Why Catholics Are Leaving: New Study Released
A few days ago I posted my thoughts on What it Means to be a Catholic. It was based on the reflections of Archbishop Charles Chaput (Philadelphia) and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (Dublin, Ireland). Archbishop Chaput, by the way, just released a new book entitled “A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America.”
Recently Villanova University released the results of a study on Why Catholics Leave the Catholic Church. The study was a collaboration between Jesuit Fr. William J. Byron, a professor of business at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, and Charles Zech, a Professor at Villanova. Now, when “The Hawks” and “The Wildcats,” Jesuits and Augustinians can agree and collaborate on anything, it is reason to celebrate — true ecumenism right here in Philadelphia! U.S. Route 1 meets Lancaster Avenue.
The study involved Catholics in the Diocese of Trenton. Their Bishop, David M. O’Connell, C.M. had invited the study. Byron’s interest was peaked when speaking with a leading Catholic businessman who commented that, when a company is loosing customers, it is standard procedure to begin a series of exit interviews and ask them “Why?” this led Byron to submit an article in America Magazine entitled, “On their Way Out, What Exit Interviews Could Teach us About Lapsed Catholics.” This eventually led to the Zech/Byron study in Trenton.
The reasons are not surprising:
- The sex abuse crisis
- The Church’s stance on homosexuality
- Dissatisfaction with the priest
- Uninspiring homilies on Sunday
- Perception that church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics
- Church’s stance toward divorced and remarried couples
- The status of women
The Byron article and the release of the study has gotten some legs. Articles about this can be found in the Catholic, national and international media. Interest has cut across countries, religious denominations and liberal-conservative/left-right orientations. For example, I saw postings about both items at National Catholic Reporter (USA), CathNews, New Zealand, USA Today, and SHAFAQNA (The Shia International News Association). How’s that for journalistic ecumenism?
Here are my questions:
- Why so much interest in this?
- What do WE do about this?
- What do I do about this?
Your responses would be most welcome.