Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Roman Catholic Church "hemorrhaging members"

“The Catholic church is hemorrhaging members.”

Jesuit Fr. Thomas J. Reese, former editor in chief of America, is a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington.

http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=14269

Thanks to Steve Hays at Triablogue for pointing this out:

Other significant quotes from the Jesuit priest Thomas J. Reese:

“They also cited the church's teaching on the Bible (55 percent versus 16 percent) more frequently as a reason for leaving. Forty-six percent of these new evangelicals felt the Catholic church did not view the Bible literally enough. Thus, for those leaving to become evangelicals, spiritual sustenance, worship services and the Bible were key.”

“Contrary to what conservatives [Roman Catholic conservatives] say, ex-Catholics are not flocking to the evangelicals because they think the Catholic church is politically too liberal. They are leaving to get spiritual nourishment from worship services and the Bible.”

Three General Categories (The first two are from the article cited, the last one is a different direction, summary from a different trend.)

1. Roman Catholic to Liberal Mainline Protestants: It seems, generally speaking, that Roman Catholics who leave the RCC for mainline Protestant churches (Liberal both in doctrine and political and social issues) do so because of disagreement with political and social issues of the RCC.

2. Roman Catholics to Evangelical Protestant: But the reason for Roman Catholics becoming Evangelical has to do with thirst for spiritual reality in worship and Bible teaching. They seem drawn to the Bible and wanting to hear the word of the Lord.

The third is conversions the other way - Evangelical Protestants who are becoming Roman Catholic (not in the article, but a summary from the recent trend of the Scott Hahn/based on the Newman thesis/Mattatics/Francis Beckwith and "Called to Communion" (Taylor Marshall, Bryan Cross, etc.) former Reformed folks.

3. Evangelical Protestants to Roman Catholic: And the reasons for Evangelical Protestants becoming RC is, in general, according to them, it seems to me, is a desire for deeper historical ties to church history and the development of doctrine (theory of Newman) over the centuries, and desire for certainty in authority and interpretation; unity in one church; the apparent appeal of mystery in the Liturgy, the Mass and Eucharist [why anyone would find that appealing is strange to me]; and all the strange attraction to statues and prayers to Mary and the saints and things such as “Gothic architecture”[although I personally agree that stone architecture with arches is more beautiful than the plain modern Evangelical churches, they are quite expensive]; and the seeming appeal of intellectual knowledge in more Latin and philosophy.

It seems that the desire for spiritual reality (# 2 – “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me” - John 10:27-30) is more important. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

“You must be born again”, Jesus said. If you are not born again, it doesn’t matter how much of the writings of John Henry Newman or Early Church Father’s * or Latin ** or philosophy *** you know.

* though I try to learn as much as I can now.
** I wish I knew it.
*** I want to understand it better, but under the Lordship of Christ. I Peter 3:15; Colossians 2:8

12 comments:

Viisaus said...

The RCC deserves to fall down. To put in a poetically "trinitarian" manner, I consider Rome to have have committed three great betrayals (its greatest sins).

1) the betrayal of God by legalizing idolatry: RC doctors like Thomas Aquinas have formally allowed people to worship the images and crosses of Christ with LATRIA, and they have never been rebuked for it.

2) the betrayal of their fellow men: Rome has formally promoted the doctrine that "no faith is to be kept with heretics" if the interest of the church stand in the way. This doctrine was sealed with the blood of John Huss, and has never been officially revoked either.

3) the betrayal of its own followers, with the Tridentine "Doctrine of Intention" which logically applied takes away all the trust that RCs could have in their own sacraments!

Viisaus said...

And some documentation for my bold claims.

On Rome's baptized idolatry:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2011/03/nature-and-character-of-god-and.html?showComment=1300369502047#c6347348498509721436

On Rome's baptized lying and deceit:

"The Council of Constance, which was holden in 1414, expressly decreed that no faith was to be kept with heretics. The words of this decree, as preserved by M. L'Enfant, in his learned history of that famous council, are, that "by no law, natural or divine, is it obligatory to keep faith with heretics, to the prejudice of the Catholic faith."[2] This fearful doctrine the council ratified in a manner not less fearful, in the blood of John Huss."

http://www.freepres.org/papacy/pap02-20.htm

And on Rome's seemingly-innocent "Doctrine of Intention" that becomes disastrous when you consider its full implications:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2010/03/apostolic-succession-part-2-succession.html#comments

John Bugay said...

Hey Ken, though Reese's article is new, this is the same Pew Research study that we've been writing about for some time now.

Carrie picked up this survey in 2008, and I’ve also commented on it here, and also here.

That it's been published at NCR is the big news. Now it can start echoing in and among their own echo chamber.

You've put together a nice summary here.

Ken said...

Thanks John -
I knew that I seen the "hemorrhaging" statement before - thanks for reminding me.

Ken said...

I also had an evangelical missionary couple to Italy ( !! ) tell me recently at a missions conference, that one of the most common answers that they got from Italian Roman Catholics is "yes, I am Roman Catholic and I was baptized as a baby"; "But, do I believe in God? No!"

So much for the value of an infallible interpreter and visible church emphasis and supposed Biblical unity.

John Bugay said...

"yes, I am Roman Catholic and I was baptized as a baby"; "But, do I believe in God? No!"

So much for the value of an infallible interpreter and visible church emphasis and supposed Biblical unity.


This is, I think, one more reason why the official Roman institution needs to be put out of business.

Viisaus said...

Some other relevant statistics; the number of RC seminarians is nosediving both in Europe and the Americas - that is, also in Latin America! Only in Africa and Asia is Rome getting an adequate supply of new priests to serve its growing mass of (at least nominal) members.

And without priests, the hierarchical, sacramental Roman system simply cannot properly work, or even stay together.


"The Vatican said the global Catholic population increased during 2007 by 1.4 percent, which more or less kept pace with the 1.1 percent global birthrate that year.

... The number of priests in the world also rose, but just by 0.18 percent. At the end of 2007 there were 408,024 priests in the world, 762 more than at the beginning of the year.

The figure on the number of priests was showing a continued "trend of moderate growth which began in 2000 after more than 20 years of disappointing results," the Vatican report said.

However, that growth has been confined to Africa and Asia, which showed substantial increases in ordinations with 27.6 percent growth and 21.1 percent growth, respectively, it said.

The number of priests has remained more or less the same in the Americas, while Europe registered a 6.8 percent decline and Oceania reported a 5.5 percent decrease in the total number of priests since 2000, said the Vatican.

The number of seminarians increased by 0.4 percent in 2007. At the end of the year, there were 115,919 seminarians. However, only Africa and Asia saw significant growth in priestly vocations, while numbers fell by 2.1 percent in Europe and by 1 percent in the Americas, the Vatican said."

Viisaus said...

Some already a bit dated information (back from 2003) on the Catholic priest-shortage in America:

http://www.snapnetwork.org/priest_stories/shortage_how_bad.htm

"“People have come to expect a daily Mass, ” said Fr. Eugene Hemrick, director of the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood. “And we just don’t have the ability to produce at that level anymore.”

Catholic University of America sociologist Dean Hoge, a student of priesthood trends for three decades, doesn’t underestimate the impact: “It could be that the sacraments will be defined as not so important. We’re talking about the center of what Catholicism is.”

So just how bad is the U.S. priest shortage?

There are more American priests over age 90 than under age 30; by 2010 the number of active diocesan clergy (just over 15,000) will be less than the country’s 19,000 parishes (assuming no widespread parish closures). The number of “priestless parishes” -- those without a resident priest -- will rise from the current 3,000 (16 percent of U.S. parishes), even as seminaries graduate only one new priest for every three clerics (average age approaching 60) who retire, die or resign."

Viisaus said...

The sheer lack of clerical manpower is already beginning to transform everyday RC practices (this is already a bit dated info, back from 2003):


"“People have come to expect a daily Mass, ” said Fr. Eugene Hemrick, director of the National Institute for the Renewal of the Priesthood. “And we just don’t have the ability to produce at that level anymore.”

Catholic University of America sociologist Dean Hoge, a student of priesthood trends for three decades, doesn’t underestimate the impact: “It could be that the sacraments will be defined as not so important. We’re talking about the center of what Catholicism is.”

So just how bad is the U.S. priest shortage?

There are more American priests over age 90 than under age 30; by 2010 the number of active diocesan clergy (just over 15,000) will be less than the country’s 19,000 parishes (assuming no widespread parish closures). The number of “priestless parishes” -- those without a resident priest -- will rise from the current 3,000 (16 percent of U.S. parishes), even as seminaries graduate only one new priest for every three clerics (average age approaching 60) who retire, die or resign."

Constantine said...

Ken,

Thanks very much for this. It is simply stunning and what an effective refutation to the C to C guys and their ilk who rely on the star power of a few defections the other way.

I am particularly impressed by the fact that, if counted as a single denomination, Catholics who have left the RCC would be America's third largest denomination.

Wow!

Peace.

PeaceByJesus said...

Sorry i missed this. You have find this compilation interesting.

PeaceByJesus said...

Any "anti-Catholic" epithets being thrown out as the first line of defense?

Wile the too often typical RC response is to charge that statistics can lie, or that they are seriously flawed, or that the pollster, being part of the MSM) is anti Catholic (inferring pro evangelical), all the studies by numerous pollsters that i have read overall conflate with each other in showing evangelicals - whether self-identified or categorized by denomination or basic beliefs - as being more conservative in doctrinal and moral views than its RC counterparts.

And while divisions among those who subscribe to SS is often used to discredit it, RCs are at least as divided, if not formally, which is possible bcz their church is very inclusive, and its unity is much based upon faith in her.

Meanwhile, the more authority RCs give the Bible, and the more literal they take it, then the more conservative their views.