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Sunday, December 3, 2006
Study Regarding Mass Dropouts in Australia

The Mass = the re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross as the Eucharist (Communion) is truly Jesus Christ! We need to hope for better catechism in the future. A lot of these dropouts do not understand what a wonder they are truly missing! We don't go to Mass to get something out of it; we go to praise the King of Kings.

DISILLUSIONMENT with the Catholic Church in the wake of sexual abuse scandals has contributed to a steady decline in Mass attendance, a report to the church's 43 bishops says [regarding Australia].

It also cites the restricted roles of women in the church, and a feeling that its leaders are "not intelligent, not vibrant and not relevant" as reasons for the decline.

Those who have stopped going to Mass who were interviewed for the church project Disconnected Catholics, published yesterday, complained of the silencing of prominent theologians and other Catholic thinkers, decisions being made without consultation and a church focused on rules, not compassion.

Some said their parish priest promoted an anti-intellectual environment where "his word was law and critical thinking discouraged". Others pointed to their priest's problem with alcohol, sexual indiscretions or abuse as a key reason for not attending Mass.

For some Catholics, faith no longer provided meaning or made sense. However, this was not driven by better education or widening scientific knowledge but a questioning of church teachings, the role of religion in world conflicts and a sense of uncertainty about the meaning of life and the existence of God, the study said.

"They spoke about fear and guilt, saying that these things prevented them from being able to trust in God and reach a more mature faith. Even after they had stopped going to Mass, they continued to feel guilt and to be conscious of a fear of going to hell."

Catholic bishops promised yesterday to learn from the study's findings and use it to form pastoral strategies to reach out to those Catholics who had ceased practising their faith and "chart a way forward".

The bishops noted that many of the study's participants were still open to returning to Mass. Half said they still attended Mass occasionally, and almost one-third said they might return to weekly Mass attendance.

Attendance has been falling in all age groups under 75 but, worryingly for the church, it has identified up to 60,000 young Catholics between the 1991 and 2001 censuses who no longer identified themselves as such.

"The research project is part of our deep and ongoing desire to connect with people who have left the church and to listen to their experiences, so that we might identify ways to reach out to them and welcome them back," the bishops said.

The research on Disconnected Catholics was carried out by the Pastoral Projects Office of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and involved interviewing 41 Catholics aged between 29 and 74. Other reasons given for non-attendance included time clashes with sport, work or family, people not feeling welcomed, sheer laziness and unkind gossip.


del_button December 3, 2006 at 4:27 PM
Anonymous said...


del_button December 4, 2006 at 11:33 AM
ND EnviroChick said...

I am a "cradle Catholic;" I was a devout Mass attender for many, many years, but began to stumble with this in my 20s and eventually stopped attending Mass regularly in my early 30s, although I still identified myself as Catholic and occasionally attended with my family on special occasions.

While I appreciate your zeal in saying that these people don't know what they are missing, as someone with personal experience, I would have to say - yeah, they do. I would also say that... at some times in my life when I attended Mass, it would be questionable to say that I was "praising the King of Kings" except in the sense that communal worship was occurring, and as someone who was physically present, I was a part of that.

I will also say that I do not believe that people leave the Church or stop attending Mass solely because their priest is an alcoholic or because of the sex abuse scandal or whatever. It might be a convenient excuse or a nice coincidence, or that might even be the straw that broke the camel's back, but in my experience... as someone in her late 30s now, I have seen my share of uninspiring priests and scandals and such, and when I have been really afire with love for God, those external issues did not sway me from my faith or my Mass attendance.

No, I wholeheartedly believe that these people have left because of struggles in their personal relationships with God, and that can occur for a wide variety of reasons. As for me... that is still too personal to share in this kind of forum, but it would be fair to say that, if I wasn't "getting anything out of Mass," it was because my heart was not in the right place, and I had to resolve those personal issues (which had nothing to do with Church hierarchy or policy or dogma, or Liturgy or... any aspect of Catholicism) before I could return to the Catholic Church.

As I near the 4th anniversary of my return to the Church, I will say that my faith, my dedication to the Church and my relationship with God are so much deeper and more profound than ever before, even for those first 20+ years when I was faithful and devout. Being gone from the Church was a horrible time, and I remember it with pain and sorrow and, truthfully, with some anger at myself for allowing it to happen. I suffered a lot, of my own doing, during that time of barrenness. But the path of reconciliation with the Church led me much closer to God than I had been before... and to me, that makes the suffering worthwhile and allows me to... accept my transgression and move forward from it.

del_button December 4, 2006 at 4:48 PM
Anonymous said...

The NO has been super lax and has stopped educating Catholics. Many Catholics deny the Real Presence, many others were never even taught about Real Presence in their CCD classes. People aren't taught about the requirements for receiving Holy Communion (ie confession, what's a mortal sin, etc). NO priests don't reprimand girls coming in miniskirts or guys coming in basketball shorts, they allow them to pass around Holy Communion!
Without knowing what Church is about, of course people going to get bored and become atheist/agnostic or seek the fun hippy brotherhood services of the protestants.

While the NO is falling apart, the TLM (indult and sspx) is doing great, increasing in numbers and strong in faith. But of course the bishops are scared of the universal "indult" that might be granted soon, and have started discontinuing several "indults" already. This priest's reasons for discontinuing aren't even consistent (not enough people when there are clearly a lot of people, and then he says there are not enough parking spaces)

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