Call to stem 'crisis of attrition'

Peter Steinfels, prominent Catholic author and former New York Times columnist, has published an article in Commonweal calling for an urgent response from American bishops to a growing crisis in Catholic Church membership and identity.

In the article, currently on the Commonweal Web site and appearing in the print issue dated October 22, Steinfels writes: “Month after month, year after year, I see decisions (but mostly nondecisions) by Catholic leaders steadily reducing even further the chances that the faith will be the central reality and priceless blessing in my grandsons’ lives that it was in mine.”

Citing recent data on religious allegiance from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Steinfels notes that one out of every three adult Americans who were raised Catholic have left the church.

While many factors are at work in this startling decline, it is bishops who hold the principal responsibility to find ways to respond to it — a responsibility, Steinfels claims, that they have so far largely neglected.


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