Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Open Letter From An Angry Catholic...


(In the interest of fair warning there’s gonna be some Jesus in this post. Should this be a problem, I suggest you come back tomorrow when our regularly scheduled programming of writing goofy stuff about movies will recommence.)

I am about to partake in the time honored tradition of sticking my hand into the hornet’s nest. I’m going to be writing harshly about organized religion which by consequence will probably piss of the religious. But also writing just as passionately about the roots of said faith, thus losing me the atheists in the crowd. That’s right there’s something here to make everyone mad!

It's your basic no win situation. So why write it? Because my conscience won’t allow me to do otherwise.

"No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

-Luke 6:43-45

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

-James 2:14-16

It must be said that to being Catholic and frustrated is nothing new. I certainly have had personal schism’s with Church dogma before, for example the church’s stance on Gay rights and a woman’s right to choose. Yet even in these intensely devisive issues never once have I doubted the church’s inherent good intentions in dealing with these matters, however wrong headed a place those intentions may have led.

This is no longer the case.

Before I write any further I should be clear that I come not to renounce my church or abandon my faith but to call for its accountability. It is because of the very things my church taught me that I now must write this letter.

Beyond everything, the core of what the Catholic Church has taught me is what I do matters. That my thoughts, words, and deeds are not inconsequential but permanent. It remains to be seen if the teacher has absorbed the lesson.

The church cannot claim infallibility while embracing corruption of the most sickening kind. No man can serve two masters. For the Church to survive beyond a mere physical meaning of the word, but with spirtual authority intact it must humble itself like never before. The fact is. If the extent of Benedict’s corruption that is suspected is accurate he has no choice but to step down as Pope. He is unfit.

Some will say that it is not Benedict’s fault. That he merely happens to be in charge when the full extent of the horrors became known. That the corruption was systematic, that he is much more responsive then John Paul the II in the face of the crisis. All of this is true.

BUT. In the New York times on March 27th a correction was printing, saying the paper had misquoted an Irish study saying that hundreds of thousands of children where molested, by priests in Ireland. As the Vatican pointed out, The revised statistic, brought the number down to a much more manageable tens of thousands.

That one number should be comprehensible and the other apparently permissible sickens me to my very core.

I will say again, if The Pope, as a Cardinal and Arch Bishop did actively cover up Child Molestation and hide guilty priests, as the revelations from Munich seem to suggest, he is unfit to be the spirtual leader of 1.115 billion people.

I believe The Gospels are the greatest truth bestowed upon mankind. Whether you believe their orgin is divine, or merely brought forth by the better aspects of the human mind is on this point inconsequential. If man does not embrace their true spirit (as opposed to the greatly hypocritical one many do), which is not necessarily the same thing as excepting them as celestial; mankind will not survive. I truly believe this.

It pains me to say that the Catholic Church, has become an unworthy bearer of this message. For years Catholicism has, thanks to its strong central leadership, and grounded theology has served as a bastion against the lunatic fringes of the religious right. Now it finds itself shamed, even by the venal hypocrites who parade around that freakshow. Say what you will about Ted Haggard, but his love for Gay Prosititutes and Crystal Meth was hurting no one but himself.

The coming months will be a crucible where The Church will either prove its worth or begin to diminish.

I am proud, still, to be a Catholic. Nothing I have encountered in this life has changed that. And in all likelihood nothing will. What has changed is my wrong headed belief that the church is beyond, not fault never that, but judgement.

The Church must be held accountable for its actions. If not by others then at least by itself.

The Church as you may know has some rather well formed ideas about confession and atonement. Tear down the years of cover ups and lies. Let the truth out no matter how ugly it is. It can’t be worse then what we’ve already seen. At this point the church has precious little to lose. And I mean all four of those last words.

This week is the holy week. The most important in the liturgical year. What better time to show that the what the Church’s judgment, and high standards that they expect from others, apply also to itself?


Anonymous said...

Props to you for writing this and sharing a more personal side of yourself in the blogosphere. Hard to come by nowadays (originality of thought and showing a personal side, that is) and for staying strong in your personal faith and beliefs despite the despicable work of others.

Being shoved Catholic dogma by the spoonful since I was a kid (catholic grade school, all boys catholic high school, altar boy--no I didn't get molested), I have slowly become disenfranchised with the church. Its stuck in archaic ritual, beliefs and has ceased to evolve when culture has. Not to mention, these cover ups by the people who are supposed to be serving some 'will' is just unforgivable. I know forgiveness is one of the tenants of catholic faith, but this is something that is just downright disgusting. No monster or evil that I right about on my blog has been more grossly disgusting than the leaders of the catholic church.

Its actions like this that make me even question the existence of god and as a result, I'm not sure where I stand with my faith.

The Dirty Mac said...

You're pretty spot on there Bryce. We were raised in the same Catholic church (a few years apart obviously), but so far in my college years, my faith has been the biggest part of me in question.

It's hard telling other folk you are a practicing Catholic who has liberal viewpoints. It's becoming even harder with the recent controversy you spoke about. The thing I've realized about my connection to the Catholic church is not so much what it has taught me about God, but about how I can live my life better.

And therein lies what religion means to me: tradition. My family has been Catholic for generations, and what I've learned about holding family and friends close to you is the best thing anyone can take from it. If people of other religions can't accept you for that, and will instead shove the word of their lord down your throat, well that's their choice.

For me, it's all about accepting people for who they are and what they hold dear to them. And that's one thing no one can take from anyone.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ PoT thanks for the support and the comment. I can appreciate how being forced lock step into faith can sour you towards it. It wasn't until I was able to walk away from my Faith for a while that I could come back. Like I said though, this new stuff is beyond anything that's happened before.

@MacKenzie: Couldn't (and didn't) have said it better myself. Further proof you need to get off your duff and start one of these on your own.