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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. just sayin

    Still spreading a wonderful Truth or two.

    April 2, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • OhYeah

      Yeah that your a troll who uses multiple handles.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • just sayin

      One generally does what it accuses others of doing and sees the whole world through its faults.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:22 am |
  2. D Cleary

    Hello CNN, typical secular reporting, when are you going to get a true believing Catholic on staff that can report the reality of our faith? Otherwise, get in line with all the other rags / espam out there that just don't get it. You left the most important reason out...People leave the Church because they do not believe that Jesus Christ, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity are present in the Holy Eucharist. The reason we stay is that we clearly see that the human condition is sinful in nature and we need to seek forgiveness, which is also contained in The Church through our Priests, representing Christ on Earth. Come back home my fallen away brothers and sisters, the Eucharist is what binds us together as Catholics. You know that is what you are missing if you were raised in our faith, once Catholic, always Catholic. Come back to the Sacraments that keep us faithful to God as the continued onslaught of the Lamb of God continues, Our Lord and Our God and has risen!

    April 2, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • Otto

      "once Catholic, always Catholic."

      I know, it is like alcoholism......that is why I am a recovering Catholic.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Reality

      I gave up Catholicism for Lent. So far I have shed 50 years of RCC imposed guilt. Twenty more to go before mythical Easter.

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      April 2, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer changes lives

    April 2, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • Primewonk

      Not for amputees.

      April 2, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Jesus

      Still spreading your lies. No it doesn't. 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.!

      April 2, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • just sayin

      The amputee issue has been answered for you by several people. If you cannot comprehend the answers you may want to consider mature personal help in reading comprehension, or wait until you have grown up . Actually you really don't appear to want the answer.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Jesus

      "Actually you really don't appear to want the answer."

      Neither do you, you've been proven wrong over and over again that prayer is a waste of time yet you keep being a troll. So why don't you read your post again and apply it to yourself hypocrite.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Otto

      Nothing fails like prayer.

      April 2, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Scott

      @just sayin The amputee issue has been answered for you by several people.

      Typical lying Christian. Impotent as usual so he pretends he has an answer; chides other people for not having it; but, conveniently doesn’t present it.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:15 am |
    • just sayin

      It was presented and just for you here it is again . Regeneration is a work in progress made possible by the knowledge God gives mankind. God gives gifts of knowledge to us because we ask for them in prayer. Lack of belief is one of the worst roadblocks to the gifts of God being completed.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Otto

      Just Sayin,

      You make a lot of claims in that post and you have absolutely no shred of evidence any of it is true.

      April 2, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  4. Rodelle Reeves

    for me, it's not being a Catholic or any religion you are attached with, it is how you perceived and bring to everyday life the teachings of your church or religion and is more off your "personal relationship" with God that matters most.

    April 2, 2012 at 3:38 am |
  5. cathy signor

    Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us now and at the hour of our death, Amen. ^j^

    April 2, 2012 at 12:25 am |
  6. Reality

    I gave up Catholicism for Lent. So far I have shed 50 years of RCC imposed guilt. Twenty more to go before mythical Easter.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    April 1, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  7. reikimaven

    I no longer attend the Catholic church for a variety of reasons. Not the least is the fact that, from the age of 6 until college I was terrified by being told repeatedly that my mother was going to burn in hell because she divorced an abuser who abandoned the family before I was a year old.
    There is no point (as suggested in the study) in saying anything to the bishops. It's in their financial and power interests to maintain the status quo, so they wouldn't listen anyway. There is no lever big or strong enough to pry open a closed mind.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • Double R

      Scriptually speaking, God hates divorce. "'The man who hates and divorces his wife,' says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'does violence to the one he should protect,' says the LORD Almighty." (Mal 2:16) I believe that the Catholic teaching of divorce derives from Mark 10:2-12, where Jesus says, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her. And if a woman divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery." Adultery is a sin. However, all sin can be forgiven through the blood of Jesus, the Redeemer. Your mother did the right thing by leaving an abusive relationship. The bible teaches that when you are in Christ Jesus, your body is a living temple to God, and anyone who does damage to that temple is an enemy of God. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." (1Corinthians 3:16-17) God would not want anyone to remain in a situation that would do his temple harm. And if the Catholic church would refuse her communion and not show compassion based on scriptural reference, then she needs to leave the Catholic church, if she hasn't already. In all cases, as children of God we should all fight to save our marriages. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:7-9) But, the Lord would not have a person stay in a relationship that would seek to physically harm His creation.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  8. thinkhere

    being sacred, living sacred doesn't need a religion, doesn't need a book, doesn't need a story. i was raised catholic and realized i didn't need someone elses words, someone elses story and someone elses rules to live a clean, clear life in the light. men using their religions to push women around, to condemn groups of people, to force political decisions has been destructive throughout history whether it is catholic, other christian, muslim, jewish. personally i feel we all need to grow up, get away from the books that can be interpreted however anyone wishes to to destroy whatever they wish to destroy and live individually clear lives. then criminal behavior will not be accepted, excused over years and centuries because they are hidden behind books and the organizations holding them up..

    April 1, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  9. Gawd

    It's amazing that anyone would still go to this church.

    April 1, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  10. Amelia

    Perhaps one of the Catholics who no longer attends Mass and has been following this will be called back. I do not believe you can ever really leave the Church. It will always be in your soul, even if you turn away.
    Peace and All Good

    April 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Peter

      One thing you forget is that American Catholics are well educated and, that is one thing the Church has richly given to its American people to its own detriment. An educated christian is a huge threat to the status quo. With the influx of new people that are not "educated" Christians for the most part, the Church preserves the "status quo" and continues without question, and can do as they wish unchecked, unquestioned and unchallenged.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Peter

      But as you say, we all remain catholic and orthodox. Note the small "C" to denote that we are universal, not of the Roman Church necessarily.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      I@Amelia
      If one belongs to God, and has been born again by His Spirit, they can never leave, nor will He ever let them out of His hand. Catholic Church is not a special church with any special authority given by God. It's a human religious organization, usurping to itself authority that was not given to it. Those who teach this, teach it not according to the Word of God.
      The Church, the REAL church of Christ, is the spiritual body of Christ, made up of all believers who are born again by the Spirit of God, having been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, by trusting in His finished work of the Cross. They are not collective group of people who belong to a religious organization, but many individual people, scattered all over the world, where God found them, and gave them new life in Him. They comprise the Spiritual body of Christ, His Church, not made with human hands, not being confound to a manmade building. That's the Scriptural meaning of the Church of Jesus Christ, our living, risen Savior.
      There is no longer sacrifice necessary, there is no longer a priest to present the sacrifice on behalf of God's people. HE, Christ Himself is our High priest, who forever intercedes to the Father on our behalf. And every born again child of God has a priestly calling and role. This is what the Word of God teaches, and it teaches much more which Catholics don't know , because they have not been taught .
      Nevertheless, God has many of His people in this flock, and He will summon them and call them out from among those who lead them. And He alone will teach them, anf hey will hear the voice of their true Shepherd, and will not follow the impostor. God will open their eyes, becaue they loved Him above all, anf the love of truth was in their hearts.

      I believe even now God is calling His people out, not just from man made inst'it'ution like RCC, but from among all those who have departed from true doctrine of Christ and do NOT KNOW His Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth.

      There are many well meaning people who are enchanted by mysticism in RCC which has certain appeal to soulish nature. But it is not from God, and one must really examine their motives, whether they really want to know the truth at ANY COST. They must compare all that they hear, feel and are told to believe with the Word of God. They must not excuse andf twist the Word inoarder to fit the doctrines they were taught, or else God will turn them over to a lie. That's jhow it happens. God will not force truth on us, but HE willoffer it to us. It's up to us to diligently seek it.

      We have no other guide, no other sure foundation then the Word of God written in the Holy Scripturs, of which th Holy Spirit testifies to be the truth. Unless it is written in the Word of God, and witnessed by the Spirit of God who never will testify against the "grain" of the Word of God, ONE IS NOT OBLIGATED TO BELIEVE IT! In fact, we better don't believe it!
      Satan comes to us in many forms, and he has many choices to pick from for anyone who is curious what he offers.... But there is ONLY one truth. And it is the LIVING WORD OF GOD, with the testimony of His Spirit. No more, no less.
      If anyone goes against it, adds to it or takes away, including twisting it, taking it out of context, isolating individual Scriptures to make it say what they want it to say, THEY ARE NOT OF GOD.
      And we who know the Lord have a promise given to us to hold on to:
      " These things I have written to you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him."
      And that, my friends, is the only way we can pass the true test of faith: Whom do we look too, in whom REALLY do we believe???

      April 2, 2012 at 1:01 am |
    • Momof3

      "I do not believe you can ever really leave the Church."

      Is that like saying, "You can never really leave the Mafia..."?

      April 2, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 1, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Otto

      Nothing fails like prayer

      April 1, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • just sayin

      Your post just failed otto

      April 1, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Otto

      Your prayer failed...

      April 1, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • just sayin

      Prayer succeeded – you are here !

      April 1, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Otto

      Just a coincidence...

      April 1, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • Dan

      Prayer proves that you are a dope.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • just sayin

      No need to call otto names it is here by divine appointment

      April 2, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • Otto

      Prayer proves people (Dan) will claim he talkes to invisible, magical beings and than act like the other people who don't believe him are stupid.

      April 2, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  12. Canderson

    As a former Roman Catholic I can certainly say I dearly loved the church and the ways of the classic church, but because I am a gay man, not by "lifestyle" but because of my orientation (something the church doesn't seem to understand), I converted officially to Episcopalian. Over the years, I have met dozens of gay men who are former Catholics, many of whom pray quietly amongst themselves or are members of other churches now. I also have known quite a few gay people who are now agnostic, or simply stopped believing that our Lord because of the hatred they see the church embracing. Most gay people I have known over the years have been tolerant, kind, gentle, hard-working, inclusive and generous.. but they are also becoming less and less willing to be shunned, hated and pushed aside by those who impose their version of Christianity that views them as less-than-deserving of God's love. They know better.

    April 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  13. AL

    I am ex Catholic,but to leave catholicisim for this 7 razon,to me is how poorly ,this people understood the fact of bieig Chatolic...I will not discussed this now,because every one who caled himself catholic should know the teaching core of the catholic doctrine.I come from different culture and maybe this make mi old religion soo different from this 7 razon why people leave the church,i see how superficially this people know their religion and i talk about every RELIGION,,,I STILL SERVING THE TEACHING OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH BUT WITHOUT BEING A PART OF THE ORG,,,

    April 1, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • al

      to momof3, UNFORTUNATLY, I have to agree with you,!!! ones a Catholic you always a Catholic!!! It is extremetly dificult ,,especially if you understand The Church and the real teaching, that is very simple but dificult to follow,,,,good luck

      April 2, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  14. jarvis.lorry

    This an open forum for anyone to post lively and courteous remarks. I think some of the commenters have made some interesting points. Had the article not been published by CNN the study might not have received the attention that it has. What I think the study does do is show that more research needs to be done in the area of apostasy and abandonment of church affiliation. I don't think in and of itself it indicates that the Church will eventually cease to exist in the United States. There will always be at least a core membership .

    April 1, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Amelia

      Thank you, jarvis. This is a reasonable statement.

      April 1, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  15. Lisa Kinsey

    If such issues as boring homilies, no women priests, divorce issues, and gay rights are enough for a person to walk away from Christianity as a whole then perhaps faith of such individuals are nothing more then mere illusion. To walk away into the empty darkness is personal choice. So be it. I for one will not walk away from the joyful light which brings me great strength. To discount the powerful examples of faith the Holy Bible brings us from the books of Ruth and Esther to the stories of the patient faith of Joseph and the great courage of Prince David and above all the records of the wonders of Jesus ministry is a great tragedy. While one cannot make others personal choices for them we can only pray for those for whom no form of Christianity from Catholic, Methodist, Luthern etc. hold no meaning. I for one would not wish to be swallowed by such darkness all eternity.

    April 1, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Otto

      Those issues do not make someone leave christianity, but they do provide a reason to look at the teachings of christianity in a broader light and ask the question of "does christianity at its foundation contain truth. It is at this point people realize the absurdity of the core dogma.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  16. jarvis.lorry

    One tenth of the U.S. population is a huge number and cannot be obscured or brushed off. These people didn't just up and leave the church for no reason. Even though the study reported by CNN is small, at least it's an attempt to find out why, and I think it deserves consideration. Perhaps it's time for the Catholic Church to conduct a major study to find out why people are leaving. It's not enough to give anecdotal stories such as how Saint Peter's Square is crowded every Sunday. I doubt if the Church leaders really want to know, or rather, they already know and don't want this information to go too far afield.

    April 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Amelia

      Umm, it isn't enough to give anecdotal observations of St. Peter's, but it is appropriate for the authors of this blog describe their study as "anecdotal". ok

      There is no debating when it is clear you have your mind made up and believe this piece of tabloid bunk is valid, reliable and accurate.

      Secondly, the authors don't even hold it out as a prophesy of doom to the Church. They are only suggesting, based upon these reports, ways in which pastoral care might be improved. If anything, I would say that Byron and Zeck got hijacked and used by CNN.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  17. Abinadi

    Hurry! You can still make the final session of General Conference! Go to lds.com. Click on General Conference!

    April 1, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • Kcfq58

      Lds is not a Christian religion though nit tries to pass itself off as one.
      There are no repeat no Prophets after Jesus as Jesus is the Messiah.
      Jesus made Peter the cornerstone of His Church. The successor of Peter is Benedict 16, no other.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Otto

      Kcfq58,

      Look up the "no true scotsman fallacy".

      April 1, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  18. Matthew

    Amy I am not judging you if I inform you that the bible teaches that fornicators will not inherit God's Kingdom
    1Corinthians 5:9 Ephesians5:5

    April 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  19. Kcfq58

    When Catholics get married, they make an oath to each other. That God is uniting them and that no man can break up what God has united. Divorced Catholics have forgotten this oath and would like Church to be again fashionable rather than dogmatic.
    Unfortunately for many they do not understand their faith. A failure of many Priests is to explain in simple terms why the Church has such a position. The teachings of the late John Paul 2 are a great instrument in explaining the reasons why this is so.
    Those teachings are commonly called the "Theology of the Body"
    Some of the best writings on this subject are by Christopher West.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Otto

      "Divorced Catholics have forgotten this oath and would like Church to be again fashionable rather than dogmatic."

      What a load of garbage, my father left my mother and divorced her, she did not want to get divorced. So at this point she had a choice to make. Live alone and celibate, or move on and find another person to share her life with but be ostracized by the wonderfull Catholic church that teaches love, that is an awful position to put someone in and is but one example of why the church is morally bankrupt

      April 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  20. thegadfly

    When Bill and Ted said, "Be excellent to each other," that sort of ripped apart any respect I had for the Catholic Church, which has so lost sight of such simple beauty. As a "fallen" Catholic, I remember the associate pastor of my old church being a very good man. No chance he was a boy-banger. He was just a good, decent man, out to help people. Not sure about his boss, the pastor or the monsignor, but that just goes to show you that you are what you do - you either make the world a better place, or you don't. What you believe is up to you, and has little bearing.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
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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.