RESEARCH commissioned by Australia’s Catholic bishops has found many Catholics stop attending Mass because they have fallen out of the habit of going to church.
The study found that, in such cases, regularity of attendance declined over time, and there might have never been a deliberate decision to stop going to Mass.
Instead, people could not think of good enough reasons to start attending Mass again.
The study found that the most common causes for the cessation of Mass attendance given by participants were those that had to do with a perceived misuse of authority and power at all levels of the Church.
Participants often used the word “disillusionment” to describe how they felt about this.
The bishops commissioned the research, carried out by the Pastoral Projects Office of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, to discover why some Catholics, aged 25 upwards and who were once regular Massgoers, had stopped attending Mass regularly within the last five years, for reasons other than age or ill health.
A summary report by Pastoral Projects Office director Bob Dixon was tabled and discussed at the bishops’ plenary meeting in Sydney from November 27-December 1.
The bishops said the “Disconnected Catholics” research project helped in understanding the complex personal, spiritual and cultural factors that led to a decline in churchgoing over recent decades.
The summary’s single recommendation was the release of the full report to the Catholic community so that it can be widely discussed.
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