Sunday, March 11, 2012

Confessions of a Recovering Catholic

I didn't have a choice in the whole being Catholic thing. When I was just a couple of weeks old, a priest poured some water over my head and now, 30+ years later, Catholics still claim I am one of them even though I never chose it. Some of them are rather condescending, even arrogant about it. "You know this is the only real religion" they sometimes say.

When I was 16, I stopped going to Mass despite the warnings that if I didn't go, I'd risk my soul burning in hell for eternity. The ridiculous part of this was the person who was the most vocal about this was our priest who regularly had his "friend" over for a game of "hide the salami" after Mass and allegedly solicited local gay men for sex on a regular basis.

I dabbled for a little while in other religions, trying to "find my way" as the cliche goes. Going and sitting in that church every Sunday does give one some sense of solace in a mad world, if you're willing to turn off your brain and not question anything. These days, I consider myself somewhere between an agnostic and a very liberal Jew but you're not going to find me anywhere near temple either.

I came back again for a short period of time in my early 20's, just to see if as an adult, I could be treated as one by the same judgmental lot I had previously despised as a kid. It didn't get any better and I finally called it quits a few months later. Don't get me wrong, I'll still go for special occasions like weddings or some family event but you'll never catch me there more than once a year which is just to be polite.

It took me quite some time to finally undo the years of indoctrination and sometimes, I think the embedded guilt will never be fully conquered.

For me, they don't have all of the answers, no religion does. I've learned that in life, asking someone to give you the answers is intellectually lazy and a recipe for disaster. Even somehow through the course of my experiences, I were to find that the "true faith" was Catholicism, I could never go back to a church that allowed a priest to rail against "sins" that he was committing before or after the very service in which he condemned others for the same offense. I could never forgive a church that allowed the leader of their Knights of Columbus group, someone who was considered a pillar of the community, to molest kids in his basement office while his wife chatted with the victim's parents upstairs and never try to stop him.

I'll never stop having respect for those who consider themselves to be Christians, Catholics, or whatever and actually concentrate on what the religion was originally supposed to be about. However, until the day comes when the message goes back to taking care of the poor and outcast instead of the pathological obsession with people's sexual habits and controlling their lives, count me out.


  1. My early experience with religion was very similar, except in Mormonism. Mormons delay baptism until the "age of accountability", which they have decided to be around 8 yrs. This imparts the requisite sense of guilt for any thoughts of straying from the "true" religion, but long before one has the life experience to actually make such a decision with any level of enlightenment.

    Republicans have good reason to be wary of Romney. Mormons believe that the first order of business that Christ will take on is the establishment of "socialism" for the chosen people who remained true to their faith. Others, of course, will be left to flounder in their capitalistic rut. The religion was founded in a period that saw greater acceptance for economic theory and experimentation that eventually contributed to the new deal measures that pulled us out of the gilded age and it's destruction of our economy. The phrase "from each according to his abilities, and to each according to his needs", is often quoted exactly in church documents describing the state of "Zion" that is to be established following the second coming.

    It's too bad that the church leadership has chosen to suppress expression of this belief in favor of more traditional "conservative" rhetoric. Many of the church doctrines even go so far as to instruct in sustainable agriculture and healthy diet. The church believes in much more intrusive authority over people's life style than they would ever accept from government.

  2. I still have that catholic guilt. Even though I consider myself an atheist at this point, my sister wanted me to be the godmother to her children. When I had to go to my church and lie to get the paperwork, I was nervous. seriously! But I agree with your reasoning and I like your last paragraph here.

  3. I am sorry for your pain and the cr@p you have endured under Catholicism. Christians who are more conservative than God contribute to Atheism every day. I can look back over my own life and see I may have been one of those people at times (judgmental, hypercritical). It took me falling on my own face more than several times to see the beauty in Christ is His grace and mercy without works, without me having to do anything. I am drawn the wonder and mystic beauty of the liturgy of the Catholic church and Eastern Orthodoxy church...and drawn to the grace of the Protestant offshoots I have seen in some churches. I am deeply saddened that these bad apples, @$$holes, have poison the barrel. I personally know of some priests who are great, loving people. And they have to bear the cross of what these @$$holes have done to their flock.

    This world is a place full of sickness and hate. The only answer is love. Love in this case with the sick @$$hole is to MAKE HIM ACCOUNTABLE. It sickens me to my stomach.

    1 John 4:8