5.04.2009

Staying Catholic


WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 28, 2009 -If parents want their children to carry the Catholic faith from childhood to adulthood, take them to Mass, say a U.S. bishops' conference spokesman.

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, past chairman of the bishops' Committee on Catechesis and next chairman of the Committee on Doctrine, said this in response to a Pew Forum survey that revealed a key factor in whether or not one remains Catholic as an adult is whether or not one attends Mass as a child or teenager.

"The report highlights the importance of Mass attendance among children and teenagers," the archbishop said. "Adolescence is a critical time in religious development and, as the poll shows, what happens in the teen years has a long-lasting affect. We have to help young people and their parents appreciate the importance of going to weekly Mass so teenagers know Jesus is there for them now and always."

The study also revealed a 68% retention rate of Catholics in the Church, which is higher than most other Christian churches. The key reason people leave their church, the study reported, is that "they just gradually drifted away from the faith."

The study said only 2%-3% percent of those polled cited sexual abuse of children as a reason for leaving when asked in an open-ended question why they left.

When people were asked to choose why they left from a list of possible reasons, the number jumped from 21% for Catholics who became Protestant, and 27% for former Catholics who are now unaffiliated with any church. Other reasons for leaving the Church, such as disagreement on doctrinal matters, figured much higher.