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The 'Had it' Catholics, Part II

 |  NCR Today

Tom Roberts' recent piece "The 'Had it' Catholics" has been attracting more comments on our Web site than we can keep up with.

It seems readers are intrigued by the by the central phenomenon of the story: that Catholicism is experiencing the largest loss of faithful of any religious denomination in America.

Now, Peter Steinfels over at Commonweal is weighing in on the subject with a massive exploration of what he calls 'The American Church's Crisis of Attrition.'

After looking into all sorts of reasons -- from all sorts of angles -- for why Catholics are leaving the church in such high numbers, Steinfels highlights what he sees as the key problem with the crisis: that the church hierarchy is simply not acknowledging it exists.

His conclusion is to change that, immediately:

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What matters is merely some kind of acknowledgement from the hierarchy, or even leading individuals within the hierarchy, of the seriousness of the situation. What matters is a sign of determination to address these losses honestly and openly, to absorb the existing data, to gather more if necessary, and to entertain and evaluate a wide range of views about causes and remedies.

Steinfels conclusion basically asks us to start talking about what's going on. Otherwise, he says, we'll never find a way to retain current Catholics and bring back those who have left.

That leads us right to the question. What can the Catholic church do to keep people around?


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