More Americans have left Catholicism behind than any other religion in the United States. UU., According to a new report.
Approximately 13 percent of American adults are former Catholics, people who were raised in the faith but now say they have no religion, or converted to Protestantism or other beliefs, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
At the other end of the spectrum, 2 percent of American adults report becoming Catholic.
Pope Francis greets the faithful in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City in September 2018
In general, there are 6.5 former Catholics for every convert to religion in the US. UU., A much higher proportion of losses than any other religion in the country, the researchers found.
"He never related to me," Oakdale, a New York resident of Aria Dapree, said of abandoning Catholicism. "My mother actually taught religion in the house when I was young, it was strange stories, Jonah (and the whale), the Ark, all kinds of strange fantasy stories.
The 62-year-old woman said that "inclusion" was the main reason she left the church, particularly the Catholic opposition to homosexuality and the full spectrum of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
& # 39; Love your neighbor? Well, there are all kinds of neighbors, "said Dapree.
That attitude – and the "cultural wars" about sex before marriage and other options that conflict with Catholicism – is a common reason why people move away from the church, said Dennis M. Doyle, a Catholic theologian and professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton.
"The secular world type molds the nature of religiosity and then, with cultural wars, many external manifestations of religion seem to be more extreme," he said.
"These have been very difficult issues for centuries in the Catholic Church," he added. "I do not think we (as Catholics) need to turn around and say:" Everything is worth it and we are going to reopen the bath houses for everyone ", but I do not think it is as easy as" what we always think is true " . & # 39;
Many practicing Catholic Catholics have beliefs that conflict with the Catholic Church
The Catholic Church of the United States has more than 17,000 parishes throughout the country, with approximately 51 million adults, or a fifth of the US population. UU., Who consider themselves believers.
Catholics are spread across the country, with 27 percent living in the south, 26 percent in the northeast, 26 percent in the west and 21 percent in the midwest, according to Pew.
Even believers do not believe that everything is perfect, with 60 percent of Catholics saying they think the church should allow priests to get married and women to become priests.
In addition, almost half of American Catholics believe that the church should recognize and accept gay marriage.
For some American Catholics, the scandals of sexual abuse and the cover-ups that followed may have been enough to drive them away, Doyle said, though it's unclear how many have left the church for that reason.
A bigger problem, Doyle said, has been a great cultural change in which churches are no longer the main social opportunity and the glue for Americans.
"If you go back to the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, the Catholics were immigrants and they were the poor and there were a lot of them, and they were mainly in the cities and they had this subculture that held them together, & # 39; he said.
Faithful prayer during Sunday Mass at a Polish Catholic church in Hamtramck, Michigan in 2016
"As Catholics became more educated and prosperous in general, and as they become more suburban-oriented and less so to this great sociological mass in the cities, there have been many social changes," Doyle added.
Another contributing factor was the decline in enrollment in Catholic schools, said Sister Katarina Schuth, professor emeritus at St. Thomas University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
"Those who attend primary and secondary school are much more likely to stay in the church because they know more about the church," he said.
The & # 39; science increase & # 39; It has also become increasingly the place where young Americans seek answers instead of going to church, Schuth said.
He often speaks publicly about efforts to attract young people to church, which Schuth insists must be done in a respectful way.
"Integrity is number one," said Schuth. – Just be open and listen to people, especially young people … You do not have to be talking to them all the time & # 39;