Which congregations are getting the 3% of Catholics who have left?
Baptists, in large part.
Below is an interesting report from Notre Dame economist Daniel Hungerman (full report here - pdf) on signs that the Catholic Church has lost 3% of her members due to scandals, in addition to billions of dollars.
The abstract tells the story:
This paper considers substituting one charitable activity for another in the context of religious practice. I examine the impact of the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal on both Catholic and non-Catholic religiosity. I find that the scandal led to a 2-million-member fall in the Catholic population that was compensated by an increase in non-Catholic participation and by an increase in non-affiliation. Back-of the- envelope calculations suggest the scandal generated over 3 billion dollars in donations to non-Catholic faiths. Those substituting out of Catholicism frequently chose highly dissimilar alternatives; for example, Baptist churches gained significantly from the scandal while the Episcopal Church did not. These results challenge several theories of religious participation and suggest that regulatory policies or other shocks specific to one religious group could have important spillover effects on other religious groups.As one of my coworkers put it, "we all have to make sure that the students never view the Catholic faith as “substitutable” for anything else. The Mass, Eucharist and sacraments have no substitute."
Of course in our context it is college students. In the broader context it is every Catholic that needs to be evangelized.
In many ways our Catholic parishes, dioceses, apostolates, ministries, and Catholics themselves have forgotten their mission is to "make disciples of all nations." If we are not doing that, we aren't being the Church Christ wants us to be.
What are you doing to make sure the Catholic Church is gaining in numbers, not losing them?
Links of Interest: