Religious & Nonreligious Dialogue

Religious & Nonreligious Dialogue

We Want to Hear Your Story: Those Who Left Religion Behind

We invite you to share your story about why you struggle with being Catholic, or why you no longer identify as being Catholic. As missionaries our sights are continually on the borders of the Church and beyond. About 26% of all adults in the US are unaffiliated with any religious institution. That number for the Catholic Church continues to grow.

As part of a national study on Catholic disaffiliation in America, St. Mary’s Press’ study, GOING, GOING, GONE: Catholic Disaffiliation in America, interviews many young people. It may be disturbing, even disruptive. As a narrative-based study it reveals young people telling their stories of why they left the church in their own words, uncensored and unfiltered.

We want to continue the conversation. If you would like to share your story of departure from the church, or from religion, we want to hear from you. You can Email Fr. Carl Chudy, or go directly to the website where you can share your story HERE with starter questions if you need help.

Sacred Secular Dialogue on Facebook and Twitter

The latest blog post of Fr. Carl Chudy on Secular Spectrum: Religious & Secular Literacy: Dialogue in a Liberal Democracy

Webinar: Going, Going, Gone: The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics 

Saint Mary’s Press recently conducted extensive research with young Catholics who have left the Church through the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministers. This session will identify the underlying dynamics that lead to disaffiliation, describe the factors that reinforce those dynamics, and examine the implications for parish life, vocational discernment, and pastoral ministry. And we will also propose pastoral strategies that enhance affiliation and engagement with the faith community.

The Xaverian Missionaries is involved in dialogue with secular culture in our Common Ground Project, seeing all the ways the Church can meaningfully connect with the world around us in honest, and sincere ways to to love one another.

See the Webinar Here


From the Shared Love of Justice and Humanity

Kathleen Green, Executive Director of the Yale Humanist Community with Fr. Carl Chudy of the Xaverian Missionaries USA.

by Kathleen A. Green
Three years ago I shared my idea for a doctorate of ministry dissertation – bringing humanists and religious adherents together in interfaith engagement – and received some blank stares, a few shaking heads, and even a couple of flat-out discouraging declarations, such as “What’s the point? There’s really no need for that kind of research.” And yet I persisted because I have witnessed the power of people from different religious backgrounds coming together and am witnessing on a nearly daily basis the urgent need to bring people together as the world seems to swirl in chaos and division…. Read more.

Including the Nonreligious in Interfaith Conversations

Exploring the Bleeding Borders of the Secular and the Sacred

Read Fr. Carl Chudy SX’s reflections on his blog on Patheos.

Religious Believers & Nonreligious Searching for Common Ground

New: Podcast from Minnesota Public Radio: On Young Americans Leaving the Church

Religion and Disaffiliation in America

Going, going, gone…The purpose of this newly released study, The Dynamics of Disaffiliation in Young Catholics, is to understand more fully, and in young people’s own words, why young people leave the Catholic Church. The reasons young people leave the Church are often not the reasons most adults and church leaders believe to be the reasons. This study helps demystify the dynamics of religious disaffiliation and helps to correct the inaccurate assumptions many church leaders make about disaffiliation.
This qualitative study is a statistically sound sample of the 5.4-million individuals in the US who are former Catholics between the ages of 15 and 25. Learn more 

Common Ground Project

The Xaverian Missionaries began a project of dialogue and engagement with atheists, secular humanists and the unaffiliated through a project we called COMMON GROUND in 2012, in partnership with our brothers the United Kingdom. We encourage you to explore these links and join in on the conversation as we learn to enlarge our Catholic embrace.

  • The first reason is to explore new opportunities of the 21st century to live out the “mission ad gentes” of the Church that binds us as Catholics to all those who believe differently than us. This relationship is an important place where we share the love of Christ.
  • Second, in the western world, the gulf felt between people of faith and secular culture is a not so new periphery of the Church that demands encounter, study, and the application of the Gospel in the spirit of dialogue, love, and bridge building.
  • Secular culture applies to persons who are atheists, secular humanists, the unaffiliated (those who left religion behind), seekers, agnostics and others who do not believe in God or hold to any particular religious institution.

 Catholics and Our Secular Friends

The concern of the Church to understand more deeply secular culture and the dialogue we must have is rooted in the spirit of Vatican II.

  • Pope Paul VI, who closed Vatican II and launched the Church into a new future,  wrote in his first encyclical in 1964, Ecclesium Suam: “God Himself took the initiative in the dialogue of salvation. “He first loved us.” We, therefore, must be the first to ask for a dialogue with others (men), without waiting to be summoned to it by others.” (72) Read too 70-85.
    • The Pope established the Secretariat for Non-Believers in 1965 as a focal point for the dialogue with people of goodwill who profess no specific religion or religious belief.
    • The first guideline of religious/secular dialogue was released in 1968 entitled, DIALOGUE WITH NON-BELIEVERS through Cardinal Francis Konig, President of the Secretariat.
  • St. Pope John Paul II changed the Secretariat to the Pontifical Council of Culture on 20 May 1982 with the aim of establishing dialogue between the Church and the cultures of our time. The new opportunities of mission lie in our cultural and religious diversity.
  • Pope Benedict XVI instituted, through this Council, the  Courtyard of the Gentiles to create international conferences for interaction “with those to whom religion is something foreign, to whom God is unknown.
  • Pope Francis, in his first encyclical, Joy of the Gospel, says: “As believers, we also feel close to those who do not consider themselves part of any religious tradition, …We consider them as precious allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building peaceful coexistence between peoples and in protecting creation.” (257)

Common Ground: Conversations between Atheists, Religious Believers & Secular Humanists

A) 2013 Conference of Religious and Non-Religious: Coatbridge, Scotland

B) 2015 Conference of Religious and Non-Religious @ Rutgers University

C) Meetup Monthly Gatherings in New Jersey and Massachusetts

We began monthly encounters which continue through local “meetup” gatherings. If you are near one of our houses in New Jersey or Massachusetts, join us.

D) Common Ground Blogging Network

We are reflecting and writing on these ongoing experiences through two blogs, our own, Catholic Global Mission, and a non-religious blog on called Secular Spectrum, probably the largest online interfaith conversation. More will be added over time, check back often.

Catholic Global Mission (Official blog of the Xaverian Missionaries USA)

Secular Spectrum (Non-religious blog featured in one of the largest online interfaith conversations,

E) Essays & Articles from the Xaverian Missionaries

F) Resources

In our study, we share with you books that are part of a larger community of study and dialogue. Some are academic, others more easily accessible. They are a good place to start if you want to explore this unique dialogue.

Spiritual but not Religious

Religious & Secular Dialogue

Articles and Online Sources

Studies in Secular Culture

Secular Ethics

Organizational Resources