Why Catholics Become Inactive
Catholics become inactive for a wide variety of reasons. Many may not have clarity and simply see themselves drift away, but a significant number leave to seek out a new church that better fulfills their spiritual needs.
Of those in the U.S. who were raised Catholic but no longer self-affiliate, about half joined Protestant denominations and about half became unaffiliated.
Seeking A Better Church
The large number of Catholics who have become Protestant primarily report that they left because "their spiritual needs were not being met" or they "found a religion they like more." Many of these are people who are trying to live as disciples, but not finding the support they need in the Catholic Church.
According to a recent Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) study, the most common reasons given by Catholics who do not regularly attend Mass are not related to controversial issues. The reasons given instead point to a gradual slipping away from the faith. Most Catholics stop attending Mass because they
Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization
Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, USCCB
Millions of Catholics no longer practice their faith. Although many of them may say they are Catholic, they no longer worship with the community and thereby deprive themselves of the gifts of word and sacrament. Some were never formed in the faith after their childhood. Some have drifted away because of one or another issue. Some feel alienated from the Church because of the way they perceive the Church or its teaching. Some have left because they were mistreated by church representatives.
Go And Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States, 39
The principal reasons given by people who leave the church to become Protestant are that their “spiritual needs were not being met” in the Catholic church (71%) and they “found a religion they like more” (70%). Eighty-one percent of respondents say they joined their new church because they enjoy the religious service and style of worship of their new faith.
The hidden exodus: Catholics becoming Protestants
National Catholic Reporter
- The Impact of Religious Switching and Secularization on the Estimated Size of the U.S. Adult Catholic Population (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University)
- Pew Research Religious Landscape Survey
- The hidden exodus: Catholics becoming Protestants (National Catholic Reporter)