Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently for the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, brings us this story that highlights one of the problems that the Church has these days with precious snowflakes who think they are heroic rebels:
Northwestern University student Kathleen Ferraro was RAISED CATHOLIC!! and thinks that it’s extremely important for all of you people to understand that fact:
My name is Kathleen and I am a little Catholic schoolgirl. I wore a sweater vest and knee-highs and a skirt that could be no more than two inches above my knees. Rogue nuns wandered the halls of my high school. We “left room for Jesus” at school dances, all of which were supervised by a resident priest. I come from a devoutly Roman Catholic family from a primarily Catholic community largely dominated by Catholic institutions, schools, values and beliefs.
Yet young Katie doesn’t consider herself Catholic any more.
And yet against all odds, I don’t fit into Catholicism. My Catholic upbringing and education seemed the perfect formula for a perfect Catholic. Nonetheless, I’ve developed values and beliefs that significantly diverge from this foundation.
Gee. Wonder what those might be.
Whenever I think about this question, I always resort to my list-making ways, crafting an inventory of the reasons that Catholicism has not worked for me. Old-fashioned values and traditions, hesitation towards accepting the LGBTQ community and inherent political undertones of church leadership leave me feeling conflicted and uneasy. I will never understand why dressing up in a modest J.Crew dress and sitting in the first pew at church trumps participating in a climate march, or why accepting doctrine on faith alone beats independent thinking, questioning and customizing one’s religious life. For me, religion has been more a culture of privilege than of prayer, a competition of piety rather than a humble quest of personal growth and spiritual connection. These are all examples from my experience with religion that motivate me to reject Catholicism, but as I think about it, are these also reasons that Catholicism rejects me?
No, because that’s just stupid.
I believe it is. Speaking only for the Catholic institutions I come from, I do not fit the prototype of what a Catholic is supposed to be–the by the book churchgoer who accepts Catholicism because that is what is true.
I am pro-choice, don’t go to church on Sundays, don’t put stock in the Bible or doctrine, challenge traditional ideas of religion and spirituality and care infinitely more about trying to be a kind, humble person than actively worshipping.
In other words, an Episcopalian.
On one hand, this rejection validates my personal beliefs and their deliberate divergence from Catholicism. On the other hand, this rejection leaves me unfulfilled. I find myself an outsider, subject to the Catholic exclusivity that ostracizes other divergent thinkers and doers: the very exclusivity that prompts me to reject Catholicism in the first place. Its a perplexing paradox – my beliefs exclude me and define me as an independent. And because my beliefs disqualify me from active participation, I am consequently excluded from a community that I want to engage with, though not necessarily be a part of. I would say “its not you, its me,” but I think “its not me, its you” is equally appropriate.
I’m not saying that my beliefs are right,
You are so.
but I am saying that I want to be heard, not just listened to.
Every Anglican in the world knows that means that we keep yammering until the Roman Catholic Church realizes that it’s wrong and I’m right.
For me, this conversation is not about stylizing religion to suit the tastes of young adults;
HAW, HAW HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW, HAW!!
it’s about aligning all voices with the process of organized religion and earnestly engaging in different conceptualizations of faith.
Whatever that means. Katie? I’d like to tell you a little bit about my mom.
Over and over again, I’m amazed at what a visionary my mother was. Mom was also RAISED CATHOLIC!! but had some sort of major conflict with the Catholic Church in the 40′s, the nature of which she never disclosed to any of us.
I suspect what it might have been but I don’t know for certain so I’m not going to speculate. But to those of you whose parents are still with you, a word of warning; you find out quite a bit after they shuffle off this mortal coil.
Mom was always a little bit of a rebel. She was born and raised in New York City and when she was in college at Adelphi, she vocally stood up for the Jews. She’d married in the late 30′s, early 40′s, somewhere in there, and had a daughter shortly after that. Her husband was killed during the war and after it, she was a single mom with a little girl to raise and she didn’t have any money coming in.
So Mom found herself a job. In Montana. She left New York City and never again entertained the idea of ever going back.
Anyway, Mom’s got this problem with the Roman Catholic Church. Know what she did about it, Katie?
She left the Catholic Church and joined the Episcopalians. My mom loved the Episcopal Church until the end of her life. And as far as I know, she was the only one in her family who ever did anything like that. Her brother, my Uncle Howard, remained Catholic until the end of his life.
Kid? The Catholic Church is almost 2,000 years old; you’re not. Your idea that the Catholic Church needs to conform itself to the
bumper stickers beliefs of the Young PeopleTM is too absurd for any intelligent person to even begin to entertain. So emulate my mother, grow a freaking spine and drop into one of Chicagoland’s many fine Episcopal parishes next Sunday. You’ll be glad you did.
Go here to read the comments. It should be noted that Mr. Johnson long ago left Episcopalianism as it became the Church of the Current Zeitgeist.
All human societies have a majority of people who largely go with the flow. They simply accept, with little thought, what is taught in their schools, in their churches, in their families and what is promulgated by the political parties that their families support. The Catholic Church in the West long benefited from this arrangement. Going with the flow since the nineteenth century usually meant that most people born Catholic would be Catholics in adulthood. There were always a few rebels, but the rate of loss was usually small. It took great upheavals like the Reformation to make much of a dent in the Church where the Church was proscribed, and then usually it took several generations before a new pattern of conformism was established and thus the State was essential in taking measures against the Church to largely eliminate her influence from society.
Since the late Fifties, the trends in society throughout the West have been in a pronounced anti-Catholic direction. Simultaneously with this the Church, through the implementation of Vatican II, abandoned much of traditional Catholicism, thereby producing a timidity in the face of anti-Catholicism and a desire for Catholics to get along with the dominant forces in the West. This has created a perfect storm, where conformism is all to the ideas that are trendy within the West, a conglomeration of the ideas embraced by Ms. Ferraro who no doubt misperceives herself as a heroic rebel instead of what she is, a member in good standing of the herd of independent thinkers who, mirabile dictu, just happen to agree on all the major issues of our day as if they came stamped with those opinions from a factory. The Church today tends to draw her champions from born rebels, those who almost instinctively go against the tide and who are often truly independent thinkers. Thus the Church that has been so long at the heart of the West is now, to use a buzzword of the current Pontificate, on the peripheries. This may not be a bad thing in the fullness of time, as the current beliefs regnant in the West are so foolish and so destructive, that the Church may be in a prime position to pick up the pieces after enough disasters ensue. This of course is assuming that those forces within the Church who wish to see the Church embrace the dominant zeitgeist of the West fail. We shall see.