Inside Catholic asked prominent Catholics to respond to the recent report that the largest religious group in the USA are lapsed Catholics. Here are our thoughts.

In my own response I mentioned the desperate need to be ‘relevant’ felt by some Catholics. However, I think there is also another, more simple answer to why people left the Church.

Once we have all picked over the reasons and analyzed ourselves to death, maybe we should come back to some simple verities.

One of the main reasons so many people left the church is because they simply found the Catholic religion too demanding. They found Catholic moral teaching too much to take. They found the demands of sanctity too much to take. They fell into some sort of mortal sin and instead of repenting, blamed the church.

In other words, it wasn’t the fault of the institution or bad priests, or hatched-faced nuns or corrupt bishops or anything else. These were excuses for individuals who wanted to go their own way (usually in the area of sexual morality) and so they left, and instead of feeling guilty for their weakness, their disloyalty, their cowardice and their sin, they blamed the institution.