Diocese Survey finds heresy and apostasy

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden, NJ, commissioned a religious survey. The report is online here. The findings are not unique to that one diocese. But unfortunately, they show that most Catholics have essentially fallen away from the true Faith, into heresy or apostasy.

6. “Among residents who have attended church previously but have not done so within the past month, one in four (25%) say they prefer to attend only on major holidays such as Christmas and Easter. Catholics favor holiday-only church attendance to an even greater extent (38%).”

The detailed data later in the study clarifies this topic: 48% of Catholics attended Mass in the past week before the survey; 52% did not. An additional 14% attended in the last month, totaling 62%. Another 23% attended Mass sometime more than one month ago. And 15% of persons who consider themselves to be Catholic do not attend Mass. (Table 1.7 Frequency of Church Attendance, p. 26)

38% of Catholics (p. 27) said that they only attend Mass on holidays, such as Easter and Christmas. In my view, a Catholic who only attends Mass twice a year is no longer practicing the Catholic Faith. If such persons still believe in Christ and pray to God, then they are essentially Protestants now, not Catholics. Those who have fallen away from believing and practicing the Christian Faith altogether are apostates.

“Barna Group defines a ‘practicing Catholic’ as someone who: considers himself or herself to be a Catholic; strongly agrees that his/her religious faith is very important in their life; and who has attended a church service (Mass) within the past month. By this definition, just over half of Catholics in the Diocese of Camden (52%) are practicing Catholics.” (p. 31).

By this metric, 48% of Catholics in the survey are non-practicing.

25. “A majority of residents agree (46% agree strongly, 12% agree somewhat) that the sexual expression of love should be reserved exclusively for a man and woman who are married to each other, while 39% disagree (16% somewhat, 23% strongly disagree). More than four in ten Catholics disagree that sex should be reserved for marriage (21% disagree somewhat, 23% disagree strongly).”

44% of Catholics surveyed reject the teaching of the Church that sex should be reserved for marriage. This teaching is infallible under the ordinary and universal Magisterium, and so its rejection is a heresy.

26. “Compared to the national average of 48%, fewer Camden Diocese residents (38%) are in strong agreement that the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches. Catholics (28%) are even less likely to be in strong agreement about the accuracy of biblical principles.”

The question only pertained to Biblical principles, it did not ask if the Bible is inerrant in all that it asserts as true. So with that lesser standard, it would be reasonable to conclude that even fewer Catholic believe in Biblical inerrancy. Only 28% strongly agree in the accuracy of the Bible. Another 27% agree somewhat (p. 95). The inerrancy of the Bible is an infallible teaching of the Magisterium, and its rejection is a heresy. The 45% who disagree or are not sure are in a state of at least material heresy.

Related: Seven Words on the Inerrancy of Sacred Scripture

“A majority of Catholics in the Camden Diocese believe that Jesus sinned (33% agree strongly, 24% agree somewhat); only one in four Catholics (26%) strong disagree that Jesus committed sins.” (p. 92)

The 57% who think Jesus sinned are in a state of material heresy (at the very least). The claim that Jesus sinned is certainly a grave heresy.

But if someone believes that Jesus sinned because he is merely human, the error is apostasy, rather than merely heresy. If Jesus is merely human, then the entire Christian Faith is null and void. All the Sacraments and all of the authority of the Church depends on Jesus being both human and Divine: the Incarnate Son of God. Furthermore, the idea that Jesus sinned necessarily implies that He was merely human (although some foolish persons might not realize this implication).

“one-half of Catholics (50%) strongly agree that Satan is just a symbol,” (p. 91)

The belief that Satan exists, as one of many fallen angels, is closely connected to our belief in both good and bad angels, and in the existence of sin and evil in the world. The assertion that Satan is merely a symbol is at least a serious doctrinal error, if not an outright heresy.

Jesus said: “I was watching as Satan fell like lightning from heaven.” (Lk 10:18)

“Two-thirds of adults in the Camden Diocese (65%) hold an orthodox belief about God, i.e., that God is the all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today – significantly lower than the U.S. average (74%). Protestants (79%) are more likely to hold this view, while Catholics (63%) are on par with the southern New Jersey average.” (p. 92)

This statistic implies that 37% of Catholics do not even have orthodox beliefs in God. Against, this type of error is at least a grave heresy, and may actually indicate apostasy. If you believe in a God who is not all-knowing, not all-powerful, not the Creator of the universe, then you are not Christian at all, nor even Jewish or Muslim. You are essentially a non-believer, or a believer in a pagan religion.

15% of Catholics agreed with this assertion: “God represents a state of higher consciousness that a person may reach.” 8% of Catholics agreed that “God refers to the total realization of personal, human potential.” 4% said: “there are many gods, each with different power and authority,” and another 4% thought: “everyone is God.” Somehow, 1% of Catholics said there is no God. (p. 96)

Conclusion: A majority of Catholics (persons who claim to be Catholic) in the Camden Diocese are in a state of material heresy, if not formal heresy or apostasy. Many persons who were once Catholic have fallen away from the true Faith. Unfortunately, this finding is probably typical of many dioceses around the world. Truly the great apostasy is very near.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic moral theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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