Be/Leaving: The Spiritual Quest of Women Leaving the Catholic Church and Its Implications for Ministry

Elyse Berry, Fordham University


A Pew Research Center survey recently reported that over half of all U.S adults who have been raised Catholic have left the Catholic Church at one point in their lives. Though some return, 89 percent of those who have left say that they cannot imagine going back to Catholicism, even those who respect Pope Francis. Many of these former Catholics are women, who may cite a variety of reasons for leaving, such as the exclusion of women from the priesthood, reproductive choice, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) rights, teachings on divorce and remarriage, and Church dogma, among others. Yet in spite of their numbers, there has been limited research on women’s experiences in leaving the Catholic Church. Further, this poses the question, are there unique experiences to the deconversion and disaffiliation process for former-Catholic women? The following webinar will take an in-depth exploration of women’s experiences of leaving the Catholic Church, based on one-on-one interviews from a small but diverse group of women, and how their journey provides insight into how the disaffiliation process can be experienced and understood as a spiritual quest towards integrity and spiritual growth. By having a greater understanding of this experience, chaplains may be able to better support those who are in the disaffiliation process, deeply honor and reflect on the experience with those who have gone through it, and tap into the spiritual strengths this part of their journey may have to offer whatever life circumstances they are currently facing.

Subject Area

Spirituality|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Berry, Elyse, "Be/Leaving: The Spiritual Quest of Women Leaving the Catholic Church and Its Implications for Ministry" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27738669.