Referring to the Pew Report, which states that many Catholics are leaving the Church (even though there is an increase in seminarians and priests), my friend Karl Keating has some interesting observations. Here is an excerpt from his most recent E-Letter:
Perhaps the greatest change is in the number of people leaving the Church. Many still leave, but the number seems to be shrinking. In part this may mean that the most disgruntled people already have opted out. But one thing is sure: Fewer people leave for Fundamentalism.
I like to think that the work performed by Catholic Answers has contributed to each of these categories, particularly with respect to the losses to Fundamentalism. (I should add that our mostly young staff has done its part to increase the number of infant baptisms!)
In 1988, when I entered this work full time, there were Fundamentalists who were coming into the Church, but their number was exceeded by far by those Catholics who were leaving the Church for Fundamentalism.
I have to work on the basis of anecdotal evidence here, but my sense is that today we have reached equilibrium, with the goings and comings now balanced. We may even have reached a favorable point in which there are more entries from Fundamentalism than exits to Fundamentalism. It’s a change very pleasant to see!
I agree with Karl's assessment. But there is another related issue observed by a Protestant writer in a book published by Moody Press. Even in 1994 Evangelical writer Kim Riddlebarger informed his fellow Evangelicals that:
“While evangelicalism is growing numerically, apparently there are not as many notable Roman Catholics becoming evangelicals as vice-versa” (Roman Catholicism, ed. John Armstrong [Chicago: Moody Press, 1994], 240).
As time marches on, Riddlebarger's statement is proved to be a huge under-statement! Just check out the hundreds of conversion stories here. Even the president of the Evangelical Theological Society reverted to the Catholic Church last year (click here to see the Christianity Today article). Another recent conversion story of the minister of the 3rd largest Methodist Church can be seen here. And check out this ex-Fundie's story. We could go on and on!
I suspect that this is what has many anti-Catholics — who used to dance along unopposed — understandably angry and frustrated and animated.
To read Karl's whole letter, click here.