As long time readers know, I left Catholicism even before I came out publicly. One of the catalysts for me was the sex abuse scandal that exploded on Boston in 2002, which was the focus of the Academy Award winning movie, Spotlight
. That was 17 years ago and in the intervening years no part of the globe has been spared from Catholic clergy sex abuse scandals which as of this week culminated in the 6 year sentence handed down against Cardinal George Pell, the senior cleric in Australia and by some accounts the number three man at the Vatican until now. Meanwhile, even as my other family members have abandoned the Catholic Church, countless American Catholics have kept their heads in the sand, refusing to admit that the institution they are supporting financially and attending is morally bankrupt and perhaps more akin to a criminal enterprise than a institution dedicated to God. Now, a new Gallup survey
suggest that 37% of American Catholics are belatedly questioning whether or not to remain members of the Catholic Church. Here are highlight from from Gallup:
the Catholic church responds to more allegations of sexual abuse of young
people by priests, an increasing percentage of Catholics are re-examining their
commitment to the religion. Thirty-seven percent of U.S. Catholics, up from 22%
in 2002, say news of the abuse has led them to question whether they would
remain in the church.
polling was being conducted, Pope Francis met with Catholic leaders from around
the world at the Vatican to respond to a new wave of sex abuse allegations in
numerous countries. The church dealt with a similar crisis in the U.S. in 2002,
the last time Gallup polled about this. That polling came after The Boston
Globe reported on widespread abuse by Catholic priests in the Boston area
and church leaders' efforts to prevent the abuse from becoming public
findings show that the current scandal is affecting U.S. Catholics more than
the one in 2002 did, in terms of their feelings about the church.
minorities of both practicing and nonpracticing Catholics say they are
questioning their commitment to the church -- but, as might be expected, those
less committed to their religion are more likely to be questioning it. Whereas
46% of Catholics who seldom or never attend church say they have questioned
whether they would remain in the faith, 37% of those who attend church on a
monthly basis and 22% who attend weekly say the same.
The same pattern
existed in 2002, although both practicing and nonpracticing Catholics are more
likely now than in 2002 to be questioning their place in the church. Seventeen
years ago, only one in eight weekly churchgoers were re-examining their
membership, as were 24% of semi-regular churchgoers and 29% of infrequent ones.
are less confident in priests in the U.S. more generally, and in U.S. bishops
and other Catholic leaders. About one in four U.S. Catholics say they have very
little or no confidence in those two groups. One in eight have little or no
confidence in Pope Francis or their own priests.
it is uncertain how many of the 37% of U.S. Catholics who say they're
questioning remaining in the church will actually leave in response to the
latest sex abuse scandal, any loss of adherents is certainly not welcome news
-- especially when the church is dealing with larger
societal trends moving away from formal religion. A decline in the number
of Catholics would seem especially problematic if it were driven by practical
matters such as how church leaders responded to a scandal rather than
fundamental spiritual matters such as disagreement with church teachings or
church members finding their faith to be unfulfilling.
shaken by the latest scandal could be affected in other ways besides leaving
the church, including less frequent church attendance and being less willing to
listen to church leaders' teachings on matters of faith.
In my view, the Catholic Church needs a major reformation that includes (i) removal of god knows how many bishops and cardinals involved in sex abuse themselves or in deliberate cover ups, and (ii) a rejection of the Church's idiotic 12th century views on sex and human sexuality and the role of women. If this doesn't happen, expect to see Church membership plummet in developed countries with the Church being destined to be an Africa based church relying on ignorant and uneducated populations to maintain its falling membership.