Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Cause and effect

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 29, 2009

Watching American religious developments from across the Atlantic, Irish commentator Niall O'Dowd notices the sharp rise in the number of Americans with no religious affiliations, and shows a special interest in the fact that Irish Catholics comprise the largest number of people leaving the church of their youth. He reflects:

Why are so many Irish Catholics leaving the faith? The obvious reason to me is the church sex scandals. They disproportionately affected Irish Catholics and most of the abusers we read about were Irish Catholic priests.

Sorry; wrong answer. The exodus began long before the scandal broke. It's true that there has been a spike in the number of departures over the past decade, and no doubt the scandal played a role. But the hemorrhaging had already begun. It didn't start--only accelerated--when the body suffered another trauma.

O'Dowd's analysis sounds reasonable enough:

For instance, the Boston archdiocese, a hub of Irish Catholicism in America, has been riven by deep scandals that surely have turned many parishioners off.

But again, in Boston particularly--and among the Irish-Catholics of Boston especially--the problem was evident long before the scandal broke.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Progress toward our October expenses ($33,317 to go):
$35,000.00 $1,683.25
95% 5%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 1 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: pmathes4441 - Oct. 18, 2009 9:09 PM ET USA

    1. Lack of good Catholic teacjing in the Catholic Schools. Too many high school students graduate with little understanding of the Church, especially among Catholic School students. 2. Poor homiletics from the priest at Mass. One K of C friend of mine, a convert from Methodism, once commented that the priest gave a good Methodist Sermon at Mass. The house is being built on sand, not the Rock of Truth. If the priest isn't energized, can we expect the faithful to be?

Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

On Bishops and Jesuits, Saints and Angels 19 hours ago
Bishop Finn in Kansas City: Not quite up to date? 21 hours ago
Oh, that sort of misconduct [UPDATED] September 29
Don’t worry about terrorism; worry about workplace violence? September 29
Doing Great Things for Christ September 29

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Cardinals criticize Kasper proposal, escalating debate on remarriage/Communion CWN - September 18
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30