Being a very serious Catholic is something you never quite get over. At absolute minimum, it takes a certain grieving period to let go, but there’s always something about it that gets under your skin and stays there. You never forget.
Part of it is probably the way it was part of my identity for some very formative years of my life. Those years form part of my history, and I’ve seen things I can’t unsee, learned things I can’t unlearn. So information about the Catholic Church sometimes comes at me from a very different perspective than what you’d experience having never been Catholic. Part of it may also be a longtime interest in spiritualities of many different stripes and the ways they compare to one another.
But part of it is also the way the Church tries to pry its way into the everyday lived experiences of people who aren’t even Catholic. It’s not enough to disapprove of abortion; the Church in America wants to deny communion to politicians who fail to impose those religious views on others. It’s not enough for them to say gay marriage is a sin; they have to fight against its inclusion in the law even for people who don’t share their views on sexuality. It’s not enough for them to disapprove of contraception; they want to keep it out of women’s health care coverage and keep teens from learning how to prevent pregnancy and disease transmission.
Am I hurt and angry about that? Damn straight.
Do I take it more personally than I should? Maybe.
It doesn’t really affect me directly anymore (most of the time) because I don’t accept the Church as a teacher of truth anymore. But this religion affects other people in a bunch of different ways, and I don’t think it’s right for me to just walk away from this as long as:
- The Church keeps trying to force Catholic dogma into the legal arena where it doesn’t belong, making non-Catholics (as well as less orthodox Catholics or morally objecting Catholics) follow Catholic rules about birth control, pregnancy, marriage, and homosexuality.
- The Church keeps trying to justify these intrusions using moral reasoning that I find fundamentally flawed.
I don’t feel like it’s morally okay to just walk away from this. One commenter suggested that the Church is like an ex-boyfriend I’m still obsessing over and stalking on Facebook, and I’d probably be happier if I just let go and lived my life. Could be true.
But the Church is not an ex-boyfriend whose life I keep prying into. The Church is an international institution trying to establish unjust control of the political and social sphere, and justifying it by referencing the biblical deity as if he were a proven fact, not an article of faith. Believe me, I have a problem with that. Especially when I see the Church trying to tell me I have fewer rights than a cluster of three-day-old cells in my womb, or that my gay friends are intrinsically disordered, or my birth control pills make me a murderer.
They have their right to speak freely, I guess. But they have no right to expect me to keep silent. I’ll exercise my right to speak back.
At the same time, though, my feelings about the Church are really becoming more of a feature in this blog than I expected. This was meant to be more of a personal blog about my life and work, not an ongoing diatribe against the Catholic Church. I’m thinking of starting a separate “all-Catholicism, all-the-time” blog and leaving this one for more personal reflections and thoughts on my creative work.
Let me know if you have any thoughts.