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Why Catholics Become Protestants

Interesting article by Fr. Thomas J. Reese in the National Catholic Reporter (H/T: The Website of Unknowing). If the findings of the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life are accurate, it seems to come down not so much to doctrinal differences but a sense of feeling spiritually nurtured:

The principal reasons given by people who leave the church to become Protestant are that their “spiritual needs were not being met” in the Catholic church (71 percent) and they “found a religion they like more” (70 percent). Eighty-one percent of respondents say they joined their new church because they enjoy the religious service and style of worship of their new faith.

In other words, the Catholic church has failed to deliver what people consider fundamental products of religion: spiritual sustenance and a good worship service. And before conservatives blame the new liturgy, only 11 percent of those leaving complained that Catholicism had drifted too far from traditional practices such as the Latin Mass.

Dissatisfaction with how the church deals with spiritual needs and worship services dwarfs any disagreements over specific doctrines. While half of those who became Protestants say they left because they stopped believing in Catholic teaching, specific questions get much lower responses. Only 23 percent said they left because of the church’s teaching on abortion and homosexuality; only 23 percent because of the church’s teaching on divorce; only 21 percent because of the rule that priests cannot marry; only 16 percent because of the church’s teaching on birth control; only 16 percent because of the way the church treats women; only 11 percent because they were unhappy with the teachings on poverty, war and the death penalty.

I would be interested in seeing a similar study of why Protestants become Catholic. Would they cite the same basic reasons, or are other factors at play? And would there be any differences between those who went to Rome from evangelicalism as opposed to mainline Protestantism?

Are there any ex-Catholics or ex-Protestants out there who would like to weigh in?


6 Comments

  1. jerry says:

    I am a convert to Catholicism, after being raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I became a Roman Catholic for the same reason that these people say they left the Catholic Church for Protestantism. My spiritual needs were not being met where I was. Go figure.

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  2. Linda Dougar says:

    I am a convert to Catholicism. I don’t think it’s right to compare one religion
    to another, or to judge another’s faith. I took a lot of steps before opening the door to a Catholic church and leaving my prejudice outside. I found worship and people who also believe and pray. Perhaps this is just where God has led me in a very personal way. He calls us by name and I suppose meets our needs in the same way. Can we really argue about theology and liturgy; maybe we all believe the same thing but say it differently. ……..I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord;………..

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  3. Darrell,

    I have added your blog to my new blog at WordPress. Thank you for the link.

    Claude Mariottini

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  4. Fernando Matro says:

    A Challenge of former Catholics

    Show me one Catholic who knows his Faith, practices his Faith, is loyal to the Church and who, through study begin to realize that not the Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus Christ has founded.

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  5. Darryl Rowe says:

    Born and raised Roman Catholic, parochial school, etc. Joined the Navy in 71 and ran into The Navigators. They drew their KJVs and I drew my RSV and we had at it. I believed, and still believe, that one can be saved in the Catholic church…(note: I was also drawn to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement)…but there are issues. Over time I decided that calling myself a Catholic meant that I agreed with all that the church taught, and I don’t (Sola Scriptura!). So I was essentially Southern Baptist until the conservative take-over, left for The Vineyard till the pastor started preaching and teaching from The Message (paraphrase) and am now happily esconced in a local Nazarene church. So, for me, it was and is beliefs and practice. That said, there is some good stuff on the Roman Catholic side (i.e. Pope Benedict’s ‘Jesus of Nazareth’). So like bible.org’s Theology Program taught…(basically)…unity in the essentials, freedom to differ in the non-essentials. Your mileage may vary. “Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” — Bruce Lee

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  6. Paul Ray says:

    I converted to the Catholic Faith in 1999, after years of searching for the Church God established on Pentecost. Historically one cannot deny the ancient roots of the Church being Catholic, way too many Church Fathers attest to it!

    To me, belonging to the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church brought me much peace and serenity to my life. The connection I have to the identical Church The Apostles taught in was essential to my decision to join. I found great solace in the Holy Eucharist presenting me the Divinity of God in a most intimate way.

    Oh, and I greatly enjoy being able to call on Mother Mary and all the saints to intercede on my behalf before The Throne Of God, something I never had as a Protestant. The church of Christ gave me instructions into the basic tenents of Christianity, which I am forever grateful. It was though The Catholic Church that gave me the fulness of faith.

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