Feeling Alienated From My Catholic Friends

Posted in Editorials on March 19th, 2013
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Last week when Francis I became Pope, my Facebook feed was alight with people celebrating and excited over the news. My reaction was one of indifference and cynicism. Meet the new Pope, same as the old Pope, I thought. Francis I is opposed to contraception, to legal abortion and has said that same sex marriage is satanic.

But seeing my Catholic friends joy was disquieting. When Pope Benedict XVI became pope, I had already stopped going to church for over a year. I was busy with school and didn’t have much time to reflect on it. This time it’s different. I spend a lot of time on social media, so I was able to read all about the misguided Catholics who were hoping for reform, the outraged feminist and LGBT activists at the selection of Francis I, and most troubling my friends and family rejoicing at the news.

For the most part, I’m really glad that I have left the Catholic Church and I’m proud to be a Unitarian Universalist. While there were things about Catholicism that made me feel happy and spiritually fulfilled, the hierarchy wasn’t one of them. Perhaps it’s because my parent’s house didn’t have a picture of John Paul II framed adoringly. Maybe it’s because my parents always loudly disagreed with the idea of the Pope – and questioned how it’s possible for any one person to be closer to God or holier than another. I just don’t get what there is to celebrate.

I suppose I might feel a little left out. But more than that, even if I accept that my friends can accept or ignore the church’s teachings on contraception, abortion or gay rights, I don’t understand how people could just brush aside child abuse.

I don’t know what to do with this feeling. There’s no nice way to ask my friends why they are celebrating an institution that covers up for people who rape children. Our norms around religion dictate that it’s not polite to ask someone why they believe what they believe. I can understand that my friends don’t need to justify the private intricacies of their consciences to me. But when their support for the Church infringes on my rights, and the rights of others, when it causes death and pain – there is still no frame for the conversation.

2 Responses to “Feeling Alienated From My Catholic Friends”

  1. Frank Lee Says:

    It sure is disturbing when people disregard grievous offenses to support a leader in the false hope he’ll bring reform even though he’s the same as his predecessor. How do you suppose someone finds the nerve to aid infringement upon others’ rights?

  2. annie catlick Says:

    I have to experience this cognitive dissonance whenever I talk to my brother, who is a “super Catholic”. He insists, every single time it comes up, that “they’re not doing it anymore!!”, and treats that statement as if it should be explanation enough to keep attending.

    the real problem is how deeply rooted the Catholic religion is, in the minds of people raised Catholic……for example, I left my church job and stopped attending 11 years ago, and it took me at least 8 of those years to be able to say “the Church is totally full of shit”, withOUT feeling a little bit afraid of a lightning strike.

    a lifelong Catholic CAN’T just “leave” the Church, because even though all Catholics are *aware* of the sex scandal, most still don’t know how widespread it is. The Catholic clergy also have a bully pulpit every Sunday, from which they spin the Church’s talking points about this [only a tiny number of priests are pedos, we don't let it happen anymore so let's just move on, abuse victims are angry at god and want money from the Church, OH HEY LOOK A SAINT!]

    most Catholics are only “in it” for other reasons, like a break in tuition to Catholic schools if you go to that parish, or cheap life insurance from the Knights of Columbus—they don’t think that what the Vatican says/does *really* affects them, most of them believe what they like and never say anything about it. they even call themselves “cafeteria Catholics”, as in “I’ll pick out what I like and believe the Church is all about THAT, and NOT believe in things I don’t like.”

    even those people who talk trash about the hierarchy and the inherent misogyny of the faith, STILL think they have to attend church, under pain of damnation. (Even if that fear is dimly in their subconscious) Mind control is a BITCH to overcome, and can seem absolutely impossible on a large scale. It took the Church 1800+ years to build up this kind of control mechanism. It might take more than a couple generations to fully rid the human race of this evil.

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