How to get religiously unaffiliated, or “nones,” particularly young people, back to the Catholic Church is a top priority for our church, said Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, who is known for his website, “Word on Fire,” and for hosting the documentary series “Catholicism.”

In a June 11 presentation at the U.S. bishops’ spring assembly in Baltimore, the bishop said a group of experts who’ve examined why young people are leaving the faith in increasing numbers recently spoke with his committee about this.

“How many are leaving? The short answer is: a lot,” the bishop said, noting the sobering statistic he said many in the room probably were aware of — that 50% of Catholics 30 years old and younger have left the church.

The No. 1 reason why they leave, he said, is that they simply no longer believe the church’s teachings, primarily its doctrinal beliefs. Other reasons he said young people are leaving have to do with relativism, science and the church’s teachings on sexuality.

The bishop’s hope, in this environment, is that the young, religiously unaffiliated can still be reached because as he put it, most have drifted away versus storming away from the faith. “We’re not up against a fierce opponent at every turn,” he said, adding: “Most are ambivalent to religion rather than hostile to it.”

Bishop Barron said young people who are leaving can be reached in a broader sense through social media.

“We have to go get them and we do have the means to do that through social media — with all of its negativity.”

He said the paradox is that social media can also lead to further isolation because people are connected only though their screens, but at this point in time, he said using it as “an evangelical tool is required now, given the fact that people aren’t going to come to our institutions.”

Full story at Catholic San Francisco.