The reasons for this decline seems to elude the Catholic hierarchy. Could that be the same hierarchy that still believes in demonic possession? Go, figure.
While the Catholic leadership seem to be bamboozled by this and spend their time gnashing their teeth and wringing their hands over the exodus of the faithful; as an atheist I am able to better see the forest fore the trees. Why are they losing membership in America in spite of the influx of Hispanic immigrants who are overwhelmingly Catholic? Let me count the ways:
1. The Church's inane position on contraception: The pope’s claim that condoms contribute to AIDS is proof of blatant denial of reality and scientific truth. Meanwhile uncontrolled birth rates in 3rd world countries are sucking their resources dry, a recipe for global disaster. In thirty years the population of the planet is expected to double. Where will the already scare water necessary for this population explosion's existence come from? Continuing this absurd stance is tantamount to endorsing environmental and social disaster and the wholesale spread of famine and disease.
3. Institutionalized Hypocrisy: Not a single Nazi was ever excommunicated, yet the church excommunicate’s nuns who support women in the priesthood, or who report priestly misconduct; they threaten excommunication for politicians who support a woman’s right to choose. Is this “God’s justice”? It certainly isn’t Man’s.
Clergy wearing gold threaded dresses trimmed in ermine, and jewel encrusted hats that look like a psychotic went wild with a Bedazzler; gold chalices and solid gold crosses; all while people shell out money to the church they can ill afford to give up. Christ would be spinning in his grave over such finery if he ever existed, for is it not written that he said to his apostles when he sent them out to preach the Word: "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. (Luke 9:3). What’s wrong with this picture could be discerned by a reasonably astute twelve year old.
4. Enabling of Molesting priests: Cover-ups; insufficient action against those who perpetrated it or enabled it. Not a single excommunication for sexual misconduct or Church subterfuge to date. Not one powerful action that would purge those suspected of being perverts, or prevents the ordination of them. Again, as I write this, 10,000 pages of previously secret documents have been discovered that prove the Diocese of San Diego, California intentionally covered up known molestations by priests, and transferred them to other Diocese. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/24/AR2010102401721.html?wprss=rss_religion/wires
5. Superstitious nonsense: The gross foolishness of transubstantiation; of exorcism; of demonic possession; of bleeding statues and supernaturally empowered relics and bones; of miracles old and new. Only the weakest minds, the hardcore unquestioning, the core of the Church’s mostly aged faithful, still buy it. Educated youth are abandoning these absurdities in droves.
6. The Politicizing and foolishness of "sainthood”: Silly and archaic, it borders on polytheism. Mother Teresa endorsed pain as a glory to god and withheld pain meds from the dying. Is that the behavior of a saint? By whose definition of morality? A patient prays to an obscure dead nun, experiences cancer remission (while on chemo therapy and radiation) and suddenly the dead nun is working miracles and ready to be given goddess like status? Please. It's the 21st century. Only the feeble can still possibly believe this clap trap. Is it any wonder why the average age of the dedicated Catholic non-Hispanic church-goer is 50 years old?*
In short, the primitive dogma of Catholicism has become obsolete in the 20th/21st centuries. It’s time the Church adapt to the scientific age, come to reason. Time to drop the spooky nuttiness. Time to abandon the madness of dictating human’s sexual and reproductive behavior. Time to adjust their focus to more relevant issues of the era, and in meaningful ways, that directly enhance the lives of people in the real world. Catholic hierarchy you’ve been placed on notice; your parishioners are steadily moving toward reality, your best efforts to stem that tide not withstanding.
Of course, all this is wasted on those who have made careers as professional purveyors of superstion and as go betweens to a make believe spirit and the religiously infected. But who cares? Whether they adapt to a more reasoned modernist approach to morality and the real issues of life and human well being, or choose to remain mired in ancient ignorance and irrelevance -- it’s all good. After all, their losses are our gain.