Top priority

Top priority

Praying hand in hand © vchal (shutterstock)

U.S. bishops want to increase outreach to former parishioners who have turned their backs on the Catholic Church. This is a top priority, Bishop Barron told the plenary session of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

One in two Catholics leaves the church at a young age, says auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles. On average, church dropouts are 13 years old, he said. "Half of the children we have baptized in the past 30 years are now former Catholics," says Barron. The most common reason for leaving the church, they say, is a lack of faith in Catholic teachings.

Other factors, he said, include widespread relativism, science and a rejection of church sexual morality. At the same time, he says, most nonbelievers are not fundamentally hostile to religion.

Reaching people through social networks

When it comes to reaching people again, the Internet is both a problem and an opportunity. Due to the high mobility of people, the "paradigm of parish membership" is now outdated, Barron summed up. Young people in particular are accessible to the church via social networks, he said. At the same time, a trend toward social isolation is reinforced by the new media.

One of the main topics of discussion at the Assembly in Baltimore is the abuse crisis. In the first days, the bishops debated the right responses and decided on a central reporting system for abuse. In accordance with Pope Francis' "Motu Proprio" decree, on 1. June 2020 to be operational.

A quarter of all U.S. Catholics don't go to Mass

At Baltimore meeting, bishops discuss how to respond to membership decline. In an interview with our site, Klaus Prompers, journalist and former ZdK member, said: "Just before this bishops' plenary, a new Pew Research study came out that found a quarter of all Catholics have now reduced their Mass attendance. Whereas in 2008 45 percent of all Catholics attended religious services at least once a month, it is to be feared that this year the figure will be even lower. Catholics' willingness to donate is also waning. The credibility of the church has suffered so much."

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