Why Are Philly Catholics Leaving the Church?

NewsWorks reports on a new poll by Villanova University’s Center for the Study of Church Management, delving into why Catholics are leaving a local parish. The top reason wasn’t so surprising—the child molestation scandals of the last decade have taken too much of a toll—but the second one might raise more eyebrows: It’s a simple disagreement over theology.

“People who are going to leave the church over the scandal and the church’s handling of it have already left. So people leaving the church today are leaving for other reasons,” said (Villanova’s) Charles Zech. “A growing reason we found out was the church’s attitude toward homosexuals and gay marriage. A lot of younger people object to the church’s teaching on that.”

Zech agreed not to name the parish—189 of its lapsed members responded to the poll. Despite the disagreement over church teachings, he said, the church might strengthen its bond with members if it simply offered stronger Sunday morning programming:

“Liturgies are really important. I’m not sure that parish staff and clergy understand how important liturgies are to people, that they have good music and the liturgy be meaningful,” said Zech. “People who feel they are not being fed by a meaningful liturgy — they’ll go where they are being fed.”

Gotta give people a good show these days. But the church might find that easier than compromising over long-held teachings on sexuality.