The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, IL did a survey of active and inactive Catholics. Why do people leave the church? The answers aren't a surprise, but suggest that Catholics who stay Catholic are more likely to be older, less educated, and socially conservative.
Many individuals gave a variety of reasons for why they stopped attending Mass; however, Church doctrine appears to be a major reason... Of the eight specific Church doctrines given, six (homosexuality, birth control, fertility treatments, divorce/remarriage, women as priests, and the marital status of priests) were selected by more than half of respondents as reasons for distancing themselves or leaving the Catholic Church ...Birth control, women' priests, divorce issues, and gays are the big areas of concern.
The demographics of those leaving and their reasons is interesting too.
Issues with Church doctrine were especially problematic for those with a graduate degree or graduate school experience, as these individuals had significantly higher agreement that doctrine on homosexuality, abortion, birth control, fertility treatments, divorce, and women as priests were reasons for distancing themselves or leaving the Church
...Women were also found to have significantly higher agreement on Church doctrine issues as reasons for distancing themselves or leaving the Church, although these differences were only among two separate issues: homosexuality and women as priests ..... As for age, those 35 years old or younger had significantly higher levels of agreement that homosexuality doctrine and abortion doctrine were reasons why they distanced themselves or left the Church whereas those 50 years old or older had significantly higher agreement regarding doctrine on divorce/remarriage as reasons for why they distanced themselves or left the Church....
The individual comments are interesting too... with hypocrisy and exclusion being major issues for people. And of course the pedophilia coverup.
- “The key words are compassion and tolerane e. Society teaches us to improve in these areas. The Church does not and does not exhibit or model these traits.”
- “I found the Church to be teaching hate, not love. I felt like intolerance, not tolerance was being preached. I found that I disagreed with most of what was being preached. I left the Church, and am still very spiritual, but I am simply not Catholic.”....
The study authors conclude, with evident regret,
- ENOUGH with the politics, especially the conservative Republican politics! I am beyond sick of the implication that Catholics need to vote Republican to be good Catholics, and that being anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage are the only ‘morality’ issues that should matter to Catholics - what happened to social justice, poverty, or God's love for all?”
This study suggests Church doctrine plays a key role in individuals separating from the Catholic Church and it may be difficult to prevent current parishioners from leaving or to bring lapsed or drifting parishioners back to this faith community.Ya think?
Just remember, inactive Catholics, the Episcopal Church welcomes you. It's a pleasant swim across the Thames and you will find many formerly-Catholic friends there to greet you. ;-)