The purpose of this newly released study, The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics, is to understand more fully, and in young people’s own words, why young people leave the Catholic Church. The reasons young people leave the church are often not what most adults and church leaders believe to be the reasons. This study helps demystify the dynamics of religious disaffiliation and correct the inaccurate assumptions many church leaders make about disaffiliation.

This qualitative study is a statistically sound sample of the 5.4 million individuals in the United States who are former Catholics between the ages of 15 and 25.

The study may be disturbing, even disruptive. As a narrative-based study it reveals young people telling their stories of why they left the church in their own words, uncensored and unfiltered. They speak with honesty and frankness, sometimes brutal honesty. Some of what they have to say may be unpleasant for the church to hear, even disturbing, and yet it is the first study that does not attempt to cast disaffiliation into overly generalized categories or to suggest that the reasons for disaffiliation are simple to understand. They are not—the reasons for disaffiliation are as diverse as the individuals’ lived experiences. There is no single reason why many young people raised as Catholics no longer self-identify with the church.

Public, Candid Conversation Explores Disaffiliation from Catholic Church
Minnesota Public Radio Podcast

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Why Do Young People Leave the Catholic Church?

Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics, a comprehensive report, is based on the unprecedented national study conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University and Saint Mary’s Press Catholic Research Group. In their own words, young people share the reasons why they are leaving the Catholic Church, and religion in general. Their reasons will likely surprise you.

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News & Articles

January 15, 2019

We All Need a Good Place to Ask Questions

Often emerging from conversations with those who have chosen to disaffiliate from the Catholic Church is the observation, call it a complaint, from disaffiliates that growing […]
January 10, 2019

Podcast Explores Disaffiliation and Catholic Culture

Disaffiliation and Catholic culture was the subject of a recent podcast by Catholic School Matters Radio Hour. Among those interviewed was John Vitek, president and CEO […]
December 18, 2018

How To Be a Spiritual Companion for Young People?

In last week’s blog post, Jonathan Lewis discussed the need for spiritual mentors for young adults in the Catholic Church. That need also was the focus […]
December 17, 2018

Santa Clara Symposium Explores Disaffiliation Research

A symposium prior to the start of the Santa Clara Faith Formation Conference discussed findings from the St. Mary’s Press research report on the disaffiliation of […]
December 13, 2018

Spiritual Mentors Needed, Says Delegate to Synod on Young People

Jonathan Lewis believes young adults are hungry for spiritual mentors. Now the ball is in the church’s court to provide them. Lewis is one of three […]
December 4, 2018

Millennials Hungry for Community, Authenticity, Says Panel

Four panelists who serve young adults shared insights on engaging millennials and post-millennials at a forum at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis recently. One […]

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