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Diocese of Brentwood
Diocese of Brentwood
UK News

Study reveals Brentwood Catholics feel they don't belong in church

by Will Hobbs

80% of baptised Catholics who no longer go to Church say they do not feel welcome there, according to research by the Diocese.

Last year the Bishop of Brentwood, invited Catholics who no longer regularly come to church to get in touch.

Respondents said they experience a Church in which they no longer see their face, hear their voice or recognise their story.

The Diocese of Brentwood has released a report titled "Believing, not Belonging," which presents findings from a research project aimed at understanding why many Catholics no longer attend church regularly.

Last summer, Bishop Alan Williams, the Bishop of Brentwood, encouraged Catholics who have stopped attending church to share their stories.

Dr. Liam Hayes, Director of The Centre for Ecclesial Ethics at the Margaret Beaufort Institute, Cambridge, led the research on behalf of Bishop Alan.

He explained, "Our findings revealed that a significant portion of the 80% of baptized Catholics who no longer participate in church activities feel unwelcome, unappreciated, and unnoticed. They perceive a church environment where their identities are not reflected, their voices are not heard, and their stories are not acknowledged in many of the church's moral teachings and practices."

"The Covid pandemic provided an opportunity for many Catholics to reassess their faith and relationship with the Church. While their faith still remains vibrant in unrecognized ways, they have chosen to disengage from a Church tainted by clericalism, abuse cover-ups, exclusion of women, and lack of accountability.

"When Catholics feel judged, unwelcome, unseen, and neglected, they often opt to leave and seek solace and hope elsewhere to navigate the challenges and uncertainties of their lives."

"Believing, not Belonging" offers a poignant and thought-provoking examination of how both our Church and the Covid-19 pandemic have contributed to the decline in regular church attendance among many Catholics. It provides valuable insights that could enrich and guide our ongoing journey of renewal within the diocese.

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