Catholic Changes: Are we drawn to the inspiring stories? prove his point, Greeley and his sister, a scholar on family and religion, combined their talents in this 1995 collection of 70 new stories that relate to themes in the Gospels. (Cllick the photo of the book’s cover to see it’s Amazon page.)This week, columnist Terry Gallagher is writing the OurValues series …

THIS WEEK, we’re talking about how Pope Benedict’s announced retirement has led to a lot of soul searching among Catholics (and former Catholics and non-Catholics) about the role of the church today. In part, that soul searching has re-opened very painful wounds caused by the church and its leadership over the years, not only in the sexual abuse of children, but in the systematic exclusion and stigmatization of so many other fellow human beings.

Raising the question: Why does any sensible person remain Catholic?

“The answer is that Catholics like being Catholic,” according to an article by Father Andrew Greeley nearly 20 years ago. “For the last 30 years the hierarchy and the clergy have done just about everything they could to drive the laity out of the church and have not succeeded.”

A well-known critic of some policies of the church, Greeley was often questioned about why he stuck with it.

“Why should I leave?” he wrote. “I like being Catholic and I like being a priest.”

Greeley’s argument was that Catholics stay Catholic mostly “because of the stories.”

“Catholics remain Catholic because of the Catholic religious sensibility, a congeries of metaphors that explain what human life means, with deep and powerful appeal to the total person,” he wrote. “The argument is not whether Catholics should leave their tradition or whether they stay for the right reasons. The argument is that they do in fact stay because of the attractiveness of Catholic metaphors.”

So is that what keeps Catholics in the church?

What stories do you like that come from the world’s religious traditions?

Please, leave a Comment below.

Originally published at, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email