Believing, not Belonging – A research into why Catholics no longer come to church: understanding ecclesial drift, estrangement and disaffiliation.

The Believing, not Belonging research carried out during the summer of 2023, created a space through which Catholic women and men who no longer regularly practise their faith might be seriously listened to, so as to understand the complex decision-making and reasoning which has led to a scenario in which many Catholics still believe, yet no longer feel as though they belong in the Church.

The research has uncovered significant experiences of ethical, ecclesial and liturgical discord, that have significantly contributed to the ecclesial drift, estrangement and disaffiliation of baptised Catholics amidst the wider pervasive influence of the global Covid-19 pandemic that afforded many Catholic men and women a period of reflection and re-appraisal with regards to the role that faith and Church occupies in their life. It is such experiences of discord that this research shows often find a resolution in a movement away from the life and practice of the Church.

This report offers a summary and ecclesial ethical analysis that is faithful to the stories, experiences and considered reflections of the Catholic men and women who so generously participated in this research. It is such an experiential ‘pastoral stamp’ that allows our Church ‘to be seriously challenged by reality’[1] and invites the Church to courageously embark upon an enriched pathway of renewal that is attentive to the ‘world in which we live, its explanations, its longings, and its often dramatic characteristics.’[2]

Click here to read the full Believing, not Belonging research report.

[1] Pope Francis, Ad theologiam promovendam.

[2] Gaudium et spes, 4.