GOD ONLINE: Exploring media spirituality

Web sites, TV, films, books and the search for meaning.

Why I left the Church

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Sometimes it’s a callous priest. Sometimes, it’s church rules. Sometimes, just a misunderstanding.

Whatever reasons people give for dropping out of church life, Once Catholic (http://www.oncecatholic.org) is a safe place to talk it out. Created by the Franciscans, the homey-looking site is meant to say, “We understand.”

The sample quotes do sound like they came from real people. Among them:

  • “After my marriage failed I felt unsupported in so many ways — by my family, people at my parish, even some of my friends.”

  • “I felt treated like I was part of an assembly-line religion, a ‘fast-food’ kind of faith.”

  • “Why does the Church treat abortion differently than other sins?”

  • “Why is the Catholic Church so inflexible?”

The men in brown post some pre-packaged answers; there’s also a so-called Living Room, a chain of discussion groups. The moderators — Franciscan priests called “companions” — wisely don’t require real names or registration forms. As a result, users deal with real issues, like sex abuse.

Also helpful is a list of support groups and “welcome home programs,” with references all over the country. A live moderated chat would have been a good flourish, though perhaps expensive for the Franciscans.

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Written by Jim Davis

August 9, 2008 at 3:36 am

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