Catholics Thinking of Leaving the Church Are Being Boneheaded

Triduum, Passover

The last couple months have certainly been depressing for a lot of Catholics. It brings to mind the title of a musical stage play from the 60s – Stop the World, I Want To Get Off.

Any Catholic who is unaware of the litany of events has just not been paying attention.  ‘The summer of shame’ as it’s been called, has been topped off with the charges being made by Archbishop Vigano and his call for Pope Francis to resign.

What’s the buzz?

In the last couple weeks, in the parish my wife and I belong to, we heard a sermon by our pastor on how all the Church’s current problems are due to “clericalism.” This was followed by a homily the first Sunday in September, by our new assistant pastor, a Jesuit, on how Pope Francis has been “slandered” by Archbishop Vigano. Both times I had to quell the urge to get up out of the pew and quietly exit the church.

But as what I hope is the case for all Catholics, my wife and I don’t go to Mass for the homilies. Good homilies are a bonus.  We go to Mass for the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.  We go to Mass to keep the Lord’s Day Holy and to receive “the source and summit” of Christian life – the Eucharist.

According to articles and comments in various online publications, however, all the recent bad news has some Catholics contemplating actually leaving the Catholic Church altogether. This is, to be blunt, boneheaded thinking.

So I have to wonder how the ‘summer of shame’ is being addressed from the pulpits in parishes throughout the country. As should be fairly obvious from our pastor’s and assistant pastor’s remarks, the clergy in my parish tend to lean to the left.  But Catholics in parishes run by clerics with more conservative and traditional views may have heard a completely different message. On the other hand, since only about 22% of Catholics go to Mass regularly, the chances are pretty good that those Catholics who are thinking about leaving the Church may have left some time ago.

Catholics at War?

Mathew Schmitz, the senior editor at First Things, wrote in an NY Times opinion piece that, “No matter what Francis does now, the Catholic Church has been plunged into all-out civil war. On one side are the traditionalists, who insist that abuse can be prevented only by tighter adherence to church doctrine. On the other side are the liberals, who demand that the church cease condemning homosexual acts and allow gay priests to step out of the closet.”

Our assistant pastor referenced this thinking in his sermon.  He said the peace that’s existed in the Church since Vatican II has now been shattered. Then he echoed Cardinal Cupich’s statements that there are bigger problems, like the environment and protecting migrants that need to be addressed.

A Church Breaking Apart?

So the Vigano charges have brought the ‘cold war’ to a head. The truce that has existed since Vatican II has erupted into a war over which side is going to be in control of Church teaching from here on.  It’s kind of like the battle over the Supreme Court.  Will it be made up of conservative judges who interpret the Constitution literally and say Congress is in charge of making laws, or will it be staffed by progressive judges who say the Constitution is a living document and who think that legislating from the bench is just fine.

And according to Jonathon Last, at the National Standard, the Church is now breaking apart:

“We are only at the current moment because the forces that conspired to elevate Francis refused, for decades, to leave the church, even though their desires were at odds with its teachings.

“Despite the fact that the Catholic church rejected their preferences as false, the South American liberation theologists, the German cardinals who wanted to redefine marriage, and the American progressives who never met a social justice cause they didn’t like all hung on. Eventually, they organized. And after a generation of an orthodox papacy, during which time most American Catholics forgot that there even was a radical side of the faith, they worked together to elect Francis. Organization works if you’re willing to play the long game and play for keeps.”

And Here We Are

While clericalism has contributed to the problems, clericalism is not the cause.  Clericalism was certainly a contributory factor, but sexual immorality, and more specifically, homosexuality, is the cause of the problems.

As Rick Fitzgibbons, MD, noted in an article at, “My professional opinion as a psychiatrist with forty years of clinical experience is that the cause of the abuse crisis is rooted in psychological and spiritual conflicts in bishops and in priests, specifically a narcissism and a profound weakness in male confidence which inclines them to homosexual predation.”

By the Numbers

Most Catholics should know by now that 80% of the sexual abuse that came to light in 2002, and again in the PA Grand Jury Report, involved homosexual priests preying on post-pubescent boys, teenaged boys, and young men. Also, most of the abuse took place between 1965 and 1985, and a significant majority of the accused priests are now deceased.  But there are still a few abusive clerics like McCarrick walking around.  And there are still some homosexual priests in our parishes. Those who are living pious, chaste lives, in the traditional sense of the word, should be respected.  But those who lack self-control should be laicized.  If they are guilty of molesting minors they should be imprisoned.

The anti-Catholic media, however, seems to enjoy playing up the “abusers of children” and pedophilia angle. They would have everyone believing that the Catholic Church is chock full of active pedophile clergy preying on seven- and eight-year-old boys and girls.  But this is clearly not the case.

Sexual Abuse in Public Schools

Consider too, the 2006 CBS News article “Has Media Ignored Sex Abuse in School?”   In 2002 the Department of Education carried out a nationwide study of sex abuse in the public school system.  As the CBS News article reports:

“Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft looked into the problem, and the first thing that came to her mind when Education Week reported on the study were the daily headlines about the Catholic Church.

“[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?” she said. “The physical sexual abuse of students in [public] schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.” [Emphasis added.]

“So, in order to better protect children, did media outlets start hounding the worse menace of the school systems, with headlines about a “Nationwide Teacher Molestation Cover-up” and by asking “Are Ed Schools Producing Pedophiles?”

“No, they didn’t. That treatment was reserved for the Catholic Church, while the greater problem in the schools was ignored altogether.”

And 12 years later, the problem in our schools is still not being reported by the MSM. it may even have gotten worse.  Many Catholic parents, however, have no problem letting their children go to public schools.

One Instance is Too Many

Some Catholics will say that “one instance of abuse is too many.” And they are right.  But I hope those who are so quick to say this are equally as vocal and concerned about the public school system.  I hope they are pulling their children out of public schools and putting them in Catholic schools or at least homeschooling them.

Sexual immorality, and specifically homosexuality predation, has clearly been the cause of all the Church’s problems.  Yet 70% of Catholics say homosexuality is perfectly normal.  Sodomy, they say is not immoral.  It’s not immoral for two men or two women to engage in sexual relations. A lot of Catholics these days seem to be really confused.  Society seems to be reverting to paganism.  Too many people, Catholics included, have been swayed by the sales pitch of the homosexual activists and the ‘if it feels good do it’ mantra of the 60s Sexual Revolution.

The Body of Christ

While all priests and bishops are not saints, the overwhelming majority of them are good, pious men, doing their best to emulate Christ and be good shepherds to their flocks.   And those good priests and bishops are feeling the pain of the abuse scandal just like all Catholics, possibly even more so (guilt by association).  Now, more than ever, we should be praying for them and the Pope, and praying for more vocations as well.

For 2,000 years the Catholic Church has been made up of imperfect people. We try to be good but we too often fall short.  We sin.  But the Catholic Church is still the Body of Christ – it is His Church.  And at every Mass during the Consecration Catholics get to witness a miracle – the miracle of Transubstantiation – the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.  Even if the priest is a less than a holy guy, and even if he is in a state of mortal sin, as long as the rubrics are followed the miracle still takes because it is Jesus Christ Himself who is performing this miracle.  And we get to receive Communion and become one with Him.

To Whom Shall We Go

Despite the scandals and bad news, I really and truly cannot fathom why anyone would even consider leaving the Catholic Church. I feel bad for all of our non-Catholic brothers and sisters.  They are not able to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.  So why would any intelligent, rational Catholic leave the Church and voluntarily cut himself or herself off from the Bread of Life?  It does not make a lot of sense to me.  It’s not rational thinking.

It’s kind of like saying ‘a lot of our politicians, policeman and judges were corrupt during the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and some still are, so I’m going to stop being an American.’ Or, ‘I hate our country because slavery was allowed here a long time ago.’  Or better yet, ‘the world we live in has too many bad people in it so I’m going to quit the human race.’  Much as we’d like too sometimes, we can’t stop the world and get off.

The problems the Church is facing today will eventually get sorted out. As many others have said, the Church has weathered many storms over 2,000 years and she will weather this one, too.  The Holy Spirit is still guiding the Church.  And the immutable truths of Catholic teaching cannot be changed because they are God’s truths.

Despite all the ‘bad news’ Catholicism is the one true Faith. To paraphrase Peter, from the August 26 gospel reading (John 6:60-69), there’s no place else to go.

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13 thoughts on “Catholics Thinking of Leaving the Church Are Being Boneheaded”

  1. The problem is what can be done about it if those in authority refuse to act? I a hierarchical system the laity really have no power to act. Here we are almost a year after this post was published & what has really changed? The Vatican powers to be won’t take action against these homosexual perverts. Even the Pope doesn’t seem to want to take action against them. For many who leave the Church they no doubt think that’s their only option & they possibly feel to remain is to silently condone the scandals. I’ve been feeling the same way lately & it’s becoming an ongoing emotional struggle for me.

    1. Tony, I think the key word in your remarks is at the very end –“emotional.” It’s easy to let our emotions get in the way of logic, reason and sound judgement. The devil loves it when we let our emotions cloud our judgement. We become easy prey.
      The Catholic Church is Jesus’ Church. It’s not the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, and priests who are the Church; it is all of the 1.2 billion Catholics in the world who make up the body of Christ who are the Catholic Church. Jesus knew when He handed Peter the keys to the kingdom that it would not be smooth sailing. He knew He was turning His Church over to sinful human beings to run. But the Catholic Church is still His Church. There is nowhere for us to go if we leave.

  2. Since the gay priests are afraid of coming out of the closet the problem is exacerbated. The church is not willing to attack the truth and the source. If there are clerics who violate their vows they must be charged with a civil crime and turned over to the local authorities.

    Pedophilia by priests is a persistent dilemma. Throughout centuries of church history the exposure to human sexuality flaws. Even Popes. Pope Leo X (1513 to 1521) and the selling of indulgences which triggered the Protestant Reformation..

    Trust is where I lose contact with a church of unknown morality and sanctity. A church with no plan to correct the situation. Much like our current president who orders his generals to purge the military of transgender soldiers. General Mattis ordered the Pentagon to look into the matter. They discovered that the vast majority of TG fighting men and women were tops in their field. Will the Pope do the same for Gays and Transgender priests?

  3. Pingback: Catholics Thinking of Leaving the Church Are Being Boneheaded | Newsessentials Blog

  4. I am a Catholic and a public-school teacher. You are deflecting the issue by blaming other faithful people. You might want to reserve the adjected “boneheaded” for your uncharitable self.

    1. The Church is finished for many reasons, not all of them to do with paedo priests. It has lost all moral authority, but the bigger problem is that it is incapable of the serious reform needed to reverse the decline. It is also a Church run by old people for old people, and its dogmas and doctrines are so unliveable that most Catholics ignore them or adopt a pick and mix approach. And then there are the poor, unfortunate adolescents stuck between a rock and a hard place, between natural inclinations and harsh church rules that are so draconian they have driven people to self-loathing and suicidal ideation. I know all these things because I am an active, churchgoing Catholic.

  5. Ghislain Ruy-Longépé

    There is only one way in the path of Christ: it is to OUST all the bishops , cardinals and other mental degenerates who are fighting our courageous pope Francis. Those destitute men, italians, american, french for the most of them are so corrupt that they prefer to attempt provoking a civil war inside OUR church, (Our CHURCH IS NOT THEIRS), rather thn giving up their pride, and mindfulness of the word of Christ. There will be no civile war, no breakup, no reform, IF WE OUST QUICKLY THOSE DEGENRATED MEN (Or supposed to be, rather psychopathic paedohil masturbators)
    OUT of our church vigano, sarah, dubia idiots, the 137 signatories of the “fraternal correction”. OUT. in full Excommunication and withdrawing of any clerical state ad vitam aeternam.
    And as for the useful idiots who signed petitions against our pope Francis, especially on the marriage issue: REPENT and REFORM and CONVERT.

  6. St. Faustina in her diary speaks of a vision where Jesus explained to her that the scourging was due to sins of impurity. In her vision, she saw not just laity, but also priests, religious, and dignitaries of the Church scourging Christ — and this vision was in the 1930’s. The New Testament’s long denunciations of the Pharisees have no doubt been preserved for the Christian era to remind us that we too are still children of Adam and Eve. However, it is reparation, not recrimination that is the Christian answer.

  7. Pingback: Sex Scandal & Cover-up: Monday Second Edition – Big Pulpit

  8. There are many things in this post I agree with. And I’m very grateful for you bringing up the public schools. As a convert, no one in my family has been affected by the priest scandal…but we have by the schools. To say it is frustrating that this problem STILL hasn’t been addressed would be an understatement. I also live in PA…and I’m so angry I could spit nails that the AG spent 2 YEARS investigating the Church but NOT ONE MOMENT investigating the public schools…not even after one school district announced, after a 12 year old convicted rapist raped 5 first graders over the course of a school year and the teachers and principal covered it all up, that it had no responsibility to keep children safe in their schools.

    Ok, that aside, I will say this: I refuse to allow the extremes to rule. As in politics, those of us NOT in either extreme have allowed the extreme too much air time, too much talk time. And both sides have played up this “civil war”…and anyone who uses the Internet gets sucked into it. Those of us in the rational middle who don’t think such stupid extreme things need to take the reins from both extremes. They have proven that they care not for the Church but for their own agendas.

    In my parish what I’ve heard is a call for holiness from EVERYONE. And frankly, if we lay people aren’t holy, how in the world can we help our priests be holy? Yet a complacency…a laziness…has set in, perhaps unrecognized, and we need to stop acting like the sleeping apostles at Gesthemene and wake up and focus on the Lord and His will.

    Lastly, i will say this: this problem is not THE problem and it’s not the only problem. If we start thinking that only THIS needs our attention, while we ignore all those corporal works of mercy (and how we treat immigrants, legal or not, fits in there), Jesus will not be pleased.

    1. I agree, especially about your point on our call to holiness. There are so many people who have high expectations of priests and religious but they seem to lower the expectations when it comes to themselves and other laypeople. I think we’re all supposed to be live a life of holiness and be humble and obedient.

    2. Yeah, there are many problems. Like not allowing free discussion, removing posts and banning accounts just for different oppinion, don’t you agree…..

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