Young People Leaving the Catholic Faith

While I’m not Catholic, I did find this article about Catholicism and those young people who leave it interesting personally seeing as I was one of those that left the church before I was 25 like those that were interviewed for this study.

osv.com/Article/TabId/493/ArtMID/13569/ArticleID/20512/Young-people-are-leaving-the-faith-Heres-why.aspx

One set of numbers that struck me as pretty damning of Catholic formation, particularly post Confirmation, was that 86% of the 1 in 3 young Catholics who leave the Church before they’re 25, do so before they’re 17. With 23% of those that leave dropping out of the Church by age 10 and a whopping 63% leaving between 10 and 17 years of age. Average age of leaving the Catholic Church was approximately 13 years of age. I always figured it was mainly high school and college age young adults who left the church, but it turns out far more leave far younger than I ever figured. And of those 1 in 3 young Catholics who leave the Church, 1 in 5 do so because they no longer believe in God, 11% because they no longer agree with organized religion, and a whopping 50% because they no longer agree with Catholic teaching.

And worrisome for the Catholic Church, only 13% could ever see themselves returning to the Church.

There’s an old joke involving a priest who is beset by an infestation of bats in his church. They try everything–finally, as a last resort, he confirms them and the bats are gone forever.

I respect the Catholic Church for (mostly) holding the line on its teachings, traditions and social issues. While the denominations are being infiltrated, gutted and neutered, the Church keeps chugging - or limping - along. It can’t always be easy to address the laity and secular crowd with a charitable heart when what they really want is your head on a pike. Maybe these kids will get back in eventually as they gain some wisdom.

13% might at any rate. Doesn’t seem like the rest will however. Though on a hopeful note at least it’s only 20% leaving because they don’t believe in God any longer. The rest have other issues with Catholicism alone that are driving them away.

Okay, here is my take on what is happening and I think being a recent convert gives me some perspective. If the average age is 13, then the blame lies SQUARELY on the parents. My son just turned 13 and guess what?!? He is going to CCD and he is going to our parish’s middle school program. Does he want to? No. Does he have a choice? No. Why? Because 13yo’s really don’t know what is good for them and often, positive things happen when they are placed in situations that they wouldn’t necessarily choose to do for themselves.

Also, CGS is GREAT for my 8yo daughters, but for my then-12yo son who was coming to Catholicism from a very hip and vibrant Protestant Church, it was sorely lacking. It did not pique his intellectual curiosity and he was totally not enthralled with the Montessori method of CCD. He longed for meat and something to “chew” on. He never got that in class.

So, I think for my kids like him, they want substance (not saying that CGS isn’t substance at all) but my son needed a REASON for his new faith and identity as a Catholic. DH and I provided that to him through books and audios but most cradle Catholics aren’t doing that with themselves or their children. So why would their children stay? :shrug:

I always figured it was mainly high school and college age young adults who left the church, but it turns out far more leave far younger than I ever figured. And of those 1 in 3 young Catholics who leave the Church, 1 in 5 do so because they no longer believe in God,

Hmmm, probably because of how much secularism has crept into the school system and parents haven’t been attentive enough to combat it with rock solid evidence.

11% because they no longer agree with organized religion,

Sounds like a lot of Protestants I know…again, kids need something to chew on and sink their teeth into…

and a whopping 50% because they no longer agree with Catholic teaching.

Sounds like relativism and secularism to me. Again, parents aren’t paying attention.

And worrisome for the Catholic Church, only 13% could ever see themselves returning to the Church.

It really bothers me that many parents would go to great lengths to make sure their child was taking a medicine that was necessary for their well-being (like ADHD meds, insulin, antibiotics, etc.) to the point of holding them down and forcing it (been there, done that) but don’t see the need for enforcing Mass attendance or religious instruction as “necessary” for their child. That’s the most extreme form of parental neglect, IMHO :frowning:

How does a 10 year old leave the Church? Where are his parents? How does a 10 year old even know enough to make that decision? I can only believe that most parents don’t engage their kids in any serious discussions regarding the faith, but really what parent says to their 10 year old child “Oh, you don’t want to go to Mass anymore, well ok.” I understand that with adult children–they have to find their own way–they have to have their own conversion experience and make the faith their own–but I’m sorry–at 10? 10-18 is when they have to be educated–seriously educated and their questions addressed–with serious writings and thought not some watered down version of the faith. We need to educate them so that they have something to evaluate the what others tell them against rather than a vacuum. We don’t let them quit school or stop going to the doctor so why let them stop learning the faith? I just don’t understand it. I think the problem is many of the parents stopped learning their faith at an age when they were just able to start picking up the heavy hitters, and just don’t feel they know enough to answer the questions and their faith is not overly strong or important to them–so those kids don’t really have a chance. We all know people who occasionally attend, you see them a lot as their kids are getting ready for first communion and then a little as confirmation approaches and then occasionally after that. That doesn’t say the faith is important and needs to be taken seriously, but there is nothing we can do about that, but pray, try to live our faith as best we can and love these people making them feel loved and welcome when they do come.

One has to wonder how many of those who disagree with Catholic teaching even know the actual Catholic teaching and the well thought out reasoning behind it? How many who no longer believe in God have even seriously studied the various proofs for the existence of God. And how many have ever thought of the reasons for organized religion. I wouldn’t worry too much about those who can’t see themselves returning to the Church–there are lots of things young people can’t see themselves doing–reminds me of the commercial where the guy says–he’s never getting married, then he says we’re never having kids, then he says we’re never getting a mini-van, but he did all those things he said he’d never do.

The peace of Christ,
Mark

The peace of Christ,
Mark

Yes, Yes, Yes–thank you!

The peace of Christ,
Mark

Wonder what the young people on these forums would think

I agree with this.

This article is written from a Protestant point of view, but it definitely drives home the point in a way that we as Catholics are sometimes too shy to do:
**
I Won’t Force My Kids to Go to Church **

I was once one of those 13% who said they would NEVER return to the Church.

And here I am. :smiley: :thumbsup:

Regarding disagreement with Church teaching, I have two thoughts.

  1. Church teaching is not in sync with society’s thinking these days. Many will choose acceptance of their peers over participation in a faith they don’t understand, and relationship with a God they’ve never gotten to know.

  2. I’d be willing to be one of the Church teachings that many of these young people have problems with is “no sex outside of marriage.” Much easier to say, “I don’t believe” than “I shouldn’t have sex until I’m married.”

My two cents.

:popcorn:

That article is spot on!

Perhaps we, the church (we are the church) have nothing to offer them. We need to articulate the truth of Catholicism in a way that would reach the young. (and not so young)

This is exactly what I wanted to say…what do 12 - 18 yr olds know about God to make a decision not to follow any church any longer?
There are brilliant adults who are actively seeking an answer to discovering the existence of God and a kid who gets bored playing a video game is supposed to be capable of making a decision about worshiping God? A decision which will affect their eternal destiny?
I don’t think so!

Younger people leave the faith for a smattering of reasons. Homosexuals can’t marry in the Church, so they don’t like that. The Church frowns on premarital sex, and they don’t like that. Atheist literature and propoganda make them doubt God, so they don’t bother to stay. The worst is having those like minded friends who are doubt God and mock others. I’ve found this to increases insults to God. Social media is a hazard too, because attacks in comment sections are relentless on the faithful. Awhile back I commented that I liked a Catholic video on Youtube, the next thing I know I get the nastiest message from some atheist slob who insulted the Trinity in the worst way possible.

:thumbsup:

What do 12 - 18 year olds know about God? Mostly, what parents and priests in the media tell them. I don’t have a Catholic background, but when I first realized what the concept of God really meant, I immediately rejected it. It just seems incomprehensible to me. And I was around nine or ten at the time. Do you really think a teenager can’t decide whether God exists or not?

Also, I’ve noticed that some people here want to force their children to go to Church or a Catholic school. Those people I’d like to ask if they think the First Amendment doesn’t apply to children. If your child says he or she wants to become a protestant, will you still force him/her to go to a Catholic school?

And I will say immediately that if I had children, I would gladly bring them to Church every sunday morning, if that’s what they want. Because, as a secular humanist, I think freedom of religion also applies to children. Unless the Church is around the corner, then they should use their bike. :stuck_out_tongue:

I find those two statements very contradictory.

also, the fact that 2/3 remain Catholic, I found to be quite encouraging. I seriously though the vast majority leave the faith, but they actually stay

I have worked in Youth Ministry in the past, and I disagree that the Church has “nothing” to offer the young.

In my experience, the best way to get young people ages 11 and up to come to Church is to give them something to do - not a contrived “kid” thing, but actual participation in the real life of the Church.

I see kids in my parish running ahead of their parents to get to Church, because they are in charge of the sound board, or they’re helping to lead the music, or they’re going to be one of the readers.

I see young adults in the Church on Friday nights leading prayers and music at Adoration, and on Saturday afternoons leading the Children’s Choir, and training the Altar Servers. These are the kids who are excited about their faith and getting involved in CCO on campus, and leading pro-life rallies downtown.

The Church has all kinds of amazing opportunities to offer to the young - we just need to let go of our fears of “what might happen” if a kid is in charge, make sure we’re there to support them, and take a chance that things will work out just fine for them.

Anything you could understand would certainly not be God. :wink:

Also, I’ve noticed that some people here want to force their children to go to Church or a Catholic school. Those people I’d like to ask if they think the First Amendment doesn’t apply to children. If your child says he or she wants to become a protestant, will you still force him/her to go to a Catholic school?

Would you let your child skip Math classes if they thought Math was boring? It’s good for children to study Math, even if at the time they don’t really like it, and it’s good for children to study and take part in their family’s religious practices.

And I will say immediately that if I had children, I would gladly bring them to Church every sunday morning, if that’s what they want. Because, as a secular humanist, I think freedom of religion also applies to children. Unless the Church is around the corner, then they should use their bike. :stuck_out_tongue:

You would probably also make sure they understood your secular humanist ideals, and the reasons why you don’t celebrate Christmas or other religious holidays at your house.

I don’t believe you…you say at 9 or 10 you had the knowledge & courage to reject the concept of God, the Creator of the universe!
Well, you were much more intelligent than Bible scholars and others who have studied the subject for years.
You better hope you are correct, because eternity is a long time to regret the fact you were wrong!

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