Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Catholic and Condoms

In the realm of "things you might not expect from a Wiccan minister", I was raised Catholic. If you read my last post, you might have guessed it. I was Catholic from the day I was born until I left for college in the fall of 1989, and was baptized and confirmed.

While I haven't been a practicing Catholic for many, many years, I learned so much about spirituality and just plain faith from my Catholic upbringing, especially my mother. I have nothing but respect for the spiritual path, and have seen very few faiths with such devoted followers. 

Sadly, it appears that I'm not alone in having left the Catholic Church. According to a recent study by the Center for the Study of Church Management at Villanova's School of Business, one in ten Americans is an ex-Catholic. The article goes on to talk about why 300 former Catholics have left the faith; I found it very interesting overall.

Speaking personally, I left because it just wasn't for me. No spiritual path is bad; you just have to find the one that works for you. And it is my firm belief that no spiritual path is better than any other. 

As a high school senior at a Jesuit institution, I got into trouble once for expressing my views publicly. The first female Baptist bishop was ordained in Boston at the time, and the school newspaper took my picture for one of those "man on the street" articles and asked me what I thought. I decided I wasn't going to hold back. I said that it was fantastic that the Baptist Church was finally recognizing the role of women on the altar, and finished with, "And I think the Catholic Church should do the same."

I might have gotten away with just the first part, but the second part got me ostracized to a certain extent. I had several priests for teachers that year, and they didn't call on me or even look at me for a whole week at least. What surprised me, though, was that a few of the female faculty members--we didn't have any nuns so they were all lay faculty--took me aside to tell me how brave I was to say what I said. I didn't understand how significant it was. Let's be clear...I was the furthest thing from a rabble-rouser and had no intention of doing anything contrary to order and discipline. But I guess this was the right thing for me to say at the right time. 

Today, I'm a proud, passionate, out of the broom closet Witch, but I'm happy I had such a solid base of Catholic theology to work from. I still draw on it today sometimes when working with clients, and as an interfaith minister, I help people of all faiths, so that knowledge will never go to waste.

With all of that said, and with no intention to criticize Catholics or Catholicism, I do wonder about the future of the Catholic faith in the United States. "Cafeteria Catholic" is a term that many use in a derogatory way, but my opinion is that if you're getting what you need spiritually, what does it matter? 

With the amount of American Catholics who seem to disagree with Rome on so many vital issues, it wouldn't surprise me if American Catholics broke away from Rome eventually to create their own church to address many of the issues raised in the article above. If I had to list a few, they would be ordaining women; allowing male priests to marry; ordaining gay men and women; permitting male and female altar servers; encouraging the use of all forms of birth control; and promptly and effectively dealing with any allegations of sexual abuse while fully cooperating with law enforcement.

Honestly, I truly would hate to see such an amazing, powerful faith diminished even further. 

With Holy Week upon us, I wish all Catholics and other Christians a very blessed Easter. 

Oh...and before I forget...Father Irish's proclamation for "C" in the Alphabet of Sin was that "C is for CONDOMS!" No surprises here. [NOTE: See my "B" post for the full story on the Alphabet of Sin. As usual, none of the views of my crusty old algebra teacher are my own, and I saw his rant as more of a joke than anything else. And yes, it really did happen.]

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post with "D". :)


  1. great job, John. I was an acolyte during the 80's at a church in Alexandria, and it was something I loved doing. I was so sad to have to put the thurifer down when they changed their minds- some of the priests were annoyed as well, as the female alter servers usually took their duties much more seriously than their male counterparts. Perhaps the breaking point was when my two brothers and I served Mass together and used the "Our Father" as an opportunity to demonstrate 'mercy' in front of the entire congregation. :)

    1. Wow! I can't believe that. Thanks do much for sharing it!