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 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.