Michael O’Loughlin is a Catholic, but he understands why so many people are walking away from the Church:
To those whose lives fit snugly within the constructs the church accepts, this ultimatum [“adjust your beliefs, join our tribe, and all will be well”] might be easy enough to embrace. But in a society where those constructs echo back to a quaint time that never actually existed, where individuals have more choices, where decisions have become mind-bogglingly complex, where women and men can live full lives without the strictures of religious faith, it’s not that simple.
I’m no longer surprised when a close female friend, successful and well educated, looks askew at a male-dominated church and cringes before she walks away. When those charged with teaching the faith tell their flock to believe or act a certain way because their authority gives them the right to do so, it becomes easier to see why many chuckle as they interpret this as a parent scolding a toddler: do this because I said so. Gay men and women rightly refuse to succumb to bullying in their professional and familial lives, so it’s not a surprise when they leave a church that calls them disordered. And though we are over a decade removed from the revelation of clergy sex abuse of minors, many in my generation will never again give the benefit of the doubt to the Catholic hierarchy on matters of faith, morals, or much else.
That’s really it, isn’t it? The Church just isn’t relevant to people who aren’t part of its hierarchy. Sure, Catholic beliefs are just plain untrue, but that’s only part of the reason so many people belong to one church or another; they need to feel a sense of belonging and hope and community. If the Church’s teachings contradict so much of what you know is right, it’s becoming a lot easier to walk right out those doors.
The Church is fading away and we’re all better off because of it.