michel - personal website

Why are young people leaving the Church?

1. One cannot follow Catholic teaching and the demands of the culture. For example, the culture says that people should get a good education, a good job, have multiple sexual relationships before settiling down, marry late, have 2.3 children, then be "done". The Catholic Church tells couples to be chaste before marriage then open to life within marriage. The Church tells people they cannot worship God and mammon. It's a very countercultural way of living. Those who try to do both burn out because this is impossible. Young people are far more attached to the culture than to the Church, so they leave the Church. Furthermore, many parishes don't support people who do things the "Church's way".

Why are young people leaving the Church?

2. The perception of too close ties of the Church to the Republican Party. Specifically, ignoring or downplaying the party's many flaws for a vague promise to enact abortion restrictions. (I believe Pope Francis, an Argentine, is worried about this trend in the US Church. I also think this concern is what drives some of his popularity.)

3. An obsession with contraception, abortion, and homosexuality among certain Catholic circles. It's not that these issues aren't important, the problem is a focus on these to the exclusion of other significant parts of the faith.

4. Liberal Catholicism that is culturally sterile. Compare the great cathedrals of Europe with the new cathedral in Los Angeles.

5. Liturgy that is "going through the motions". It doesn't have to be Latin with Gregorian Chant, but is has to be good. I've seen moving masses with contemporary praise bands, organs and choirs, black gospel music, and a mariochi band. Unfortunately, more often than not, worship is led by an obvious volunteer of mediocre talent singing inane songs with the finest in 1970s acoustics with a congregation that's half mumbling along the lyrics and half staring into space. The problem isn't hand holding during the Our Father or the new mass, it's that the mass is being done half-heartedly. People notice.

6. A lack of practical connection. This is related to #1. If you look at Protestant megachurches, which are full of young people, including those who were raised Catholic, the sermons are very practical—how do I apply God's word to ______ area of my life. Go to a Catholic mass and the homilies are forgettable. Rarely is there anything comparable. Megachurches also provide a significant number of social services, not just to "the poor", but to members. How often do you see this in a Catholic parish. If people don't get a sense of community in their parish, they will find it somewhere else.

7. The biggest problem I see is a Church that makes high demands of people, but has low expectations and does little to help them succeed. (Residual Irish-American Jansenism, perhaps?) If you're not going to challenge people or give them something higher than themselves to aspire to, then they might as well sleep in on Sunday. People want to be challenged. Why do you think marathon running is a thing? People want self-discipline. People want self-improvement. But if you tell someone they must run 26.2 miles right now without giving them a training program or much of a reason why, they're going to give up. They're not going to listen to you.

Last update: August 11th, 2015. That's all.


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