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Posted July 24, 2007

Evangelization Resource:
Questions Inactive Catholics Ask

The reasons some Catholics stop participating in the church and the questions they ask are addressed on a Web site that you may want to point out to others: www.oncecatholic.org. The site’s mission is to put inactive Catholics “back in touch with a face-to-face community of Catholics.” The site is sponsored by the Franciscan friars of St. John the Baptist Province in Cincinnati and is a “sister site” of www.americancatholic.org, a ministry of St. Anthony Messenger Press and Franciscan Communications.

Seven reasons people distance themselves from the church and become, to one degree or another, nonpracticing Catholics are addressed by oncecatholic.org. A series of questions related to each of these reasons, along with a brief, readable article responding to each question, is an important feature of the Web site.

1. Marriage issues are a reason some Catholics stop participating in the church. 2. Some nonpracticing Catholics say they didn’t feel “fed” by the church in terms of developing an adult faith. 3. Some Catholics just “drifted away.” 4. Others, for a variety of reasons, felt excluded. 5. Some who procured abortions felt this made them outsiders to the church. 6. Some had issues related to church teaching on matters such as birth control, roles for women in the church, homosexuality, etc. 7. And unique reasons that don’t fit into any of the first six categories and that involve true-life stories people may wish to share represent the seventh reason for becoming a nonpracticing Catholic.

Oncecatholic.org invites people to share their unique stories and to participate in a moderated online discussion. In the process, these people can see “who else has dropped in [to the site], seeking a listening ear.”

What kinds of questions are discussed by oncecatholic.org? Take the third reason given for distancing oneself from the church: “drifted away.” Here, the questions asked are:

-- “I’m thinking of returning to the church, but I’m not sure where to begin. Can you help?”

-- “What exactly do Catholics believe?”

-- “Why can’t I incorporate other religious traditions into my spiritual search? Can people from other faiths be saved?”

-- “Why should I be Catholic? Isn’t it enough to be a spiritual and moral person?”

A simple click of the mouse will lead the nonpracticing Catholic to a discussion of each of those questions.