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?