Survey reveals serious issues that affect the whole church

Conducted by Villanova University’s Center for the Study of Church Management, the survey, called “Empty Pews,” asked Catholics in the Trenton Diocese a series of questions about church doctrine and parish life to better understand why they are staying home.

While the study was restricted to one diocese, chances are the responses could come from just about anywhere in the U.S., where a 2007 report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found one-third of Americans were raised Catholic but one-third of those had left the church.

Or, as Villanova’s Charles Zech put it, “These are issues that affect the whole church.”

The responses can be divided into two categories, said Zech, who co-authored the study and is director of the Villanova center. In one category are “the things that can’t change but that we can do a better job explaining.” The other category, he said “are some things that aren’t difficult to fix.”

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Editor’s note: My general observation is 50% of the problems have to do with various unresolved sexual issues and marital conflicts. Another 30% are due to personality clashes, ignorance, and simple misunderstandings – on behalf of both the clergy and the laity. 10% result from local Catholic Church politics – including the whims of various bishops. The last 10% is due to various types of idolatry – professional sports addiction, excessive love of money, hobbies, leisure, and self.

In the old days, church teaching was at least, consistent and clear. People back then actually knew WHY they chose to leave the church!

Today, few know or even care what the church authoritatively teaches, and/or why … and what wishy-washy teaching there is does precious little to truly educate or inspire the faithful. Now, most people who choose to leave do so because they can’t quite figure out why they should stay!

On top of all this, we have a shortage of priests, many of whom have been poorly formed in the faith, badly trained in parish management, and receive little or no support from their respective bishops.

If you dare attempt to talk to some of these priests about these issues, they get fidgety and their eyes tend to glaze over. Then …  they run away and hide!

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