Why People Fall Away from the Roman Catholic Church

Most Catholics have lived very secular lives, and they think in very secular terms. As a result, many teachings of the Church do not make sense to them. “For the Word of the Cross is certainly foolishness to those who are perishing.” (1 Cor 1:18).

I see this pattern over and over again, with very many of my fellow Catholics. They go to Mass and receive Communion. They talk about Catholicism online. But they have lived their entire lives thoroughly immersed in sinful secular society. They have learned what to believe and how to think from that society. They have adopted all manner of false and disordered premises and conclusions, which are incompatible with the holy Catholic Faith.

Society teaches them narcissism and hedonism. Society teaches them the exaltation of personal opinion and the rejection of authority. Society demands proof for any ideas that make life more difficult, and no proof at all for whatever is pleasing. And they are sons of their society.

They do not decide the morality of an act based on the love of God and neighbor, the teachings of Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium, and the basic principles of ethics taught by the Church. If the Church condemns a specific act by name, perhaps they will accept that condemnation. But if anything happens in their life, making it difficult to avoid that sin, they find a way to justify the act. They are not seeking moral truth with intellectual honesty, because society has taught them not to seek objective moral truth. Society has taught them to use their own desires and thoughts, and the prevailing popular opinion, as the basis for moral decisions.

They do not live by faith and reason, but by reason alone, because that is the teaching of sinful secular society. And their use of reason is greatly disordered, because they presuppose many falsehoods accepted by the culture in which they live. When faced with a teaching of the Church that is difficult to accept, they do not exercise the virtue of faith. Instead, they seek some type of explanation based on reason alone. But they also insist that the explanation be stated in secular terms and be consistent with a secular understanding of life. But that cannot be. The teaching of the Church is heavenly, so it will always seem like foolishness to the worldly mind and to the sinful culture.

As a result, as one difficult teaching after another weighs upon their minds, they move further and further from the Church. Instead of setting aside secular ideas, and learning heavenly ideas, and exercising the virtue of faith, they evaluate Church teaching again and again, always from a secular point of view. And in the end, they conclude that the Church must be wrong. For the teachings of the Catholic Faith are not compatible with sinful secular society.

In addition, many Catholics, having lived very secular lives, are guilty of many past (and perhaps present) sexual sins. So when the Church proposes a heavenly view of sexuality, they reject it. For they realize (on some level) that acceptance of this heavenly view implies grave guilt and the obligation to change their lives. That is why so many Catholics online are quick to invent or to accept various excuses and rationalizations for sexual sins, abortion, and contraception. The thief won’t admit that stealing is immoral, or at least he will claim that what he is doing is not theft. For he does not want to accuse himself and change his ways.

If you are a child of the sinful culture, and you refuse to give up your secular point of view, you will fall away from the Catholic Christian Faith, sooner or later.

Instead, learn the teaching of the Church, from a holy point of view. Give up your own way of thinking, your own ideas, and subjugate your mind and heart to Christ. Stop making excuses for your sins. Stop seeking theological rationalizations for your sins. Humble yourself before Christ and His Church, and accept the teachings of heaven, in contradiction to the teachings of this world. And beware of false teachers who are nothing but wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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2 Responses to Why People Fall Away from the Roman Catholic Church

  1. Dot says:

    I hope that sharing my own experience is informative to readers. Myself and every one of my siblings fell away from the Church in the 1970s. We smelled a rat when we saw priests marrying nuns and and wholesome men abandoning seminary. After years of Catholic schooling, it was only from the NEWSPAPER that I realized birth control is a moral issue; we had certainly never heard such a thing from the pulpit. I thought, “How can I trust such duplicity?” and promptly left.
    Having returned, I see the “wink and nod” is ubiquitous. When I sponsored an RCIA candidate last year, I found myself taking her aside to correct the PRIEST who had told her lies about gay “marriage,” and the DEACON who lied to her about contraception. Her conclusion was that she could believe anything she wanted. If not for my belief in the sacraments, I would definitely still be “lapsed.” I minimize my interactions with parishioners, as far too many of them go their own way, and prefer the company of Mormons.

  2. Dot says:

    Every one of my Catholic schooled siblings left the Church in the 70s. After all that investment, we had no vision or clarity about what it was to live a Catholic life, so we left. As for myself, the reason I returned was because of the Sacraments.

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