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Exit Catholic

2/18/2011 1:21:52 PM

Tags: Catholocism, faith, exit interviews, spirituality, America, Will Wlizlo

exit-catholicFrom an outside perspective, it seems that the Catholic Church is in a permanent state of emergency. Just when one scandal fades, another rears its embarrassing head. Pope Benedict is alternatively reviled and demonized. People of other faiths—and Catholics themselves—aren’t being taught the fullness of the Catholic doctrine. In the midst of all the bad press, the Catholic Church has seen a steady, precipitous decline in attendance. The aggregate number of American Catholics is staying level only on account of a rapid influx of Hispanic immigrants, who are incrementally shifting the Church’s teaching in a more Pentecostal direction. In other words, Catholicism is in the midst of institutional and identity crises.

William J. Byron, writing for America, a nationally-distributed weekly magazine for Catholics, puts it a little more bluntly: “The church in America must face the fact that it has failed to communicate the Good News cheerfully and effectively to a population adrift on a sea of materialism and under constant attack from the forces of secularism, not to mention the diabolical powers that are at work in our world.”

But Byron isn’t just haranguing the choir. He sees a solution for the Church’s dwindling attendance in the bureaucratic practices of corporations and human resources offices across the business world. “An exit interview, if used creatively,” writes Byron,

could help church leaders discover ways of welcoming back those who have left, even as it helps leaders find ways to strengthen the current worshipping community. This interview could also help identify what else might need to be taught to those called to positions of parish leadership. The church would have nothing to lose by initiating exit interviews.

So what would you ask a disillusioned churchgoer? Byron brainstormed a few questions, and mentioned that the questionnaire would be fluid to meet specific problems within any given parish. Here are a few potential queries for sheep leaving the flock.

  • Why have you stopped attending Sunday Mass regularly?
  • Are there any changes your parish might make that would prompt you to return?
  • Are there any doctrinal issues that trouble you?
  • Are you in a mixed-religion marriage?
  • Did you ever really consider yourself to be a member of a parish community?

Exit interviews, he argues, would be less Spanish Inquisition and more proactive listening.

Source: America 

Image by Jim, the Photographer, licensed under Creative Commons.



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Post a comment below.

 

Milind Padhye
3/29/2011 1:29:20 PM
Gone are the days when people used to take it lying down. Today everyone wants to reason it out. Yours is not an isolated case per se. The problem is those in authority, don't want to explain, lest it may dethrone them. This happens mostly because in the first place, even they do not have any clear answers. They were brought up in the "Yes, Sir" environment and by sheer luck rose to their current post. Today's generation needs answers and that too with proofs, which are hard to come by.
Internet has opened the floodgates to information. Everyone can easily find out what other religions have or say about or differ on common topics. That is one-way traffic because there is no one to explain the grounds where they differ.
Every religion has some inherent beauty and sometimes browsers (read people) get attracted towards but cannot revolt against their religions. This appears to be one solid reason for less attendance in places of worship.
The other fact being that compared to earlier times, people have more money at their disposal and obviously, this detracts them from spirituality as it appears boring. Until and unless unheard benefits like preventing accidents is brought to the fore, (which is a major problem), bringing people back is next to impossible.
Lastly I feel that this returning should happen on their own, rather than with force. Quality is better than quantity and that force should always be remembered.

Keith Keller
3/20/2011 6:51:28 PM
Catholics started leaving the Church after Paul VI's encyclical on birth control. Coming on the heels of Vatican II and the beloved previous Pope John, it showed how the "window" that had momentarily been thrown open by Pope John was closed quickly. Now, we've seen further regression and entrenchment while at the same time the pedophilia scandals were erupting!While I agree that the clergy and hierarchy,for the most part, know what the problems are they refuse to face them honestly. Furthermore, the most basic problem is the long-standing refusal to recognize the importance of the laity especially women in guiding the church back to where Jesus wants it to be. Now, what is the current response to all these issues? They spend millions on advertising to welcome us back without fixing any of the problems and again the clergy clouds the issue by changing the liturgy to get back to its original meaning!!! They are not speaking to our needs nor hearing our concerns. People are voting with their feet!

Occum
3/3/2011 1:34:53 PM
From an internal standpoint I must agree with Lauri Lumby_2. I also believe there is an external factor that should be included but it is not since it would serve no purpose for retention. However, it should to be included for the accounting purposeses. Times and technology are changing. We live in a world with more knowledge and information than ever. As this factor increases many of the properties that bond the known to the unknown are being stripped away and people are looking for a higher level of belief. That is not to say people aren't seeking a form of spirituality, they are not accepting traditional unconditional dogma. A more intellectual version. Once that is established the cycle will begin again.

Lauri Lumby
2/23/2011 1:03:07 PM
William J. Byron has a great idea, the problem is that the Catholic church knows EXACTLY why people are leaving....they simply refuse to do anything about it. People are leaving because: 1) They are not being fed spiritually 2) Catholics are expected to "do what I say" (and apparently, not what I do)...which works for those who are content to remain in the childhood stage of faith development. 3) There are no tools, in fact we are discouraged from asking questions or seeking (a critical stage of spiritual development), many people leave at this stage of spiritual development for lack of support 4) Catholics leave because they see a disparity between Jesus' teachings on compassion and the teachings of the institution The institution knows exactly why people are leaving and they refuse to do anything about it. So, while an exit interview may be entertaining, until the institution actually wants to respond to the unmet needs of the people, these interview will simply be a waste of time. Lauri Lumby Catholic Authentic Freedom Ministries http://yourspiritualtruth.com



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