Anyone read the latest Catholic Answers Magazine?

Since Patrons receive CA Magazine as one of the benefits of their donation I thought we could discuss some of the articles here.


In the article “Don’t Leave Peter Because of Judas”, Paul Senz writes a lot about Donatism.

“Donatists held that a cleric in a state of mortal sin could not validly effect the sacraments.”

Apparently a lot of clerics left the Church under Roman persecution in the early fourth century and then wanted to return when the persecution ended. Donatists didn’t think these clerics could effect the sacraments.

The thrust of the article seems to compare the Donatists to the people who leave the Church today because of the clergy sex abuse scandals. I’m pretty sure that’s the comparison he’s making in this article.

If that’s the comparison he’s making I don’t think the comparison is a very good one. The circumstances are just too different. I don’t know of anything that even comes close to sex abuse scandals for causing problems in the Church.

I think the scandals are an opportunity to talk about something new, not compare them to something old. I just thought the article could have used a little more acknowledgment of the unprecedented nature of the scandals and it’s effect on people. Instead the article seems to just fall back on the argument that ‘people are sinners’ so why leave the Church over a few sinners. More reason has to be given than that.

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I think people who leave the Church over the scandal are most likely just looking for a reason not to practice the Catholic faith any longer.

I’m a new patron so I haven’t gotten a magazine yet. I do agree that wasn’t the best reasoning.


Unless they or their loved ones were victims, I tend to agree with you, Katherine.


Yes, that’s important to say … people who were or know of loved ones who were victims are exempt from what I said.


I actually don’t know anyone who has left the Church because of the abuse scandals. But I do know some people who have fallen away, as many young adults do, and are reluctant to return in part because of the perceived corruption, cover-ups, hypocrisy, etc. I don’t know anyone who is afraid for their children to be around clergy. That is not an issue for anyone I know.

As for not leaving the Church because of a few sinners, I would say that the people I know have more of the impression that the Church as an institutional organization is too far gone, and they don’t want much to do with it. I can understand that. It’s not necessarily about the Church having sinners in the clergy.

These people I’m talking about for the most part were all raised Catholic in Catholic schools. They are aware of these basic talking points like “the Church is full of sinners”. They remember that Fr. Pat and Sr. Agnes weren’t perfect, nor did they claim to be. Like I said, the problem appears to some people to be one of “Christendom’s legacy”. That’s a momentous legacy. And it won’t change in their lifetime. Or so they think. Although, Pope Francis has been a sign of hope for many. Including myself.

I don’t intend to challenge your experience with those who have fallen away.

My experience is young people who have fallen away is that they can be quick to spout terms of hypocrisy and corruption. Once one gets past the “wall of complaints” and down to the nitty gritty of their life choices, it has been my experience that they attach to those phrases as it is a good sounding lie (not that there has been no corruption or hypocrisy) that simply moves away from the deeper level of self-honesty, that they did not want to be accountable - whether that was being bothered to attend Mass regularly when they would rather (insert alternatives to do on Sunday), or they have slept with 1 or more individuals outside of the sacrament of marriage, or any other number of real reasons they don’t want to come face to face with their own attitudes and choices.

I have been a team member in Catholics Can Return Home program. I have found that people who are trying to resolve the matter of their leaving are fairly open and honest as to why they left. And it is not about hypocrisy within the Church.


^^^This was my own experience, and a lot of other people I know are in same boat. Many young people who “fall away” do so because it’s hard to reconcile the Church teaching on moral issues of sex and marriage with how life is expected to operate in the modern world. Many young people also don’t understand why they need to sit through boring, often inconveniently timed Masses every Sunday under pain of some grave sin if they don’t show up and sit through the dull (to them) hour.

If these young people were raised Catholic they will likely experience guilt about masturbating/ having illicit sex/ missing Mass, and they will try to find stuff to point to that makes the Church hypocritical or corrupt so they have an excuse in their own mind for what they’re doing. Sometimes this also happens with older adults who “followed the Catholic rules” and ended up in an unhappy marriage or fell in love with some person who’s unable/ unwilling to marry them in the Catholic church.

While there are some people who leave the Church primarily due to theological doubt, in my experience most people aren’t deep thinkers and it’s not the norm. Virtually every cradle Catholic I know who bailed, including myself when I bailed for a while, just didn’t feel like following the rules - didn’t see a point to it.

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I’m not aware of anyone in my peer group who fell away from the Church that feels guilty about sexual morality because of Church teaching. They either understand these things as norms, not necessarily a rule of life, or they simply disagree. I know plenty of people who are practicing Catholics who don’t pay much attention to ‘hard line’ Church teaching on sexual ethics. There is no guilt there.

I’m sure there is a mix of reasoning on the part of the people I know, but they are definitely not feeling guilty because they think the Church teaches something different than what they believe about sexual ethics, or anything else for that matter. And I hear the same type of thing from people who do practice their faith and go to Mass regularly. The biggest problem they have is with the structure of the Church. The authoritarian rule. And with the scandals for the last 25 years only reaching farther up the hierarchy to the top there is no way the Church has any credibility in the area of sexual ethics anyway.

I find it hard to believe that people don’t return to the Church because they feel guilty about masturbating. That doesn’t even make “walkin’ around sense” to me. These people know about forgiveness and confession.

It seems like a lot of people cannot fathom that there are intelligent, well formed Catholics out there who are disgusted by the Church as an organization, a teaching authority, and it’s clerical culture. It gets a little old, and quite frankly condescending, to ignore the Catholics who don’t want to listen to the Church, and to just label them all as lustful people who just wanna do their own thing sexually. I know this not to be true.

I don’t doubt that. Because if it was really about hypocrisy in the Church they would have no reason to come back.

Virtually everyone I know over 30 who used to be Catholic has talked about the experience guilt in their teens and twenties, either over missing Mass or sexual sin or both. I have had many conversations with people over this stuff, they just bring it up. Also in some cases they ran into divorce situations, either their own or that of a relative like a parent, that made them question the divorce and remarriage teachings.

So I’d say we have different peer groups because this is a universal theme. I’m frankly baffled as to how you’ve never run into anyone who never talked about it.

I’ve never met anyone outside this forum who said, “Oh I left because of the theological teaching on Mary” or whatever.

If you’re going to find it hard to believe when people tell you their experiences of what others have told them over and over, then it doesn’t make for much of a discussion.

Bottom line is that young people don’t like being made to feel guilty or accountable over behavior that society encourages as normal and healthy. It makes them feel both guilty, and like the Church is out of step and full of weirdoes. When they see 10 pedophile priest cases pop up, that just confirms their view. Believe it or don’t. That’s about all I have to say since it doesn’t seem like all viewpoints are being accepted in this “discussion.”


Let me be a little clearer just in case. I’ve heard people talk about feeling guilty for something sexual, but it’s because they realized it was wrong…on their own they realized it was wrong. No one has ever said they fell guilty because they broke a Church rule.

That being said, there is obviously a lot of overlap between the teachings of the Church and common decency. I’m guessing that most women who feel guilty after an abortion don’t need the Church to tell them it was wrong. Or someone who regrets having an affair does so because they see it was wrong just from their own experience of it. The guilt doesn’t come from someone thinking “oh, I wasn’t obedient to the Church. I feel so guilty for that.” No, that’s not what’s happening in my experience.

Doesn’t sound like you know a lot of religious people. I always think of how Jesus would feel about me doing something wrong.

What makes you say that? I’m missing how that contributes to the thread. It seems off topic.

Your last post … you say you don’t know people who think they have hurt God when they do something wrong … to me that sounds like you don’t know a lot of religious people … very much on topic.

I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone say that they are sorry for something because they hurt God. I usually hear people say they are sorry that they hurt their parents, kids, spouses, friend. To me that doesn’t mean that they aren’t religious. It also doesn’t mean that they don’t have any feelings about offending God. Jesus said that whatever you do to the least of my people you do to me.

I still don’t see what all this has to do with people leaving the Church because of the abuse scandals.

You brought up the subject, not me.

No… @1Lord1Faith said that he doesn’t know people who think they have hurt the Church (not “God”). I think that’s pretty spot-on.

I think that, when a person wants to rationalize his actions, one way to do it is to find a reason to say “well, that’s a silly rule and an even sillier organization.” That kind of makes you feel like you’re off the hook, no?

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That’s a good point.

I took him to say hurting God when he said hurting the Church … he didn’t clarify. Many times people speak of the Church when they are speaking of God … if I would say hurting the Church in the way he said it, I would have meant hurting God.

Yes, that’s right. I don’t hear many people equating the Church with God, even the “religious” ones I know don’t really do that. I don’t think the Church and God are synonymous terms either.

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