Last week I posted a complaint about the liturgy after attending Sunday Mass which offended some.https://paulluverajournalonline.com/weblog/2011/04/sunday-worship-for-catholics-consists-of-a-liturgy-service-consisting-of-prayer-bible-readings-a-homily-and-the-eucharistic.html But, now Fr. Thomas Reese , a Jesuit priest and former Editor in Chief of America and now a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington has published an article indicating I am not alone in my views. The April 15, 2011 National Catholic Reporter carried his article "The hidden Exodus: Catholics becoming Protestants."
Fr. Reese reports on the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey by the Pew Research Center’s forum on religion and public life. Their study indicates that one out of every ten Americans is an ex-Catholic. If they were a separate denomination, they would be the third largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists. One of every three people who were raised Catholic no longer identifies themselves as Catholic.
The Pew study shows that the primary reason given by people who leave the church to become Protestant are that their spiritual needs are not being met in the Catholic Church (70%) Some 81% say they joined their new church because they enjoy the religious service and style of worship of their new faith. As Fr. Reese puts it "In other words, the Catholic Church has failed to deliver what people consider fundamental products of religion: spiritual sustenance and a good worship service." That echos my observation of last week about the same issue
Reese notes that people are not becoming Protestants because they disagree with specific Catholic teachings: people are leaving because the church does not meet their spiritual needs and they find Protestant worship service better.
Fr. Reese then says: "There are many lessons we can learn from the pew data, but I will focus on only three.
First, those who are leaving the church for Protestant churchs are more interested in spiritual nourishment then doctrinal issues. While the hierarchy worries about literal translations of the Latin text, people are longing for liturgies that touch the heart and emotions. More creativity with the word liturgy is needed.
Second, Catholics are leaving to join evangelical churches because of the church teaching on the Bible is a disgrace. Too few homilists explained the Scriptures to their people. Too few Catholics read the Bible.
Finally the pew data shows that two thirds of Catholics who become Protestants do so before they reach the age of 24. Programs and liturgies that cater to their needs must take precedence over the complaints of fuddy-duddies and rubrical purists."
Fr. Reese concludes: "The Catholic Church is hemorrhaging members. It needs to acknowledge this and do more to understand why. Only if we acknowledged the Exodus and explain it will we be in a position to do something about it."
Well, there you have it. This time it's not my personal viewpoint, but the conclusions from a valid research study and the observations of a priest theologian.It's a long way from Rome to the United States and sometimes just as far from the American bishops to the people who attend Sunday services. Somehow that gap must be closed. This subject is a relevant one and not to be swept under the rug by calling the Catholics who are unhappy "bad Catholics" or "ignorant" ones who just don't know their faith. Jesus said it well: "The Sabbath was made for man and not man made for the Sabbath."