'Recovering Catholics' reveal spiritual journeys
According to a 2008 poll, 31% of Americans were raised Catholic, but only 24% describe themselves as Catholic.
June 19th, 2012
09:36 AM ET

'Recovering Catholics' reveal spiritual journeys

By Jim Spellman, CNN

Denver (CNN) - Kristen Kelly was raised Roman Catholic, attended Catholic elementary school and considered herself a good Catholic, but when she was 21-years-old that changed.

“A coworker asked me if I believe in Jesus Christ,” she says.

Despite spending her entire life in the Roman Catholic Church she couldn’t answer the question.

“I never really got exposed to Christ," she says. "It was more about Mary and the Church and a condemnation of everything I was doing wrong.”

She looked at her coworker and saw someone who appeared to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and decided that was what she wanted. She said this prayer:

“Jesus I accept that you are my lord and savior, and I ask you to come into my life.”

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And from that moment Kelly, now 41 and living in Florida, considered herself born-again, and an ex-Catholic.

“I like to call us recovering Catholics,” she says with a laugh.

According to a 2008 study by the Pew Forum on Religious Life and Public Life, 31% of Americans were raised Catholic, but only 24% now describe themselves as Catholic. Read the study (PDF).

That means about 1 in 10 Americans is an ex-Catholic. If they were a denomination they would be bigger than Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans and Presbyterians.

The total U.S. Catholic population has remained at about 24%, as immigrants have filled the pews the ex-Catholics have left behind.

Video: Why do some Catholic outsiders remain inside the flock?  

Kathleen Cummings , associate director at the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at Notre Dame, says that some people leave the Catholic Church after a defining event like the priest abuse scandals or because of a disagreement with the Church over social issues, but most leave because they feel their needs are not being met.

“They are not experiencing something that fulfills them spiritually,” Cummings says.

Church supporters are urging wayward Catholics to return to the fold. For example, Catholics Come Home, a nonprofit lay organization formed in 1997, has been putting out the welcome mat via the media.

The group has an interactive website www.Catholicscomehome.org and airs what it calls “evangomercials” on radio and television. The group says that since 2008 more than 350,000 people have “come home” to the Catholic Church through their campaign.

Tom Peterson, president of Catholics Come Home, says some worshipers who've returned to the Catholic Church report leaving because they had disagreements with church officials or had divorced and feared they wouldn’t be welcome. But, he says, the majority never really gave up on the Church.

“They just drifted away and life got too busy," Peterson says. "Most say they didn’t dislike the Church, nor were they opposed to the Church teachings.

“An overwhelming majority of returnees tell our diocesan partners that they came home to the Catholic Church, 'because you invited me,'" he says.

But it may not be so simple to lure back ex-Catholics like Matt Rowe, a 35-year-old married father of two living in Denver. Rowe attended 16 years of Catholic School in Illinois and attended a Catholic university.

But by the end of college, Rowe was adrift. He found himself disagreeing with the Church on everything from the role of women to the concept of original sin and what he saw as the Catholic Church’s dependence on guilt as a motivating factor.

Rowe gave up on religion for most of his 20s but never stopped believing in God. When he got married and had kids, he started feeling a void in his life.

“I wanted my kids to grow up in a religion, but not Catholicism,” he says.

After “church-hopping” for a few years, Rowe ended up at Pathways Wash Park, a multidenominational Christian church in Denver.

After years of feeling disconnected in the Catholic Church where he says sermons rarely connected to his life, he has finally found the connection he has been looking for at Pathways.

“I wanted spirituality. I wanted God. I wanted all those points to go back to what I’m dealing with today,” Rowe says.

Fred Viarrial, 59, grew up as an altar boy at St. Leo’s in Denver. Six days a week he donned his cassock and worked the 6 a.m. Mass.

“Books or bells. You are ringing the bells or moving the books for the priests,” Viarrial says.

But as he grew up he began questioning elements of Catholicism. One day, when Viarrial was somewhere between age 10 and 12, he had something especially embarrassing to confess, so he trekked over to a Spanish language parish where he was unknown.

“The priest pulled me out and spanked me on the spot,” Viarrial says with a laugh. “That got me to question this whole thing of confession.”

When he was just 14 the precocious teenager went so far as to schedule an appointment with Denver ‘s then-Archbishop James Casey to discuss his doubts.

“I took a two-page list of questions starting with the Hail Mary. I wanted to find them in the Bible, their origin … where is that in the Bible?”

Viarrial says the archbishop humored him but ultimately did not answer his questions.

He still believed in God, but was losing faith in the Church.

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By his 20s he was searching for a new church and ended up at Arvada Covenant Church, an evangelical congregation in a Denver suburb.

At Arvada Covenant he says the focus is on a personal relationship with Jesus and that his questions about his faith and the Bible are not met with derision, but with a search for answers through Bible study.

He has found a home at Arvada Covenant, but says he holds no grudge against the Catholic Church and still feels echoes of his Catholic upbringing in his faith today.

“It’s like a spiritual tattoo that you receive as a kid," Viarrial says. "Those roots don’t ever disappear, you just better try to understand them.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Colorado • Faith

soundoff (2,511 Responses)
  1. sortakinda

    Bottom line is that the Catholic Church recognizes that there are elements of truth in every religion, including atheism and agnosticism–because faith doesn't make us robots. Suffice it to say that a faithfilled Catholic believes that the Church (including the Orthodox Churches) has the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. If you don't believe that, and it is not an automatic belief even for Catholics, you have no business calling yourself a Catholic even if you were baptized as an infant. It is a combination of teaching, faith and acceptance that is not for everyone. Laugh if you like. I don't care.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Good, than I can call myself a recovering catholic....

      June 20, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  2. chaz

    “I never really got exposed to Christ," she says. "It was more about Mary and the Church and a condemnation of everything I was doing wrong.”

    I have been saying this...over and over...they have it wrong. You don't need to go thru ANYONE to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior

    I will NEVER say 10 hail Mary anythings....I already HAVE forgiveness from the Man Jesus himself, if I turn from the sin (repent for all you baby Christians and Religious zealots)

    Thier interpretation of the Bible make millions of people think they are saved ...when they arent because they dont have an intimate relationship with Jesus

    Jesus knows me, this I love...

    June 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      You have no more proof for your version of christianity than the catholics do for theirs.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  3. Joe Garcia

    Recovering Catholics? Is it the same as a Recovering Alcoholic or Recovering Drug Addict?

    June 20, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • bigdil

      Pretty much, yeah.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      No it is a tag applied by haters to insinuate that religious people are diseased.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  4. Good Grief!

    all just fairy tales. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

    June 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  5. Nii

    I don't mind 1 bit when an Atheist offers fake history n misguided theology.
    I love de works of Mother Teresa but de RCC has 2 get it in2 their thick head that they r not de oldest Xtian Church nor r de other denominations their branches. If we r then they r a branch of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Nii

      In 1066 AD the RCC separated from the Eastern Orthodox Church when the Ecu.menical Patriarch in Istanbul and the Western Patriarch in Rome mutually ex.co.mm.un.ic.at.ed each other. .
      They also forget to tell you Mary had four sons n at least two daughters besides Jesus.
      Don't label people.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Nii

      Most of the dirt that is flung in the Christian's face is a legacy of the so-called "Holy" Dogma of the Roman Catholic Church formulated by people who make Pharisees look like the very Angels in Heaven.
      Religiosity is killing the RCC but instead of leadership helping spirituality they are busy!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • junior

      Who then is the oldest Christian religion?

      June 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  6. Boyd Gordon

    I was raised in the Catholic Church, but I'm not a practicing member because of theological differences. I still have a great respect for the Church and its congregation. My dream is that we get past our differences, accept each other for who we are, and work together for the betterment all people.

    June 20, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • m

      your dream is unrealistic
      you cannot reason with crazy people

      June 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • chief

      how can you work with an organization that feels its superior and condescending to all Christians that arent catholic? just read that priest geralds comments.....

      June 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • JWT

      We can get along lot better when people stop believeing that since they believe in there religion that others must also believe in and practice it. I am not holding my breath although things are slowly getting better.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  7. gerald

    Recovring catholics many times are those who could not accept the churches teaching on human sx lity and contraception. Engaged in these activities and then decided they needed Christ in their lives. Rather than to submit to the teachings of the Church they went elsewhere. Christ is found in the catholic church if you are willing to submit to his Church. If not then you become protestant and join the smorgaboard religions.

    June 20, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • gerald

      30,000 denominations and counting. There is only one that traces back to Christ and the apostles.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Madtown

      30,000 denominations and counting. There is only one that traces back to Christ and the apostles.
      Yet, millions of human beings who are of equal value to you, live in this world and will never hear the catholic way, or hear about Christ. Do you believe that God favors you more than these other people? Would God truly allow only 1 way into his kingdom(your way), but not allow all the beings he created equally to have knowledge of that 1 way? That really doesn't make any sense at all, does it?

      June 20, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      They all are branches and thereore trace back to the same origins, this is a PR line the church runs as its fallacious "argument fom authority".

      June 20, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • gerald


      If you read our Catechism you would know that you are way off on the teaching of the Catholic Church on this matter. God holds us each accountable for what we are given. A Catholic is more accountable. God's laws are written on all men's hearts and to the degree the follow him with the knowledge and understanding they have recieved he will judge. Not I. But truth is what it is.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • gerald

      No truth? Is that true?

      June 20, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • gerald

      By the way, you are correct in that they trace back to Christ but only through Rome. Sorry. There is a line of Popes and Bishops back to Christ and the apostles. This is historic fact.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • OOO

      Catholic guilt (guilt in general) runs deep. Especially when implanted on the young.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • KMW


      I think he is talking about fallen-away Catholics and I totally agree with him. Protestants cannot even agree amongst themselves and rarely do you hear about this. He is not judging just stating true facts.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      "By the way, you are correct in that they trace back to Christ but only through Rome."


      Wrong. There are christian churches in the world that trace their orgins back through Alexandria, Constantinople, Antioch, ect., ect. They DON'T all go through rome and they claim a direct connection through deciples and Jesus. THIS is a hisorical fact. Nice try.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • gerald

      Just – No in fact your history is bad. Prior to 1054 they were united with Rome so in fact they do trace through rome.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • gerald

      BTW – the churches you speak of do have valid bishops that trace back to the Apostles. What they lack is the unity with Rome that was declared by Christ.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Madtown

      God holds us each accountable for what we are given. A Catholic is more accountable.
      So, you do think you are special, relative to all other human beings? Congratulations on being a huge part of the problem, you arrogant fool.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • gerald

      God loves all men. Not special per se. I said more accountable for what he has given me. "There ae non cathoics who outdo me and will recieve greater reward in heaven.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • gerald

      BTW he gives for his purposes. Not mine. So again no, not special.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Ah Gerald, our favoraite Catholic and supporter of child r a p e. I wonder if the Pope is riding the backside of a boy as we speak?


      June 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Madtown

      God loves all men.
      This is what I'm saying, what I believe, and I take another step in saying all are created equal. As such, if there was only 1 way to salvation, simple logic dictates that God would provide this way to all his equal creations. If there are ever a group of human beings in this world that don't have access to your ways, through no fault of their own, then you can't say your way is the only way.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      Like I said in my first post the RCC makes that claim to Jesus but so do (did) the others. They were jousting for authority and all you are doing is proving the point.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • chief

      re gerald – once again gerald the priest comes out ( no pun there ) to let everyone know that catholics are superior..... this is the same guy that defends ped priests and ignores those that are victoms... we know the catholic church is bigger than its sins

      June 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • chief

      re gerald – i hope your better, i heard youve been at the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Mo..... for those who dont know... google it

      June 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • chaz

      God loves all men. Not special per se. I said more accountable for what he has given me. "There ae non cathoics who outdo me and will recieve greater reward in heaven.
      June 20, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |

      um, no, you cant get to Heaven by YOUR works...and God has to CHOOSE you

      June 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  8. Christian 2012

    "Recovering Catholic" is a prejudiced term that ought not be accepted in polite conversation. A clear reference to the term "recovering alcoholic," it is on a par with calling middle class blacks who live in the suburbs and eschew "ebonics," "recovering african americans." That would clearly be unacceptable and the term "recovering catholics" likewise is unacceptable....except to bigots and other haters.

    June 20, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • sortakinda

      I admire your insight. But you have to realize, after all, this is CNN.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • LinCA

      @Christian 2012

      You said, ""Recovering Catholic" is a prejudiced term that ought not be accepted in polite conversation."
      Unless they self-identify as such.

      You said, "A clear reference to the term "recovering alcoholic," it is on a par with calling middle class blacks who live in the suburbs and eschew "ebonics," "recovering african americans.""
      That is a ridiculous comparison. Religion, like alcoholism, are the effects of poor choices and lack of will power. People are more or less predisposed to it than others, but with sufficient effort and assistance, these illnesses can be overcome. Not so with the color of your skin (unless you are Michael Jackson, of course).

      June 20, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Except the term is used embraced by ex-catholics and we use it because the church and other catholics try and deal with us like Marines as in "once a Catholic, always a Catholic", a phrase that is patronizing and far more offensive.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      LinCA obviously you are not aware that alcoholism is identified as a disease by the AMA. It is not a result of weak willpower. A religious life view is neither a disease not a lack of willpower. To the contrary, religious people number among the strongest. But be a good liberal and NEVER EVER let the truth stop you from recrimination of others

      June 20, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      Christiaity gives us the disease (original sin) and then offers the cure.

      Religious belief is a transmitted disease.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • sortakinda

      I am sure LinCA and Just Claims don't care how Catholics are maligned and anything a Catholic says is just stupid anyway. We are a group that has had enough. There are limits to decency and respect that this country has lost. And that is a shame. Political correctness is for everyione else-the Catholic Church is an easy target.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      First I did not "malign" catholics. I was raised catholic. Many in my family who I love and many of my friends are catholic. I don't call catholics stupid. I malign the chirch and rightfully so.

      You love to feel persecuted and play the victim don't you. Grow up.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Alan

      We should all pray for the day when they become recovering-christians

      June 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Christian 2012

      Bill Deacon understands: the term "recovering" means that previously one was "sick" when one was Catholic. That is an insult to the 1,200,000,000 Catholics in the World. Jews who do not practice their religion are not called "recovering jews." Catholics who no longer practice their religion should not be called "recovering catholics" either. There is nothing wrong with calling them "ex-Catholics" or "former Catholics" but let's stop being smarmy about it.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Just claims. It sounds like you are either saying that Christianity is responsible for alcoholism or that Christians have arbitrarily declared that it is a sin. Are you saying that without religion there would be no such thing as sin or disease (two distinct conditions incidentally)?

      June 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bill Deacon

      You said, "LinCA obviously you are not aware that alcoholism is identified as a disease by the AMA."
      I am well aware that alcoholism is a disease in certain cases. It isn't always.

      You said, "A religious life view is neither a disease not a lack of willpower."
      Is it caused by an abundance of ignorance then?

      You said, "To the contrary, religious people number among the strongest."
      Headstrong, maybe, but so are sheep. It is herd mentality that keeps them religious.

      You said, "But be a good liberal and NEVER EVER let the truth stop you from recrimination of others"
      Truth is established through facts. Facts are established through evidence. Belief, on the other hand, is established in the absence of facts or evidence. Being a believer means, by definition, that you do not have the truth.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      There is no sin without religion.

      Believing something is true without proper reason is a mental condition called delusion.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "I am sure LinCA and Just Claims don't care how Catholics are maligned and anything a Catholic says is just stupid anyway."
      If catholics are maligned, they only have themselves to thank for that. And not everything catholics say is stupid. A lot is, but not everything.

      You said, "We are a group that has had enough."
      Enough of what? Enough of molesting little boys? Enough of keeping women subservient? Enough of discriminating against gays? Enough of meddling in personal affairs of others?

      You said, "There are limits to decency and respect that this country has lost."
      Indecent acts don't deserve a decent response.

      You said, "Political correctness is for everyione else-the Catholic Church is an easy target."
      The catholic church is working hard to make itself an easy target. If it cleaned up it's despicable mess, and stopped meddling in the lives of others, they'd get a lot less flak.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      So without religion child abuse would not be a sin? I think I am hearing you right.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • An Atheist

      "So without religion child abuse would not be a sin? I think I am hearing you right."


      Yes you ALMOST get it, a sin is an offense AGAINST god, god is a PRODUCT of religion and therefore without religion it is NOT a sin. It IS still wrong because it is an offense against another person (the child) and is therefore immoral. Morality is causing needless harm to other people. Please explain how actions that do not harm other people but only offend a subjective god can be considered objectively immoral?

      June 20, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • sortakinda

      Just Claims-YOU like to feel smug and superior without basis in fact. The comment I made was that you don't care how Catholics are maligned. Not that you were saying any particular malignity. If you were ever a Catholic, you would know that the Church is its members, so when you do malign the Church, you malign its members, including your loved ones. Gee, why can't EVERYTHING be the way you want it to be? You must be constantly disappointed. Like a petulant child.

      June 20, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      Well then if you and your members ARE the church, you then by extension have supported child mol.e.sta.tion by hiding p.e.d.o priests and allowing them to continue acting on behalf of the church while doing so. I tend to seperate the decision makers from the congragation and only hold the church leaders responsible. If you want to admit complicity in the abuse of children all over the world you are welcome to, I recommend you turn yourself in to the nearest police station. Calling me a 'petulant child' is exactly how the church drives people like me away so keep it up you patronizing do.uche canoe. Catholics are not stupid, their beliefs are stupid.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Atheist. Christ said 'whatever you do unto the least of these you do unto me." So it is not possible to harm another person without harming God. In the case of so called victimless crimes where sin occurs, the victim is the sinner. He may delude himself into thinking "no one else is getting hurt" but the truth is he is separating himself from God. A condition which culminates in hell, or eternal separation from God. God allows this due to his gift of free will to man but he does not suffer from it. Man suffers from his own free will. To justify his choice and his pride man often says "There is no God" At which point, he is correct. There is no God where sin abides.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  9. sortakinda

    Although not in themselves proof of the existence of God, the Shroud of Turin and the portrait of Our Lady of Guadeloupe present phenomena that scientists have yet to resolve despite numerous examinations by skeptics. The Shroud may or may not be the burial cloth of Christ, but HOW was the image formed? The portrait was somehow "painted" above the fibers beneath it. HOW did that happen? I don't expect this to make anyone who does not believe in God start, but this are things out there that defy conventional scientific explanation.

    June 20, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • BRC

      Age sampling of the shroud of Turin makes it extremely unlikely that is existed at the time of Jesus death (also he was executed and buried as a criminal, why would they use an article of respect such as a shroud?), and MUCH more likely that it was created during the dark ages. Now, today we are having a remarkably difficult time determining how such an image could be ingrained into the material, but the time when it existed could give us a possible solution. We would never consider using a corpse to try and forge a religious artifact in this day and age, but in the dark ages there were many people who wouldn't bat an eye at killing a peasant to matched the image they wanted for Jesus, ensuring the body was properly coated with blood and oils, and wrapping the body tightly in the shroud to try and produce the desired image. There are even plenty of people from that time who would have done it repeatedly until they got teh result they wanted. Some of them were even Popes.

      TL;DR- just because we haven't found the answer yet, doesn't mean "God" did it.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Rebel4Christ

      Lol! Your joking right? The shroud has been dismissed by science many times over. Get out of here with that sh•t. Lol.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • sortakinda

      BRC–I didn't say that the Shroud was defintively the burial cloth of Christ, nor did I say that "God did it."A rich man, according to the Bible, Joseph of Aramithea, asked for the Body of Christ and was allowed to bury Him in a newly hewn tomb. So there was a basis for the use of a valuable cloth for the burial of a leader respected by that rich man. Whether it is from c. 33 A D. or the MIddle Ages, all you can say is it might be a counterfeit for which even you have no explanation. My point is that there are things of earth that are beyond the ken of even the most expert scientists. Yet atheists know everything-or so they think.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • sortakinda

      Rebel4-proof please? Try being a little more respectful and yu will be respected.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • sortakinda

      December 23, 2011

      Italy's National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Development published a final report last month on the authenticity of the Shroud of Turin, after five years of experiments and studies.

      It was identified that the Shroud of Turin's image was created by an extremely powerful flash of light, so powerful that Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of chemistry at Pavia University, described it as unearthly, "The implications are… that the image was formed by a burst of UV energy so intense it could only have been supernatural."

      June 20, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • apostate

      Both were dismissed as frauds long ago.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • BRC

      No you didn't claim it was proof, and I give you credit for that, but you are kind of contradicting yourself. You said that "noone can know its cause", then posted that one scientist claims to know the root, if not the means, of the cause. Given more time na dresearch, who knows what we could discover.

      And I have to disagree with you on one important point. Atheists don't claim to know the answers to everything, much the opposite, we openly and clearly state that we DON'T know everyhting, that there are many mysteries of how the universe functions, and what is out there that is yet to be discovered. BUT, we do stand firm on the fact that religions don't know everything either, and one of the things that we do know is that up till now, NOONE has provided solid proof of the existence of any god; and without that proof, and Atheist is unwilling to accept or recognize their existence. That is what we know, that there is no proof.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • sortakinda

      BRC–My quote from the Italian professor is his conjecture. He says "supernatural" causation. He doesn't say God. I merely point out that a five year scientific study in Italy DID NOT dismiss the Shroud as a fraud, contrary to theRebel4 and Apostate's comments. If you are quoting me, please point out where I said "no one can know." I didn't. Believers have faith. Atheists do not. Did I say something wrong?

      June 20, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Primewonk

      Release the shroud, in it's entirety, to actual scientists.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • BRC


      "My point is that there are things of earth that are beyond the ken of even the most expert scientists"

      That reads as noone can know to me, if I missinterpreted your statement I sincerely apollogize.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • sortakinda

      BRC, you are a noble opponent.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • mandarax

      Neither the shroud nor the cloak with the Virgin of Guadalupe are something that scientists "have yet to resolve." You might notice that the websites that claim this all have the same agenda (religion). The shroud has been radiocarbon dated to the MIddle Ages and the source of the image found to be a chemical technique that can be replicated (not a supernatural flash of light). The Guadalupe image is made from everyday paint, the kind typically used by artists in the 1500's, and even shows brush strokes and perhaps pencil marks.

      Both of these come from a time when rural or underfunded churches and monasteries could get support and funding from the Church if they could demonstrate that they have some sacred relic to maintain. You might notice that almost all "sacred relics" throughout the Catholic world can be traced to this time period. The simplest explanations are often closest to the truth.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • sortakinda

      Mandrax–Proof please to support your statement. Oh I know, you read it on the internet. On a site(s) with its own agenda.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:26 am |
  10. Jeff from Columbus

    I asked this question yesterday but that was when this story was on the front page and the anti-Catholics were on this forum in force. So, I'll try again now that the furor has died down.

    This lady says, as a Catholic, “I never really got exposed to Christ,"

    How is this possible? Did she not go to Mass? EVERY Mass has a celebration of the Eucharist. Catholics receive the body and blood of Christ at EVERY mass. The crucifix of Jesus hangs above the altar in every Catholic Church and there are symbols depicting the Passion to remind Catholics of the death and resurrection of Jesus. You go to any Catholic school and there is usually a picture of Jesus, with the depiction, 'Let all who enter know that CHRIST is the reason for this school".

    This is one of the more bizarre criticisms I've ever heard about the Catholic Church.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • Primewonk

      I think it can happen easily. Perhaps, in her opinion, your church did a very poor job being "Christ-like". I remember doing some projects back in the 70's with some folks from Catholic Worker House. These folks – kids really – walked the walk. They lived in the projects. They helped build infrastructure. The ministered to anyone. Today, the impression put forth by your church, is that it is simply another arm of right-wing politics. Nuns being chastized because they spend too much time ministering to the poor and sick, and not enough time dàmning gay folks to hell? Give me a break.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Tim

      I think I get her point. I've been to Catholic churches that seem much more focused on teaching their rules, their catechism and are much less focused on the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. They seem to put robes, chalices, ceremonies, and conservative traditions well above simply talking and teaching about Jesus.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Jeff from Columbus

      @Primewonk: Right-wing politics? Remember, the Catholic Church actively supported Obamacare. The Catholic Church, if anything, is liberal. Except for gay marriage and abortion. Somehow, because of these two issues, the Catholic Church is now viewed as conservative. Even though 50% of Americans share the Catholic Church's positions on these two issues.

      As to the other poster, that's a fair criticism. The Catholic Church is big on symbols and, sometimes, puts too much focus on those symbols and practices than on the core tents of its faith.

      But, saying one was never exposed to Jesus after 21 years of being Catholic is either ignorance or extreme hyperbole.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • sortakinda

      She considered herself a "good Catholic." She also considers herself the Queen of England, First Lady of the United States and a Nobel Prize winning scientist. She was and is none of the above.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • Primewonk

      A "liberal" group would not be denigrating women. A "liberal" group would not be spreading lies about condom use.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • sortakinda

      PRIMEWONK: Denigrating women? How so? Lying about condoms? Sounds like Planned Parenthood propaganda. You apparently come from a perspective alien to Catholicism. Read Humane Vitae. It celebrates the value and dignity of the human person made in the image of God. It is on a different spiritual plane. You do not even speak the same language.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      The Church is actively pro immigrant but this does not qualify it as liberal either. To most liberals the litmus test is abortion and now mandated contraception. The Catholic Church will never be anything but pro-life.

      I suspect the young woman in question wanted someone to present Jesus to her. She should have availed herself of the sacraments

      June 20, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ sorta kinda – how many women are catholic priests? How many are bishops? How many are cardinals?

      As for lies about condoms – your pope claimed that use of condoms in Africa would make the AIDS crisis worse.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • sortakinda

      PRIMEWONK–if the Catholic Church ordained women, you'd join? Who are you kidding? I am really sorry the Church doesn't do everything you'd like and vice-versa. If you don't believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, why do you care about anything the Church does or says? As far as condoms go, it is Church doctrine that we were ot put on earth simply to copulate. If you think that condoms prevent STDs, I think you are lying to yourself. To the extent that users believe they are protected from STDs and therefore can have more partners, more often, then STDs will spread geometrically.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ sortakinda – what you just did is called moving the goalposts. The question was on the Catholics denigrating women. I asked how many female priests there were. You then dodged the point and shifted the topic. It's a common ploy amongst theists.

      Regarding condoms in Africa – your church's position flys in opposition to what actual science shows.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth


      To the extent that someone has s.e.x, a condom is better at stopping disease than no condom by quite a large margine. Speading the information that USE of condoms helps spread disease among an uneducated population is unconscionable.

      Notice the RCC has not run with that campaign in the U.S.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Talk about moving the goal post, Prime posits that the Catholic Church is an arm of the American political right, an observation ridiculous on it's face. The ignores a factual response indicating the Church's liberalism on immigration while maintaining support for the right to life.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Primewonk

      Bill – as long as the Catholics, or any other religious cult, continue to denigrate women and gays, you cannot, by any stretch of imagination, claim they are liberal.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Setting aside your opinion that the Church denigrates women, wouldn't it be more accurate to say that the Church professes its beliefs and values based on its theology which can be reflected in the ideology of either party at any given point?

      June 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Yes, I thought that as the lead annecdote in the article, the notion of a women, disenchanted with the Catholic Church because of a lack of focus on Jesus, was bizarre. Catholics are, in my experience, much more focused on the new testament and Jesus' teachings than (particularly Evangelical) protestant demominations who just love their old testament.

      There are plenty of other more common reasons people lose faith in Catholic dogma, inst.tutional apparatus or both.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      RE: the politics of the Catholic church

      Traditionally I would never have associated the Catholic church with right-wing politics. Generally they tend to be much more left-leaning on social issues.

      Any divide is around reproductive rights and the role of women and gays. On these issues they are very, very right-leaning.

      Politics makes strange bedfellows indeed.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  11. Betty Crocker is God

    Have a brownie. Maybe a nice glass of milk. You'll feel better.

    June 20, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Rebel4Christ

      See some great looking brownies at prolapsed.net. The eye of good looks upon you!

      June 20, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  12. phil mccanless

    If a recovering alcoholic shouldn't drink alcohol, then shouldn't a recovering catholic avoid catholic churches? How are they ever going to recover from being catholic if they don't avoid the church? It seems like it would be difficult to recover from the horrors of religion if you surround yourself with it.

    June 20, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Pliny

      The "horrors of religion", lmao. Thought I'd come on here real quick, read the ignorant comments to start my day off with a chuckle. Thanks for not letting me down phil.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Yes they should Phil, that is exactly what a lot of us have done. It is like when an alcholic thinks they will be fine if they just stick to beer. And don't listen to Pliny as he is an enabler.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  13. Nii

    I am very pleased the Roman Catholic Church is meeting your needs! However denominationalism won't take anyone anywhere. I'm Anglican and no we are not Roman Catholics. The Church of Jesus is Catholic but the RCC isnt the whole Church of Jesus. The Eastern Orthodox Church is even older than the RCC

    June 20, 2012 at 2:17 am |
    • Nii

      Secondly all PATRIARCHS use the ti.tle Pope or Holy Father. Though commonly the RCC Patriarch of the West is called the Pope. I dont think I am Roman Catholic nor do I've to be to be a Xtian. If u've discovered happiness, cross denominational boundaries with it. Love your neighbor as yourself!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      How do you figure that the Eastern Orthodox is older. The great schism (1054) had one source – it was the Latin Christian church. Catholic and Orthodox have no meaning prior to the schism.

      If your issue is the 'supremacy' of the papacy, Constantine defined the original order of precedence of the Patriarchates as Rome, Alexandria and Antioch, long before Justinian I established the Pentarchy.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
  14. Rod

    Updated: I am Catholic, believe in Jesus Christ, and I have a personal relationship with Him. I am a follower of Jesus who established the Catholic Church and its Sacraments and directed his followers to build his Church. I hear homilies that relate to my life, I am a recovering sinner, am imperfect, have a spiritual director, my needs are being met (God's grace flows when one is fully engaged and giving of themselves to God and others wholeheartedly), and I am fully active and participate in the life of my family and Church. In the end, everyone is part of the universal Church but has either chosen a different path for whatever reason, never been exposed to or catechized regarding the Catholic faith (incl. Catechism and sacred traditions of the Church), or has remained in the shallow water. If one has never journeyed into the deep–prayed (which includes Scripture/theological study, faith sharing, adoration, spiritual formation/retreats, pilgramages, Mass, reconciliation, fasting, listening for God's voice, and more) on an ongoing fashion or done God's will (been obedient, patient, humble, unconditionally sacrificing, unselfish) to the extent that they understand what it means to be Catholic and God being your number one priority–that His Ways and those of His Church are not the ways of the world (trade vices for virtues) and that we are being called into communion with Him via love for Him and one another in our faith community and broader community–then it is no wonder some are lost or disillusioned. I side with Christ and willing choose to follow Him, not on the wide highway to hell where the evil one tempts us all to go but on the narrow path to eternity/salvation with my priorities straight in this order, with each building on and supporting the other: 1)God, 2)spouse, 3)family, 4)work, and everything else a lesser priority. I invite anyone to read, for starters, Rediscovering Catholicism or a classic, The Imitation of Christ. P.S.- the Haily Mary and many other prayers and songs were based on Biblical text/psalms.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • sortakinda

      Amen. A Catholic with no excuses or apologies. God bless you.

      June 20, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • BRC

      A serious question- if someone leads a good life that benefits others, their loved ones, and themselves; but never has anything to do with "God' or Jesus, is that a bad thing?

      I'm sure you're a nice enough person, but I have a serious issue with your priorities (not just yours, all those who follow your religion and set the same priorities). There is no proof that "God" is real, even if it is, it is an all powerful being that exists outside of our reality, and doesn't need our help or support. You know who does, your spouse, your family, your friends, your children, the human beings that live around you in this world where hardship and suffering can be very real. THEY should be your first priority, not some all powerful being who doesn't need anything from you but insists that you constantly say thank you anyway.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      BRC It's never a bad thing to be a good person. But that is not what Christianity is about.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:24 am |
    • BRC

      @Bill Deacon,
      And that is exactly my problem with Christianity. What could be more important than being a good person?

      June 20, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Hastings, NE

      Amen to that! The sacrament of confirmation is supposed to be the acceptance of Christ as our Lord and Savior, but it's treated in the Catholic Church like "okay, you're going to go through this sacrament even though you may not have spiritually accepted Christ into your heart." I'm a Catholic married to a Baptist preacher's daughter. I accepted Christ as a 13 year-old at a Catholic prayer group. I had already been confirmed. That sacrament should be performed when the individual is ready to profess his or her faith in Jesus- just like the Baptists do. I'm still a Catholic, and I am a Christian.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      The problem is we are not good. None of us. Sometimes yes. At times, some of us are marvelously good. But none of us can claim absolute goodness all the time. The sinner recognizes this within himself and chooses a relationship with Christ who, through his own eternal goodness grants us by grace, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation to himself and nourishment to carry on with Him as our model.

      June 22, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  15. Topher

    Hi. If anyone has a question about Christianity, feel free to ask ...

    June 20, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • sam stone

      Which denomination speaks for god?

      June 20, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Don't bother,

      If you question his illogical answers as being correct his response is, "you can't prove me wrong".

      His arguments are well rounded.....as in circular.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:41 am |
    • Topher

      Well, good morning to you, too, Just Claims. 🙂

      June 20, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • Topher

      Hi, sam stone. We haven't talked in a long time. What have you been up to?

      "Which denomination speaks for god?"

      None. God speaks for Himself in the Bible.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Topher

      Wow! It's quiet in here tonight.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:11 am |
    • sam stone

      topher: which bible is the word of god?

      June 20, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • Topher

      There is only 1 Bible. Do you mean which translation?

      June 20, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • apostate

      There are multiple different canons, Eastern, Roman, Protestant, Ethiopian, Romanian, etc. and that's not even getting into the fact that they are all bad English mistranslations.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • Topher


      "... that's not even getting into the fact that they are all bad English mistranslations."

      Yeah, the translations are perfect, after all man is translating them. Some are better than others. Of course the best are in the original languages, but since I can't read those, I stick with KJV and ESV. These are both highly regarded as pretty accurate.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Topher

      * that should be "aren't perfect"


      June 20, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • sam stone

      Yes, Topher, I mean which translation. Stop dodging questions

      June 20, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Madtown

      Yeah, the translations are perfect
      Perfect? According to who and what standard? The translations are undertaken by human beings, translating work originally composed by human beings. Human beings are an imperfect species. As such, anything humans create contains their imperfection and fallibility, including the bible.

      June 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
  16. Reality

    Another nail in the coffin lid of Catholicism:

    Professor JD Crossan in his book, Who is Jesus)

    "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

    June 20, 2012 at 12:40 am |
    • Evangelical

      Who cares what some professor said? Seriously, who cares? It proves nothing and the fact that this professor finds the theology of Jesus' sacrifice distasteful is meaningless. The fact remains that Jesus paid for the sins of mankind on the cross. That is the true theology.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:21 am |
    • sam stone

      Again, Eva has an issue confusing fact with opinion

      June 20, 2012 at 5:39 am |
    • Reality

      Theology based on the evidence presented in one book by mostly authors of unknown backgrounds.

      Think about the logic (or lack thereof).

      “I believe the Bible is inspired.” “Why?” “Because it says so.” Would anyone let that logic pass if it came from the followers of any other book or person? “I believe x is inspired because x says so.” Fill in the blanks:

      x=Pat Robertson
      x=the ayatollah Sistani
      x=David Koresh
      x=the Koran”

      more “logic”?

      “I believe there is One God Jehovah because He is revealed in the infallible
      Bible. I believe the Bible is infallible because it is the Word of the One God Jehovah.”

      June 20, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • apostate


      Eastern Christians do not believe in atonement sacrifice theology.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Madtown

      That is the true theology.
      So you think and believe. That is fine, but in reality you don't know for certain. No one does.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Reality

      What we do know: (from the fields of astrophysics, nuclear physics, geology and the history of religion)

      1. The Sun will burn out in 3-5 billion years so we have a time frame.

      2. Asteroids continue to circle us in the nearby asteroid belt.

      3. One wayward rock and it is all over in a blast of permanent winter.

      4. There are enough nuclear weapons to do the same job.

      5. Most contemporary NT exegetes do not believe in the Second Coming so apparently there is no concern about JC coming back on an asteroid or cloud of raptors/rapture.

      6. All stars will eventually extinguish as there is a limit to the amount of hydrogen in the universe. When this happens (100 trillion years?), the universe will go dark. If it does not collapse and recycle, the universe will end.

      7. Super, dormant volcanoes off the coast of Africa and under Yellowstone Park could explode catalytically at any time ending life on Earth.

      Bottom line: our apocalypse will start between now and 3-5 billion CE. The universe apocalypse, 100 trillion years?

      June 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  17. Kateosee

    I'm a "recovering Catholic". Went to Catholic school for 9 years, was devout, and then I started questioning. There were just so many things that didn't make sense to me that eventually I realized I didn't believe it.

    Much of what Jesus preached should be applied to every day life. However, his message is so twisted and distorted by men that it's quite pathetic. For example, the Bible says to give everything to the poor. I bet the Pope's golden throne could help a lot of poor people :). The hypocrisy was what ultimately made my decision to leave the church final.

    June 20, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • Berk

      Lots of kids could be fed with the $2000 suits some pastors wear and the Bentleys they drive too. It's not just the Catholics who have a right to be outraged.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • Pliny

      I see your point, and don't completely disagree, but nowhere in the bible is it said to give "everything" to the poor. That's just flat-out incorrect.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Did you quit believing in math too because you didn't understand it?

      June 20, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • apostate

      Math is real, your sky fairy is not.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Primewonk

      Pliny wrote, "...nowhere in the bible is it said to give "everything" to the poor. That is just flat-out incorrect.'

      Matthew 19:21 Jesus told him, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor"

      June 20, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  18. Evangelical

    The only thing to fear is judgment. Are you ready?

    June 20, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Berk

      People are judging you, yet you don't seem overly concerned about it.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • sam stone

      Judgement is a bad joke

      June 20, 2012 at 12:35 am |
    • sam stone

      On the other hand, so are you. Blather on, Eva

      June 20, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Yes you have proven yourself to be very judgemental but it is nothing to be scared of...

      June 20, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Evangelical

      The only judgment that matters is the final judgment by God. Are you ready to face Him?

      June 20, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • tallulah13

      Which god? There is no more evidence for the christian god than there is evidence for any of the thousands of gods now or formerly worshiped by humans. What will you do, Eva, if the god who is judging you is Anubis or Zeus? Perhaps you should worship them as well, just in case.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • sam stone

      Evangelical: You are a judgemental bigot. Facing god is the last thing you want to do, so you blather on all pious like on these blogs. Go F yourself

      June 20, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Evangelical


      It is written that those are false Gods. And there is more evidence for Yaweh because we have the Word of God with prophecies that are coming true everyday including your assault on religion.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Evangelical

      Well, if it isn't Sam Stone, the most vulgar of the haters.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • sam stone

      If if isn't Eva, the most pompous of the believers. And, and admitted bigot to boot

      June 20, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • sam stone

      Also, Eva, given all the vitriol you spew over gay people, you have some gall calling others haters. "You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye."

      June 20, 2012 at 5:56 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      "It is written that those are false Gods"

      What a moronic statement!! Of course that would be written...they don't want you turning to other god's. Now just provide the evidence for your particular god and prove that the other gods are fake and we may just take you seriously.

      June 20, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • JWT

      I have not been charged with a crime thus I will not be judged.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • apostate

      Your god doesn't exist and there is no judgement. You're just worm food like everyone else get over it.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Denny

      Eva, you're not very original, now are you? Whenever a fundie like you cannot make an intelligent contribution to the discussion, you make threats of hellfire, eternal damnation, and in this case, judgement. Like Sam, I find this so repulsive, and insulting.

      June 23, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  19. Maureen

    Scripture propifices a 'falling away from the faith before the day of judgment. We are on schedule!
    ~ from a Roman Catholic who isn't going anywhere.

    June 19, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Funny how anything happening anywhere is a "sign" of the Christian belief in the end of the world. My 6th grade teacher, a nun, said that all of the Christian churches would unite before the end, I guess we shouldn't hold our breath.

      June 19, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • Berk

      Just Claims, No Truth
      I think it has come to the point that fundies take their waking up in the morning without having died in their sleep as a sign of the end of the world.

      Personally, if the day ever comes when Fox News starts delivering unbiased news coverage I'm cutting a check to Billy Graham and digging a bomb shelter.

      June 20, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  20. HeavenSent

    All profundities of god can be read at prolapsed.net!

    June 19, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Answer

      One more useless webpage won't make your case. No matter how many times you spam it.

      June 19, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
    • Evangelical

      prolapsed.net is a p0rn site with a virus ... do not go near it! Somebody is going to burn in hell for posting such filth.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:17 am |
    • Nii

      Seriously! You did not realise it wasn't HS writing??? Nor did u realise that the website had anything sinister! How do u expect to "know the Bible more than Christians then"?! That is what learning and applying the Bible gives u. It is called wisdom not just knowledge. I love u as myself!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • Rebel4Christ

      I love prolapsed.net! Blown out butt orifices are truly a gift from our lord! Thank you Jesus for fleshly gifts such as inside out brown eyes.

      June 20, 2012 at 9:26 am |
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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.