Posted in church, Raised Catholic, self-actualization, Spiritual Formation

The Top Five Reasons Catholics Leave the Church

The second largest religious denomination in the United States is made up of 42.7 million non-practicing (recovering) Catholics. Being raised Catholic, working in the Church, and then making the decision myself to leave, the following is my professional and personal assessment of what makes Catholics leave.

  1. They no longer feel welcome. While we often hear from the Church, “all are welcome,” in reality, this is not entirely true. Whether it has been explicitly stated (“Only Catholics in good standing are welcome here”) or implied by specific Catholic teachings, many no longer feel welcome in the Catholic Church.  Those most likely NOT to feel welcome include those who are: divorced, gay, transsexual, women or married men called to ordained ministry.  Also included in this number are those experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, who have suffered an abortion, who are poor, the mentally ill, those who are called to exercise primacy of conscience over Catholic doctrine, and those who have been sexually assaulted by members of the clergy.
  2. Their spiritual needs are not being met. The deepest longing in the human soul is to know the source and origin from whence we came and to where we will return. In theistic terms, we long to know God. In human terms, we long for peace, contentment, joy, to know that we are loved and that we belong.  This longing can only be satisfied from within and while the Church has a rich tradition of resources and tools for supporting people in this search and in satisfying this longing, very few ever come to know these tools.  If they cannot find these tools within their own church, they tend to search elsewhere.  Many Catholics are now finding these tools within Buddhism, Yoga, Native American, and Pagan spirituality.
  3. Their need for psychological growth is not being met. In order to become spiritually, emotionally and psychologically mature, human beings need to search. We need to question and challenge the faith we grew up in.  We need to explore beliefs and practices outside our faith.  In my experience, the Church does nothing to support this exploration, even going so far as to discourage it.  Those who question are condemned as being disobedient or blasphemous.  If a safe place for questioning is not provided, people will simply leave for other spaces where their natural drive toward growth is supported.
  4. Their need for meaning and fulfillment (self-actualization) is not being met. The Catholic Church does a fantastic job of preaching about spiritual gifts and our responsibility to live out those gifts in service to God and in service to the world. Unfortunately, it does nothing to support people in the discovery, cultivation or empowerment of these gifts.  Neither does it provide the resources for helping people move through the fears that might otherwise prevent them from realizing and sharing these gifts.  I suspect the unacknowledged reason for the Church not providing these resources is because it takes psychological and spiritual maturity to fulfill our Soul’s purpose….which brings me back to #’s 2 and 3 above.
  5. Hypocrisy When the religious institution to which one belongs says one thing and then does another, it becomes difficult to remain. Sadly, the Catholic Church is woefully guilty in this regard.  It says, “No sex before marriage,” while young children suffer sexual assault at the hands of an underdeveloped (and unaccountable) priesthood.  It says, “live simply” while its bishops live like kings. It says feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick while it turns a blind eye to many of those in need.  It says, “Love one another,” while it continually builds walls between those who are “saved” and those who “are not.”  I could go on and on…..but I think you get the point.

If you are one among the second largest religious denomination in the U.S. of non-practicing (recovering) Catholics, I suspect none of what I mentioned above is new to you. My hope is that in sharing this, you know that you are not alone.  In fact, you are one among a multitude and there is a home for you here.

If you are still feeling the pain of grief, guilt, anger, frustration or longing in making the decision to leave your Catholic faith, you might find comfort in my online course: Healing Our Religious Wounds. Click on the icon below to learn more.

 

Posted in church, Jesus, Raised Catholic

An Open Letter to Pope Francis

A letter I sent to Pope Francis in yesterday’s mail.  I hope he reads it. 

Pope-Francis-255x153

April 13, 2015

His Holiness Pope Francis

Apostolic Palace

00120 Vatican City

 

Most Holy Father,

I am writing to you with profound gratitude for the work you are doing to return the Church to its original foundation in Jesus’ message of compassion, mercy and love.  Your presence and your actions give me hope for the future of our Church.

I write this because I am included in the second-largest religious denomination in the United States – a denomination made up of 42.7 million non-practicing Catholics (PEW Research).  While I still call myself Catholic and honor with profound gratitude my Catholic upbringing and the many things I love about the Catholic Church, eight years ago I made the decision to “fast from the Eucharist.”  I have enclosed an essay (HERE) which explains the whys and the hows of this decision.  This decision was made after many years of careful discernment and a decision I believe was guided by God, so that I could be obedient to the fullness of God’s call for me.

I share this essay with you because I know that I am not alone in my experience of feeling no longer welcome or at home in the Catholic Church.  I believe my essay reflects the many reasons others have left.  I find that my ministry has been to these women and men. Above all else, these people are longing to be healed of the false perception of separation between themselves and God (love). My work, firmly rooted in scripture and Ignatian Spirituality, meets this need, and I am both humbled and grateful to have been given the gifts along with the call to meet these needs. I believe this is the work Jesus did and the work he calls us all to do.

Most Holy Father, I am grateful for the way in which you have turned your ears and your heart toward those crying out for God’s unconditional love and mercy.  I believe this was the focus of Jesus’ ministry, the call he imparted upon his disciples, and the call he extends to us all.  I am happy to see the Church returning to its foundation in compassion and it is my hope that all those who once felt separated may once again find the Church to be an unconditionally loving and safe place to be the person God is calling them to be.

Yours in Christ,

 

Lauri Ann Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

www.yourspiritualtruth.com

lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com

(920) 230-1313

 

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Raised Catholic, Spiritual Direction, Spiritual Formation, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Non-Practicing or Recovering Catholic?

 

The second largest religious denomination in the United States is made of up 42.7 million non-practicing Catholics – men and women who were raised Catholic but, for whatever reason, no longer practice.  42.7 million – this is a staggering number and is only the tip of the iceberg as this number does not include those who no longer identify themselves as Catholic.  If you are one among those numbers, read on, this might be something of interest to you:

Are you looking for:

  • A spiritual home?
  • A convenient way to be nourished, comforted and inspired spiritually?
  • A way of being spiritual without being dogmatic?
  • Freedom from doctrine?
  • Support for your own spiritual views which might be very pluralistic (accepting of many faiths and beliefs)?
  • A relevant Jesus?
  • A way of being Christian that doesn’t judge or condemn other faiths?
  • A spiritual community that walks the talk?

(or are you one of the 42.7 million non-practicing and recovering Catholics looking for a home?)

Then you might enjoy participating in the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church.

jesusThe Authentic Freedom Virtual Church is a community of men and women who consider Jesus to be our teacher, while honoring the spiritual truths inherent within all sacred traditions.  We recognize the Divine as that which is at once outside of us, within us and present within all of creation and which can be acknowledged by any Name, Image or Presence.  We believe in the inherent potential of all human beings to become self-actualized and acknowledge the spiritual journey as a formative tool in this endeavor. We believe in the law of love and seek to know more fully the love of the Divine that dwells within us and which seeks to be known in the world through us and which then serves to support the betterment of our world.

The Authentic Freedom virtual church is not about doctrine or prostheletizing, but is instead focused on being a resource for spiritual formation which then leads to self-actualization.  Through sound spiritual formation, you will be empowered to discover the answer to the following three questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Whose am I?  (What is my understanding of the Divine and what is my relationship to that? or What is the Source of inner peace and contentment and how do I cultivate that?)
  • What are my gifts and how am I being called to use them for my own personal fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world?

Abraham Maslow called this process, self-actualization. Bill Plotkin calls it the birth of the Soul. Through the process of self-actualization, we discover the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives and through which we are compelled to serve the betterment of the world.

Participation in the Authentic Freedom virtual church will be facilitated through:

1)      The Weekly Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service available on this site through paid subscription.  Please view sample services through our YouTube channel HERE.

1)      The Weekly Agape’ Spiritual Practice newsletter where you will be given suggestions on specific meditation and creative practices to help support your own spiritual development.  This is available as part of your paid subscription to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church.

Access to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church services and Agape’ Meditation Newsletter are available through subscription at a very reasonable fee of $20.00 per month.  Subscribe HERE:

subscribe botton

 

 

Thank you for being a part of our online virtual community…..the new way of being Community in the 21st century. 

Sincerely,

Lauri Ann Lumby

Pastor and Spiritual Director of the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church

Posted in Jesus, Virtual Church

Looking for a Spiritual Home?

 

Are you looking for:

  • A spiritual home?
  • A convenient way to be nourished, comforted and inspired spiritually?
  • A way of being spiritual without being dogmatic?
  • Freedom from doctrine?
  • Support for your own spiritual views which might be very pluralistic?
  • A relevant Jesus?
  • A way of being Christian that doesn’t judge or condemn other faiths?
  • A spiritual community that walks the talk?

(or are you one of the 42.7 million non-practicing and recovering Catholics looking for a home?)

Then you might enjoy participating in the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church.

jesusThe Authentic Freedom Virtual Church is a community of men and women who consider Jesus to be our teacher, while honoring the spiritual truths inherent within all sacred traditions.  We recognize the Divine as that which is at once outside of us, within us and present within all of creation and which can be acknowledged by any Name, Image or Presence.  We believe in the inherent potential of all human beings to become self-actualized and acknowledge the spiritual journey as a formative tool in this endeavor. We believe in the law of love and seek to know more fully the love of the Divine that dwells within us and which seeks to be known in the world through us and which then serves to support the betterment of our world.

The Authentic Freedom virtual church is not about doctrine or prostheletizing, but is instead focused on being a resource for spiritual formation which then leads to self-actualization.  Through sound spiritual formation, you will be empowered to discover the answer to the following three questions:

  • Who am I?
  • Whose am I?  (What is my understanding of the Divine and what is my relationship to that? or What is the Source of inner peace and contentment and how do I cultivate that?)
  • What are my gifts and how am I being called to use them for my own personal fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world?

Abraham Maslow called this process, self-actualization. Bill Plotkin calls it the birth of the Soul. Through the process of self-actualization, we discover the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives and through which we are compelled to serve the betterment of the world.

Participation in the Authentic Freedom virtual church will be facilitated through:

1)      The Weekly Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service available on this site through paid subscription.  Please view sample services through our YouTube channel HERE.

1)      The Weekly Agape’ Spiritual Practice newsletter where you will be given suggestions on specific meditation and creative practices to help support your own spiritual development.  This is available as part of your paid subscription to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church.

Access to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church services and Agape’ Meditation Newsletter are available through subscription at a very reasonable fee of $20.00 per month.  Subscribe HERE:

subscribe botton

 

 

Thank you for being a part of our online virtual community…..the new way of being Community in the 21st century. 

Sincerely,

Lauri Ann Lumby

Posted in church, Raised Catholic

Where Have All the Catholics Gone? – Part I

Today’s blog explores the mass exodus of Catholics to somewhere else.  Why did they leave and where have they gone? Today we explore the why.  Monday, we will explore the where.  PS  This blog might be about you!

Staggering Statistics

Several years ago while attending a church-oriented workshop, I learned two very interesting statistics:

  • The single largest religious denomination in the United States is Roman Catholicism. 
  • The second largest religious denomination in the US is comprised of non-practicing Catholics. 

Today I learned the staggering statistics that back up this information.  According to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostalate (CARA), in 2011, there were 77.7 million self-described (on a survey, they identify themselves as Catholic) Catholics in the United States.  Of those 77.7 million, only 22% attend mass on a weekly basis.  And of those who identify themselves as Catholics, 42.7 million are no longer practicing Catholicism.  Let’s state this another way:

  • 17 million Catholics out of 77.7 million attend weekly mass
  • 18 million Catholics out of 77.7 million are only participating marginally
  • 42.7 million aren’t participating at all

Note:  These numbers are only related to those who in a survey on religion would identify themselves as Catholic.  It does not address those who were raised Catholic and no longer identify themselves as Catholic.  I have to wonder what the numbers are for these folks! 

Where are the 42.7 million and all the ones not counted???

These statistics beg a very important question:  What happened to 42.7 million self-identified Catholics?  This is an enormous audience of people who are no longer participating in the Church that they identify themselves as belonging to.  Where did they go and why?  Today’s blog explores my observations and theories about why they are no longer participating, Monday’s blog explores where we might find them.

We are Smarter than You Think

In the old days, Catholics went to mass because they were told to and because they were told that if they did not attend mass, it was a mortal sin and they would go to hell if they died without receiving the sacrament of reconciliation.  So, they went because they were told and they went because they were scared.  Here’s the funny thing, this little moral teaching (not attending mass = a mortal sin and you will go to hell if you have mortal sin on your soul) is still on the books…..this is still the official teaching of the Catholic Church.  But guess what, most people are smart enough to believe in a loving God who will probably not condemn them to hell for missing mass.  So if the fear of eternal damnation is no longer hanging over our heads, what is the motivation for going to mass?

We Would Go if We enjoyed it

One of the things the Catholic Church figured out during the Vatican II Council was that vibrant worship, inspiring, relevant and nourishing preaching, meaningful rituals and with full participation of the laity (the people in the pew) would inspire people to attend.  Well……..as most Catholics know, the reforms of Vatican II have been a LONG time coming….and now seem to be going in reverse.  As such, the goals of vibrant worship, meaningful ritual, inspired preaching and full participation have only been marginally manifest.  Yes, some parishes are doing this REALLY well….especially if they have a pastor who is motivated by these goals and gifted in these areas, or who has recognized he’s not and hired support staff to accomplish these tasks.  For the most part, however, Catholics are NOT experiencing vibrant worship, etc. and are not feeling nourished by the mass……so they don’t attend, or they go somewhere else.

Catholic Moral Teaching vs. Primacy of Conscience

This sticky little area is perhaps the number one reason that Catholics don’t participate or choose to leave all together – they do not or cannot uphold some (if not many) of the Catholic moral teachings.  Even though there is a loophole in a little doctrine known as primacy of conscience, many churches teach a hard-line approach to morality and many are made to feel as if they are not welcome if they choose to step outside of the literal interpretation of the law.  So, if you believe that birth control is ok, that there is nothing wrong with living together before marriage or that homosexuality is something created by God and that a homosexual lifestyle is not something to condemn or if you suffered an abortion or know women who have and find that you cannot judge that as condemnable, you might not choose to play with a Church that tells you otherwise.

Abuse of Power

Everyone has read the headlines.  The institution of the Catholic Church is in deep doo doo.  Priests sexually abusing children, mostly young boys and their bishops either ignoring it or covering it up.  The Catholic Church is NOT ALONE in this kind of abuse of power, in fact, the statistics are the same across denominations.  But…..the Catholic Church is the biggest and easiest target and quite frankly, the most self-righteous.  Everyone wants to see the one on their moral high-horse brought down (especially one that seems to say “do as I say but not as I do”) – this is human nature!  Today, the Church would be in a better position if they would have handled this whole fiasco better – accepted responsibility, asked for forgiveness, made reparations to the victims and their families, then initiated effective reform to help prevent further incidences of abuse.  But…..the Church has not, in spite of what they say and seem to be doing.  Catholic are disgusted by this and many have left because of it.

The Disenfranchised, Rejected and Banished

This is the group of Catholics that have been told they are not welcome in the Catholic Church, or at the very least, made to feel they aren’t welcome:  Divorced, Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered, women who have suffered abortion, those who choose to live together before marriage, those choosing artificial birth control as their method of family planning, those with AIDS, women called to the priesthood, married men called to the priesthood, those who question or challenge Catholic teaching, those who are open to exploring other forms of worship, prayer, communion with God, etc. etc. etc.  The list is endless.  If directly or indirectly, we are made to feel unwelcome, we leave.

The Bottom Line

I believe that the ultimate reason that Catholics leave or choose to no longer participate is even more deeply rooted than any of the above reasons.  Ultimately, we leave because our spiritual hungers are not being satisfied.  We are not being fed.  Now, that is a whole other topic and one I promise to explore, but I have learned that when people are being fed spiritually, they come back.  When people are honored and loved for who they are and invited to share who they are with the community, they stick around.  I have also found that when people are being fed spiritually, a whole bunch of “sins” by an institution can be forgiven and little mistakes overlooked.  Church is kind of like a marriage – if you treat me with love, honor and respect, I will do the same for you.  And when you make a mistake, say you are sorry and try to change, I can forgive you and I will stick around.  So if the Church wants to get back the 42.7 million who are no longer playing, maybe this would be the place to start.

If you are Catholic and no longer participating, what are your reasons for leaving?

What could the Church have done that would make you stay?

What do you look for in Church (if that is one of your ways of being with God)?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com