A while back I asked what readers wanted to know about me – and a surprising number of visitors voted for an entry about my religious background and leanings. I’m not a theologian, and I’m not preaching that any of the conclusions, or the process I’ve used to get to them, are right for anyone but myself.
I’ve managed to avoid trolls so far – probably because I avoid posting much of anything that’s terribly personal or terribly controversial. Hopefully nobody will say anything too hateful or hurtful, but I will be deleting any comments I think are unnecessarily mean or judegmental. So if that’s ok with you, my particular position is after the jump.
I was raised in the Roman Catholic church – baptised, received communion, attended 8 years of catechism & went through confirmation all by the age of 13, and definitely before I was old enough to really realise what I was signing up for. I was even a regular member of my church’s youth group, and attended a pro-life rally! The fact that I wasn’t even aware that I was rallying for something I don’t believe in still bothers me. My mom’s the Catholic in the family. My dad is agnostic, though realising how important a Catholic upbringing is to my mom, sided with her on the issue and still accompanies her to church most weeks.
While my mom is quite conservative, there are definitely things about the Church she disagrees with. She believes divorce is sometimes necessary. She believes Priests should be able to marry. She believes women & men should be able to serve the church equally, as priests or nuns/monks – whatever their calling may be. She feels that Pre-marital sex is probably not a good idea, but it happens, and as long as someone isn’t sleeping with everyone and everything, it’s not the end of the world. Birth control is also A-OK in her world. So while I was raised in a fairly conservative household, I’ve always known that the Catholic church isn’t perfect.
I’ve also been lucky enough to have attended churches with some very progressive Priests. They were more concerned with preaching the love of Jesus, social justice, and being a beacon of god’s light through leading by example. Above all, by accepting, loving, and not judging our fellow man (or woman) – because that part isn’t up to us. That’s what draws me to a life of faith and the belief there’s something bigger than all of us out there. I believe that the “golden rule” of treating others as you would like to be treated, and loving your neighbour as yourself is the “right” way to live, no matter which god or gods you worship. I’ve been raised in the Christian faith, so I’m most comfortable expressing my faith through the Christian (specifically Catholic) concept of God.
Though I haven’t been practicing my religion for quite a few years (aside from attending – but not participating in – mass on Christmas and at Easter, because it makes my mom happy), I’ve been feeling a desire lately to return to a more regular expression of my faith. The problem I’m faced with though, is that although I’m definitely a Christian, am I really a Catholic? With the election of the new Pope, I still feel a claim on him as a religious figurehead. But I disagree with pretty much everything that distinguishes the Catholic faith from breakaway facets of Christianity.
I believe divorce is okay. I am staunchly pro-choice. While I can see the reasoning behind the Catholic Church’s anti-condom policy (they block “life” just like any birth control, and therefore are forbidden), I think it’s doing much more harm than good. I believe sexual orientation is not a choice, and shouldn’t be a basis for discrimination. I believe women and men are equal and should be able to serve equally. I believe religion should be taught by example and children should be given all the tools to make a choice to join the church at an appropriate age, instead of being indoctrinated without being mature enough to make a choice either way. I believe in reaching out to other faiths (including protestant branches of Christianity) to increase understanding, tolerance, and the collective improvement of international spirituality.
However, aside from all the bullshit the Catholic Church tries to disseminate over the world, I take great comfort in the ritual and the mystery of practicing the original Christian religion. When I’m a member of a parish fortunate enough to be led by a Priest who preaches love and justice instead of judgement, it’s easy to consider myself a Catholic. But the same Priest and congregation who are not judging me still firmly believe that my beliefs are wrong, and my final judgement will be an unfavourable one. Can I really go to confession every week and ask for forgiveness for things I don’t believe need forgiving?
The bottom line is, calling myself a Catholic makes me feel like a hyppocrite. I think it’s time to finally call a spade a spade, and say I’m not Catholic anymore. So what am I? From what I can gather after looking into things, my beliefs align most strongly with the United Church. So if anyone’s still reading who happens to be a member of the United Church, I’d love it if you would comment and we could talk.
Also, anyone else who has an opinion on whether or not I could consider myself Catholic (note: not whether or not I should based on your own socio-political beliefs). In the meantime, I’ll continue to pray for a little guidance, and hope I find my way to a church that feels like “home” sooner rather than later.