My Response: In addition to the reasons below for the decline in Church membership in recent years , I would add:
Women have left the institutional Church because of toxic patriarchal teachings that assert control of women's bodies in family planning. Most Catholic women follow their consciences and ignore the ban on artificial birth control.
In the U.S. women are in top leadership positions. The Church's prohibition against women's ordination reflects the hierarchy's entrenched, centuries-old misogyny. In contrast, the majority of Catholics in the U.S. support women's ordination.
The international Roman Catholic Women Priests Movement leads the Church today by offering a new model of priestly ministry in inclusive Catholic communities where all are equal partners in the celebration of sacraments and pastoral ministry. We have eliminated the toxic teaching and discriminatory practices by claiming our spiritual authority to ordain women for public ministry in the Church in spite of the Vatican's condemnation.
In a society where same sex marriage is legal, the ongoing discrimination against LGBQTI is immoral. It is also unacceptable to most Catholics today because Jesus in the Gospels welcomes everyone to the Table.
The institutional Church has failed to assert the primacy of conscience - although Pope Francis has made strides in this direction- to welcome divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharistic table.
The hierarchy continues to resist major reforms that would welcome all God's people as equal members. Until that sad fact changes, the numbers in the pews will decline.
So what can Catholics who love the sacraments, the mystical and social justice tradition do? Follow Jesus' example, not the bishops! Speak up and join alternative, inclusive, Catholic communities where all are welcome and treated as spiritual equals. Each of us is the Church, not the pope or bishops alone. It is our treasured faith community, all billion plus of us. Together we can liberate God and ourselves from the toxic teachings and discriminatory laws of the Roman Catholic Church and live the fullness of our faith now. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, https://arcwp.org. firstname.lastname@example.org
John Alonzo Dick - PhD, STD, Historical Theologian and ARCC Vice President.Catholics now make up about 20% of the US population - down from close to 24% in 2007 - but the American Catholic Church is still larger than any other single religious institution in the United States. Catholics in recent years, however, have faced a number of significant challenges: an ongoing decline in membership, a shortage of priests, major financial problems, and continuing revelations of clerical sexual abuse. The US Catholic Church has experienced a greater membership net loss than any other US religious group.Like contemporary US society, American Catholics, are also highly -- and often heatedly -- polarized. Edison Research exit polls estimate that 52% of all Catholic voters went for Biden this past November, and 47% for Trump. The Edison exit polls in 2016 showed a 46% Catholic vote for Clinton, and 50% for Trump.US Catholic bishops, with just a few exceptions, have been strongly supportive of Donald Trump, and critical of Democrats and now President Joseph Biden. New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who gave the invocation as his inauguration, was a strong supporter of his "great friend" former president Donald Trump. Cardinal Raymond Burke, former Archbishop of St. Louis and a former Vatican official, is probably the de facto leader of the Church's conservative wing. He calls Democrats the "party of death."I guess it was really no surprise then that even before President Biden's inaugural ceremony had finished, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the USCCB - the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops -- issued an extensive statement criticizing Biden for policies "that would advance moral evils," especially "in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender." It is significant to note that the day BEFORE President Biden's inauguration both Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and Cardinal Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, had put intense pressure on Archbishop Gomez to make NO STATEMENT, as did the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre.Since the late 1970s, conservative US Catholics and evangelicals have been allies in the "culture war" that has shaped US partisan politics. This has been due in no small part to the conservative "reform of the reform" of the Second Vatican Council undertaken by popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and the bishops they appointed to make it happen.Yes. Today the US Catholic Church is a divided house and it is time for institutional reformation. A change in mentality is certainly needed: one that's more open and inviting, less restrictive, and less confrontational. We need better educated leaders, who have undergone a kind of pastoral renewal with updated historical and theological perspectives.We all need renewed perspectives. Progressives as well as conservatives. In the process we need to listen to each other with humility, respect, inquisitive minds, and compassionate understanding. No one has all the answers. We are all teachers and we are all learners. We are all believers.....We do need each other. A divided "Body of Christ" is neither life-giving nor Christian. Sooner or later divided houses collapse, but they take a lot of innocent victims with them.