I was raised Catholic, attended Catholic school, played the pipe organ in Church for the choir. Wow, did I love the sound of the organ and choir!
As a youth, I never understood why the nuns at school were often mean, or why the priests doted on the altar-boys, or why girls could not be altar-girls and nuns could not say mass. As a child it seemed strange and scary that God would be a source of of punishment, and I struggled with the teachings of his wrath.
But, I loved the cavernous cathedrals, the haunting, moving music, the beauty of stained glass windows, the incense. Confession seemed contrived, but none of my young friends fussed over it. Mass was a little long, but the ladies always dressed elegantly, especially on Easter Sunday. I loved the reverence of Mary, something no other Christian sect promoted, and the angels, protecting everyone. Then, in my twenties, something happened.
I realized that I could not really be a Catholic, because there were things labeled “sins” which I didn’t think were very terrible. I realized that if you belong to an organization and you practice behaviors that the organization condemns, then you are a hypocrite, or worse: a politician!
The Catholic Church condems as sin: pre-marital sex, masturbation, homosexuality, birth control, divorce (unless you pay an administrator for it), sex except for the goal of procreation, abortion for ANY reason, suicide for any reason including terminal illness.
It also prohibits marriage for its priests, and protects its leaders from prosecution for sexual crimes committed against children. It has denied female devotees the same privileges that males enjoy re: position and authority. It declares only one path to heaven, and states heaven and hell are concrete places where your soul will be sent upon judgement by God after your death.
If you don’t believe these things, or behave in a way which denies these beliefs, then you are not a practicing Catholic. You may be a very nice person, in fact, a very loving, kind and compassionate person. You may love Jesus and emulate him, making you a devout, loving Christian. But you are not Catholic. There are currently many Christian places of worship that might welcome you. I’m not totally sure why a loving couple with children would want to belong to an organization which condemns their lifestyle to all of their faith-based community.
Or, why they would want their naive child, the fruit of years of love and energy to experience prejudice for the sake of an argument. It is hard to imagine placing a child’s welfare and education in the hands of an organization which teaches them that their parents are sinners and will never enter heaven.
Changing the laws/beliefs of the Catholic church is an interesting notion; but is it a worthwhile goal? There are so many ways to spend one’s energy. I wish the lesbian couple who have been rejected by the leaders of the Church of their choice love and insight in their ongoing struggles.
Nancy J. Franzoso, M.D.