The American Catholic exodus is speeding up…Currently four people leave the American Catholic Church for every one who joins it. No other other religious group in the United States has a similar ratio. Baptists, for example, also have more people leaving than joining, but their ratio of 2-1……much better than Catholics.

Roughly 10% of all Americans are now former Catholics. Among these former U.S. Catholics, 65 percent say they just stopped believing their religion’s teachings … 58 percent say they are unhappy with church teaching on issues like abortion and homosexuality, and 48 percent are unhappy with their bishops’ teaching on birth control. Even more say they simply lost interest in the church and gradually drifted away.

In American Grace their study of American religious polarization and pluralism, Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell quote a member of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Acton, Massachusetts, where it is estimated that former Catholics make up nearly half the congregation. “If it weren’t for people leaving the Catholic Church,” he said, “the Episcopal Church would have died a long time ago in America.”

American Catholic customer service is slipping and customers are increasingly unhappy. There is a great hunger for more effective worship, better responses to spiritual needs, and greater pastoral creativity.

American Catholics are looking for bread and their bishops are handing them ornately decorated old stones.

If I were to write a consumers’ report for the USCCB, I would underline these issues: The shortage of priests. The fatigue and pessimism of older priests. The arrogant and oldfashioned Catholicism of far too many younger priests. Celibacy. The role of women in the church and their ordination. Transparency and consultation in church governance at every level, from the parish to the Vatican. Continuing revelations of sexual abuse and its coverup by more than a few bishops. The strong arm role of the hierarchy in Catholic higher education and health care. Monitoring of Catholic theology. Abortion, same-sex relations, and now once again birth control…. and the even more combustible demand that Catholic citizens and civic leaders be answerable to episcopal judgments about laws regarding these matters.

With a new red hat and fancy shoes and robes, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will soon return to his USCCB presidential desk. Perhaps one of the first things the Cardinal Archbishop should do, when he gets back to America, is talk to a few Catholic Martha Stewarts and learn how to make Catholic bread.



  1. You are right on target with these comments, John. I usually tell people that I have not left the Catholic Church but it has left me.

  2. John, if the stated value of the hierarchy is that they would be satisfied with a smaller yet more “authentic” church, why should they care if folks are leaving? Perhaps there might be room for another tradition in the Church. I don’t know how much longer some of us can remain in this one. The current climate is no way to treat folks. The Holy Spirit is alive and well, but what is she calling us to?

  3. The hierarchy of the Roman Church has been in schism with the laity since the publication of Humanae Vitae in 1968. The fact that the hierarchy of the Roman Church caused so many children to be sodomized by their secrecy and blind obedience to Rome has destoyed whatever credibility and authority they had. The insistance of Rome to maintain positions of resistance to further reform are decisions that add to the destruction of the church. The laity of the church are ignored by the hierarchy unless you are a big money donor. The laity in the pews put up with it all as long as it doesn’t affect them directly in their parishes.
    But that too is changing now that Rome has seen fit to impose its stilted “latinized” English on our prayers. The hierarchy insists that the Eucharist is of the highest importance, yet Rome by its insistence on an all male mandatory celibate priesthood, has in effect made mandatory Celibacy more important than Eucharist. And because Rome has restricted the priesthood, the laity are having their parishes closed and consolidated. The Exodus of Catholics from this Rome controlled church is only going to accelerate a massive loss of parishes. It is a downward spiral caused by Rome and its hierarchy of supplicant, obedient, hand-picked bishops.

    What is needed is an American Catholic Church who leadership is elected by Americans.
    Most Catholics don’t know that up until 1850 bishops were “elected” on the local level by the local Catholic Church and not chosen by the Vatican Pope.. That is the real tradition of the Catholic Church: Local leadership chosen by the local community. Alas, their is little hope that the Roman hierarchy will ever give up its “cookie-cutter” mentality

    The elitist Americans who are now bishops pledged at their installation absolute medieval feudal obedience to the Bishop of Rome. They are no longer free to be loyal to the American community.
    Whatever representations they make to Rome will have no bering on what the Pope decides unless what they say is in full conformity with the Pope’s views.

    As such, the term American hierarchy is a misnomer. The Roman chosen bishops were only accidentally born in the United States. Our so-called “American” bishops betrayed the children of our parishes in obedience to Rome. If they were willing to do that, there is no limit on what they are willing to do in obedience. To the Pope loyalty in the form of absolute obedience is more important than love. If you don’t think so, just ask a child that has been sodomized.

  4. I agree with everything you wrote John but you need to have someone proof read these before you put it out on the web. Too many typos and misspelled words – even Catholic. The mistakes were all in the email I got with the green leaf logo. They do not appear above for some reason.

  5. Powerful words there. Loyalty to Rome was more important than the safety of children. What a shame.

  6. These are powerful words. Saying that the bishops were more concerned with loyalty to Rome than the safety of children is surely something to ponder. Many of them should be ashamed.

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