Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Stop, Ask, Think: 5 Questions Before You Leave The Catholic Church

Jennifer Fulwiler has written a great article, 5 Questions Before You Leave The Catholic Church, to both fallen-away Catholics and those thinking about leaving the Church. This is not posted to criticize those who have left the Church or are thinking about leaving.  Jennifer is explaining away some misconceptions about the Catholic Church and beautifully defends how special the Catholic Church has been, is now, and will always be.  God Bless.

From Jennifer: 
As someone whose faith journey has gone in the opposite direction, I would encourage Quindlen, as well anyone else who has followed her path or is thinking of following it, to consider the following five questions before abandoning the Catholic faith:

1. Are you sure members of the Church hierarchy are worse than anyone else?

When people cite the pedophilia scandals as a key reason for abandoning the Church, I worry that they're setting themselves up for deep disappointment. The fact that priests abused children is an idea so horrific that one can hardly bear to think about it, and the fact that some bishops didn't take action to stop it is almost worse. But the chilling fact -- perhaps so chilling that we don't can't accept it -- is that this is not a problem with Catholic priests and bishops; it's a problem with human nature. A priest is no more likely to abuse a child than a male schoolteacher, and a bishop is no more likely to cover it up than a school administrator.
The problems may have seemed worse within the Church because it is a single, worldwide organization, so it's easy to link all the bad occurrences under one umbrella. But if, for example, all the nondenominational churches on the earth were part of a cohesive worldwide system, you would almost certainly see the same issues at the same rates. Instead of each instance being lost in the anonymity of disconnected communities, when they were all considered together it would seem epidemic.
Other organizations are no more safe for children than the Church -- in fact, based on personal experience, I believe they are now less safe. Thanks to the pervasive stereotypes about Catholicism, people are lured into a false sense of security when dealing with other organizations, and end up adopting the dangerous mentality that "it couldn't happen here."

2. Are you sure your faith life would be better outside of the Church?

Keep in mind that leaving the Catholic Church means leaving the sacraments -- sacraments with real power, which are not available outside of the Church that Jesus founded. If it brings you joy to commune with Jesus spiritually, how much better is it to commune with him physically as well? And how lucky are we to have the sacrament of confession, where you can unload all your burdens, hear the words "you are forgiven," and receive special grace to help you to be the morally upright person you strive to be?
Now, those who are considering leaving the Church may struggle with believing in the supernatural power of the sacraments (in which case I'd recommend checking out these resources). But even if that's the case, within the two-thousand-year-old Church is an unfathomable treasure chest of spiritual wisdom. We have the Rosary as well as all the other time-tested prayers of the Church. Then there are the lives of the saints, countless stories that offer an inexhaustible supply of information and inspiration about how to have a rich spiritual life. And of course we have a worldwide network of monasteries and convents, and all the great religious orders. I suppose it's possible to utilize some of these spiritual resources without being a practicing Catholic, but if you believe that they're good and helpful, why sever them from the source of their wisdom?

Continued here 


Opus #6 said...

My father is a Catholic. He received the last rights a couple of weeks ago. He finds his Catholicism a great comfort at this time.

Teresa said...

I didn't realize that your dad is Catholic Opie. I am so sorry to hear that he is close to death. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, and especially your dad as he prepares to end life in this world and begin a new one in the afterlife. I am glad to hear that he finds his Catholic faith comforting at this time. God be with you at this time and always.

Leticia said...

I am not a Catholic, but those seem to be valid points in not leaving the church.


Silverfiddle said...

Good article.

The pedophilia thing still pisses me off. Yes, all cohorts have them, but it was the coverup and passing them around that I find disgusting.

Why didn't the pope round up all those bishops and lock them in the Vatican dungeon? Instead Bernard Law got put in charge of St. Maria Maggiore, one of Rome's four basilicas. This after he bankrupted the Boston diocese.

I also understand the intellectual argument regarding birth control, but no exceptions even for valid medical reasons?

These issues drive some away, but many more stay and struggle on.

Teresa said...


As a church member it is my opinion that the points are valid. Thanks for your comment.

Teresa said...


The coverup ticked me off too. But actually Pope JPII was already dealing with the priest sex abuse when the scandal broke. Unfortunately the bishops relied on bad advice from secular therapists who claimed that the priest pedophiles could be healed and advised them to move the priests to other parishes.

"I also understand the intellectual argument regarding birth control, but no exceptions even for valid medical reasons?"

Actually there are exceptions. When you don't use the birth control pill as "the birth control pill" but use the chemical makeup of the pill for medicinal purposes it is totally legitimate.

Believe me I know because I was concerned and conflicted because of Church teaching (or what I thought was church teaching) when I was first advised to take birth control for my endometriosis. Since I was at Franciscan University, one of the most Traditional, conservative Catholic colleges, I asked a priest whether the Church allowed the use of birth control for medical purposes? The priest said, Yes, and explained why.

Teresa said...


I found this from Humanae Vitae:

15. On the other hand, the Church does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from—provided such impediment is not directly intended for any motive whatsoever. (19)

I think that kinda follows the principle of double-effect.

Silverfiddle said...

Being in the military for over 20 years, I have been friends with many priests/chaplains, and many have told me essentially what you say: The Church is not inflexible, and many things are situational and depend upon context.

But there are others who insist otherwise. The Catholic Church is an interesting place.

Reaganite Republican said...

Was baptized, communioned, confirmed, -and will die- a Roman Catholic

Good article, but no such thoughts have ever crossed my mind- perish the thought!

Right Wing Theocrat said...

Good post, particularly on the pedophilia thing, there is a certain hostility in the media towards Christianity so they tend to blow things out of proportion and ignore the same thing that happens elsewhere, for example in our public schools.