My Long and Winding Road to Catholicism – Part 7
Editor’s note: this post was originally published more than five years ago on a now defunct blog. It was originally published pseudonymously. I have done some editing to clean up the bits that I wanted to keep anonymous. I’ve also updated it a bit to reflect how my thinking has evolved over five years. But the vast majority of this text is untouched.
Anybody still here? I think I heard an echo. Yes, this has gotten a bit long. I’m almost done, I promise.
The Catholic church is not perfect to my view. But then, nothing is. Our modern society has developed this ridiculous obsession with perfection. If things aren’t exactly perfect, we can’t take it. Car isn’t perfect? Trade it in before it’s paid off! House isn’t perfect? Trade up every few years as your income increases – it’s only resetting your 30 year mortgage. Marriage isn’t perfect? Try another one! Church isn’t perfect? Start another one across the street!
I can live with the imperfections of the Catholic church. But I still see them.
The biggest blemish is that they haven’t handled the pedophilia scandals very well. Much of this is a PR issue, but there’s some validity to some of the criticisms laid before the church. The church is an institution of great power. They have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to ensure that children are safe. As a comparison, I’d look at the Boy Scouts. Another organization that was plagued by pedophilia scandals, the Boy Scouts responded quietly but rapidly and forcefully, and as a result you don’t hear much about it anymore except as off color jokes. Key policies that the Boy Scouts implemented include at least two adults present with any child at any time (if only one is there, that single adult can be accused, honestly or not, of suspect behavior), an extreme open door policy (parents being very welcome to see what’s going on at any time) and more. In short, they took it seriously and responded to the problem. Is it a perfect solution? No, it can’t be (see above). But they responded.
The Catholic church, on the other hand, has been slow to show that they take the problem seriously and it’s been a bit of a disaster.
Even the mighty Catholic church has allowed itself to be feminized, at least in the western world. Annulments are too easy to get. In the 1960s, there were about 300 annulments a year granted in the US. As of 1996, that had grown to over 60,000 a year. Many of those are from protestants converting to Catholicism (it’s easier to get your marriage recognized as invalid if you married outside the church), as I learned while going through RCIA and hearing deaconsÂ counselingÂ divorced people on how to navigate the system. As somebody else noted (I think it was Dalrock, but I can’t find the post) churches love marriage more than they hate divorce. The Catholic church is better about it than most, but it’s not fully immune either.
I’m not a big fan of hulking bureaucracies. Not much for it, I just have to deal.
The rite of Confession will probably always be the most difficult practical part of being Catholic for me. Then again, it’s not meant to be easy.
I have problems with authority (unless I am the authority), and the Catholic church is veryÂ hierarchicalÂ and authority based. This will also be a struggle for me.
The emphasis that the church puts on humility and submission is very useful in some places. For example, it’s good at helping to keep a check on the very wealthy and powerful. But it’s also dangerous for people who are already poor and weak. Some percentage of those people need a little bit of confidence and self worth to move themselves up in the world, and such a powerful push for humility and submission can damage that. I don’t really have a solution to this issue, I just note it.
This is my path, and this is why I’ve chosen it. This essay is also now five years old, and my feelings on many of these issues have grown and evolved. I’m a lot better educated about my faith than I was when I originally wrote this. Don’t be surprised if there are future blog posts that revisit much of the ideas discussed here, both to add greater detail and to add corrections where I’ve learned and grown.
I don’t expect anyone else to follow the same path I did. This is not here to convert you. It’s just my story. It simply is. Take from it what you will.
The Whole Series
- My Long and Winding Road to Catholicism – Part 1
- My Long and Winding Road to Catholicism – Part 2
- My Long and Winding Road to Catholicism – Part 3
- My Long and Winding Road to Catholicism – Part 4
- My Long and Winding Road to Catholicism – Part 5
- My Long and Winding Road to Catholicism – Part 6
- My Long and Winding Road to Catholicism – Part 7