Young Catholics are leaving the faith at an early age – sometimes before the age of 10 – and their reasons are deeper than being “bored at Mass,” the author of a new report claims. “Those that are leaving for no religion – and a pretty big component of them saying they are atheist or agnostic – it turns out that when you probe a bit more deeply and you allow them to talk in their own words, that they are bringing up things that are related to science and a need for evidence and a need for proof,” said Dr. Mark Gray, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University. “It’s almost a crisis in faith,” he told CNA. “In the whole concept of faith, this is a generation that is struggling with faith in ways that we haven’t seen in previous generations.” …The most common reason given for leaving the Catholic faith, by one in five respondents, was they stopped believing in God or religion. This was evidence of a “desire among some of them for proof, for evidence of what they’re learning about their religion and about God,” Gray said. It’s a trend in the popular culture to see atheism as “smart” and the faith as “a fairy tale,” he said. “And I think the Church needs to come to terms with this as an issue of popular culture,” he continued. “I think the Church perhaps needs to better address its history and its relationship to science.” One reason for this might be the compartmentalization of faith and education, where youth may go to Mass once a week but spend the rest of their week learning how the faith is “dumb,” he noted.