Vast majority of U.S. Catholics who left the church can’t imagine returning, study says

That sinking feeling
Moral ennui?
Moral confusion?
Is it so hard to believe?
The Rolling Stones syndrome: I can get no satisfaction?

It is well-known to followers of Buddhism that

In 1997, Ratzinger riled Buddhists when he called the religion an “autoerotic spirituality” that seeks “transcendence without imposing concrete religious obligations.” He also suggested that Buddhism would replace Marxism as the church’s biggest foe by 2000.  National Catholic Reporter [1990]

Of course, that type of extreme paranoia hasn’t stop progressive Buddhists and Catholics from quietly reaching out to each other to mend fences, so to speak. I assume it is this quiet effort which led to this recent meeting:

(Vatican Radio) Buddhists and Catholics from the United States are holding an interreligious dialogue meeting for the first time near Rome this week, focused on the themes of ‘Suffering, Liberation and Fraternity’. [6/23/15]
Vatican Radio

That is very hopeful indeed because one could interpret  that study in today’s Washington Post as showing that the Church may need the Buddhists help to keep afloat, and at the same time as a sign that Ratzinger’s fears were not totally paranoid. That’s the good thing about research, you can draw your own conclusions, but it is actually quite interesting.

The Church is losing ground, and in an ugly way.

Seventy-seven percent of those who were raised Catholic but no longer identify with the religion said they could not envision themselves eventually returning to the church,

Ouch! Why would they have such an adamant sentiment about not returning to the Church?

And just 17 percent of Catholics believe its a sin to use contraceptives, while 21 percent say the same of getting a divorce.

The survey also examined U.S. Catholics’ views on issues such as divorce, same-sex marriage and sinful behavior, finding an openness for non-traditional family structures.

76 percent — expressed a desire to see the church allow the use of birth control.

two-thirds of Mass-going Catholics think the church should relax its prohibition on contraceptives.


Although an overwhelming majority of Catholics (nine in ten) believe in the concept of sin, they don’t seem to agree on what, precisely, constitutes one. Fifty-seven percent of Catholics think it’s a sin to have an abortion, compared to 48 percent of the general U.S. population who say the same. those percentages are higher for those who attend Mass weekly — 73 percent of weekly churchgoers say that abortion is a sin,


…stopped believing the church’s overall teachings,


Far more common, in that 2008 survey, were those who said they simply stopped believing the church’s overall teachings, or gradually drifted away from Catholicism, or said that their spiritual needs weren’t being met.

Whatever it is, the Church has a lot of work to do: fixing the teachings, relaxing morally, and becoming open-minded. And the new Pope is not sitting idle about it. This week he gave his priests discretionary powers during the “Year of Mercy” to give forgiveness to women who had abortions but are repentant, bring them back to the Church. I don’t know you but, to me, THAT is an eye opener. And a good way to start, within the context of the Church, of course.

The Church is at a crossroad: it can’t rely on conservative Latin Americans for survival no matter how many they are. In addition, they represent the same backward fanatic religious mentality the Church needs to get rid of to avoid looking medieval. It either jumps into the new-millennium mainstream or perish drowning on dry land.


This is where things start to get interesting. How can the Buddhists help the Church? The problems facing it are not the type that would make anyone rush to Buddhism to solve them. Many Buddhists ‘gurus’ agree with the Church in that abortion is killing and, consequently, immoral and should not be performed. Now, don’t you go on thinking that ALL Buddhists are progressives. And that’s OK because you will NEVER find 100% agreement in any view humans can have on anything.

The Buddhist’s strongest moral advantage against the Catholic Church are its focus on meditation, a non-judgmental attitude and an anti-greed (avarice and excessive wanting) in a time when this greed is causing humanity to lose its collective mind. The Church is greedy, we all know that, don’t we? It is judgmental to an extreme, and it doesn’t fancy  ‘inquiring minds’, the type needed for the type of meditation practiced by many Buddhists.

As for Buddhists, it’s do or die too. If they want to be an alternative, they must relinquish the most controversial and difficult to swallow teachings of the historical Buddha: that there is no PERMANENT soul nor personality, and no God.

So what is in there for these two opposing religions?

MONEY. No. I’m not that cynical. But power and politics have historically been an issue for both religions in different ways. This much I can advance before my next post: today’s Buddhism and the Catholic Church both have an issue with anti-capitalism. The Church instinctively wants to fight it, and the Buddhist do not want  to be associated with it, given that its historical teachings can lead to no other sentiment.

The problem is: most of today’s moral problems are related with corporate capitalism and the  solutions require attacking it’s big attraction: GREED!

You can’t have your cake and eat it too, or maybe you can.

To be continued.

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