By 风之清扬 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By 风之清扬 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

52% of Americans with a Catholic childhood say they’ve stopped being a part of the church at some point in their lives.

Not so long ago, it was common for Catholics to be raised with the Church being a part of their lives in some way. Some families would only go to particular events and celebrations, while others would engage in classes or some other activities, to both spend time with fellow Catholics as well as share the gospel among non-believers. For some people, their raising would include going to Mass every day; whatever it was, Catholic Church was part of one's life and not some alien organization.

Nowadays, the reality shows in a recent Poll that this model is breaking apart and something is happening within the Catholic Church and its members, to drive them away from it. Even though 45% of Americans are connected in some way to the church (by being members, having been raised or identifying themselves as Catholic Christians even if they do not actively go to church), some of them have left this organization at some point in their lives.

This is most common among adults, since children usually go where they're taken. A bit over half of raised Catholics have left the church and most aren't coming back, which should serve as warning that there is something that the church can do. And not the church as in the organization, but the church defined as the group of people that gather to learn together, offer support, share communion and tell people about the gospel.

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52% of all childhood Catholics have left the church and 28% now consider themselves as an ex-Catholic, which is alarming, since they didn't just abandon the church, but also Catholicism itself. 13% of those raised within the Catholic faith are now cultural Catholic: they still consider themselves as Catholics in some way (because of their raising, or some part of their faith), but no longer form part of the church. Only 11% return to their “old” Catholic faith making the number of those persisting in their faith 59%.

This is not a “bad number,” but it also means that 41% of those that lived their childhoods in that family-church model no longer find fulfillment nor support within those walls and the people in there. A model that centered on specific values and aimed for the continuation of those children raising their families in the same way is failing in some way that needs attention.

On the other hand, Catholics who attend Mass more often, usually agree with the institution's views on most things (from family values and sexuality, to some politics and ways to lead the church itself), whereas those that are less frequent often differ from the church’s standpoint on various matters.

It is important to see this trend not as a challenge, but as an opportunity to find a common ground between both parties, so that they all can agree on new ways to keep offering support to those that no longer find it. Most of the adults who leave the church at some point do so for many reasons such as disagreement or disappointment, but should be considered as red flags in order to care more about the others.

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