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These words are my diary screaming out loud

Friday, April 20, 2012

My Thoughts on a News Story (No, Not That One)

I am FAR from a good Catholic. I think its been close to 4 years since I've been inside a Church for something other than a wedding. Its not that I don't believe, or anything like that, I just stopped enjoying Church when everytime I went to mass for many years at different churches I felt like I was either being judged or at a political speech, and that's not why I was there. I can't believe that when Jesus tasked Simon Peter with maintaining the Church, the current state of it all is what he was going for.

I've also really become disenchanted with organized religion in general. I look at this campaign season, and the attempts of those especially on the religious right to insert religion into government in exactly the way our founding fathers were trying to prevent. I see fights over issues where the only argument on one side is religion, with no regard to the fact that no single religion has a place in our government. I see schools so paranoid about the religion issue that they're taking the word God out of God Bless the USA. And I'm not dogging one side or the other on this - both extreme sides of this argument tend to be a little much. Do I think that the United States is or should be a completely Christian nation? Absolutely not. Do I think that having a Christmas party at a school goes against that? Hell no.

So that all leads me up to what I really wanted to write about today. Far below the top of the page Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman news, and the Secret Service Scandal, and the Presidential race, I've been following a situation in the news the last few days that has me really bothered, and really kind of confirming why I've been hesitant to go back to the Church. Apparently, the Vatican is none-to-pleased with American nuns because they're not keeping 100% on the exact doctrinal path that has been set for them. And its not even totally about them going against anything, although a couple have spoken publicly about thier disagreement with the Church's position on ordaining women. But apparently its more about the nuns staying quiet on abortion and euthanasia - not going against the church, but not teaching the church's positions either - and the support of the Leadership Council of Women Religious of the Affordable Care Act and the compromise over the whole birth control mess earlier this year.

Now, I haven't had a TON of experience with nuns over the years. I didn't go to Catholic school, and we never went to a Church that had any real presence of nuns in it. Most of my interaction has been limited to a friend's aunt, who I've only met a handful of times, and the nun that runs the school where my uncle has lived for a very long time. And school is not even the right word to describe it - they have a school, but they also have group homes, work programs, and everything else necessary for the mentally handicapped to live their lives as fully as possible. This type of activity is what I've always associated nuns with - charities, hospitals, schools, and other activities that are meant solely to help those less fortunate. And throughout all of the scandals and bad things the Church has dealt with over the years, I can't think of one instance in which the nuns were implicated or where their record was tarnished.

All I can think about right now is these women, who have devoted their lives to a Church that they believe in and love more than anything in this world, and now that Church is effectively turning against them. I can't even imagine how that must feel to them - it has to be similar to your family disowning you, in the sense that both loves, from the Church/God/etc and from the family, are supposed to be unconditional. Except that their relationship with God and the Church is more like the relationship between husband and wife.  I'm sure that's not the first thought of most people in this case - how the nuns must truly be feeling. But I can't get it off of my mind.

Like I said, I could probably be in contention for the World's Worst Catholic award. But I had always retained a little bit of hope. This might just be what drains the last of it out of me. I hope not, but you can bet I'll be watching to see what happens.


danaCreative said...


It truly is a shame how the Catholic Church has responded so negatively to the Nuns who've devoted their lives to the charitable work you mentioned in your post. Your words really brought to light in my mind the true difference between priests and nuns.

In my lifetime, Pope John Paul II is the standard of priesthood and an iconic symbol of the Catholic Church. As benevolent, loving, and charming and Pope John Paul II was, my mental image of him will always be one of him surrounded by the ornateness and, for lack of a better word, wealth of the Vatican.

By contrast, in my lifetime, the equivalent standard for nuns is Mother Teresa. My image of her will always be that of her throwing out the carpeting of her office area in Calcutta. Her reasoning? If she was going to serve the poor, she needed to properly relate to their plight. Her works were the true epitome of what the Church is supposed to be.

Jesus challenged the status quo of His time, preaching forgiveness and compassion in a time of brutal punishment for the smallest of crimes (i.e. cutting off the hands of thieves). I believe these same Nuns that have been publicly scolded by Rome are doing the same thing; challenging us to think outside the same, narrow parameters imposed on us by mostly old, white men in pointy hats.

I, too, will be following this story, and I, too, will be rooting for the women who are making a difference in this world (as opposed to the men who are just making noise).

P.S. As for your personal journey, I believe you are, like most people, experiencing a crisis of church and not a crisis of faith. You will find what you're looking for. All you need to do is ask Him to continue to show you the way.

Rebecca said...

Thanks, Gil. I completely agree. I read another interesting article in the Washington Post this morning about how the Pope, in his previous position, headed the office that was once called The Inquisition, and many were hoping he'd crack down like this sooner in his reign. Others, though, wish he would concentrate more on trying to refill the pews.

And as far as your PS, I agree with that as well. I've never not had faith. Yes, it has wavered at times, but whose hasn't. But its always been there. The issues I have are definitely with the organized part, not with the personal part. But you just said it better, as usual :)