Today’s blog continues the discussion about the 42.7 million people who still identify themselves as Catholic, yet no longer participate in the Church. Today’s discussion explores where they might be and includes those who were raised Catholic but no longer identify themselves as such. PS I’m probably going to get a little “up in my ego” on this one……so I acknowledge this ahead of time. I’m still human afterall. 🙂
Why They Left and Where They Went
The last two blogs explored the why’s of the Catholic exodus: change in priest, Church teachings, bad liturgy, sex abuse scandals, told they weren’t welcome, etc. Today I will share with you my theories on where the Catholics went.
Evangelical, Congregational and Unitarian Churches
It has been my observation that when Catholics leave, they don’t normally trade Catholicism for something that looks similar such as Anglican, Lutheran or Methodist. While I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, Catholics who are liturgy inclined, are more likely to seek out a worship experience different from what they have known. For those who are in search of vibrant worship, uplifting music, motivational preaching and who want to know more about scripture, they might find themselves drawn to Evangelical and Non-Denominational Christian churches. The Congregational Churches draw the Catholics looking for community. And for those Catholics who are kind of done with the whole “God” thing, and are looking for something more embracing of all practices and beliefs, the Unitarian church might do it for them.
If You Want to Learn More About Scripture and how to Know Yourself and God through Scripture, click HERE.
Did you just fall out of your chair? It is really true……the majority of people I know who are currently practicing Wicca were raised Catholic. And if you know anything about Wicca, it is an easy transition from Catholicism to Wicca for many reasons, not the least of which is polytheism. As much as the Institution would quake in its shoes to hear me say this, Catholicism is about as polytheistic as it gets. No, the teachings and theology of the Catholic Church are not polytheistic – professing One God (oops….in three!). 🙂 But let’s get real, in practice, Catholics worship many “gods”. Yes, these “gods” are cleverly disguised as “Mary and the Saints” but who do we think we are fooling? I know, I know, we aren’t worshipping Mary and the Saints and we really do only believe in ONE God, but our practice of honoring the Communion of Saints and having altars to our favorite saints, wearing their medals, hanging their pictures in our home, saying novenas to them, etc. etc. etc. is no different than the practices we judge as polytheistic from our Wicca or Hindu or Pagan brothers and sisters. So let’s pull the splinter of the true cross out of our eye before we yank the broomstick out of our Wicca brother and sister’s eyes. The other reasons Catholics gravitate toward Wicca are rituals and sabbats. Wicca rituals look a lot like ours and their holidays…..well, let’s just be really honest here and admit that we stole our holidays from THEM! Check your history books if you don’t believe me!
For many Catholics, their true heart resides in contemplation. The problem is, they don’t know it and the Church hasn’t done a good job of helping them identify or find this within their own faith. So…….for many of these Catholics, the restlessness that drives all of us to our truth, causes them to seek the remedy to this restlessness and for many, instead of finding the remedy within the rich tradition of Christian Contemplation, find it in the contemplative practices and philosophies of Buddhism. Here, they find the DIRECT EXPERIENCE of God, (known in peace, contentment, love and joy) that they found elusive in their experience of Catholicism. Buddhism is also an easy resting place for those who have had trouble with the negative images of God sometimes propogated by the Church. In Buddhism, there is no sense of a “personal” God. Instead, it is described as Essence or Presence – something transcendent, but not separate from us, something that is part of us and it our truest self, highest self, truest nature. HMMMMM…..sounds a little like Jesus’ teachings on Oneness. 🙂
If You are Interested in Learning More About Christian Contemplation and Jesus’ Teachings on Oneness, click HERE.
Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Qong
One HUGE thing that has been neglected in Catholicism is the spiritual nature of our physical bodies. Our bodies house our Spirit and are therefore sacred, holy, amazing. In its attempt to demonize physicality, the body has all but been neglected or worse yet, effectively destroyed. Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Qong, Dance, SEX, allow us to rediscover the intimate relationship between physical movement and God. Yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Qong, etc. allow Catholics to fill an ENORMOUS gap in their religious/spiritual experience. Sadly, the Institution hasn’t been very supportive of these practices and in some cases have tried to dissuade Catholics from participating. If you have found yoga to be supportive in your search for inner peace and your priest tells you it is evil, how are you going to respond? Hmmmm…..I’m thinking some might decide to leave, especially if their experience of Church isn’t providing them with the same kind of spiritual fulfillment. Just sayin’!
New Age Groups, gatherings, on-line communities
Several years ago the Vatican published a document on the New Age Movement. In short, they don’t like it and in the document condemn many of what they are calling “New Age” practices (Eastern meditation practices, hands-on healing, yoga, meditation, among other things). The New Age Movement is drawing many Catholics away from the Church because it meets the needs that are not being met in the Church. DUH! And this is where I get to do a little of my own pontificating……What would happen if instead of condemning the New Age Movement, the Vatican took the time to explore WHAT in the New Age Movement was drawing Catholics and offer these things in their own communities. Because I’m here to tell you that whatever we are finding in the New Age Movement exists within our Catholic Tradition. It is just that nobody bothered to teach us and show us how we could get the very same needs met within our own Church.
If you are interested in learning more about the connection between “new age” energy medicine and Jesus, click HERE.
Isolated and Alone
This is the group of non-practicing Catholics for whom I feel the deepest level of grief. These are the folks who were told they weren’t welcome or felt as if they were not accepted by their Church and who have been unable (or unwilling) to find supportive and accepting community elsewhere. So, they sit home, alone and unfed. This makes me sad.
If you were raised Catholic and no longer attend mass, why not?
What spiritual and communal needs are you finding satisfied outside the Catholic Church and where are you finding them met?
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