As you and I both know, there are people who are Catholic/Christian for the "wrong reason." I am thoroughly convinced that there are many people who call themselves atheists for the wrong reason. The same goes for some who call themselves agnostic or "spiritual but not religious." Way, way, way too often in conversations with persons who give themselves this title, the reason they give for their belief is not a deep insight or well thought out philosophy. They do not have much of an anthropology or a system of determining that which is good or bad that holds any water (and when you take what they say to its logical conclusion they say, "well, not that of course," but offer no way to avoid it.) It has more to do with what they are avoiding than where they are heading.
It's like swerving a car to avoid hitting a deer. You have some idea of where you are steering but your immediate task is to avoid hitting a deer. Dealing with where you end up after that will come with the next thought.
Imagine coming to Mass week in and week out. You have a priest, minister, congregation, family, or group of friends who repeatedly let you know how bad you are. Maybe you are divorced. Maybe you have an addiction. Maybe you have same sex attraction. Maybe you had an abortion. Maybe you are part of a long list of categories and this message comes down on you like a hammer on a sore thumb week after week after week. What do you do if you are so bad at hammering that you constantly hit yourself and always feel miserable? You give up hammering.
What do you do if your faith does not give you hope? What do you do if you are not encouraged? What do you do if you feel miserable all of the time because of you faith? You stop being a church goer. And it is often easier to tell people you are atheist, agnostic, spiritual, and even decide that you are instead of saying, "Look, I'm (insert category here) and my Church hates me."
I do the same thing with fish. I hate fish. I want to like it but I don't. All the time people say, "But you haven't tried MY fish." Yes I have. I don't like it. So I just tell people I am allergic. I am an anti-fishite. If God had intended us to eat fish he would have made them taste like steak.
I am in no way saying we need to shy away from these topics or water them down. But there must always also be an opportunity for hope. There must be a way for those who wish to be faithful. There must a chance for healing and incorporating.
Do you know who does the best pro-life work? Women who have had an abortion and have some creds with which to speak. Who can give the most hope to someone dealing with same-sex attraction? The faithful Catholic who also lives with same-sex attraction. Who are some of the best volunteers at the parish - often the back bone of the parish - doing tasks that nobody else can or wants to? Your divorced person. How do you get them to come to the parish? Not beating them with a stick, but with hope that there is a place for you. There is encouragement and support for you. There is a community for you.
That does not mean you get to do whatever you want as long as you are some flavor of faithful. If you want to belong to the country club, you may not play football on the fairway. But if you are a football player and you want to be a part of the country club, we will help you learn to play golf in a (hopefully) nourishing and safe environment.
Somehow I don't feel like I am saying what I really want to say but I can't put my finger on it. If something seems off, please comment and let me see if I can clarify.