Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Rev. Joseph A. Sirba weighs in on American Catholic Exodus...

that's now some 22,750,000 strong...

Adapted from this source: Homiletic & Pastoral Review, January 2009.

"The U.S. religious landscape survey"

Pastors across the country know that large numbers of individuals who were baptized Catholic have now left the Catholic church

"(6) So where has the 10.1 percent of the [total U.S. adult] population [of roughly 225 million] that has left the Catholic Church gone?

"What has happened to those 22,750,000 people who have left?

"They have joined the following groups (note here that because of rounding, these figures are approximate and don't add up to the 22,750,000 figure):

"Hinduism: 36,000

"Islam: 54,000

"Orthodox Christianity: 67,500

"Judaism: 114,750

"Mormonism: 267,750

"Buddhism: 364,500

"Jehovah's Witnesses: 409,500

"Other liberal faiths: 621,000

"Historic black churches: 621,000 [a typo??!!]

"Mainline Protestant [me! yep! Methodism: 1974 - 75 :) ] 3,665,250

"Evangelical Protestant: 6,509,250

"Unaffiliated: 9,780,750 .

"Of particular note are the last two numbers.

"Over six and a half million former Catholics have joined evangelical Protestant churches.

"While large in terms of absolute numbers, these former Catholics comprise only 11 percent of all evangelical church members (evangelical here includes Baptists, nondenominational congregations such as Assemblies of God, Pentecostal congregations and so on).

"[The] Unaffiliated [label] accounts for almost ten million former Catholics.

"Recall that unaffiliated includes atheists, agnostics, secular people and religious people who belong to no organized religion.

"Unfortunately, the current report doesn't have a further breakdown to tell us in which of these four groups these former Catholics end up."

Finally, some really good news!

"8) The survey does contain some good news.

"Of the 23.9 percent of the entire U.S.] adult population that identifies itself as Catholic, 2.6 percent (5,850,000 [So I'm guessing that's out of 225 million total!]) are converts from other faiths or from no faith at all.

"This growth in the Church partially offsets the 10.1 percent of the population that has left the Catholic faith and leaves the Church with a net loss of 7.5 percent of the [total U.S.?!] population (or 16,875,000)."

Father Sirba's take - no prisoners solution?

"Finally, we must reach out to those who have fallen away.

"They are the lost sheep of today [A good example is the estimated 800 t0 900 in Kinney County, Texas, alone, thanks in large part to our demi - derrière local diocesan clergy].

"As this group is diverse, we must address at the very least the larger segments within it.

"For example, it has been this pastor's experience that many former Catholics who have joined evangelical organizations tend to be very zealous members of their new congregations.

"For the most part, they are good, faithful people who love God but who were not fed in their Catholic parishes.

"On the other hand, former Catholics who are now part of the educated, unchurched secular group need to see that science alone cannot explain all we experience in the world and in our hearts.

"To that end, because few pastors have the ability or the knowledge to answer or address all the questions and concerns specific to each group, diocesan programs need to be developed to reach out to these groups and others.

"It's now far beyond the time to clean up the messes that remain and to develop reasonable, workable plans to move forward.

"Jesus said, He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters (Matt. 12:30).

"Tolerating dissent has led us to where we are today.

"It's time for some intolerance."


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