From sceptics to shruggers: The six different kinds of lapsed Catholics

A recent poll, which Fr Lucie-Smith has blogged about [recently], suggests that 40 per cent of the British don’t believe that Jesus was a real historical figure.

Here is another depressing statistic from the US: 79 per cent of Catholics who lapse, do so before the age of 23.

I learnt this from the blog of Brandon Vogt here.

Vogt is an eloquent and erudite young American who is actively trying to share his faith, challenge the dreary zeitgeist and bring back the lapsed . . . .

Vogt describes six different reasons why young Catholics leave the faith.

The first is that they are merely “cultural Catholics” who go under the label “Catholic” but who have no personal, meaningful faith whatsoever. They might go to Mass sometimes to please their parents, or at Christmas, but the label merely masks “a lifeless and decaying faith life”.

Vogt thinks it is easier to talk to an atheist than a cultural Catholic, as the atheist at least knows he/she isn’t a Catholic. According to Vogt, most US Catholics are in this category.

The second group are the “shruggers” – complacent people who simply shrug their shoulders at the big questions in life.

They are too mentally lazy to care about faith. They need to be convinced that knowing the purpose of our lives does matter and that responding with “whatever” is ducking their responsibility to engage with profound questions. I suspect this might be a hard category to reconvert.

The third group is “I am spiritual but not religious” – those who reject doctrine or religion but who still believe in a higher power and who still pray.

For this group, watching a sunset is a spiritual experience as valid as anything else; what you feel is all that matters. Continue reading


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