Religious Dilemma

  1. OK, any other Catholics out there? I am having some serious doubts about our church, and really want others' thoughts.

    When the stories of priests molesting children first came out, I was furious. Not because the priesthood contained pedophiles, however. That sickness has always been with us. By their very nature, pedophiles become very good at hiding what they are, manipulating their victims to keep quiet, and even convincing themselves that what they are doing is perfectly natural and "OK."

    No, what made me mad was the church's response to the pedophiles. It seemed to me that there was a structure in place to systematically shuffle these "priests" around from parish to parish, never warning parish members of the history of their new priest. Parents could not protect their children from a threat they didn't know existed. I was (and still am) convinced that the church, knowing a shortage of priests existed, consciously decided to protect these priests, in order to keep them in the priesthood. Apparently, a priest who molested children was better than no priest at all. And the pedophile had a whole new hunting ground. Sort of a fringe benefit of employment with the church.

    I was on the verge of deciding that I was no longer a Catholic. Earthly concerns, the prestige and power of the priesthood, had become more important that the reason the church first existed. How could I, as the father of young children, go to Catholic churches knowing the church as an institution had decided to protect pedophiles in it's ranks?

    After much thought, and seeing the action (FINALLY) of the US Bishops to remove pedophile priests from parishes, I was beginning to think again about returning to the church. Then, this week, I read that the Vatican had serious problems with the position of US Bishops. Apparently, some or all of the directives of the US Bishops are "problematic." In the interest of forgiveness, the church may again allow pedophiles to continue as parish priests.

    My concerns, my worries, my absolute anger as a father are all back. I don't know if I can ever step into a Catholic church again. I don't know what I am looking for, other than the thoughts of others, including non-catholics.

    Kevin McHugh
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  2. 47 Comments

  3. by   tiger
    i am not catholic and do not attend church anymore because i felt there was too much hiipocracy. was raised as a baptist. if i had been catholic i do not think i would return to the church. don't trust the majority of them. imho.
  4. by   Rustyhammer
    Kevin,
    I know many people who have turned their back on the catholic church for exactly the reasons you have just stated. How can the church claim to provide solace and a place of holy refuge when the vatican will not work to make the church a safe place for all.
    -Russell
  5. by   CATHYW
    Kevin,
    I am not Catholic either, but to me, there is no question about having priests that are pedophiles. They should not be there, and when discovered, they should be excommunicated and prosecuted in a court of law. Forgiveness is a good thing, but forgiveness does nothing to repair the psyche of the affected children. I am not attacking Catholicism, at all, but how can church officials bend more to the needs of perverted priests than to the children and their families those same priests did an injury to? Jesus said, "suffer the little ones to come unto me." He didn't say to allow the pervert priests to come ahead of the children.

    I certainly understand your dilemma. Have you considered the Episcopalian or the Methodist Church?

    Best of luck with your thoughts and prayers. We'll be thinking aboutcha and praying for you!
    Cathy
  6. by   Stargazer
    Kevin, I know exactly what you mean. I was raised Catholic and, although I have been non-practicing for many years, I still identify more as a Catholic than not.

    Actually, I have been feeling like something was "missing" (spiritually) for the past few years and had been thinking a lot about starting to go to church again. Regardless, I always had the comforting feeling that the Church was there, just as it had been for the past 2000 years, ready for me whenever I chose to return. Now, I don't feel that way, and it feels very sad and very scary.

    I've certainly had problems with many of the Vatican's positions over the years--women in the priesthood, contraception, gays--but I knew that many Catholics, and even priests, didn't agree with these views either and tended to practice Catholicism on a more "local" level whereby these issues were tempered with a more realistic worldview. It was a compromise that most people could live with.

    The pedophile issue, however, is the last straw for me. As you pointed out, it's not the fact that the pedophilia occurred, but the Church's willingness to cover up and enable behavior which is immoral, unethical, and illegal; that it actually facilitated repeated child abuse and now seems either unable or unwilling to even admit it was wrong, much less admit that decisive action needs to be taken to stop it. I have known for many years--hell, what Catholic hasn't known since Vatican II?--that Rome was seriously out of touch with the rest of the world--but this goes beyond that. I honestly cannot imagine what anyone in Rome could possibly be thinking to convince themselves that this is all okay and no big deal.

    Add to that the fact that the pope is clearly very ill and incapacitated, but refuses to step down...well, I just can't believe they don't understand how many US Catholics they have lost permanently, and are continuing to lose, over issues like this.

    FWIW, my parents are such staunch Catholics that when they asked me my opinion of all this last time I was home, I was actually quite hesitant to speak my mind, thinking they might feel compelled to defend the Church. I should've given them more credit. They are furious about all of it and agree with every one of my views. They do still attend their tiny local parish church, because they like the congregation and I gather the priest has made it clear, if not in so many words, exactly what he thinks Rome should be doing. They tell me, however, that hundreds of thousands of Catholics across the country are registering their protests in the collection basket--it's become common for folks to drop, rather than money, notes which read something like, "We'll start donating money again if and when the Vatican starts taking responsibility for its actions."

    I still believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the one true church, entrusted to Peter by Jesus. And I am extremely hurt, and angry as hell, that men who consider themselves God's agents here on earth have corrupted it so terribly.
    Last edit by Stargazer on Oct 25, '02
  7. by   Rustyhammer
    Perhaps it is just too much to ask for a person to take that vow of celebacy.
    Perhaps if they allowed priests to marry?
    -Russell
  8. by   Stargazer
    I don't think that would completely solve the problem, Rusty, but I do think it would be a big help. It's not that all priests are gay, or all gays are pedophiles, or anything like that. The point is, pedophiles tend to be sexually "arrested"; and I think it's far too easy for any person with sexual dysfunction to attempt to hide it in the priesthood where, as a celibate, they figure they won't have to deal with the problem head-on.

    I think allowing priests to marry would at least open up the field to a larger, more diverse, and healthier (emotionally/sexually) population.

    The inequity as it stands now is ridiculous. Married Anglican priests who choose to convert to Catholicism are allowed to keep their spouses and children. What does that tell you? If you're a guy who wants to be a Catholic priest and also wants to be married, you just have to become an Anglican priest and then convert. Duh.
  9. by   kmchugh
    Stargazer

    Well put. I was raised Catholic as well. I feel like I am losing one of my oldest, most trusted friends.

    I agree, Rusty. Priests should be allowed to be married.

    Kevin McHugh
  10. by   Aussienurse2
    Do you need to have a religion to have faith?
  11. by   Rustyhammer
    Of course not.
    We are just talking about the potential fall of an empire here.
  12. by   Aussienurse2
    < fiddling madly> Oh, sorry. Is a little difficult for me to understand, I lost faith in God a long time ago sooo. But thought if you still have faith in the God then maybe the religion matters a little less?
  13. by   nursenoelle
    I have been an inactive Catholic for over 3 years now, I too feel as if something is missing, I miss recieving the eucharist, and participating in reconciliation, and most of all the safety that I once felt in the pews. my husband is of another faith, and his pastor has been trying to convince me to convert. I just cannot do it, like I would be hypocritical if I did so. When was the last time the Catechism was revised ? 1977? If I'm right, there inlies the problem. Major reform is possible, but difficult for a church who's foundation is based on forgiveness. Shock and Denial reign.
  14. by   adrienurse
    Ex Catholic here. The Vatican is so wrapped up in its own politics that it hasn't progressed out of the middle ages. It is for this reason that it has such embarrisingly non-sensical policies. When is somebody going to admit that priests are human, and therefore have to be treated and punished as human beings?

    Not my only beef with the Catholic church, let me tell you.

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