Why I Left the Catholic Church

I often read conversion stories from former Roman Catholics who turned Protestant or vice versa.  Usually the RC turned Prot left the RCC because of some doctrinal difference, some realization that the RCC has added the traditions of men to the Gospel, and even in some cases some negative experience with members of the clergy.  Usually the Prot turned RC converted because they realized that central tenets such as Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide were innovations of the Reformation and aren’t rooted in history.  They read the early fathers of the church and see that they were more Catholic than Protestant.  They see that Protestantism lacks in the rich tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.  We’ve all heard such accounts time and time again.

My reasons for leaving the Roman Catholic Church were completely different.  I’ll give a little background first… I was a cradle Catholic meaning that I was born to Roman Catholic parents and baptized as an infant.  I was raised attending Mass on Sundays and CCD either on Sundays or Wednesdays (depending on the year).  At the age of 7 I received the sacrament of First Holy Communion and then at 14 I was Confirmed (should have been at 13 but we changed churches after we moved and St. John’s confirmed every other year — don’t ask me why). 

But in all the years I was catechized, in all the years I attended Mass and partook in the Eucharist, in all the times I went to confession, prayed the Rosary, etc., I can’t honestly say that I had ever had a genuine experience with Christ (at least not one I can remember).  I knew God was real (although in my teens I denied this truth for a while) but I never knew that I could have a real relationship with him.  At about 12 years old I started smoking and drinking and then shortly thereafter graduated to smoking weed which eventually led into harder drugs.  My mind was on girls and partying.

I stuck around in the RCC just long enough to make my confirmation and make my mom happy but as soon as I was confirmed I was out of there!  It wasn’t any doctrinal difficulty that led me away from the RCC, it wasn’t any maltreatment perpetrated against me — rather it was a sinful and selfish desire to satisfy my flesh.  Now after years of living to please the god of ‘Me’ I was presented with the Gospel numerous times, rejecting it over and over again.  I can remember working in an Italian restaraunt and having one of the Guatemalan chefs witness to me and tell me what Jesus did for me… My response: “I am God, Jesus never existed, he’s just a character in the world’s bestselling book.” 

After years of rejection I finally came to a small Pentecostal church in Lakewood, NJ where I believed the Gospel and received Jesus and I haven’t looked back since.  When I share my testimony with Roman Catholics they urge my apostate behind to come home to Rome and enjoy the fullness of Christ’s only true Church but my response is always the same — “No thanks, I never knew Jesus when I was in there and now that I do I don’t see a need to return.”

Now I don’t say this to persuade anyone away from the RCC — I don’t believe that I could persuade anyone to do anything that they don’t want to do.  Even though it wasn’t doctrine that caused me to leave the RCC it is doctrine that would prohibit my return to Rome.  I’m not persuaded by what I perceive to be the common Prot turned RC arguments for their conversions.  I’m content where I’m at and am always looking to progress in the faith, but from where I’m sitting a return to Rome would be a step in the wrong direction.



11 thoughts on “Why I Left the Catholic Church

  1. “No thanks, I never knew Jesus when I was in there and now that I do I don’t see a need to return.I stuck around in the RCC just long enough to make my confirmation and make my mom happy but as soon as I was confirmed I was out of there! It wasn’t any doctrinal difficulty that led me away from the RCC, it wasn’t any maltreatment perpetrated against me — rather it was a sinful and selfish desire to satisfy my flesh”

    >>You never knew Jesus on ‘this’ level (Catholicism)
    Its not about returning or going backwards.
    This attitude towards faith is not good.
    Did you ever stop to think that there is no such thing as a fluke?
    You were not born into the catholic faith for nothing, that was your path that God has chosen for you along with choosing your parents.
    Use discernment and know God’s voice, not feelings of what feels right.

  2. Aurora,

    Thanks for commenting.

    If there is no such thing as a fluke, then my teenaged rebellion and subsequent coming to Christ in a Pentecostal church was God’s plan for me, right? Or would you consider that to be a fluke?

    Also, how would you suggest that I “use discernment and know God’s voice”? I’m a Charismatic-Pentecostal so that can be taken a couple of different ways, but there’s one area that I’m sure we both agree on. We both (presumably) agree that God has spoken through Scripture — and if Scripture records the very voice of God (as I believe it does) then that should be a sufficient standard for me to make my judgments by, right?

    I’m also curious as to how you personally know God’s voice apart from “feelings of what feels right” — could you explain that to me?

    And yes, you were correct to say that I never knew Jesus on the level of Roman Catholicism but you seem to say that as if that is some sort of virtue of the RCC. I see that as a problem not as something to be proud of.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  3. I am sure you’re not alone in not having “felt” the presence of Jesus in the Church growing up. But I would propose that, as an adult, you would encounter Jesus in an amazing fashion in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. In Reconciliation, I meet a loving, merciful God and receive God’s grace in a way not possible in any other faith tradition. And when I take into my body and soul each morning the body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord, well, there is no experience, no gift, that comes close on this side of heaven. John Chapter 6 makes very clear that this is His gift to us, if we only believe His words.

  4. Nick,

    Just came across this one. Your story is repeated by 10’s of thousands of other cradle Catholics.

    Hopefully the church will do a better job in reaching kids and showing them the revelance of Christ in their lives before they exit the fold.

    I also regret that you were confirmed in the church. I use to teach CCD in the old days and I specifically requested that certain kids not be confirmed, becuase they were just doing so to please their parents. The parents naturally let their anger loose on me as if I was judging their child. They missed my point, I was judging them. How can an individual make a commitment to Christ if they either don’t understand, don’t desire to be a committed Christian? It’s like getting married because you want to please your mother so she can have grand kids or something.

    I wish you well in your walk.

  5. quick: Thanks. And I can’t blame you for not wanting people who weren’t serious about the faith to be confirmed. It’s a big step and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

  6. Nick, your experience growing up is true for kids in alot of groups, if not all groups.

    I was raised Baptist, and it took years for the faith of my mom to be my own. I fought in Sunday school and Bible summer camp when I was little. I wasn’t a bad bad kid, but I wasn’t good either. A hypocrit yes! But after being around alot of different protestant circles and denominations, I came to the conclusion that every group has nominal members.

    I know of some Pentecostals that are carnal too.

    So I really wouldn’t point the finger at Rome. I see it as a growing process that alot of kids go through in whatever group. As we grow, whatever faith we have or lack of faith…either grows or decreases. I personally believe that the grace that God gives at Baptism can be awaken at a later point in time.

    But those are just my thoughts.

    Take care.


  7. JNORM888: Oh, I’m not pointing the finger, but it just so happens that I grew up Catholic. I can’t talk about what I didn’t go through, ya know?

  8. Understood. You just seemed to be a little hard on Rome, but I guess you have the right to be since you were raised as one.


  9. JNORM888: Really? I thought I was pretty tame. I laid the blame for my departure on me, not them. Granted, I couldn’t go back, and trust me, some days I’d rather not be a Protestant, but if I were to convert (not sure that’s really the right word) it would be to Orthodoxy.

    But if you want to see harsh, then check out some of the other posts in the Roman Catholicism category on my blog. I’ve written some stuff after being really annoyed by Catholic folks in chat rooms that I couldn’t possibly defend as tame. But that’s the nature of blogging I guess, it’s a semi-permanent record of how one is thinking or feeling at the time that they write.

  10. Similar experience as mine. Cradle Catholic who waited until confirmation. Genuinely pious and followed the teachings and commands of the church. Did not feel my spiritual needs were met. Stopped going to mass, and years later, started attending Protestant services and Bible study groups.

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