3/13/11

Top Reasons Catholics are Leaving the Catholic Church

Whether it’s simply a lack of Mass attendance or suffering from serious clergy abuse, there are many reasons we have left the Church. Here are some of the main reasons that Catholics have become Former Catholics:

1. You’ve left the Catholic faith without even realizing it—one day you just stop attending and never look back. You never felt connected to the Church or parish and no one has even noticed you are not there anymore.

2. You left because you’ve married a non-Catholic and decide to embrace that faith instead.

3. You discovered that Catholicism does not coincide with many of the bible’s teachings and that much of its doctrine is man-made. You either join another faith or do not join another denomination.

4. You’ve gone through many agonizing struggles with Catholic dogma, and ultimately realize that your life situation cannot be reconciled with Catholic doctrine.

5. Perhaps you are currently still a Catholic “in good standing” but are discerning whether Catholicism is the answer to salvation.

6. Hypocrisy. A traumatic life event involving a member of the church hierarchy has left you reeling and this religious abuse ends your tie with Catholicism in a split second.

7. A traumatic life event in general has questioned your belief in God or Christianity altogether.

Or maybe it’s a combination of several of these factors. For many cradle Catholics, Catholicism is not just a religion, it’s a culture and a way of life. Catholics who question an aspect of doctrine may find themselves at a crossroads of confusion and anxiety, especially those who feel an affinity and attachment to their parish.


Just as there are many reasons that Catholics leave the church, there are many demographics: young and old, with thorough knowledge of Catholic teaching or little knowledge at all, and some feel at total peace with their decision while others may find the break deeply painful.

So this is a group website, where guest posts and comments are welcome and encouraged, where resources are shared. We want to hear your story, to share the struggles and triumphs along your spiritual journey during and after Catholicism.

17 comments:

FigTree said...

I'm a survivor of abuse by a religious Catholic when I was 4 years old. I have found the Jesuits to be the only source of warmth in the Catholic church, but as a rule we are not welcomed. Some survivors said they just hope we will all "die off." When I try to ask questions, like I just did from an Archbishop, I get terse replies. I was told I must be "bitter," when I don't feel any bitterness at all, because he didn't know how to answer me. In fact, I'm the only survivor I know of who has been willing to go back to the Catholic church and very open, wanting to see clergy as good. The culture is one where questions are not allowed, and clergy don't see themselves as capable of making mistakes, let alone sins. I don't know if the clergy being above-sin is a teaching of the Catholic church, but it seems to be.

They say one thing and do the opposite, like the Holy Eucharist is the real Body and Blood of JESUS, but they don't use a patten when you receive communion in your mouth, and I had a priest drop the host. When training for Eucharistic Minister, they say don't worry if you drop it, just kick the host and straddle it with your feet, it's no big deal. The altar is supposedly "holy" where the Mass happens, but everybody can just go tromping across the altar.

I saw on this site where a priest said if we believe the Catholic church has the true Eucharist, why would we consider leaving? The typical arrogance you get in most clergy. I had a priest run me off the emergency phone line when I was bleeding heavily for 4 hours and easily could have died. The surgeon and doctors were very worried about me, sent me to the ER and pumped me full of fluids. We can't even call a priest when we're dying, then you just have to say there's a serious disconnection between church and our lives. When they start the Mass with let's confess our sins, if I wasn't such a shy person, I wish I could jump up and shout "Okay, father, you go first." Leading by example. Trust is not dictated or automatic, it is only earned. Seeing a black-and-white collar doesn't mean we should all worship them as "other christs" as they refer to themselves. I have seen Christ living very strongly through one of our priests, but he is the exception to the rule.

Anonymous said...

Or... you left because you did not take the time to understand the beauty of our faith. Instead, you chose to leave because you wanted to focus on you and lay to the wayside, the teachings which have prevailed for over 2000 years.

Anonymous said...

I just came into the Church. Bye bye!

Ray said...

Like the previous post, I also have a great deal of difficulty remaining Catholic. The last straw for me is when the Vatican criticized American nuns for allegedly being "radical feminists" and for spending too much time on social justice issues and not enough on anti-abortion activity.

This perspective demonstrates the extreme disconnect and arrogance of Church leaders, especially the bishops and Vatican-based "protectors of the faith." Many American nuns spend countless hours working with the poor in often harsh conditions, treating AIDS victims in hospices, etc, with below poverty line wages for all their work.

Another good reason to leave the Catholic Church is the lack of consistency in the pro-life position. Many American Catholics and bishops have no problem opposing abortion, yet they do not similarly condemn the death penalty, U.S. led wars of aggression that have killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, drone attacks that have killed hundreds of innocent civilians, etc. American bishops do not speak out against U.S. policies of torture and indefinite detention without trial. Jesus was known as the "Prince of Peace" and not the prince of war, but you wouldn't know this by the "support the troops" attitude embraced by many American priests and bishops.

The blatant hypocrisy and double standard of the Catholic church is one of the main reasons why many American Catholics are headed out the door.

Anonymous said...

I struggle with the Church for exactly the same reasons as Ray. The hypocrisy is too much and condemnation of nuns for helping the poor instead of being overtly anti-abortion is just too much for me to bear. I feel like every time I try to will myself to return to church, another story pops up in the news that makes me feel less inclined to return.

Anonymous said...

Looks like people are 'leaving' because the Church isn't leftwing enough for them. Why bother leaving if that's the case? Catholicism has become synomymous with communism anyway.

Anonymous said...

I was raised Catholic. I am at a complicated point. I no longer go to Mass but still believe in God and the roots of Catholicism. It's just that I am not active in the community of Catholics. The main reason for this social withdrawal has been dating rejection by Catholic women. Over a span of many years I literally have had many bad experiences with rejection by Catholic women. Meanwhile, I had numerous opportunities to date very beautiful Protestant women. So I eventually began a relationship with a Protestant female - a beautiful, blonde Southern Belle. Meanwhile, I don't go to Church anymore. I think the Church's stance on dating and marriage is unrealistic and causes many Catholics to drift away. I read that most Catholics date and marry Non-Catholics. Catholic marriages are relatively infrequent and becoming less so each year. I know I tried as hard as I could, but I could only take so much rejection. Now, I can't even conceptualize trying to date a Catholic woman anymore. My Catholic dating rejections remind me of that 80s song "Love stinks..." But I've been accepted by a Protestant woman, and that makes me happy. I am happy with a beautiful, blonde Protestant Southern Belle.

Anonymous said...

I am Catholic and have been my whole life and I am only Catholic because my whole family is Catholic. Does anyone read anymore? Does any Catholic know they really follow the Catechism of the Catholic Church and not the bible? Do you know in the CCC book they say the pope is infallible, meaning he can never make a mistake? Look all we need as a human race is the words of Jesus. That was the point, the rest is for show, money, and power. Let his light shine in you! Stop letting the ritual non-sense of the church starve you from truth. Be nice to people! http://www.thewords.com

Anonymous said...

The Crusades, Inquisition, burning heretics at the stake, priest sex abuse, and the Church's position on contraception and homosexuality are reasons enough to call into doubt that this is God's organization. But the Pope formally asks for forgiveness for the Crusades, Inquisition, and burning of heretics and condemns them as sins, but then every book on Catholic Apologetics and every devout Catholic makes excuses for these sins. They rewrite history as though these events were benign intentions gone awry and try to characterize them as actions by some individual bad apples instead of recognizing unconditionally denouncing them and condemning the efforts of Catholic Apologists to minimize or legitimate them. They whine about the martyrdom suffered by priests during the English Reformation, making some of them saints, even though those same priests and saints tortured and murdered Protestants. I guess its okay for St Thomas More to execute people for religious beliefs, but when he gets executed for the same reason, the Church screams persecution and martyrdom. The sex abuse scandal wasn't "handled badly" it was and still is implemented and institutionalized by the Church's policies that discourage cooperation with civil authorities. Priests and Bishops guilty of abuse and cover-ups are still being protected from facing justice. And again, rather than taking responsibility, they lay this problem at the feet of other people: Pornographers, homosexuals, and atheists. If you are against contraception as a matter of moral conscience, then that is your belief. But the Church maligns, distorts, and lies about contraception by saying condoms don't reduce the risk of contracting STDs. And if you're against gays, fine. But to confound homosexuality with pedophilia is outrageous. They compare the Church to the Boy Scouts, Penn State and other groups as though the child rape that was protected by the Church is just trivial. "Its just normal! Any organization that has been around for 2,000 years is going to have skeletons!" Well excuse the shit out of me, but if you're claiming to have the Vicar of Christ and "other Christs" as the Pope and priests are often described, and make claims of moral authority, I hold you to slightly higher standards than the Boy Scouts or Penn State. But iIf someone has legitimate grievances against the Church, they are mocked as though they really don't care about the spiritual truths the Church represents. "If you believe the Church has the Eucharist, why would you want to leave?" Basically what they're saying is that there are no conditions, no matter how corrupt, no matter how sinister that could call into doubt as to whether or not this Church is the true representation of God's Kingdom on earth. If there is a God and if that God cares about humans and wants us to follow his ways, I highly doubt that the Catholic Church is the organization that God is working through to do just that.

Anonymous said...

I am a struggling catholic. Last week's homily left me in tears and confusion. The priest talked about the government attacking the church and promoting Satan.

I grew up going to public school and am proud to be a part of a country that tries to promote religious freedom and tolerance. I don't feel that having more liberal laws prevent me from having a more conservative lifestyle.

Or, that I was ever taught about Satan or any other religion for that matter in school. Teachers in public schools simply don't have time to teach any kind of theology. I went to Catechism to learn about my religion.

I am a cradle catholic who stopped practicing in High School after my mom died of cancer. Church was a boring obligation that my mom made me go too. In college, I started going again to a more liberal Catholic Church. It was wonderful. I felt engaged. The priest would answer questions at the end of Mass. The focus was less on the dogma and more about living in a community of love and respect.

I thought I found the same thing after college, but after last week. I find myself questioning my ability to have open discussions about areas were I disagree with church doctrine. I am wrong not to follow my faith blinding? Can still attend church if I find myself disagreeing with some of the Homilies? I am not ready to give up a community that has supported me through my struggles.

Anonymous said...

I love all denominations and do not even believe we must attend church to be a believer. I am a very loyal Roman Catholic and attend church every Sunday possible. I have friends of all denominations and they all are equal to me. Judge not or we be judged stays in my mind. Sandy Boletchek of Manassas Va.

Robert Matthew said...

I am so thankful that I left the roman catholic church in 1996 and I have absolutely no guilt about it whatsoever.This church is not worthy of my thoughts or anybody elses.I am going to say that the human race should forget about this church completely and allow it to cease existing.We don't need this anymore and I certainly don't want to have to endure the absolute misery of this horrible religion.Thank god almighty that I am free and I am sane and I love being in the natural world more than I could ever love being a member of that bizarre and creepy church.It was really creepy!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

confused: I have been a catholic all my life, and loved teaching sacramental preparation clases, but due to the profound lies and power struggle and a priest who does not care. I am seriously questioning my faith. The people in the office have the doctrine all wrong, and are just wingging it. Its only a job to them and it saddens me that over 50 percent of the children do not know to pray the Our Father, and Hail Mary. They are just understanding why we bow our heads in prayers. It is a place full of Bad Evil People. How can i stay in that place. They have lost there ways!

steph said...

I had a comforting faith instilled by my nanny until I became confirmed after death--- I could not blind myself to the real truth behind the Catholic Church it is a very radical, authoritarian, medieval hierarchy the sex abuse is systemic for a reason, it is obsessed with original sin that is, sex, from the Church Fathers who hated women and shamed the body, the sex scandals are systemic and the holocaust not an accident I am tired of priests telling me that the CC is the only way to God in fact I'm tired of any outward religion, I believe the Gnostic Christians Jesus tried to teach us something that was hijacked by a political institution. Every time I go to Mass to support my catholic friends or family I come away feeling sick--- there is no way that the Supreme Creator is present in their sick thought control. $43 million dollar bishop residence come on- I still believe in a Creator and a divine feminine presence please keep the priests away from me

Ellie Ravinsky said...

I am in the process of leaving. I came back 3 yrs ago wanting support through my divorce (which was annulled). I have found nothing but petty bickering, and people in cliques who really want nothing to do with you. No one is friendly and most never even notice you.

I got to be friendly with a couple priests but my stances on women and marriage equality make it impossible for me to reconcile Catholic teaching with what my heart says.

I have also been horribly attacked on a few Catholic pages and left to bleed spiritually. They defend their nasty attacks on a comment that I'm Catholic and support gay marriage by saying "it's for my good" even going to far as to say that they would be happy if I left the faith. This has happened a couple times and it's left me massively depressed, in bed, unable to function, consumed by a deep self hatred that if I just was a "little bit better" this wouldn't happen. I have a mental illness, which makes it easy to blame me for everything. I've changed parishes and the parish I'm in doesn't rail on the "gay marriage" stuff but I still get hammered on at Catholic sites if I express my opinion.

Should I have to hide who I am instead of going somewhere I can be me? Because of this my relationship with Jesus has suffered. I can't go to church more than once a week, it's no longer meaningful, and I only go because I'm required. When I stay away from church I can draw closer to the Lord and know that He knows my heart and all that I've been through and why I have a horrible time trusting authority figures. I was abused as a kid by a male authority figure and my son died when he was 16. Frost that on my already fragile mental state and I've had about enough of the "all or nothing" attitudes of Catholics I speak to and ask for help.

I think, for the most part, those I've talked to about my considering leaving couldn't care less. That pretty much sums up most Catholics I've been around. So...I'm praying but I think the decision is already made. I'm tired of church, I am reading and seeking drawing nearer to Jesus without the "help" of the church. Who needs help that almost causes you to have a mental breakdown?



Anonymous said...

i am a catholic guy and am dating a pentecostal girl.she encouraged me to start reading my bible for myself and not wait for priests to do it for me.now i'm confused because iv found a lt of contradictions betweeb scripture and the church.i am thinking of leaving the catholic church,but i am afraid i will no fit in or feel comfortable anywhere else because i was born and raised catholic.id appreciate help from all those who have had to make the decision to leave.thank you in advance.God bless

Anonymous said...

I am having a hard time deciding whether or not if I leave. My

conscious is telling me after much research at a seminary that many of

our traditions and dates have pagan origins. One of which is Christmas

being that it is on the birthday of Nimrod from Mythology, Tammuz, and

a holiday of Saturnalia. It is also weird how we discontinued having

the beginning of the year start in Abib or the spring time. How can we

be Christians if we don't follow such practices including keeping holy

the SABBOTH day... or Saturday for that matter. Though it is arguable

that we have Sunday because of Christ's Resurrection... wouldn't we

still want to follow his teachings? I am also disappointed there is

not official church teaching that Yoga cannot be practiced because of

the pose forms originating from false Nephillic/demons/gods. I may

just look into other rites of the Catholic (Universal) Church to see

if I should switch rites. I love our Divine Liturgies... I just have a

hard time with many of our traditions that have iffy origins and the

fact that we don't honor the true Sabbath. I know this will kill my

social life as the majority of my life I grew up catholic and where

all my friends are from, though my conscious is telling me I cannot

because of knowledge participate in many of the traditions that don't

have a 'Christian Origin' (specifically Christmas and not Following

Abib and the Sabboth) If a reform did happen somewhere along these

lines however, I might stay...

After studying Theology I know that I should listen to my conscience.

God Bless all of you and if you have any advice with other rites/

groups... please let me know... I have heard of

Gathering of Christ Church
Phone: 888*334*3330
Email: gatheringas1@aol.com
http://www.gatheringofchrist.org/
Blogtalkradio: http://m.blogtalkradio.com/gocchurch
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/agatherin...
Ustream: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-goc...
https://www.facebook.com/#!/virgil.bl...

http://www.gatheringofchrist.org/holy-days/hebrew-calendar-2014/

Please pray for me, I am starting to find out a lot and it is scary,

yet relieving that I have been able to pick up this information.

God Bless you and take care..