Can you leave if you’re not here?

So while I was out of town and busy at meetings, I guess the big news among the Catholic blogs was the ad that ran in the New York Times urging “liberal and nominal Catholics” to leave the Catholic Church.

The ad was out of line, made ridiculous claims about us, and would never fly if it was speaking of any other religious group, of course.  (A caricature of Cardinal Dolan, really?  Burning bibles, caricatures of our leaders… you should be glad we Catholics are Christ-like.  Other religions wouldn’t be so tolerant.)

But it made me think– if “liberal and nominal Catholics” really did leave the Catholic Church … well, first, what does “leave” mean?  If you’re a “nominal” Catholic, you’re probably not going to Sunday Mass or obeying half of the precepts of the Church.

So haven’t you already left?

But let’s assume they decide to “leave.”   What does that do to our statistic keeping?

When you have surveys that say things like “98% of Catholics do this” and “the majority of Catholics do that” … and then you see that most of the people they survey don’t even attend Mass on a weekly basis, it leaves me wondering.  Why do those people get to screw up our statistics?

They don’t want to listen to the Pope, they don’t know what the Church actually teaches, and they don’t come to Mass.  … But when it comes time to fill out a survey, they mark the “Catholic” box.  Why?

Not to mention the fact that they give scandal to the world.  Yes, I’m talking about you, Ms. Pelosi and Ms. Sebelius and Mr. Biden.

It got me thinking… what other group could you claim to belong to when you don’t really do the things they do or believe the things they believe?

What about “liberal and nominal vegetarians”?

Confused person: Why are you eating that hamburger?  I thought you were a vegetarian.

Nominal Vegetarian:  Well, I’m a vegetarian, but I’m very open-minded.  No one is going to impose their beliefs on my stomach.

Confused person:  So you’re not a vegetarian.

Nominal Vegetarian:  I was raised in a vegetarian household, and I thought it was important to have vegetarian options at our wedding reception… but I’m not really a practicing vegetarian.

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3 thoughts on “Can you leave if you’re not here?

  1. Mom says:

    Love the vegetarian argument. As for those people, I wish they WOULD leave. I think we should take out an ad that says “YES, PLEASE GO!” but then, that wouldn’t be very nice, would it? Everyone was mad about that ad, but I think it did raise the question, why are they staying?

  2. I have really conflicting feelings on this issue. It’s a good question: Why complain about the fundamental teachings of the Church? Nobody is forcing you to be Catholic. If you don’t like it, you’re free to get out.

    BUT . . .

    If the ultimate goal is getting as many people to Christ and to heaven as possible, I wonder if it’s a good idea to encourage that separation. Someone’s Catholic identity, even as strained and watered-down as it may be, could be a basis for a real conversion later in life. If some vague notion of Catholicism still appeals to them, who knows how the Holy Spirit could work on that inclination and use it to their benefit.

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