that, primarily at least. It’s about Christ. The Eucharist. I’ve been to many Masses that attempt to achieve this sort of dinner party atmosphere (in the worst cases, a dinner theatre atmosphere), and they fall short, because Christ is there, in the tabernacle and on the altar, bleeding. For us.

    By turning the Mass into a social event, we defeat ourselves. It will never fulfill that sort of community that really is a part of the Church, because we tend to overlook the real reason for the Mass.

    The Church can be open and social and communal, but it doesn’t work when we try to inject that into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. That’s what the coffee and donuts are for.

  103. Cathy says:

    I am a cradle Catholic. I mainly left the church because I didn’t feel the need for it. I was starting to resent the time I spent at Mass & knew that wasn’t helping my relationship with God.
    But if I were to go back to a church, it wouldn’t be a Catholic one. As a woman I don’t feel valued there, except as a potential breeder.

  104. Jean Pergande says:

    I am 69 years old, was born and raised Catholic, attended Catholic schools for 13 years. I left the church in the 60′s because I was living a life not in line with my upbringing. In other words, I wanted to do things that I knew were wrong according to my Catholic faith. It took me many years of wandering and heartbreaks before I met a Catholic woman who became my friend. She listened but didn’t preach and by her example and her faithfulness to God and the church led me to rediscover my faith. I found that I longed for the Eucharist, The Body and Blood of Christ and I knew that only in Christ would I be satisfied. It took two years of waiting for an annulment and a convalidation of my marrieage before I could receive absolution through the sacrament of Penance and then the Eucharist. I called it my “First Holy Communion”.
    I became active in my parish and then was involved in “Inviting Catholics Home”.(who better to be a leader than someone who has been there and done that). I found that everyone has anecdotal stories for leaving but most just want to be heard and asked to return.
    I thank God daily for His gift of grace and loving me.

  105. Gina says:

    Personally, I left the Catholic church when I was 20, a while after made my confirmation. I always had questions, and never really got answers that made sense to me. I recently tried again to see if I have better understanding now, and after about 3 months, I left again. My main issue is doctrine. There are a LOT of things that are not in the Bible that the Catholic church has added to to their doctrines. I don’t even have to get into great detail, it’s simple things like tons of things that are considered sins that are never even mentioned in the commandments or anywhere in the Bible. In mass, we’re all made to feel that we are lowly sinners, no matter how many times we go to confession and are given absolution. My goodness, is my soul that filthy???

    My other reason is the followers, who for the most part are neither compassionate, loving, nor kind. I have never met ANY people as judgemental as Christians, be they Catholic or not. It’s like living in a war zone. The Protestants say the Catholics are going to hell, the Catholics say the Protestants are ‘not of the True Church’ (of couse, they never say they are going to hell anymore, LOL; they are so kind now!). I personally was seen as inferior and a sinner by my own priest because I was married for over 20 years outside the church! No kudos for STAYING married, LOL, and having a fantastic marriage and 2 great kids, or even getting the marriage convalidated, which we did. Then there’s issue that the kids are NOT BAPTIZED!! Horrors!!! No understanding that I want them to knowingly and, with study and open minds, choose their own spiritual paths to God. So even after confession and “Welcome home!”, I’m still not trusted or accepted. The finger pointing is beyong ridiculous. Everyone is a sinner, even after sins have been confessed.

    Then the usual of Catholics being against gay relationships, ‘mixed’ marriages, ANY kind of sex outside of wedlock at all, invitro for barren couples, any kind of birth control except NFP, even in Africa where AIDS is running rampant and women are regularly infected (my God, how are condoms NOT a good idea here?? Should we not be trying to save lives????). Now the whole health care birth control thing? What about women who need the pill for other health problems?

    So many sins, and the majority aren’t even in the Bible anywhere. So someone made these rules up. Oh yes, I know, it’s “tradition”. Well, no it’s not. Not really. I’m old enough to remember pre-Vatican and Vatican 2, and also pre-Humanae Vitae. To me, the Catholic church makes up the rules, and we are expected to follow them. Even if nothing is remotely discussed in scripture.

    So….yeah. Welcome home? No thanks, it’s not worth it.

  106. Gina says:

    Totally agree with this. Jesus said “Did they not condemn you? Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” He didn’t say “SINNER!!!!!!! SINNER!!!!!”

    And how are we to ‘sin no more’ where there are now hundreds of things that are considered sins, that are not the 10 commandments or anywhere in the Bible?? It’s all become convoluted and impossible to follow anymore.

  107. Gina says:

    Directly to God is the best thing to do. Have you read what the Church says about non-Christian religions?

    “Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing “ways,” comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. ”

    If non-Christians are given such understanding, WHY AREN’T WE?? Instead, I’m told by my own priest that I’m inferior because I was outside the church for so long, my kids are inferior because they aren’t baptised, my marriage is inferior (even though it was convalidated) even though we’ve been married for 23 years.

    I now go to God. That’s all I can do. But for the grace of God go I. Thank goodness for Yoga, it’s the only thing that’s kept me sane through all of this.

    My compassion to all of you who are going through similar trials. My heart is with you all.

  108. Klaire says:

    Gina the Catholic faith isn’t based on Sciripture alone. Although Scripture is important, it’s only a part of the teaching. Furthermore, the Bible is FROM the Catholic Church, WE wrote it (actually, it was the mass book, more than obvious in the Book of Revelation). Are you even aware that the Catholic Church was in existance BEFORE the bible?

    And, until the printing press, for more than 1500 years after the death of Christ, most of the teaching was done orally. Do you really think if Catholicism was a faith of “the book” it would have spread worldwide for 1500 years before the bible was mass produced, or that Jesus only saved his word for the last 500 years?

    You should google Dei Verbum, the dogmatic constitution on how the CC reads the bible, which is “never alone”, always in agreement with the Magesterium, Sacred Tradition, and the Catechism. You might also want to read the last words of John’s gospel, which reads (parapharased): There wouldn’t be enough books in the world to contain all that Jesus taught.

    Last but certainly not least, the Catholic Faith is no more, no less, the fullness of the teachings of Jesus Christ. For all who find so much fault, I ask you to consider that despite many fallen members, including the religious, the Church itself has never wavered from these immutable teachings for over 2000 years, and never will. In reality, if one finds fault with the teachings, unfortunately, it’s Jesus Christ with whom you disagree, provided of course, you really DO know what the chruch teaches, not what you “think” it teaches.

  109. Gina says:

    Thanks for thinking I’m an idiot. Awesome! I’ve studied a lot, actually, and do own and have read the whole CC, as well as The Great Bible Timeline study set, and Moral Theology by Heribert Jone. I’m not some un-catechised individual, but it’s nice to see that you also feel I’m inferior. That seems to be a Christian trait.

    Thanks, have a great day.

  110. Ken Lesperance says:

    I was born and raised a catholic but am having a very hard time with their doctorine. It is not about the spiritual belief but the rules that are made by the Vatican. The 1st about women not being able to be priests? Why is that so when just about every religion in christianity allows women to be a minister or pastor. My 2nd issue is about being gay. So who cares. I would rather see a lot of gay people in church than a bunch of pedophile priests who didn’t have to answer to the law for a lot of years because the catholic church covered it up or just moved them from place to place. The 3td issue is about birth control and abortion. To me it is far more of a sin to bring a child into the world who is not wanted or loved. How the hell would the pope know about tat issue. Did any of the priest or him have a baby? Wake up catholic church. I will not go back to the church unlessx it is for a wedding or a funeral. I am in the process of looking for another religion now and it woill probably be Anglican or Lutheran. I have been sober for 37 years now ans find that I am a whole lot more believing in God than ever before. I put my trust in God as know what miracles he can do and I do not need the catholic church to give me a bunch or retoric about my faith. Get out of the stone age and get progress like other churches.

  111. Michael says:

    TO Ken Lesperance – I understand when someone doesn’t agree with Catholic Teaching on many particular issues. The main issue for all of us is this: Does the Church Teach the Will of Christ. In theory – The Church being the body of Christ, and The Bride of Christ – is ONE with Christ and thus cannot Teach outside of His will. It certainly is a mystery How God can preserve the Church in its teaching even though so many of the people – even the Priests and Bishops – are openly sinful. As far as the issues that you talk about – Women Priests, Homosexual relationships, Birth control and Abortion. All of these for me fall under the broad category of Social Issues. The Church by it’s nature must address these issues from a Theological perspective – not a sociological perspective. Once you allow Sociological principles to influence Theological Truth – you have ceased to be Catholic. Might I suggest that you attend one of the many Protestant denominations that adhere to your particular belief. You would likely be happier there.
    Do you really think that Jesus would be proclaiming that a Woman has a right to an Abortion? Or the right to contracept? Being God – Jesus certainly was not constrained by any “norm”. His society also was surrounded by ones that had women priests. Do you really think that He desired women priests but just didn’t tell us? What’s the THEOLOGICAL reasons for your belief. As a convert to Catholicism – I have read many of the early Church Fathers, as well as the early liturgies, and Church Development throughout History. In contrast to you – I have been impressed with the Church’s ability to resist adherance to the Doctrines of the World. For me – there must be a Divine protection. Otherwise we would be just another Denomination with fluctuating doctrines that fall into line with the latest public opinion polls.

  112. Fiergenholt says:

    Michael Says:

    “His society also was surrounded by ones that had women priests.”

    Perhaps — but I have my doubts about how extensive and normative that would have been.

    More importanty . .

    With the exception of that hastily organized visit to Egypt when he was still an infant/toddler, there is NO evidence that Jesus of Nazareth ever lived anywhere else but in the Jordan Valley. Having said that, the religious leadership of that time in that culture were all masculine. Not only were the Jewish traditions required male priests but also the variant “Mystery Religions” — far more common in Gentile country — required them as well. I am not aware of any of the Gnostic/ “Mystery Religions” who ever considered women worthy of sacred priesthood.

    Many centuries before Jesus, however, the Deuteronomic Historian does mention the whole issue of women priests in his condemnation of the worship to Ashtarte but there is no reason to believe that this fall-back to a “pantheistic” belief system was anything more than an aberration of that era.

    In contrast, the New Testament makes no mention of any women-priests of that era at all — I am not even sure that Jesus of Nazareth would have any reason to consider that the male priesthood was anything other than normal. Certainly every devout Jew of his day — and maybe even today — still carries that understanding.

  113. Mary says:

    I have often said that. I can no more stop being Catholic than I can stop being a woman. However, I will be joining another denomination today. Not because I am lazy or need a dance party at Mass. God (and only God) knows how I have been a faithful Catholic through the scandals and trials, how I have explained to people why I stay in the face of unending Roman persecution of my sex and my friends and family. I will continue to pray for the Catholic Church, but in a different setting. I will continue to speak out for the inclusion of all, so that it will truly be a “catholic” church. But Sundays must be a time of peace and worship, and I just don’t find that in the Catholic Church anymore, even as a cantor for ten years. When I walk in I only feel anger and disappointment, and I feel like a hypocrite. Weak? Probably. Human? Most definitely. Will I be forgiven? Not by some of the writers here, but certainly by my Lord and Savior. Nevertheless, it is heartbreaking.

  114. Lester Alberque says:

    A Pew study on religion in America reported that about 40% of Catholics who have left the Church list as one of their reasons disbelief in some Church teaching.

    I find this hard to believe because I have found that most Catholics are really what is termed “cultural Catholics.” In short, they are Catholic because their whole family (usually for generations) comes from a Catholic background. It is not because they have studied and evaluated the reliability of Church doctrine.

    I wonder if this has been seriously studied by sociologists?

  115. Amanda Prada says:

    Thank you Deacon Norb,

    I joined the Catholic Church when I was in college through the RCIA program. I was excited about the Catholic Church, but lately find myself losing that excitement. I’m not worried about doctrine or dogma and when I look at other churches I find myself looking at churches that are at least similar to the Catholic Church (Episcopal, Orthodox, etc.) And while I know that the Catholic Church is about the mass, and not the ‘party’ as some on this blog have described it, when one goes to church week after week and feels that neither the priest nor congregation wants them there, a part of that person’s faith can be easily hurt. One may find Christ in the mass, but I learned in RCIA that a priest is supposed to also stand in Jesus’s place. (I think my RCIA instructor called it persona Christi.) I understood that it is for this reason priests have an ‘elevated’ role in the church. Many people look to them and expect them to love their parish like Christ. When they don’t, the heartache follows. So I must agree with your comments and say that many of us don’t contemplate leaving the Catholic Church because we are a bunch of heretics, or because we never ‘deserved’ to be Catholics in the first place, but rather, because we are hurting.

  116. Tim says:

    What interesting posts. This page popped up in my google search results. I’ve found it very mentally stimulating and enlightening at the same time. I am very humbled and delighted to have heard your situations, as I can honestly understand how you feel as I have often felt the same way.

    I’m currently Catholic and you see, I’ve been hurting too. A number of disagreements and hurts over the past few years have been eating away at me. And now, on hind sight, I realise that it’s been affecting my faith and spiritual life incredibly.

    Oftentimes, I feel as though I was a hypocrite when I was a youth ministry leader because I struggle(currently still do!) each day day to ‘practice what I teach’. Indeed it sometimes feels so draining and tiresome to go for ministry sessions and I feel at times that I am not receiving any spiritual nourishment or even social satisfaction(from fellow members/leaders) at all. At the moment, I’ve stepped down from leadership position because I’m currently pursuing further studies. But still as a member of the youth ministry, sometimes I feel all alone even in a group of friends from the ministry. Sometimes, it feels as if our Spiritual Director doesn’t really bother about us and seems to act as if he has all the wisdom and knowledge needed to run the ministry by himself.

    I often get frustrated and sometimes angry at this, because I see that the youth are thirsting for spiritual development and to experience the presence of God in their lives and in our ministry. Oftentimes, I would plan proposals and programmes for days or weeks to present to him as proposals for upcoming events and camps, only to be turned down with the wave of a hand. It felt so frustrating and aggravating. Often, I was angry and I slowly became nonchalant in ministry activities.

    One day during mass however, I happened to see three of our older members serving as Eucharistic ministers. As they stood on the sanctuary preparing to distribute the Eucharist to the congregation, I felt God reminding me that the ministry was not mine, but His. It was as if He was saying to me “My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts were not your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8). At the same time, the well used Bible verse from Jeremiah 29:11 came to mind : “For I know the plans I have for you, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek me with all your heart, and I will be found by you, says the Lord…”

    At that point in of time in mass, it was very humbling. It was as if I could just let everything go. All my hurts, my burdens, pains and fears offered at the foot of His cross. I recalled the love that He had on the cross. Despite His divinity, He endured insults, pain and suffering on account of us and to redeem us from our sins. It was as if Jesus was gently telling me, “I’ve been in your position before..”

    How humbling it was to be able to get up from the pew, to receive Christ’s love made tangible in the Eucharist in after that. I was reminded gently that the Catholic church is not a perfect church. It never was, and we never proclaimed to be. How can we be perfect if we are not completely united with God? We are a suffering church, struggling along our earthly journey towards God together. As one falls down, another helps him up. (Ecclesiastes 4:10). I’ve come to realise that I’m broken, you’re broken, we all have our differences in opinions, hurts, pains and sorrows, but ultimately it can only be through the grace of God and the love of Christ that we are united and have an identity in Him as His children.

    Indeed, priests are human too. We give them respect because we recognize Christ in them, authority given by Christ Himself to the apostles and thus handed down over the ages(Matt 28:18, e.t.c.). They are called to be the ‘Alter Christus’ in the parishes and especially during mass and the sacraments. Yet being human as they are sometimes may not act in a Christ-like manner. In short, despite the authority invested in them by the church, they humbly submit to going to confession themselves and seeking forgiveness from God for their own sins.

    To me, this is also remarkable because oftentimes, advice or comments given by them out of the empathy of having experienced it before are often mistaken as a holier than thou attitude. I didn’t realise this until I came to experience it myself.

    Upon pondering on it a bit more, I realised that it may not just come from a priest or just used in a religious context. Often times the goody two shoes in our work place or life is often despised by us, and those that tell us what we don’t want to hear are given the cold shoulder.

    Bringing it back to a religious context, I now firmly believe that the church does not condemn. In fact, never once have I heard a priest say “Sinner! You are going to hell!”
    Rather, when a priests does say the word “sinner”, it is always, if not often followed by the word “forgiveness”, “return” and “love”. Isn’t it true?

    Like the prodigal son in the Bible, if we have strayed, God invites us to return to Him in His love. The priest merely puts it into words. He never condemns, for if a priest condemns the people of God, why would He administer the love of God through the Eucharist during the Mass or even bother to sin in the confessional to hear and forgive on behalf of God for the sins of His people, that they might return to the love of God and worship him in freedom and truth, no more weighed down by the guilt of their past sins, but to know that they have been forgiven and have confidence in coming to God? (John 20:23).

    Oftentimes, I realise that my own experience with God and the church is not so much about happiness. Yes it is necessary to be happy and to draw people to God in happiness. But more importantly, it is about drawing happiness from the joy of the Lord. A joy that never dies, throughout hardships and pain, sickness and health, one that will last through the storms of our lives.

    I have come to realise that oftentimes, God sharpens us. Like His pencil(Mother Teresa) sharpening can be very painful. But in suffering, I am humbled. Through my suffering now, I am able to empathise and minister to others who are going through a similar period (which I have had the opportunity and grace to experience many times already).

    I’ve entertained the thought of leaving the church myself for many of the same reasons mentioned here too (which is why I can empathise and and humbled by reading your posts), but thankfully God has been showing me His mercy when I need it most. So I have come to realise that finding true and lasting happiness, is not a matter of leaving the church and condemning it’s teachings or leaders, in favour of going to a pentecostal or evangelical church because you feel more ‘happy’ there(but believe you me, I have many friends who church-hop between those churches because they still do not find happiness within). Rather, it is about humility and submission and earnestly seeking the will of God in our lives, in accordance with the churches teachings(2000 years of doctrine, divine revelations and God experiences). Indeed it is not something fallible or a blind faith followed by fools and ignorant people. Brilliant and simple minds alike have found and experienced God in the Catholic faith over the years, and hundreds of thousands still continue to do so.

    Whilst it would be much easier to walk away, if you have a problem with the church or your faith, why not take the example of st. Teresa of Avila and seek to change the church from within(through prayer, example and ministering to God’s people in union with His love)?

    One priest I met recently posed a question to us: Why do you doubt your faith? Why not doubt your doubts first?

    Take care and God bless friends, indeed it has been a very humbling experience for me to be able to read your posts and in a sense, share in your sufferings. May His Spirit continue to lead and guide us and keep us in His grace and love.

    Tim:)

  117. Tim says:

    Opps.. a little correction here.. :P

    “He never condemns, for if a priest condemns the people of God, why would He administer the love of God through the Eucharist during the Mass or even bother to –>GO TO THE CONFESSIONAL <– to hear and forgive on behalf of God for the sins of His people, that they might return to the love of God and worship him in freedom and truth, no more weighed down by the guilt of their past sins, but to know that they have been forgiven and have confidence in coming to God? (John 20:23)."

  118. tim says:

    you are mostly ALL wrong about the reason people are leaving the church. they are leaving because the church has given in to the progressive mantra about socialism and communism and “the children”. only now do some in the church finally realize what their complicity with the godless left means to the churches freedom from gov’t. and the real crime is, while they see what WILL happen to the church, the bishops STILL are for open borders and the dream act and the teaching of social justice and fairness and redistribution.

  119. Bill says:

    I am on the verge of leaving due to the abuse. I have 3 young sons, how could I on good conscious bring them into the presence of a priest? My Bishop is one of the guys who moved the abusers around, he aided in the cover up. How can I ever trust a word he says?

    There may be good and noble priests, how do I know who they are.

    Raping anyone is evil, rapeing a defenseless child who trusts you more so. Hiding, aiding and empowering the rapist is also evil. The core of the church is rotting and they dare talk to me about morality.

    They claim that opposeing oppression of noncatholics at the hands o te church is sinful, and raping children is not. The church is inverted, that is why I am ready to leave.

    If there is no trust how can there be faith?

  120. Tara says:

    From what I have observed, most people today (Catholic or Protestant) don’t want discipleship on Christ’s terms; they want it on their terms. People are looking for a warm and fuzzy, feel-good religious experience when it comes to their relationship with God, expecting institutions to do for them what only a personal relationship with Him can. If your life is not completely centered on prayer, the Bible, and cultivating an intimate relationship with Christ, you aren’t going to find what you’re looking for, whether you sit in a Protestant pew or a Catholic one. Most people are spiritually lazy. They don’t want to take the time to pray, study the Bible, and apply its teachings to their lives. It’s much easier to go to church, sit in a pew, and expect a priest or minister to somehow miraculously preach and teach them out of their own apathy, indifference, complacency, and overall love of the world than it is to actually repent and make the necessary changes instead. Protestants aren’t anymore devoted to God than Catholics are. Apathy and a refusal to serve Christ on His terms, rather than one’s own terms, knows no denominational bounds. If you cultivate an intimate relationship with Christ in your own life, by spending much time in prayer and meditating on the Word, I can assure you that you will never be able to say that your spiritual needs are not being met. If people have left the Catholic Church because their “spiritual needs are not being met,” they are only convicting and condemning themselves, not the Church. If they had been willing to spend time with God in prayer each and every single day, and if they had been willing to discipline themselves to study the Word every day, they would have remained instead of thinking that the problem was with the institution itself. Their complacency, indifference, and overall love of the world will only follow them to the Protestant church, whether they want to accept this truth or not. The problem is them, not the Catholic Church.

  121. Jessica says:

    I left the Catholic Church because Jesus found me and took me in. He taught me about the deception of the Catholic Church (praying to Mary, devotion to Mary and the saints, doing penance, etc.). I agree with the Bible. I’m Pro-Life, against homosexuality, against divorce and re-marriage after divorce. I do not believe in contraceptives either. I strongly disagree with honoring Mary and “saints”. God says to honor GOD and GOD ALONE. I REFUSE to give honor, praise or worship to any else. I understand that Mary was the mother of Jesus, but I’m the bride of Jesus and I would NEVER want someone to pray to me. READ THE BIBLE. NOT THE CATECHISM.

  122. Randy says:

    Honor God alone? Really? Are birthday parties sinful? Is the singing of the national anthem sinful? The Jehovah’s Witnesses think so precisely because they accept your “Honor God alone” premise. We want to give God our highest honor but we can honor lesser goods. Good people. Good deeds. Good art. The principle with Mary and the saints is no different.

  123. Christopher Lake says:

    Jessica,

    I left the Catholic Church too, and for years, I thought that the Catholic Church did not have the “true, Biblical Gospel.” I also thought that the Church contradicted the Bible’s teaching in *many* different ways, including with the Marian doctrines.

    However, I was wrong. It took years, and deeper study of the Bible, and prayer, and humility, for me to realize it, but nothing that the Catholic Church teaches contradicts the Bible. It was the Catholic Church which compiled the books of the New Testament into the canon that we have them today! The canon of Scripture was formally settled at a Catholic Church Council in 397 A.D.

    If Protestants simply “agree with the Bible,” how is it that so many Protestant denominations disagree with each other about what the Bible teaches on the questions of:

    1. Whether or not a “true Christian” can lose his/her salvation?
    2. The meaning and mode of Baptism?
    3. The nature of the Lord’s Supper (the Eucharist)?
    4. Whether or not remarriage is allowable?

    and on and on, about so many other issues…

    From the early years of the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s, Protestants have been fighting with *each other* over what they *believe* that the Bible teaches on (insert subject here). For several years, I was a Protestant, utterly convinced that the Catholic Church was wrong about Christ’s sacrifice, wrong about Mary, wrong about the Saints… well, I was the one who had been wrong in *my interpretation* of the Bible, believing that the Bible contradicted the Church. It took more study of the Bible though for me to realize that.

    A certain amount of Bible study can lead someone to leave the Catholic Church. More Bible study, however, can bring them back. Study of the early Church Fathers (who wrote before the New Testament canon was even compiled) will make it clear– the early Christian church *was* the Catholic Church.

    Jessica, I could answer all of your objections about Catholic doctrine and practice that you raised above, but it would take a very, very long comment. I recommend that you look into the “Catholic Answers” website. God bless you, sister. I returned to the Catholic Church in 2010, after many years of thinking exactly as you now do about the Church (due to my misinterpretation of Scripture).

  124. Christopher Lake says:

    Bill,

    I don’t know if you are still here, or if you will read this, but I share your pain about the abuse scandals in the Church. Without going into personal details, sexual abuse has had an impact on my own life in a real way. The abuse scandals have been a source of pain and shame for so many people in the Church, including me.

    You claim, though, that “they” (leaders in the Church, I guess– I’m not sure who you are referring
    to here) don’t believe that child rape is sinful. The Pope certainly does not believe that child rape is not sinful. He has been at the forefront of *condemning* and trying to *stop* the abuse in the Church. Most of the current Bishops are speaking out and acting to prevent any further abuse. My archdiocese of Washington, D.C. has very serious and strict policies to prevent the abuse of children. Very unfortunately, that has not always been the case in some regions of the U.S., but the Church is truly working to change that problem.

    Sexual abuse has not *only* been a problem in the Church. Don’t get me wrong– the Church has had very real problems, and she should rightly be held to a higher standard. The Pope does realize that, and, as I wrote above, he is working to correct the problems. (Have you read the Pope’s letter to the Catholics of Ireland on the sex abuse scandals? It is very strongly worded on the crimes of abuse.)

    Until the last twenty years or so, many psychologists, and people in Western society, in general, had incorrect ideas about sexual abuse. They believed that child molesters could simply be sent for counseling and “rehabilitated.” Some of these ideas unfortunately influenced certain leaders in the Church, and priests who had abused children were sent for counseling, and then, they were transferred to other parishes, where the abuses tragically continued.

    Sometimes, the leaders who made these decisions to transfer priests honestly thought that they were “better” and that things would be fine. Sometimes, the leaders knew better and were deliberately choosing to protect the “reputation” of the Church over the well-being of the children– which is obviously wrong and worthy of the *strongest* condemnation. The Pope has strongly condemned such actions by some Church leaders (such as in the Irish letter that I mentioned), and he is working to make sure that such things never happen again in the Church.

    Bill, I share your pain and anger and disgust over the scandals. As I wrote above, my own life has been impacted by sexual abuse. I hope and pray, though, that you will not leave the Church over these scandals. The Vatican’s website has a whole section on the Church’s response to sexual abuse. I hope that you will read at least some of the encouraging things there. God bless you, my brother in Christ.

  125. ~N. says:

    Sorry, Christopher, but any recent public efforts to condemn the child abuse conspiracy are merely public relations campaigns designed to protect whatever shred of authority the bishops and the Pope have anymore. The Kansas City scandal is a clear indication that those protocols and programs are just window dressing, and that nothing has changed at all.

    The institution of the Catholic Church has nothing to do with God and everything to do with power mongering on the part of a bunch of arrogant, narcissistic men, many of whom are sexually dysfunctional in one way or another.

    God is bigger than organized religion. God has told us He is with us, always, regardless of what those ridiculous, pompous clowns in the Catholic Church tell us. Those self-designated God-brokers don’t get to tell God what He may and may not do any more than they get to tell God’s children what they may and may not do.

    They’re nothing more than a pack of self-important, self-involved middlemen whose main agenda is feathering their own nests with the fruits of other people’s labor.

  126. Pauline Kowalski says:

    I’ve read all your opinions concerning why Catholics leave the Catholic church for another denomination, but simply can’t understand why anyone would choose to be a heretic rather than to follow Jesus Christ in the Church that He, Himself instituted! There are some facts that most people fail to realize or even understand, or maybe to just believe possible.
    The Deposit of Faith consists of the complete Revelation of Jesus Christ, and is contained within the two sources of revelation, nmely, Scripture and Tradition. “Christ Our Lord entrusted the truth which He had brought from Heaven to the Apostles, and through them to their successors.” This Revelation, which contains the doctrines that make up the Catholic Faith, “has been committed as a Divine deposit to the spouse of Christ, to be faithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted by her.”
    Quoting the First Vatican Council, Pope Leo XIII wrote: “Faith, as the Church teaches, is ‘that supernatural virtue by which, through the help of God and through the assistance of His grace, we believe what He has revealed to be true, not on account of the intrinsic truth perceived by the natural light of reason, but because of the authority of God Himself, the Revealer, who can neither deceive nor be deceived.’ ”
    “The doctrine of the faith which God revealed has not been hnded down as a pholosophic invention to the humn mind to be perfected, but has been entrusted as a divine Deposit to the Spouse of christ to be fithfully guarded and infallibly interpreted. Hence, also, that understanding of its sacred dogmas must be perpetually retained, which Holy Mother church has once declared; and there must never be recession from that meaning under the specious name of a deeper understanding.”
    There is only ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH! And, Jesus Christ instituted this one Church Himself. . .when at the Last Supper Christ said, “Do this in rememberence of Me.” Luke 22:19.

  127. MacLKY says:

    Nearly 34 years ago, I considered becoming Catholic, but never quite “made the leap” For roughly 20 years thereafter, I sporadically attended Lutheran and Episcopal churches because they seemed “catholic” enough. In 2000 I entered RCIA and was received into the Chruch in Easter 2001. For awhile I felt as if I had finally come to where I needed to be. My life was lacking good structure and Catholicism seemed the best way to experience God and reform my life in a more moral fashion. I looked back on the liturgical Protestant Churches as not having faith enough to believe what Catholics believe. And yet I simultaneously realized that Eastern Orthodoxy had never “engineered” Christianity to anywhere near the degree that Catholicism had. This Church could rightfully claim the very same historic beginnings as Roman Catholicism. I had been schooled in Eastern Christianity and came to appreciate its “catholicity” precisely becasue it deliberatley avoided the intellectual constructs that Catholicism seemed to eager to employ in order to give precise definition to everything that is believed. Now after 12-plus years in Roman Catholicism, I am considering becoming a High-Church Anglican or Eastern Orthodox. Knowing the “facts and comparisons” in regards to theology, practice, and actual history of Christianity, I find Roman Catholicism to be Christianity in bad form. Too many of its dogmas are actually modifications of earleir dogmas so that their ORIGINAL interpreted meaning is not the same. Much of what it claims for itself just isn’t the absolute truth.

  128. Anonymous says:

    Good article, Deacon! Your respectful tone and compassionate attitude will go a long way to encourage ecumenical understanding. If I may, I’d like to add another reason. I’m a Catholic theologian who has loved and served the Church my whole life. Since my late teens I’ve felt a vocation to sacramental service as an ordained priest. Our Church confirmed that through formation and prepared me for ordination. Six months prior to ordination to the transitional diaconate I left to marry. But my sense of vocation has never left me. Nearly thirty years later I’m leaving to join the Episcopal Church to pursue that priestly calling.

  129. David says:

    I converted to Catholicism in 2008. I was raised Southern Baptist, and stopped attending church in 1993, when I left home to go to college. Over the years, I picked up some bad habits. I finally realized I had a problem, when I was arrested on DUI charges on Christmas Eve of 2004.

    I remembered that I didn’t have this problem when I used to go to church, and after many miracles, decided that the key to my sobriety would be to start going back to church. At the time, I only had one friend who attended Mass every Sunday. So I started attending Mass with him. Since my mom’s side of the family is Catholic, and I attended Mass when we visited them, I was already familiar with the order of Mass, and understood that, as Christians, both Southern Baptists and Catholics believe in the same Jesus. Eventually, I converted.

    One big problem that I see with the Catholic Church is that it doesn’t evangelize. There are virtually no outreach programs for people to participate in. Unless you become Catholic, you’re pretty much on your own.

    I’m married to someone who isn’t Catholic now. She was raised Southern Baptist, like me, and we were married in the Catholic Church. She has two children of her own. One of them, my stepdaughter, is a teenager and would desperately like to go to church and get involved in a youth program. But apparently, as I’ve been told many times by people at my parish, she can’t get involved in a youth program at our parish unless she is Catholic.

    How can the Catholic Church expect young people to be interested in it if it simultaneously and continuously pushes people away? What place do non-Catholics have in the Church? Unless she converts, she can’t even associate with other people her age at a Catholic Church? This doesn’t makes sense to me.

    When I was Southern Baptist, we had youth group meetings on Friday nights, and Bible study for youth on Wednesday nights. Youth group on Friday nights was a way for youths to get together for fun and activities amongs their peers, but which also, involved Bible study, singing praises, and would focus their attention on Christ and their individual relationships with him. Other than Youth Mass, what does the Catholic Church offer to young people who aren’t Catholic that would attract them and make them feel welcome when they’re visiting any Catholic parish?

    We tell our members to go out and preach the Gospel, then shy away from it, fail to invite other’s to Mass. And if other people who aren’t Catholic do happen to show up to Mass, we shy away from them, and fail to welcome them. How is this conveying the love of Christ to anyone?

  130. Fiergenholt says:

    David:

    It is not that way everywhere. Our large adult choir has at least one non-Catholic male singer; the main organist for another local Catholic parish is not Catholic. Our parish scout troop, fairly large one as those things go, does have maybe 10% of both the scouts and scout leaders who are non-Catholic. Not that big a deal here in the Midwest.

    But I do agree with your statement that we really do not evangelize.

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