Why do young American Catholics leave the church? In January, St. Mary’s Press, in collaboration with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, released a two-year national study of disaffiliation among young American Catholics in conjunction with a symposium on the topic at the Maritime Conference Center in Baltimore. The report, “Going, Going, Gone! The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics,” hones in on the reasons (note they are plural).
The emphasis is on narrative, so the report includes stories told by young (ex-)Catholics—204 of them—explaining their decisions to exit. The research goal was pastoral: By hearing youthful voices, and taking seriously what they have to say about why they leave, the church might come up with more meaningful strategies for keeping them engaged.