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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. Bruce

    The Catholic Church???????? Besides being the world's largest club of pedophiles, they take no accountability for the behaviour of their "men of God" unless it may affect their bottom line. They rule by fear with threats of damnation and other perils to keep their flock in order. Not different than a lot of religions, as long as the money keeps rolling in there will never be change.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  2. el_incr

    Come to saving faith in Jesus and leave the ritual-based Catholic Church. The RCC can't save you. Only faith in Jesus and His FINAL atoning death on the cross ALONE can save a soul. The RCC knows NOTHING of the Gospel that saves.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Hello

      gee are are you that stupid? the Catholic church creators... were ROMAN's that created the christian dogma to support the god created FROM the Jewish god.
      have you ever read the bible myth book? guess not..

      to say the christian church is not about the god is what? paganism?

      March 30, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  3. Tgfree

    After reading the article and the comments left here one can see why the Catholic Church is in such turmoil. A lot of the comments are all about " I think", "I feel" " I want" " I this & I that" The focus is on the individual and what makes the individual happy... Using ONLY Scripture....Romans 1:21-32 (KJV)

    (21) Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
    (22) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
    (23) And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
    (24) Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
    (25) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
    (26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
    (27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
    (28) And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
    (29) Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
    (30) Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
    (31) Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
    (32) Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

    My doctrinal stance may be far different from the Catholic Church but I believe the Bible and when one thinks they know more than God and the focus is on them and the have "v. 25... changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" ...we see what happens.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Hello

      read Caesar's Messiah..it will bl0w your bible off the map.... and hopefully out of your mind..

      March 30, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Mary

      Keep in mind the bible was compiled by the Catholic church. There was only 1 bible until Martin Luther and King James deleted and changed the words that they did not like.

      Who founded your church? http://youtu.be/NG3QdH7Z74s

      March 30, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  4. Doc Vestibule

    Say what you will about the Vatican's shortcomings – at least they're smart enough to accept facts like the age of the universe and evolution.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Clyde M

      And only 137 years after the theory was first comprehensively laid out, too!

      Stubborn adherence to archaic, easily disproven dogma is why some people very close to me left the church. They said it not only couldn't evolve with change and stay current in a modern world, but that it aggressively tried not to in almost every way–even when it was obviously in the wrong.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • el_incr

      There's no such concept of evolution in the universe. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics; EVERYTHING tends toward disorder or entropy. Nothing naturally evolves – it all devolves. Can you name one thing that that tends toward order? Let your yard go unattended for 1 year and see the "order" when you return.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      That's evolution with a really big asterisk. The RCC still teachings that all humans came from one real woman who was actually named Eve and one real man who was actually named Adam. While it teaches that the Genesis story was allegorical, it teaches that the people were real and actually existed. This is entirely inconsistent with the theory of evolution. The RCC is attempting to have their cake and eat it, too. Anyone with half a brain can see right through this.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @el_incr

      Thanks for pointing out that you have about zero understanding of the second law of thermodynamics.

      To paraphrase, better not to type and be thought a fool than to post and remove all doubt. I'd recommend not getting your science from illiterate creationist websites. Feel free to ask about any high schooler how the second law only applies to closed systems (hint: the earth isn't one)

      March 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • burymylovely

      el_incr – If I let my yard go unattended for a year it does fall to order, just not the order you may want. The grass grows naturally in accordance with available water and nutrients. Other plant and bug life move in and the system finds balance. By cutting grass unnaturally and feeding it chemical pesticides, or by planting grass that should not grow in my area in the first place, I am upsetting the natural order. I find hubris in your assertion that your influence over your lawn maintains order when if fact it creates chaos in the natural order.

      Also, evolution does not state that everything evolves into order. Its that things in nature are changed over long stretches of time by their respective environments. Humans did not choose to walk upright collectively as a species. its just that the ones who tended to stand straighter were the ones who lived longer and procreated. Very gradually, we became a species that no longer walked on all fours.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  5. hippypoet

    the real number one reason is its a pile of bs from beginning to end! now thats the truth!
    ever play the game telephone? did your message change its meaning and even its wording before the end? most do, and that game is a representation of life and the process of time!

    March 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  6. JC in Jacksonville

    I am Catholic and I am gay. I don't really give a damn what the Church thinks of it. I don't attend Mass because I know I am not welcome in the congregation of hypocrits and passers of judgment. Ultimately I will stand infront of my Lord and let him judge me on the merits of my heart and the deeds of my life. And after the judgment when the Lord asks me what I did with my life, I will say I spent it with "him".

    March 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • el_incr

      And here is what the Lord of the Universe has already said: (26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
      (27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
      You will meet Him as your Judge and NOT your Saviour. He is giving you a chance to turn from your sin or else He MUST judge you if He is to be proven righteous and perfect in all His ways.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Hello

      Read Caesar's Messiah and get free of that myth...

      NOTE.. the popular cro0tch watch political hot buttons now being pushed by the god men is for personal political reason's only.. they don't believe in what they are telling you any more than the Roman clowns who wrote the bible to begin with.

      it is a joke book.... CM will show you.... and why..

      March 30, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  7. Gill Bates

    Face it, it is downright embarrassing to be a Catholic these days.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • el_incr

      Then leave the Roman Church and come to Christ ALONE.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  8. Unintelligent atheist jerk

    Religion is stupid

    March 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Turtleguy

      How about "because they realized that bronze age mythology has no relevance in modern society".

      March 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Unintelligent atheist jerk

      Don't argue with me I am reason and logic person. Your beliefs are stupid. I is smart

      March 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Religitard who has no real argument

      If you can't beat 'em, come up with lame insults that would bore a third grader!

      March 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Uncle Dave

      Atheists are just jealous because Christians have Christmas and Easter. But, never fear, the Atheist holiday is coming up this Sunday ... April First. Enjoy

      March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  9. Ann

    The last straw for me was the Catholic church's stance on fertility treatments. That combined with the above was enough to send me to a church where I felt more welcome. Anyone who has gone through fertility treatments knows that science can only take you so far. Whether or not a baby is in your future in purely up to God.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  10. Carolyn

    I am a former Catholic. One day, I opened a bible and have always wondered why the bible is never read during CCD or mass. Growing up Catholic meant letting them do the reading and be ready to belive anything they tell us, like Limbo, which they do not teach anymore. That was never in the Bible. Ash Wednesday ritual is not in there either,etc., etc. I discovered I really need to read the Bible myself and guess what, found out I was lied to all my life. Also, I was excommunicated because of divorce, but when I do go to a mass with a friend, you bet I take communion......do you really think if Jesus was there, he would refuse me??? Well NO-now-Read The Bible Yourselves and make Jesus your leader and hold him up above anyone else!!! It works!!

    March 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • squawks

      The Bible is read at every Mass. The entire Bible is completed every 3 years. Your other issues you must decide for yourself. Much of it is Canon law which the Church has not updated, nor it seems, has not truly thought of its congregation nor God. Those are my issues.

      I stay with the Church because it is the only one founded by Christ Himself, and I have been called a rebel Catholic. The "human" section of the Church NEEDS changing and not to be followed because some priest (or Pope) said so. The Pope has not spoken 'ex cathedra' since the Assumption of Mary.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Convert

      Actually the Catholic Mass includes the bible. There are 2 readings from the old testament and one from the gospel every day.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Convert – when was the last time you were in mass? There's only one reading form the old testament. There's also one from the gospels and one from another part of the new testament. The RCC picks which passages are to be read, ensuring that the inconvenient parts and boring parts will always be skipped over. The cafeteria Christianity dished out from the top down!

      March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Real Deal

      squawks: "The Bible is read at every Mass. The entire Bible is completed every 3 years."

      An oft-touted fallacy. Hogwash.

      "Over a three-year cycle Sunday Masses include 3.7% of the Old Testament (plus Psalms) and 40.8% of the New Testament. If you add weekday Masses you'll hear 13.5% of the Old Testament (plus Psalms) and 71.5% of the New Testament."

      –http://catholic-resources.org/Lectionary/Statistics.htm

      March 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      And squawks, the pope has only spoken ex-Cathedra about twice because the Church, in a convenient revisionist way, redefined what infallibility actually meant in, I believe, the 19th century. So, about 1800 years after popes had supposedly been handing down infallible teachings, the RCC saw the obviously fallibility in what they were saying, so they decided to rewrite history. Convenient.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  11. Joseph

    God loves us so much he gave us the freedom to choose even knowing our choice would hurts him as in the case of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Coming to him and abiding in him is a respondse to his calling, some hears it and others do not. As in St. John 15:16 when Lord Jesus was speaking to his disciples : “ You did not choose me, no, I choose you and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. My command to you is to love one another.”

    For those who have been hurt or are hurting here is an invitation from our Lord Jesus Christ “ Come to Me all you who are heavily burdened and I will give you rest.”

    Welcome home.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • I am God

      Sorry as an Atheist I would rather choose to believe and have faith in humanity's potential. I'll keep that invite in mind though if proof came along of the Lord's actual existence.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Hello

      isn't amazing how the Jewish part of the bible is just quoted in certain parts... because most of it is rejected by Christians..

      so funny...

      March 30, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
  12. Julie

    I left after the priest at the Catholic church where my (now ex) husbands family had been members of (and gave a lot of money to) for years was "too busy" to go to the children's hospital to baptize my dying baby.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • squawks

      I am so sorry. I hope a Chaplain at the hospital baptized your child; or you could have done it.

      I would not leave over one priest. I have my war stories on priests.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Hello

      the baptism would not have made any difference to your child.. it would just have been an excuse for the church to charge you a service fee for the visit.... Sorry for you loss....
      the true heart of the church is a bl_ck hole you need to through your money in.... you don't need that.

      freethought it better... go to secular web and learn what freethought is.... they have 2 libraries... read and enjoy..

      March 30, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  13. Bruce

    That is a good question, why do Catholics leave their religion. I am a Catholic, but one one that is tie to it by going to Mass on Sundays and all the rest that goes behind it. I believe in Christ, and pray to Him often, but I feel that the church has let me down by its conservative views on many things I truly believe in. I was born a Catholic and will always remain one, but what I don't understand is why its lost it feeling about what life is all about. People getting marry again, birth control, the use and study of human system. God so love the world that he sent His only Son to save all of us and not just a few. Like He said, I have come to save the sinner as well as the just.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • plucky

      Don't sell yourself short. You have a mind and can see the world, and human nature, for what it is. You can change your mind when enlightened with all the history of how the church came about... and maybe decide that you really don't believe in these fairy tales any more.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • squawks

      Or you could become a rebel Catholic as I've been called, and demand change.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  14. Albertus Magnus

    Seven Reasons to BE a Catholic:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfSsPqjYC9c&w=640&h=360]

    March 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Luce

      Ha!

      March 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  15. Mike Smith

    Great response AJ68, absolute truth. Thanks for speaking it.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  16. I am God

    There are just to many religions in the world to believe in a "god" in my opinion. I would rather just believe in humanity's potential. Especially in another hundred years or so when we go out to explore the stars. I'll be sad, because I'll probably be dead before I see the human potential of space exploration.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Rev

      Eric Clapton, is that you lord?

      March 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • I am God

      Nope I am just God. An anonymous and invisible being hiding out on religious blogs.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • jrc

      You like many have a problem separating God from religion. God is God no matter what "religion" you are under. God never said you are the Catholics, you are the Baptists or you are the Mormons. Men made religion to fall under the umbrella of God and all of those Umbrellas are different sizes and colors. Its how the house is prepared is what makes living comfortable. If you didn't make your bed, then you will sleep bad....molesting priests, greedy politicians, disrespectful children, twisted interpretations of the bible...God exists I kid you not. Its what you do from the inside that counts, no matter what the religion is, its all up to the individual soul to lead towards God. Most of the religions are corrupted by man's thinking, not by God's.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • I am God

      Thanks for proving my point.

      March 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Hello

      god is male... so why does god need a dic?

      March 30, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  17. If people can leave their spouses why can't they leave the church?

    😦 😦

    March 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Steve Lyndon

      Look at the divorce rate a staggering 40% plus..

      March 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Steve Lyndon

      And child abuse cases ranging at 65000 cases just for 2010 alone. What has society come to?

      March 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  18. Kate L

    I left the Church for all those reasons. Plus, I didn't feel a medieval, patriarchal system such as Catholicism has relevance in a post-modern, science-based society. The Church-defenders here can wear blinders if they choose, but there's no ignoring that just a few years ago, the Church launched a very public "Welcome Home" campaign in an effort to lure ex-Catholics back. If the Church is the same as when we left, and refuses to evolve from the 3rd century in a world that's NOT in the 3rd century, there's absolutely no reason to go back. It's one of the happiest decisions I've ever made.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • ajk68

      The Church has never been left in the third century. Who do you think started the university system? Who patronized the arts during the Renaissance? Who stood up to anti-human philosophies of the 19th century? Who stood up to communism in Poland?

      March 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • plucky

      ajk68
      All of these things you list have no relevance to whether or not your religion is true.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Colin in Florida

      To add to ajk68;s list, who all-but sided with the Nazi's in WWII, who kidnapped Edgardo Moratora (if you don't know-look it up), and which same religion tortured and killed tens of thousands of people during the inquisition?

      March 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  19. ajk68

    #1 Reason People Leave the Church: they don't have faith.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • plucky

      ...and that is a great reason to leave!

      March 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • ajk68

      No. It's a great reason to pray and study and talk to people who can help enrich your life.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • plucky

      So how will these people infuse me with the gullibility (I mean faith) to believe in a supernatural being that can't show any evidence that it exists?
      Why don't you start! Go ahead and infuse me with this faith.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • JimD

      It is one thing to have faith in God. It is another to have faith in a heirarchy system that murdered and covered up the death of John Paul 1. Do your research outside of what the church says.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Theo

      ajk68.... you are right on in your defense and belief. thank you.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Howard

      @ ajk68 ... if, by praying, you find faith, how would you know whether god has given you the gift of faith, or if you've only managed to brainwash yourself?

      It IS possible, you know.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • ellen

      Only an idiot prays to something (s)he doesn't believe exists. Typical Catholic tunnel vision.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • ex-catholic

      I believe in God, and his son Jesus – I have plenty of faith and a rock-solid belief in the Bible and the 10 commandments as a method of conducting my life. But the face of what I see each Sunday are people more worried about money and controlling other people's behavior by using guilt in the name of God, and who are more than willing to turn a blind eye to one of their own abusing innocents and hiding like cowards behind the church after the fact. Trust me, I can find plenty of other people to worship with that don't do these same things.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Jen

      I left the Catholic church because I DID have faith. The teachings of the Catholic church have never meshed with my understanding of the Bible (praying to the saints, requiring a priest to confess, etc), so I left and became a Protestant. Saying that people leave the Catholic church because of a lack of faith is an overgeneralizatoin.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Hello

      can't think of a better reason not to go or to be a supernatural believer.... works for me.

      March 30, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Hello

      it take faith to believe in Santa Claus.. it takes reason to realize it is a myth... it takes courage to leave the myth belief behind.. and realize that even your own parents are willing to lie to you...to MAKE you believe in something that is NOT REAL.

      March 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
  20. Kate London

    I am a former Prsbyterian who converted to Catholocism. The reason I left my former faith is that I distrusted a church, that when confronted by a large clamoring for change, would by golly make the change! The majority eventually would rule on any sacred belief or tradition. I agree that socity changes...but need the church bend with every whim in order to satisfy those who can worship only with a church that matches their perceived ideas? I believe a church should hold sacred values that ARE difficult to live up to. Since becoming Catholic, I have stretched way beyond my past level of compassion and generosity. For those of you who left, please know that you are always welcome to return.

    March 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • plucky

      So you made a change because you couldn't deal with a church that.... made a change?

      March 30, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Have you ever considered joining the Flat Earth Society?

      March 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • ajk68

      A church that changes its doctrine and morality with the tide of human events certainly can't be keeper of the inerrant and unchanging word of God.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • ajk68

      The ignorance of non-believers astonishes me. They are so smug in their ignorance.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • Sunny D

      I understand your perspective, and I agree that the church should not bend to every whim of public opinion. But I also think that it should be willing to be reflective and recognize that it is still run here on earth by men, and men are not perfect. I think that I would respect a church that was willing to at least entertain the idea that it was not 100% right all of the time, and that things do change with the times.

      For example, regarding the issue of women's health - I was on contraceptives while I was celibate due to a hereditary disorder. Every single woman over the age of 40 in my family has had a hysterectomy, and the pill was the only thing that allowed me to avoid the procedure until I was married and had two kids. Should I have been denied that? Should my future husband have been denied that? That's the type of question that I think the church should consider.

      It is difficult to post comments like this because they can come across as snarky when read without the writer's intended inflections. I usually don't post on account of that. So please don't take what I've written as rude or snarky. It is not intended to be.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • bigdil

      If you were looking for a church that won't change no matter what its' members think, then you are going to be very happy in the Catholic Church...you and anyone else with a psychological need to have an authority figure dictate your behavior.

      March 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      If god's word is supposedly unchanging, why did he so clearly change his mind about the whole shellfish thing?

      March 30, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • larryb

      the church changed it's rules...priests married until the 4th century then they required celibacy...except most priests, bishops and of course popes were not celibate and hypocrisy reigned for 1500 years. now the church is so out of touch that it ridiculous...just look at ajk58

      March 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Hello

      its that guilt thing they push... works every time.... for a lot of people... also separates a huge chunk of your hard income into the hands of those very skilled salesmen.

      March 30, 2012 at 8:16 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.