“Why are they leaving?” That’s what you’re wondering?! You’re perplexed about why the men, the women, the gen-Xers, the millenials, and whatever other irrelevantly categorized group you can name is walking out of the Church? No! No, you can’t be wondering that. Not today. Not less than a week after we just listened to the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel for the fifth consecutive week.
Unless… Unless, maybe you missed Mass for some legitimate reason. Or maybe you just couldn’t hear the proclamation of the Gospel over the sound of the child you were consoling — I’ve had that experience often enough.
I know why they leave. I’ll tell you why they leave. Everyone who has left the Catholic Church for a non-apostolic faith did so because they were one of the deserters in John 6. They left because they did not believe Christ’s words about the Eucharist, about his Real Presence.
Was the pastor at such-and-such parish a jerk? Were the parishioners rude? Did somebody get convicted of child molestation? Was the abuse scandal upsetting? Were the homilies uninspiring? Were you upset that women cannot be ordained?
Jesus. Doesn’t. Care.
Oh, sure, he cares about sin, because he cares about us, his creatures. But what Jesus doesn’t care about is whatever reason one clings to for not following him. Can’t sell all your possessions? Your loss (Mt 19:21-22). Want to bury your father? Oh well (Lk 9:59-62).
Objectively, we can’t prevent priests from behaving badly, erase the history of abuse, or change infallible Church teaching. The teaching is constant, and abuses come-and-go. So, there will always be reasons why someone or another wants to distance themselves from the Catholic Church. But what each of those people need is a reason to stay despite what they abhor (even when what they abhor is objectively good doctrine). Fortunately, the Church has that in spades.
The Church has Christ. “Oh, but the [insert Protestant denomination here] believe in Jesus.” No, the Church has Christ in a way that the short-in-the-tooth schismatics don’t have him. The Church has him in the truest and fullest sense of the word, ministering to her members in every single sacrament as the Great High Priest, especially and abundantly in the Eucharist. The Catholic Church feeds his sheep with the flesh and blood of God himself!
And nobody, absolutely nobody, abandons the Eucharist who believes it be what it is, *who it is*! “Oh, but I know somebody…” Just stop. Listen to the parables of the pearl of great price and the treasure hidden in the field. When we know what lies before us, we give up everything to have it. Nothing detracts from the value of the object before them. “Well, that treasure is great, but I’d have to listen to crap homilies.” No. No!
If you want to know why people are leaving the Church, here’s the reason: They don’t recognize the treasure before them. They don’t recognize Christ. Remedy this one thing, and not only will the other faults not matter, but they’ll all improve. When people see who it is they consume, they will echo the words of Peter: “To whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life…”