Question for the Catholics among us

Esther - posted on 11/21/2010 ( 8 moms have responded )

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I was reading my favorite blog again the other day and the writer (who is a devout catholic himself) had a discussion going about the state of the Catholic Church in America. The title of the posts was: "The Lost Catholic Church in America". Readers wrote in with their reasons for remaining part of the church or for leaving the church. One particular post really struck a chord with me for it's compelling argument. It was this post:

At the end of the day it boiled down to this for me: To continue to be actively involved in the Catholic Church at any level seriously compromises my credibility with my kids. As a family, we'd have had nothing to do with any club or organization that was intolerant of gays, who denied women the right to participate and serve in authoritative positions, discouraged the use of contraceptives and the practice of safe sex , all the while knowingly subjecting millions of children to active, known pedophiles and protecting them from legal prosecution. As a mother, how could I possibly continue to choose this organization as the anchor for my family's spirituality?

Of course there were others who, although they too have issues with certain church policies, have decided to hang in there. Like this reader:

It's the last two words in your post. The "current hierarchy" is the problem with the Catholic church. I didn't renounce my American citizenship when George W. Bush and Tom Delay pushed every button I had. I continued to believe in the American values that I always cherished. I also began to long for "1.20.09", as the bumper sticker read. There will be a "1.20.09" for American Catholics. It might be a longer wait, but it will come.

So for you Catholic moms out there, how do you feel about this? Do you agree with church doctrine? Do you disagree but have you decided to stay anyway? Did you too decide to leave the church?

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Mary - posted on 11/22/2010

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Mary, I struggle with this as well, but at the end of the day, I still consider myself a Catholic, and intend to raise my daughter one as well. I have to admit, perhaps the strongest reason for me to raise Molly Catholic was more about the fact that both sides of our family are still practicing Catholics. My sister (who has more objections and reservations than even I do) is sending both of her kids to Catholic schools. THAT was probably the most decisive factor for me; I had a great experience with 12 years of Catholic schools, and fully intend for my daughter to have the same. In my area, they are simply academically superior.

I don't believe or agree with many of the Church's "social" policies....so why do I remain a Catholic? There is no simple answer.

I guess it's because, deep down, I understand that many of the things I reject are things that man, and not God, decided upon. At my core, I believe in God. I have seen the good that belonging to a church - being a part of that 'society" - can bring to my life. Yes, I could get that from any Christian church, but I was raised in a Catholic one. It is as much a part of me as being Irish or Polish. I don't like everything about it's past or present, but I can still have hope for it's future. I know enough of it's history to believe that change is not only possible, but that it WILL (eventually) happen. Had someone asked my grandmother when she was my age if the Mass would ever be said in English, she would have laughed. And then along came Vatican II...and the church that she grew up in seemed to change overnight - for the better.

It will never be perfect, and there will always be issues. After all, despite it's best intentions, it is still run by humans - and even the best of us are flawed. Like anyone else in my life that I love, I will speak out when they are wrong, but I will not throw them out of my life for not being perfect, or all that I want them to be.

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Becky - posted on 11/22/2010

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I'm not Catholic, but I think you have the right idea, Mary N. Change is not going to happen if everyone who is dissatisfied with the church's policies just leaves the church. It's only going to happen if those people stay in the church and work at changing it from within.

ME - posted on 11/22/2010

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Thanks Mary...It really heartens me to hear from another Catholic who feels as I do...I sometimes feel very all alone in the church, and the Church is supposed to be both about a personal relationship with God, and about the "community" you have with other Catholics...my political views make me an outsider, hense my struggle...
I know some VERY liberal church leaders (priests and nuns), I hope that they will eventually outnumber those who would excommunicate a nun for saving a woman's life...
But you're right...at the end of the day, my biggest problems with the Church are man-made ones, and that's why I've gone back there and not to some other denomination...

Esther - posted on 11/22/2010

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Ah Mary - I have missed your thoughtful posts!! I was raised religious (protestant) but we never went to church. I guess for me religion never really took, but the community aspect that churches play in the US and the I suppose philosophical aspect of attending church services (thinking about the big questions in life once a week) does very much appeal to me. I can really understand why that would be hard to walk away from. I think the comparison with one's nationality that the second poster on that blog made makes sense to me. There are many things that I do not like about Holland (and many things that I do), but I would not want to give up my citizenship. But again, I hope that over time churches, like countries, can be modernized and improved by its members/citizens.

Mary - posted on 11/22/2010

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Esther, I do think one of the things that has kept me is that the area I live in is fairly liberal, including my parish. I have found that the Church itself varies depending upon it's locale, and the parishioners. For example, my parish has a specific gay ministry, despite the official Vatican policy on homosexuality. No, they still can't get married (and neither could I, since I am divorced, but not annulled), but they do not have to hide their true selves, and they are accepted openly and without judgement. It really has been a supportive and nurturing environment throughout my life (I'm still at the same parish I grew up in).

Where my sister lives in Northern VA....ugh...whole different ball of wax. It is beyond conservative, and follows that narrow-minded German Pope to the letter. I swear, it seems to be two different strains of Catholicism. The Mass still has the same words, but that's about where the similarities end. A guy I went to grade school with became a priest later in life; he was just ordained last year. He was offered the opportunity to be placed in a parish in the Baltimore area, since his entire family is still here. He turned it down, and requested an assigment in VA because the area is "more in line with his faith - Baltimore is too lax". Ugh - they are welcome to him!

Esther - posted on 11/22/2010

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Mary & Mary responded - how appropriate to this thread ;) It actually makes perfect sense to me. I do hope that there will be a groundswell of pressure from the members of the church over time though that will force the hierarchy to change their policies on certain issues, but I totally get why you wouldn't just walk away. The writer of the blog is still going too. He's gay.

Oh & Katherine - I came back late last week. Couldn't stay away ;)

ME - posted on 11/21/2010

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This is something that I struggle with every day...I don't know what the answer is yet...I completely understand and relate to BOTH of those arguments...I've made both of them at different times in my life. I hope to come to some decision soon; I'm leaning toward leaving, but I have JUST had my children baptized...And, I meant it when i made that promise...

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