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7 reasons Catholics leave church (in Trenton, #1 is sex abuse crisis)
One in 10 Americans is a former Catholic.
March 30th, 2012
01:52 PM ET

7 reasons Catholics leave church (in Trenton, #1 is sex abuse crisis)

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Even though Roman Catholics are the second-largest religious group in the United States, the tradition has seen an exodus of members in recent decades. One in ten Americans is an ex-Catholic.

If ex-Catholics were counted as their own religious group, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

If it weren’t for the infusion of Catholic immigrants, especially from Latin American, the American Catholic Church would be shrinking pretty fast.

A recent study by two college professor tries to get at a simple question: Why are they leaving?

Conducted William J. Byron, a professor of business at St. Joseph’s University and Charles Zech, founder of the Center for the Study of Church Management of Villanova’s School of Business, the anecdotal study conducted in late fall of 2011 processes the opinions of 300 non-churchgoing Catholics in Trenton, New Jersey.

The scholars, working at the request of Trenton’s Catholic bishop, asked parishioners who have drifted away not just why the left, but what church teachings they disagree with and whether they ever truly considered themselves part of the Catholic community.

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Though the study paints a picture of a church with some characteristics that rub people the wrong way, the researchers – both at Catholic schools in Pennsylvania – argue that the study presents new ways in which church leadership can reconcile with ex-Catholics.

"We need a more pastoral approach to people," Zech says. "There are two types of issues that appear. One revolves around church beliefs and frankly those won’t change. But we have to do a better job explaining some of the issue that the church might not change and why that is."

The report is based on one particular diocese, but its authors say it gives a good picture of challenges facing the broader church. "I think the same seven items would show up for the most part," in other areas of the country, Zech says.

The 7 biggest reasons Catholics from Trenton are leaving the church, according to the study:

1. The sex abuse crisis

Byron and Zech asked ex-Catholics to cite their main reason for leaving: “If you could communicate directly with the bishop, what would you say?”

The most common answer: the church’s inadequate response to clergy sex abuse. “The bishop’s refusal to list pedophile priests on the diocesan Web site and his non-support of the effort to lift the statute of limitations for bringing sexual abuses cases forward in the courts” did it for me, one man said, according to the report.

Several respondents said they had been victims of sexual abuse by church leadership.

2. The church’s stance on homosexuality

The second most cited reason for leaving the church was that former worshipers felt homosexuals were unwelcome in the church.

As recently as March 9, Pope Benedict XVI denounced what he categorized as the “powerful” gay marriage lobby in the United States. In the same speech he noted these views would be seen as “countercultural” to young people, but told bishops to not back down to “powerful political and cultural currents seeking to alter the legal definition of marriage."

When those surveyed were asked if there were any religious beliefs in the Catholic Church that troubled them, a number cited views on same-sex marriage. “The church’s view on gays, same-sex marriage, women as priests and priests not marrying, to name a few,” said one respondent, explaining her departure from the church.

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“Hypocrisy,” said one person. “History of discrimination against women, anti-gay stance, unwelcoming attitude.”

William D’Antonio of the Catholic University of America recently published a study called “Catholics in America: Persistence and change in the Catholic landscape.” found that even though the church and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has come out against homosexual relationships, only 35% of Catholics surveyed said the church’s opinion on homosexuality is “very important.”

The same survey found that 86% of respondents believe a Catholic “can disagree with aspects of church teachings and still remain loyal to the church."

3. Dissatisfaction with the priest

About half of those surveyed in the Trenton report were not supportive of the pastor they had left behind.

According to Byron and Zech, words like “arrogant,” “distant,” “aloof” and “insensitive” were all used by respondents to describe their priest.

4. Uninspiring homilies on Sundays

A number of people responded that homilies, weekly Sunday messages from the priest, did not relate or “speak to” them.

“I stopped going regularly because the homilies were so empty,” one respondent said. “And whenever the church wanted to raise money, they dropped the homily and talked money.”

“I would advise the bishop to make training in public speaking mandatory for every priest,” said another. “They should also be trained in how to relate their homilies to the people and inspire them.”

“As much as I wanted to get involved and expand my faith, there were no clear avenues to do that,” replied one person. “So it was just a place to attend Mass. And because attending Mass was a guilt-ridden obligation, I was always alone in a crowd where I knew no one and no one knew me.”

5. Perception that church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics

Politics was a mixed bag, according to the survey.

Though some people wanted the church to become more conservative – “change the liberal-progressive political slant to a more conservative,” said one person – others responded differently.

“Eliminate the extreme conservative haranguing,” said one person. Another respondent said politics and the church shouldn’t mix: “I feel the church should stay out of politics; it should certainly not threaten politicians.”

6. Church’s stance toward divorced and remarried Catholics

Catholicism’s stance on divorce and remarriage were also highlighted, especially by divorced females.

The churches stance on divorce is closely tied to their stance on adultery. Without getting a marriage annulled, any marriage after a divorce is considered adulterous. Therefore, divorced people who have not had their marriage annulled or remarried are not able to receive Holy Communion.

“Please find a way not to exclude me from the Catholic community,” said one 56-year old divorced female. A 59-year old divorced female said she would tell her bishop to “petition the church to expand its view on divorce.”

In November of last year, Pope Benedict XVI responded to a German bishop who questioned the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage. “A pastoral approach which truly wants to help the people concerned must always be grounded in the truth… in the end, only the truth can be pastoral,” the Pope wrote, signaling a reluctance to change church teachings on divorce and remarriage policy.

“Instead of making every Mass a form of humiliation for Catholics who cannot receive communion,” one respondent to the Trenton survey said, “do something like a private blessing at communion time, to include everyone.”

7. The status of women

With the political debate over religious conscience and contraceptive coverage, women’s rights and the church have come to the forefront of debate in American politics. According to the Trenton study, a number of people who have left the church cite a “history of discrimination against women,” as one reason for leaving.

Respondents also took issue with the fact that while other churches allow women to become ordained priests, the Catholic Church does not.

“If the Catholic Church does not change its archaic views on women, it is going to become a religion that survives on the fringe of an open-minded, progressive society,” one person who was surveyed said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Sex abuse

soundoff (1,757 Responses)
  1. win486

    Since the church is based on canon law and the Bible and the writings of the apostles and letters then it won't change. It is based in history and events and teachings. You either believe or you don't but it can't conform to today's world and change the teachings. It is what it is.

    March 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Biotechdev

      CNN is ponly printing this to reinforce its message against the GOP candidates. They are shameless racists and religious bigots.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • tateman

      Lots of teachings and customs have changed over the years as we have evolved. Slavery for one. The ability for women to vote. Equal rights for all. There are no equal rights for all in the Catholic Church. The Apostles were from a different era when slavery was accepted and women were treated like chattel. You can't have your cake and eat it too. Jesus would be aghast at what the Catholic Church has done over the years.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Chris

      There are 4 versions of the Gospels – all written at different times. Yet those are about the closest to the Christian notion of the "truth" as any. Canon Law was written by human beings no different than you or I – well-intentioned, yet very fallible human beings.

      Jesus conferred on His apostles the power to heal (forgive sins). Nowhere did He give them the midas touch – or any other divine ability to ordain priests, bishops, cardinals or popes. He was far more egalitarian than any ofl the hypocrites claiming to represent Him in the church.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  2. fredsbooks

    Catholic Church should stop teaching Catholic teachings and start teaching Jesus' Teachings..... come down from that pedestal . There is only one Father !

    March 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • rbsrs

      Catholic's believe that there is only one Father. Your bible was put together by "Catholics" .

      March 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Chris

      You have a point. Yes, catholics recite the Lord's prayer – little understanding the implications: we all are just as special, just as holy, and have the same access to God as the pope and all of the hierarchy beneath him. Yet for centuries, the Church has tried to convince its laity that they needed the special "blessings" of the clergy to enjoy the abundance of God. All of those little rituals that only the "anointed" can do – all serve largely to promote and maintain the relevance of the Church hierarchy in very earthly and material ways.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  3. Mary Carter

    The church is the church of Jesus Christ. I go to Mass to worship Jesus and receive Him. Not any of us are perfect, including the priests. Yes, the church does have many rules that may seem out-dated and I don't always agree with some of them, but you will find the reasons for them in Scripture and I don't think any of us are qualified to change them. Trying to live as Jesus taught us is not easy but it is well worth the effort.

    March 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Bruce

      Just keep putting your money in the plate and keep your kids away from the priest. Your are a great sheep.

      March 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  4. Biotechdev

    Really CNN – can you get off the Catholic bashing in support of Obama's re-election strategy? You embarass yourself

    March 30, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Chris

      Dispense with your soap box, please. There are some issues that are greater than petty political posturing and the 2012 elections. They'll come and they'll go, and life will go on.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  5. albert quinn

    I dont know that as a former Catholic I agree on all the reasons why people leave.I did.went to sem(cemetaryInary also.Its true its boring.I found that I have more inb common with my Protestant breathren than Rome.The churc is hung up on century after century giving people rituals and religion.vain and empty.What I found I believe is people are seeking for a personal relationship with the creator.The priests and Rome serve up stale old formal religiosity.Its not surprising Evangelicals are having huge growth especially with immigrants and third world countries.Its also great I dont need some Priest to be the intermediary for me to appraoch God personally.I can go straight to The heavenly FATHER 24-7.

    March 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Ray

      I agree on everything you said. I myself step forward to learn from other christians... I have learned alot...not religion stuff but spirituality...tthings like who am I ? Why Jesus Christ have to do all that for me. I have advanced tremendeously since step out of the tradition. My faith has grown, my understand has grown...
      I am learning from those oldtime revivalists from America and England and I learning so much about Christ and myself.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  6. tateman

    The Catholic Church has not evolved or changed with the times since its inception. The male hierarchy have no intention of relinquishing their power. The Vatican needs to wake up. This isn't the first century any more.

    March 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • That's Why

      A church that changes it's doctrines based on what's popular isn't a church anyone should take seriously.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Biotechdev

      How about yoi just don't go to a church that disagrees wirh you? That is the great benefit of freedom of religion and choice in America.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Change What?

      So, you want to change the Bible also? Should we forget the teachings of Jesus because they are outdated? Perhaps we shouldn't show him on the cross at all huh? You've got to be kidding, the Bible was never meant to be changed or modernized, get real!

      March 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  7. Stopabortion

    No.1 reason: Ignorance, N0.2: Ignorance and so on.... Ignorance

    March 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  8. rbsrs

    so the #1 reason that believers leave is that there are some sinners in the Church? Hmm....that's surprising because?? Good luck finding one that doesn't have any.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • dsavio

      Read it again. They aren't leaving because there are some priests who are pedophiles. They are leaving because the church hierarchy has tried to sweep it under the rug instead of dealing with it courageously.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  9. Elliot

    Well when you are dragged to a boring mass every sunday morning to listen to some 80 year old ramble about nothing, and you sit, and you kneel, and you stand up then sit again. Then forced to go to CCD and confirmation one night a week, miss football practice and time chasing girls...I could not wait to leave the church. None of it was fun at all, so boring and annoying. They had no desire to make it interesting or fun, it was like if you don't do this you are going to hell and it's not supposed to be fun. Not to mention by the time I was 14 I already knew it was all a big hoax anyways, religion that is. Good riddance.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Amadea

      No fun? Oh my. Poor you. Everything has to be entertainment-oriented these days. It seems as though if you're not having fun something is wrong. Life is NOT all about having fun. You were given life for the glory of the One Who made you, not for your own glory. Get over yourself ... you and the millions like you. If you are not going to church to worship the Creator and thank God for the air you breathe, the water you drink and the food you have to eat ... if you are not going to lay your soul before your God and repent of your sin (sin is what separates you from the love of God, so repenting, rather than being an onerous task, actually frees you and is joyful) ... then you are right not to go, for you are just wasting your time. Have a great life, cause you'll be having a not so great afterlife. Still, I pray for you and your ilk.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • That's Why

      Before I respond, let me say I find nothing wrong with atheism. The biggest reason I can't take most of today's atheists seriously is because a large number of them come from your exact background. They were bored teenagers who looked to rationalize away God to escape their boredom and convinced themselves they had it all figured out... Worse, most of them haven't changed, as evidenced by a large number of the posts on this Blog. But the worst part is, after all that, they're still obsessed with trying to rationalize away religion and God instead of getting on with their lives. An atheist that is worth talking to and who will really make you think isn't one of the kids on this site ridiculing religion.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • jaegerwolf

      @Amadea Ok, that's something I've always had issue with; Doing stuff for glory of God, like God has an ego that constantly needs to be soothed. It's GOD, what the heck would he/she/it have to prove?

      March 30, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • everymom

      Amadea, count me and about 80% of the people i know under 50 as ilk. And proud to be. Keep your prayers for someone who wants them

      March 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Chris

      Amadea – if you really care about the ever-expanding ranks of atheists, then you should care about the incredibly poor example that you, the faithful, are giving them. Arguments and threats are really silly to someone that doesn't recognize your authority over their lives, sillier even (if not hypocritical) when it comes from a Church hierarchy that's swift to pass judgement on everybody else but themselves. Jesus didn't draw crowds of disciples to Himself by threatening condemnation – rather, he did so by healing the sick. His disciples weren't intimidated into repentance, they were drawn by His power, they wanted what He had. If only the Catholic bishops would recognize the grotesque image of the Church that they've been responsible for building up over the years, they'd realize that it's primarily their craving for power and control that have driven most of the faithful away, not the cultural climate.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Chris

      @jaegerwolf – in the end, human beings will always project their own egotistical need for admiration onto just about everything they have a hand in – and religion is no exception. Anger, fear, division, judgementalness are all supremely human, not divine, creations – as is the need for superiority (hence: my religion is better than yours). Humility is the only way to touch the Divine.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Bagby

      Ignore Amadea, she's completely wrong, and her own punishment.

      Life *is* supposed to be fun, and about fun. The happier you are, the closer you are to your creator, the more nearly you are the way you were intended to be. The church has a long history of making services a dour burden and a duty, and you are absolutely right to want nothing to do with it. The church lost its way centuries ago, and made up its own doctrine while largely ignoring both Jesus and the Bible - while heavily rewriting the latter to fit its own prejudices and preconceptions.

      Leave Amadea to her ugly life and her hope that some afterlife will be better. You know, if she moves to another town, she'll still be her, and she'll still be judging and condemning you eve though her church tells her not to? Well, after she dies she'll still be her - still judging and condemning others. Why would you think she'd be any more satisfied with God's creation of Heaven, than she is of God's other creation, Earth?

      God is fun. God is enthusiastic and laughing, joyous and kind. Pursue those things to be closer to God. Avoid things that are dull, boring or painful - these are what will lead you to dissatisfaction, disapproval and condemnation.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Commenter

      We can tell so much about a person's character by the way he/she says that his/her fantasy god behaves.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Chris

      Bagby – well said. ALL aspects of the human experience – joy and sorrow, happiness and sadness – come from the Creator. And yes, one's spiritual growth (or decline) in this world isn't likely to be instantly reversed in the afterlife. Hatefulness and judgementalness will keep one from fully knowing God in the next world just as surely as it does so in this one.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Bruce

      Ahmen!

      March 31, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  10. JC

    so, 4 of the seven that they disagree with are Doctrine? They disagree with the foundational Doctrine? Why would you even think you were Catholic, or Christian for that matter?

    March 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      Can you count to 5 ? Three max, are doctrinally related. And BTW, your "doctrine" DEVELOPED over a LONG period of time, with steps that are known to scholars. There is NOTHING final, or absolute about any of it. It's ALL humans sayin stuff, and pretending it's somehow "inspired" Doctrine schmoctrine.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Four Jumps to Insanity

      Gallileo was excommunicated. Hitler never was.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Bagby

      Galileo was never excommunicated.

      Galileo was told by the Inquisition, to go to his room and stay there until he learned to behave himself in public. He never did.

      He was punished, not for his theories and beliefs, which most astronomers (who were almost all clergy) held too, but because Galileo couldn't refrain from being an absolute a**hole about expressing those beliefs and jumping on anyone who didn't instantly agree with him - this includes publishing a pamphlet insulting the pope in childish, scatalogical terms. Galileo would have been at home in South Park.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  11. Reed Anson Forrester

    I left as a teenager when I felt that the church had nothing good to offer me. "Catholic Guilt" is a real thing, and even as an "ex-Catholic" I was still defined by my Catholic guilt and fear for many years. Only after decades of therapy and spiritual seeking and transformation did I finally leave the anger, fear and guilt behind and became a "non-Catholic." I am very happy that I no longer care one way or the other about what the Catholic Church does or says, except in sympathy for those who are still living in its illusions.

    One illusion is that by being a Catholic people can actually improve themselves spiritually and get closer to God. The reality is that Catholics are constantly blamed for being imperfect, but are given no tools or incentive for actually improving. The result is a trap of guilt, shame and sin with no way out except by confessing the sins to the priest, which makes Catholics addicted to the brief feeling of relief from guilt (until the next temptation comes by), while giving the priest and the Church immense power over them. After all, if we don't go to confession, our sins would not be forgiven, and then we would go to hell if we die.

    "By their fruit, ye shall know them," and I find that fear and guilt, not love, are the fruits of the Catholic Church.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • sailr69

      amen to that!!

      March 30, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Chris

      Well said, brother. From a yet-struggling Catholic.

      The one thing I'll add is that, mercifully, the arrogance and the hubris of the Church doesn't (yet) extend to all of its bodies. There are still orders within the Church that are actually true to the CHRISTIAN aspect of Catholicism – like the Franciscans. If not for them, I'd have been plotting my escape too.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Reed Anson Forrester

      Thanks sailr69 and Chris

      Chris said "The one thing I'll add is that, mercifully, the arrogance and the hubris of the Church doesn't (yet) extend to all of its bodies. There are still orders within the Church that are actually true to the CHRISTIAN aspect of Catholicism – like the Franciscans. If not for them, I'd have been plotting my escape too."

      I agree that there are many good and loving Catholics, including priests. The Franciscans may be my favorites.

      However, I suggest you take a look at the organization called the "White Robed Monks of St. Benedict." They are true Catholics who act the way the Catholic Church should be acting, humbly serving the people instead of dictating to them.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Chris

      Thanks, Reed. I'll look them up.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
  12. Space Cat

    The wizard is rocked! Increase phaser wattage meow meow!!

    March 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  13. Four Jumps to Insanity

    Many religious congregations of brothers and nuns have virtually NO new vocations/applicants. The the age of religion is drawing to a close.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • rbsrs

      to quote Mark Twain "Many times we have prepared for the funeral of religion only to have it cancelled because of the weather or something...."

      March 30, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    March 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • sailr69

      dp you really think other species believe in God or an religion??

      March 30, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • QC

      Being beheaded, torture, stoned, excommunicated and tutti quanti by religion doesn't seems very healthy either...

      March 30, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Change What?

      No, other species don't believe in religion, that's why we are SPECIAL!

      March 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      Plus don't forget. The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.!

      March 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  15. CW ANDERSON

    Ahoy~
    This old sailor was rased Irish Catolic and served in the U.S. Navy and Marred and Knighted in the Church and Divorced.
    One thing we all live by is the law and the chain of command. In the Navy there is the right way the wroung way and the Navy way. His holyness the Pope is the Captain of the Holly Sea. This old sailor is AOL and lost.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      Not to mention that the old sailor appears to be way too close to the rum.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • rence73

      Nothing wrong with a rum now and again....

      March 30, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  16. Fandweller

    I can only assume that those who are bashing the Catholic Church don't believe in any religion or faith. My reason for this is that all christian religions say the Apostles creed which say...I believe in the one God, father almighty, creator of heaven and earth... I believe in the holy catholic church.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Mike

      ...no.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • fred

      I do not recall seeing that in the Bible. Not the apostles or Jesus said it. Catholics still get to heaven if they give themselves to Christ. The Catholic Church just makes it a bit harder and Jesus tried to make it easy

      March 30, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Fandweller

      It is not in the Bible it is the Apostles' Creed. All christian religions say it during church service.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • sailr69

      remember; god did not create religion, man did

      March 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • fred

      No, they don't. I have been to over 30 churches and have only noticed it at Catholic and some Luthern Chruches.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Ryder

      In that case the world Catholic means "universal", not the Catholic denomination of Christianity.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Fandweller

      I believe it was Jesus and St. Peter his disciples followed him and built the first christian church. It was Catholic meaning Universal for everyone.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • fred

      Fandweller
      Sorry, about that I was keying in on "I believe in the holy Cahtolic Church". That line was only included in Chruches with Catholic roots such as even the old church of england.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Fandweller

      The Apostles' Creed is used in the Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical Churches of Western tradition, including the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism, Anglicanism, and Western Orthodoxy. It is also used by Presbyterians, Methodists, and Congregationalists.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • fred

      Fandweller
      Jesus and Peter did not start the “Catholic Church”. Christ was not into temples that man builds and warns against them. The temple is the heart or soul of the believer where the Holy Spirit dwells and reveals all truth. It is an organism not a building with walls. That soul is united with Christ and in Christ with the body of all believers. At the end of days God will dwell in the center of this organic collection of souls united in Christ. Now, certain translations would refer to the individuals as stones that assemble this temple. That can never be taken literally to mean a concrete building.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Ann

      That is catholic with a little "c" not Catholic with a capital "C." Different meaning. Episcopals say this too and the don't mean the RCC.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • fred

      Ann
      Thanks, saying it does not mean the Roman Catholic Church clears it up.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • Chris

      I've also hear the creed recited in a Methodist congregation. What Ann said – it's catholic (universal), not Roman Catholic.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  17. Cat Ho' Lick

    We worship God, we love Jesus...Pope, just a pompous control freak that makes you feel guilty, fearing him that are spoiled by brainwashed wide-eyed mass attendees pretending to be good Catholics. Now I'm attending non-denominational church where there are true unconditional love. Pope, seriously, I am sorry and please forgive me as I am being honest.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      If the Pope is a pompous control freak what does that make your vengeful & jealous God?!

      March 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • JC

      The One we are Supposed to focus on. Not the guy in the pointy hat

      March 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • fred

      If horses
      Where do you get this stuff? You would think at least you would have a little horse sense. Step up the year 28AD at least and you will see that your statement does not reflect God. You use the old translation for vengeful. God is just and the process is simple in that you reject God and so you can have exactly what you want which is an existence without God. So, what is your beef?
      God even gives atheists exactly what they ask for. Sounds like a lot of love going your way from God

      March 30, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      my friend fred .. I usually get this stuff from the Christian bible, even you cannot deny those words exist in it's texts. Setting interpretation aside .. history is filled with religions that we all know are simply stories and fables. For example, you don't worship Zeus or Thor, Zoroaster or Ra (to name very few) do you? Why not .. because you know they're foolish folklore. Future history will show current Gods to be nothing more & nothing less. No horse sense (good one btw) just common sense.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • fred

      Horses
      “Future history will show current Gods to be nothing more & nothing”
      =>Ah, a prophet is born than can see the demise of God ! Do you read hoofs also ?
      “you don't worship Zeus or Thor, Zoroaster or Ra”
      =>Zoroaster ? Isn’t that what you get if you ride a horse bareback to long?
      Anyway, God was from the beginning and the others followed. So, if we are going to rely the history of antiquity then you need to stick within the known texts of antiquity where you can only conclude God created the heavens and the earth then man made gods were attributed with different powers over time to explain that which God created. The main thread that allows this conclusion is not only the number of various man made gods that followed the eternal God but the priests and followers of Zeus that acknowledged God as the one true God.
      That aside, the mere fact man for as long as we have records worshiped God or gods, points to a human trait attributing value to worship. If there is a long term value to worship then the object of worship real or imagined has an effect on the human race. Something that affects the nature or properties of a physical object can be measured and is proof that something with invisible properties exists. That something by tradition over history is often called God.

      March 30, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
  18. Carol Palmeri

    the 7 reasons sums it up for me. Now I roam freely enjoying and understanding other people's faiths....

    March 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  19. doug

    Women belong in the kitchen not the church

    March 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Cat Ho' Lick

      Where are the women? Sneaking into priest's office?

      March 30, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Jane

      HA HA HA HA Ha that is hilarious

      March 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • pdxmum

      I'd rather be in the kitchen than in a church.

      March 30, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  20. disgustipated

    No such thing as an ex-catholic, just a recovering one.

    March 30, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.