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Written Word > Articles & Commentaries > April 2012 > Why Do Catholics Leave, and What Can Be Done About It?
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Scott
Interesting comment by Father Barron, "I’d be willing to bet that anyone, even those vaguely connected to the Church, could rehe***** the arguments on both sides of those issues". I'd like to see some of these ex-catholics and current catholics that know these arguments. I have asked people, and most just say they don't believe it, or they say it doesn't matter, we don't have to listen to the bishops, etc. Or in case of ex-catholics, they don't think that men who, for the most part, have never been married can make a rational statement on sex. I don't think that there is a vast understanding in general, and not much feeling that there is one. It is just "old people thinking". I would like you to find a majority of ex-catholics and current catholics and ask them the reasons. I'll bet they don't know.
5/4/2012 5:47:47 PM
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Bissell J Smith
Unless I missed it...didn't see the priest scandel listed. Just recently my wife needed our marrage certificate and I saw Fr John's name and looked him up on line (Married 1984 - St Peter/Paul - Naperville IL - been in Tx the past 28yrs). I found out he was arrested in 1999 in Racine WI and is still in jail for soliciting a minor boy - age 14. We are practicing Catholics - St Patricks / Ft Worth...but let me tell you this whole thing has been a complete breakdown in trust and really bothers me. To think a pedophile married us. Not to be too negative...I am watchin your DVD on Catholicism and really enjoying it.
5/5/2012 12:13:34 AM
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susan
To Bissell
As a once fallen away catholic, maybe for different reasons than the one you mentioned I would just like to comment in my opinion that maybe the readings of 5/7/2012 might offer some reflection with regard to the priest accused/convicted of these heinous crimes. As Barnabas and Paul said in acts 14:5-18, we are of human nature.
5/7/2012 10:06:12 AM
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LINDA C DOERY
I BECAME A CATHOLIC AS A CONVERT FROM METHODISM. THANK GOD! I COULD NEVER HAVE COPED WITH MY LIFE WITHOUT A REASONABLE GROUNDING IN THE CATHOLIC FAITH.
I AM NOW 80 YEARS OF AGE...AND HAVE NEVER BLAMED THE CHURCH FOR ITS MISTAKES. WE ARE HUMAN, INDEED! I URGE ALL WHO DO BLAME TO STEP BACK AND UNDERSTAND CIRCUMSTANCES AND CULTURE. AND FORGIVE! NOT TO EXCUSE, BUT FORGIVE.
5/10/2012 10:19:05 AM
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LINDA C DOERY
TO ADDRESS BOMMENT BY BISSELL:
A PRIEST DOES NOT MARRY A COUPLE; HE MERELY OFFICIATES AND MAKES THE UNION LEGAL. IF THE PRIEST IS IN A STATE OF SIN, THAT DOES NOT INVALIDATE THE MARRIAGE. THE COUPLE MARRIES EACH OTHER.
5/10/2012 10:25:18 AM
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Jonathan
You simply do not leave Peter because of Judas!

The Catholic Church has encountered many issues in many years...But remains standing.

It is the Church Jesus Himself founded.
5/14/2012 1:15:38 PM
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edita
i have been a Catholic all my life and attend mass on sundays and i also attend a non-denominational evangelical church. i do this because i am seeking. i also once thought of leaving the Catholic church, but i came to realize that there is so much to learn and understand all the great things that the Catholic church has to offer. i still attend the evangelical church only because it gives me a chance to question their teachings and compare them to our Catholic beliefs. i do wish that the sermons on sunday mass will be more about our doctrines and our beliefs, based scripturally. it is so easy to be lead into a different church/denomination because they brag about how much they are so biblically based on their faith,and know scripture, and they criticize the Catholic religion for not having any scriptures to defend our doctrines (of course, i don't believe this because we do).
5/18/2012 4:54:21 PM
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Saundra Gross
This article was perfect; I am inspired to volunteer to present this article plus my time to reach out to those who have fallen away from our parish! Lets hope our priest will be warm to this ministry. Dropping a card in the mail or making phone calls or sending a short e-mail is not too much to ask. Thank you.
5/21/2012 8:42:01 AM
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CM Johnston
As one of my parish priests told me many times. People leave the church because they don't understand "The Mystery" meaning our Holy Eucharist. If people understood its true meaning as the bread of life for our souls, they would never search any where else. If we truly understood the mystery ourselves, we would be more loving, compassionate, caring, etc. Yes, we can continue to improve our churches in many ways and it all starts with each one of us. Christ call us closer to the mystery and I am hopeful more people are willing to listen and accept his grace. No other faith has such an encounter with the divine! No other faith has such a beautiful mystery given to us by Christ himself. No other faith has our traditions, magisterium, apostolic succession, miracles, apparations and our uncorrupted saints as proof.
5/26/2012 7:57:22 PM
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Mary Ann
The people that I know who left the Church say that they 'found' Jesus elsewhere. Some of these people had 12 years of Catholic education. They (and also a lot of Catholics who are still in the Church, but don't go to Mass) do not know how they could have the most intense relationship with Jesus right here in the Catholic Church. They do not know about or have any relationship with Jesus, the Eucharist.

Going by my own 12 years of Catholic education, most of what I was taught seemed to PRESUME that we had a relationship with God. Therefore we learned about the mechanics of the faith, making it seem that Catholics do need to do things to get into heaven, like a cooking class. It seems as if God and His love for us got left out. Somehow I got lucky and got that message someplace.
(feet on both sides of Vatican II)
5/28/2012 12:50:19 AM
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Paula
I will never understand why anyone would leave the church because of some human action. You are leaving such a gift as The Real Presence in the Eucharist.
6/4/2012 8:58:44 PM
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Jen
I'd like to share that I left the Catholic church as an adult for a few reasons that were not mentioned by Father Bob. One is that although schooled at a Catholic school, I never felt like I learned much more than facts and rules about religion. We rarely opened the Bible, and as my memory serves, we rarely were encouraged to apply its teachings to our lives in real ways, other than simply being told to follow the rules. I also didn't hear and see the teachers and other adults in the parish living out the faith more than attending church, reciting the memorized prayers without feeling, barely opening their mouths to sing praise to God, and "following the rules," at least when they thought people were watching. Also, it was just excepted that we, as students, would all believe everything that was presented; there was little to no room for questions and discussion. As a young adult, I was bothered by what I considered hypocrisy in both individuals within the church and the church itself. I found many people very superficial and judgmental, and I didn't think all the extravagance within the church fit with Christian values and teachings. In addition, some of the teachings of the Catholic church seemed more like superstition to me than true faith. I know that I can only speak for myself, as I do know some people, including many in my own family, who have strong faith in God and the Catholic teachings, but for me many ideas just didn't and don't sit right. When I found an evangelical church as a young mom, I was warmly welcomed from day one, I heard sermons that were thoughtful and I could immediately apply to my life, there were many quality programs for my children, questions and discussions were encouraged, I was given many opportunities to experience deeper learning through Bible studies and other gatherings, I was invited and encouraged to join a small group to "do life" with, I was constantly challenged and guided to strengthen my relationship with God, and I was provided with many opportunities to serve within and outside of the walls of the small church. My faith became central to my life. This non-denominational evangelical church continues to meet my personal and spiritual needs in a way the Catholic church never did.
6/5/2012 11:55:34 PM
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Joan
Our empty churches are a true sadness for me; and even in my sadness, the issue of my own leaving still comes and goes. I don’t like that. I haven’t left because I believe we have the fullness and I could not be without the Sacraments.

I think the underlying factor of what keeps coming back to try to pull me away has finally come to light and what I perceive to be “secrecy”.

Jesus told us all that the Father made known to Him. What I see in our church is blatant opposition to that.

I have questions about my faith to ask my spiritual father (any one of them) and have discovered it not acceptable or considered appropriate to ask.

Something is wrong with that.
6/6/2012 12:39:49 PM
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Scott
responding to Jen
It would seem from your statement that you greatly desire God's presence in your life. The Sacraments give you God's life within you. 7 Sacrametns, 7 occasions to increase in grace. Humans cannot give to each other God's life... however, humans can make us feel good and support each other in our strengths and weaknesses.
6/12/2012 8:39:10 AM
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Jonathan
Simply put. Better organization (most catholic church offices are a mess-lets be honest), learn to preach (please leave sr so and so off the altar!) outreach to stray catholics, adult catechesis and ministry.
If you do not get involved, you tend to lose interest.

Show gratitude if possible-a little goes a long way!

I have sought mentorship and applied to the vocations office in my diocese and I have not heard back after a few calls this was +- 2/3 years ago!

Apparently there is a priest shoratage..hmmm...

I feel sorry for priests and bishops on the last day as they will have many souls to answer for.
6/14/2012 4:23:09 AM
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Scott
Jonathan,
Contact me and I will put you in touch with a Vocation Office that will take your call immediately. :)
6/14/2012 5:31:20 AM
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Charles Weigel
How is a priest in a very large parish know that a family has left the church or is just going to a different mass or has switched to a different catholic church because the priest delivers his homily better?
7/6/2012 2:25:08 PM
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Mary Anne
Our pastor has driven away so many people, including my husband who was a convert. He is arrogant, condescending and more interested in making sure we know he is "THE BOSS" and that we have no say in anything. He did away with the parish council for years. When he reinstated it he limited it to a few meetings a year and made it clear they are only to 'advise' him and he is still in charge. He has taken money raised by the school parents for school needs and refuses to say what it was used for. In his words, "it's my money and it's none of your business what I have done with it". It may well be his 'right' to do this, but now he wonders why people do not give as much and he has trouble meeting expenses. People are angry and don't trust what he does with the money. It is NOT his money. He is a steward, not the owner. We used to have 4 masses on Sunday, 3 of which were full. Now we have 3 and only 1 of them is full. He wonders why people won't give as generously. Most of the people who have left do not go to another Catholic church as we are rural and it is a long way to get to the nearest one. They go to no church, like my husband, or to a Prostant church. I understand the need for pastor to 'be in charge' and that we cannot pick our pastors. But, when you have one like ours and the bishop stands by him no matter what it hurts our Church and many individuals. It's a little like the abuse scandal- bishops standing by the priest to the detriment of the faithful. Not nearly the seriousness of the abuse, but the same thinking.
Bad pastors are a problem and bishops are unwilling to step in.
PS his homilies are so bad- it always reminds me of someone unexpectedly called upon to say a few words.
7/8/2012 8:11:32 PM
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Chuck
I believe that a significant reason for people leaving the Church is that the Church does not expect enough of itself and its members. My experience is that the Church does not want to get involved with a culture of lifelong learning. If it expectations included a culture of lifelong learning, then it would have to provide resources to facilitate such a culture. I believe people leave the Church because their faith is weak or that they are not getting what they need from the Church. If people are not asked to make a commitment to the Church, then relatively small things can motivate them to leave. If they have been asked to make a commitment by joining a culture of lifelong learning, then they have seen what the Church can provide and then can decide not to do without it. If the Church wants a different outcome, it has to do something different. The Church has always put a value on education, bishops are suppose to be teachers. Let’s put more of our resources toward teaching and expect that our parishioners will use resources in a culture of lifelong learning. Then they will be committed Catholics. We were created to Know God, Love God and Serve God. Lets work on the knowing part. The more we know about God, the loving and serving will follow naturally.
7/11/2012 4:03:44 PM
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Gary
I was away for 40 years. Since 2010 I have come and gone twice. With that said, people leave the Church because they want to leave the Church. Accepting responsibilty for ones actions is not not something people of today's society are willing to do very much. St. John writes a great deal about Faith and it's importance. People lose Faith long before they leave, leaving is just the effect of the cause. If an admitted alcoholic so much as takes one drink, he is sure to know what the effect will be. This is what you may call insane behavior. Well, the same can be said of someone who leaves the Church, the effect is sure to seen, and the behavior can be considered quiet insane, for now that Faith is lost, when one leaves the Church all hope is lost as well. I could not stay because my heart was broken, cold, and hardened. In an intutive moment, I pich up the Gospel of John and their, Jesus Christ mended my heart, us the great saint who Gospel is "The Gospel of The Heart"
God Bless
7/22/2012 12:17:10 PM
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