Church Seeks to Win Back Long-Lapsed Catholics

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Portrait of Pope Benedict XIV at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Portrait of Pope Benedict XIV at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

According to the Pew U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, more than a quarter of Americans have left the faith they were raised in to join a different religion or have dropped their religious ties completely. The Catholic Church in particular has seen a significant loss in membership.

Bringing back lapsed Catholics to the church has been a concern of Pope Benedict XVI, who will officially resign from office on February 28. In the run-up to Benedict’s formal departure, our partner station WGBH in Boston is airing a week long series called "The Changing Catholic Church."

The Takeaway talks with WGBH reporter Anne Mostue about the success of efforts to reach former Catholics who have drifted away from the Church and to attract new members.

According to Mostue, "For some it is a tough sell. Approximately one third of those who say they were raised Catholic in the United States are no longer practicing the religion. Of those people who are going to church, though, about two thirds go occasionally and one third go every week." Monstue describes the child sex abuse scandals that have plagued the church in recent years as, "the nail in the coffin," for Catholics who were already feeling disconnected from their faith. 

What Mostue says the Church has going for it right now, amidst a lot of turmoil, is the prevailing sense of community among members. According to one Catholic man she interviewed, Michael Mack, the most valuable component of the Church is the members. "My church is my people," he says.


Anne Mostue

Produced by:

Elizabeth Ross

Comments [4]

Ed from Larchmont

The Catholics Come Home initiative is wonderful and is bringing thousands back to the Church and the Sacraments.

After the council many people were poorly catechized, and don't understand the Church's teaching, Pope Benedict has tried to get us to study and learn our faith, with some success.

Feb. 28 2013 06:05 AM
Laura from Washington

I had 12 yrs of Catholic school, and I loved it at the time. But our teachers (priests, nuns, and lay people) did not teach us the extreme conservatism we see today in the church. They taught us love, and that yes, there are more then one religion in the world, and that is ok. But for most of my adult life (I am in my 30's) I have felt disconnected from the church. They do not represent me in the issues of gays, women as priests, progressive nuns, birth control, I could go on and on. I so miss being apart of it, but can not with good conscience belong to something I so disagree with morally. I have purposely not sent my children to catholic school for fear they will not be taught my values, which is so sad. I pray everyday that the church will come to its senses and modernize, and be the church that Jesus actually talked about, not the man made one we have now. That would bring back a lot of former catholics.

Feb. 27 2013 03:00 PM
Jamesrain40 from Oregon

Maybe it is just me, but I am so tired of all the "news" about the Pope. It affects so few people in the US and few of us care at all.

Feb. 27 2013 02:05 PM
Michael from Portland

That is THE church ? Belief / Organization / or Both ?

To BELONG means U MUST BELIEVE in a Certain Tradition or History; or ALL ?

>Now the conclusion of that belief,,, makes the LIMITS of BELONGING to Any Organization VERY FINITE, many are excluded.

Does God have limits ? or is God LOVE ?

-Jesuit Educated-

Feb. 27 2013 01:36 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.