CNN recently reported on a survey that lists the top 7 reasons why Catholics say they leave the Church:
1. The sex abuse crisis
2. The church’s stance on homosexuality
3. Dissatisfaction with the priest
4. Uninspiring homilies on Sundays
5. Perception that church hierarchy is too closely tied to conservative politics
6. Church’s stance toward divorced and remarried Catholics
7. The status of women
My contention, though, is that the most Catholics who no longer practice the faith, don't join Protestant denominations or other religious groups, they become what some now call "nones." That's just another word for "inactive Catholic" or "non-practicing Catholic" or "fallen away Catholic." "Nones" is a take on "nuns" and there is a word for that in our English language which I can't now recall when two words sound alike but mean different things and are spelled differently, and "nones" is more politically correct, than "fallen away."
If what is said above are the true reasons for Catholics leaving the Church you would then think that Liberal Protestantism epitomized by the Episcopal and Methodist Churches would be booming, seeing a Renaissance unlike any other time in their histories. They have no problem with their clergy having same sex partners even outside of same sex marriages or legal unions (I know of one such situation with the approval of the vestry in good old Macon!). They advocate for same sex marriages. They ordain women. They give great sermons. They are closely aligned with liberal politics, they allow for divorce and remarriage for clergy and laity and in multiple sequences and their ministers are held in high respect and adulation and are married or shacking up. Yet, they too, oddly enough, are bleeding members at such an accelerated pace, that these two denominations may well collapse into oblivion and no one will really notice.
No the problem for Catholics, Christianity and all religion in the USA and Western Europe isn't any of the things in the CNN report, these are merely excuses to hide the truth of why people no longer practice their faith, no matter what faith it is. Secularism and I mean godless, political secularism is the driving force tied into an immense loss of faith in God and in salvation and the necessity of it in light of damnation. If one does not believe in God, believe in heaven or hell, then why the hell be Christian or Catholic. Why go to Mass every Sunday since the Mass re-presents in an unbloody way the only Event in Salvation history that can save individuals and the world collectively from the fires of hell and damnation?
Godless secularism creates ambivalence and denial toward the essentials of the Christian faith--The Most Holy Trinity, The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, and His Saving Events, Incarnation, Birth, Hidden Life, Public Ministry, Passion, Death, Resurrection, Resurrection appearances over 40 days, Ascension, Pentecost, the Era of the Church (the Last Days) and finally His Second Coming successfully to conclude Salvation History beginning with Adam and Eve.
In terms of the CNN’s report on the study of why Catholics leave the Church, it would seem to me as I remember my sociology studies that these same questions have to be applied to other Christians to get a more accurate understanding of our age. In other words there must be context. Episcopalians and other liberal Protestant denominations are possibly facing extinction as they lose more and more members each year and each of them is quite liberal on all the issues in the CNN report and each of them too has sex abuse issues although CNN and other liberal news outlets could care less about that since the other aspects of liberal Protestantism fit in so neatly with the mindset of secular liberalism espoused by these media companies.
The survey suggests too that there is dissatisfaction with bishops being politically pro-active and thus this is called the politicization of the Church. And yet some people no longer go to Church because they say they have no voice in the Church and no one seems to care they are missing. That sounds like more to me of the “politicization” of the Church when one wants to be a member in order to participate in the process of manipulating and desconstructing the Church according to a liberal, secular model for intra-political purposes.
Let’s face it, the biggest reason people are leaving the faith and evidently most are not joining liberal Protestant denominations, in fact more are going to conservative evangelical denominations, while perhaps the majority are not joining any organized religious group, the biggest problem is secularism and the ambivalence it creates toward religion and personal salvation. If at the heart of our participation in the Church isn’t personal and communal salvation and experiencing the Saving Passion of Our Lord in “The True and Perfect Sacrifice of the Mass” and receiving Him worthily in “The Sacred Banquet” then why be Catholic? Why be Christian? Why be religious? Be secular and be ambivalent about salvation and damnation. It seems to me that people are leaving the Church over those damn sinners who create the problems that the CNN report indicates are the reasons they leave. I’m sorry that the saints who don’t stay with the Church are missing out on our (us sinners who stay) salvation in the Holy Eucharist.
Either way, this is the only event that will save sinners from the punishment due their personal actual sins and Original Sin. To absent oneself intentionally from this is to die in sin and be damned! Go ahead, be ambivalent, be contrary, be absent. Freewill is a marvelous gift and a two edge sword!