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The Catholic identity has been so watered down throughout the West that, with rare exceptions, virtually no Catholics have any sense of duty to the Church, to Christ. In fact, the very opposite is often encouraged by the clergy. And at the very least, there's no other message Catholics could reasonably conclude other than, there's no big deal about being Catholic.
This is best demonstrated by looking at what's called the walkaway ratio. The walkway ratio measures the number of people who leave a religion compared to the number of people who convert to it. To their everlasting shame, the U.S. bishops own the highest walkaway ratio of any religion in America. No one else is even close.
When this apostolate began in 2006, the walkaway ratio was 4-to-1, meaning for every convert to the Church, four were leaving. In 2018 — five years ago — the ratio jumped to 6.5-to-1. In raw numbers across the population,13% of the U.S. population are former Catholics; only 2% have come into the Church.
But those numbers, as we said, are five years old, and some early estimates for more recent years put the number even higher at eight walkaways for every convert. The percentage of Catholics relative to the overall population has fallen from its traditional level of 25% to barely over 20%. One out of four used to be Catholic; now it's one out of five — and falling. So, a little examination of conscience is necessary here.
By the way, about half of Catholic walkaways join some Protestant group or another; the other half abandon religion altogether. Both of those statistics tell you one thing: Those hordes stampeding for the exits don't understand what the Church is and, therefore, feel no compunction to remain. In short, they have no — zero — identity as Catholics.
They don't see themselves as belonging to the Church established by the incarnate Eternal Logos. The sacraments instituted by Christ are essentially nothing to them. The Blessed Sacrament is meaningless to them. If you belong to a religion — at least, if you are intellectually honest — you believe it to be the true religion. Why else would you belong?
You could say that whether it's true or not doesn't really matter to them, that they just want to have "fellowship" in some generic congregation that has a decent "pastor." But that's a really dumb reason for joining a religion whose chief goal is God — not the person sitting next to you. For all the emphasis Church leadership in America has placed on education over the last 200 years, they certainly didn't help Catholics become smart.
What we have now is an emasculated, almost childish view of God and religion, which has adopted all the woke views of the world. Notice that when it comes to professional athletes, for example, it's never a big-name Catholic out there opposing the LGBTQ agenda. Notice that when the pandemic garbage was going on, more Protestant communities protested and stayed open than did Catholic ones.
In fact, there is hardly ever a peep from Catholics of any sort in the world of the culture wars, certainly compared to Protestants of a more conservative stripe. Given that, it's hardly surprising that the half of Catholics who walk away, walk to socially conservative Protestant congregations. But regardless of what may be attractive socially and culturally, or even emotionally or psychologically, one thing is absolutely certain: Theologically, it's a shipwreck.
No one who understands Who the Catholic Church is could ever walk away from Her. In fact, to do so would be to ensure damnation, as plainly stated in the catechism:
He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it. (CCC ¶ 846)
No Church, no salvation — for those who know. But, there's more: For Catholics who "stay" in the Church, but not with the sincerity of charity, it's hellfire for them, as well. From the same document:
All the Church's children should remember that their exalted status is to be attributed not to their own merits but to the special grace of Christ. If they fail moreover to respond to that grace in thought, word and deed, not only shall they not be saved but they will be the more severely judged.
In sum, you are damned if you know the truth of the Church and either walk away or don't ever come in or stay in lukewarm. There is nothing more serious than all this, absolutely nothing on earth. So let's go out on a limb and say that only the biggest fool would understand all this and still walk away — which means the vast majority of those walkaway Catholics do not know. And it's a safe bet that those around them, family and friends, also do not know.
And it's also a safe bet that much of the clergy either doesn't know it or is too cowardly to preach it. The fangs have been ripped from the mouth of the Faith, as though being nice is all that is needed — when it clearly is not. Most Catholics don't believe in the Real Presence, the Devil (at least as a personal being), the teachings on sexual morality, the sinfulness of deliberately missing Mass, the need to die in a state of sanctifying grace to be saved — none of it.
Catholics who do know all this are now under an even more intense obligation to lay themselves out for the Faith — to speak the truth as clearly as they can, to put some fangs back into the Faith in its battle against Hell. What we are talking about is defending the purity of the Church, of the Faith, at whatever cost is required. While it's true many Catholics do not know, it is also true that many don't want to know.
Which are which is up to God to judge, but it is easily apparent that many fall into the camp of the willfully ignorant, not the invincibly ignorant. There is a certain comfort that comes along with not fighting, with being toothless, being defanged. It makes life easier, oftentimes much easier. The only cost involved is your soul, for eternity.
Get into the fight like a roaring lion to meet the Devil face-to-face. Call a spade a spade. Call out heresy. Call out phony ecumenism. Call out the destruction of souls. As the Church says, anyone who does not remain in Her, in charity, will be damned. Doing all those things is charity. They are called the spiritual works of mercy.