Dear Mom and Dad, I’m not a Catholic Anymore

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m not Catholic anymore. I feel like I owe you an explanation, and I hope that if you’re somehow able to hear and react to me anymore, that you’ll understand.

Catholicism was a huge part of who you were. You worked so hard and sacrificed so much to send me to Catholic schools. You were so proud of me when I made my First Communion, and my Confirmation. Dad, I remember you leading us in the Rosary when we went on long trips. I remember going to Church every Sunday morning, and singing the hymns. Dad, I remember your deep voice booming a vibration I could actually feel, standing next to you.

Church was at the center of everything. Dad, I remember you being part of the men’s club of Ascension Parish – the Ascenders. And Mom, I remember you being president of the Mother’s club of our school.

All our friends were Catholic. All of them.

I wanted to be like you. I still want to be like you.

Until recently, I belonged to a great Catholic Church in Kansas City. The people there are great – wonderful, generous, admirable people. I even like the Priest – a sincere, thoughtful young man whom you both would love. I used to love going to the Masses there – I would kneel and I would sing the hymns and recite the same prayers that I used to recite while kneeling next to you. It felt so deep and so connected. I knew it echoed back to you kneeling next to your parents, and their parents, on back. it reached back into history, and I could participate in the beautiful church at Meyer and Holmes and it might as well be a church in Krakow or Tipperary generations ago.

But, mom and dad, I just don’t believe in the Church anymore. It doesn’t make any sense to me, and I don’t feel right anymore acting like it does. I can go through the motions and try to focus on just the stuff I like, but I feel like a hypocrite.

It’s so comfortable to act like it does still make sense. I miss my friends on Sunday mornings. I want to participate in parish festivals and fish fries. I like the camaraderie and the community. Like I said, it’s a great, great group of people.

But it’s a community that is based on a belief, a creed, that I cannot say in good faith.

I got pretty darned close to the Church. I’ve known Bishops, and I’ve participated in many meetings with them. I have heard them talk about the importance of the priesthood, and I’ve heard them talk about the importance of protecting children.

And I’ve seen them assert their superiority. I heard my Bishop claim that those of us who supported President Obama’s election should fear for our immortal souls. At the same time, he was willing to, at best, avoid investigating a pervert priest and allow him to have access to children. But he presumed to judge me.

Mom and Dad, the Church brought you so much richness and friendship. But, did you know that at the same time you were going to Mass every Sunday and tithing your salaries, the Church was actually castrating young men in the Netherlands who had homosexual leanings?

That’s what was really going on. At the same time, the Church was covering up rape of children in our parishes? Remember Fr. Christian, who hosted movies in the darkened cafeteria of Ascension School? He was raping children. He used those same hands to give us communion, and the Church helped hide his crimes. He never touched me, but a friend of mine was raped by a priest a few parishes over. All that was going on, while we were kneeling in the pews.

That’s all pretty obviously wrong, but the Church hurts others, in other ways. Someone we know and love was told that she could not get married in the Church because she was born with a birth defect that made her infertile. One of the most devout people I know was unable to get married in the Church because the man she married had been divorced, but they had not managed to get the prior marriage annulled in the Church. We didn’t go to her wedding, and you carried the cruelty a bit further by not even telling me it had happened. To you, the marriage hadn’t happened, because it wasn’t held in the Church. That is messed up, but you were doing what the Church expected of you.

I’m sick of it, and I can’t go along with it anymore. Fortunately, I was too weak of a Catholic to raise my children in the faith – I couldn’t make them profess a faith I was struggling with.

The Church does not represent good to me anymore.

It stands against gay marriage – not just in the passive way that it stands against divorced marriage or infertile marriage, but it is actually trying to stand in the way of allowing gay men and women from having marriages in their own churches, according to their own consciences. The thing is, Jesus didn’t preach against gays – in fact, he hung around 12 men and never saw fit to mention the topic. Hmmm. I honestly believe in my heart of hearts that the Church is clinging to a societal taboo that, someday, I hope, it will evolve to be deeply ashamed of, like the many other evils it has embraced.

Just like it is ashamed of its child rape now, but it just can’t quite get around to taking really seriously.

Dad, I remember how, when you were dying, you were planning to have a painful, long-shot surgery to extend your life for a few months at best, because you felt that failing to do so would amount to suicide, and bar you from heaven. I’m thankful that you died suddenly before that happened, and before you endured one last dose of massive pain for your understanding of what the Church expected.

And, Mom, much more positively, I remember how much comfort your faith brought you in your final months. You were ready to go see Dad and begin your afterlife, and you had no doubt that was the way it would be. That’s amazing faith, and I’m so glad you had it.

But I never really have. In my heart, I don’t think that all that stuff about heaven really goes on that way. I don’t necessarily believe that nothing happens; I just don’t know. But after 50 years of being pushed to believe that I will be with the Father God Almighty, etc., etc., it just hasn’t really grabbed me. And I wouldn’t bet my spiritual wealth on dubious propositions like the bread and wine really being flesh and blood, or that God, if there is one, is damning all those other religions to Hell, or that Mary really was a virgin, or that God will cure someone or change the result of a football game if enough of us pray a certain way. After 50 years of trying to believe all that stuff, I just don’t really believe it, and maybe it’s time to stop trying.

As far as theology goes, maybe (maybe not) there is some kind of energy afoot in the world that is beyond human understanding, but I don’t think that energy requires me to believe what a bunch of hypocritical, greedy old men want me to believe.

I know that I’m allowing my anger at the sons of bitches who control our Church to filter into my understanding of the whole shooting match. But, really, I look at how corrupt and just plain mean the Church itself is, despite the wonderful, kind, loving people who make up its congregations, convents and lower levels, and I don’t think that Jesus meant all that when he allegedly told Peter that he was a rock to build a Church on. If Jesus really wanted Peter to construct a power-hungry, wildly wealthy, secretive, strictly male and absolutely hierarchical international organization, he could have said that, but he didn’t.

Did you know that the Church is attacking nuns now, for spending too much time on social justice, and not enough time attacking people for abortion and homosexuality?

Mom, Dad – could you really support this? Too much time on social justice? Not enough focus on abortion and homosexuality? Would you really be a part of a group that thinks that way? It’s like they truly have never read the Bible. I have, and I know that Jesus would be listed as an enemy of this Church, after he ignored those issues to focus on social justice.

It’s crazy – absolutely insane, and I cannot take it anymore. I hope, if you were alive, you would join me in stepping aside from the writhing mess of hatred and hypocrisy that the Church has become. If you wouldn’t, I would understand, I suppose, because Catholicism was bred into your bones as you bred it into mine. It’s hard to step away from something that your parents, and their parents, and their parents believed so fervently, and that so many of your good friends continue to believe.

But I’m finished. I can’t take it anymore. I am not a Catholic. I’m truly sorry.

103 Responses to “Dear Mom and Dad, I’m not a Catholic Anymore”

  1. John Scannell says:

    Your letter to your parents is both articulate and true. Thank you for finding the words to describe your feelings.

    Born and raised Catholic, having attended 12 years of Catholic school, I no longer attend Mass or participate in the Church in any way. After struggling with belief for many years, I finally concluded that I no longer believe in God…certainly not the all-loving, all-merciful, all-just, almighty God that the Church contends exists. I also concluded that religion–all religions, not just Catholicism–are mankind’s way to quell the fear we all have of death. They attempt to assuage our fear of death by promising an afterlife. But there are just too many religions, and too many contradictions in all of those religions to be able to call any religion divinely inspired. No. Religion is a purely human invention from start to finish.

    I say this wishing it were otherwise. I wish there were an all-loving God. I think we all do. But knowing that there is not only means that we all must truly do what we can to love one another…to care for one another…to help our fellow humans because there is no God around to do that. And wishing will not make it so.

    Thanks for your kind, thoughtful words.

  2. Sad and Confused says:

    I also feel these things and am at risk of breaking my family’s heart. To me the thing that doesn’t make sense anymore is. …(putting aside the whole body and blood thing and the whole church heirarchy thing. … and everything about marriage in the church, and about the constant guilt and shame )… going back to the root of what I was raised to believe. …Jesus died for our sins but. .. why did Jesus have to die at all? Is it because God likes to see human suffering? Why couldn’t god forgive us our sins? But no, SOMEONE had to pay for it. …in blood. Why? Why why why? Do I worship a god that only forgives because he got his blood already? That seems to me like what it is. And that seems brutal and unloving. Pagan-ish. It makes me incredibly sad and confused.

    Do I want to worship a god who demands blood sacrifices? Not really. That doesn’t sound loving at all. And what happened to those 1,000’s of souls that lived before jesus made the blood payment? I just. …I just don’t get it and can no longer pretend it makes sense.

    It feels comforting to know that I’m not the only one struggling with this. Thank you for your posts!

  3. Brit says:

    I stumbled across this old blog post this morning as I am getting my family ready to attend our non-denominational church. I was raised Catholic, went to church every Sunday, attended Catholic School and honestly had amazing and good priests who did not condone the nightmares that were happening in other churchs. My parents have had a hard time with the decision my husband and I have made to attend a non-denominational church. Honestly, I don’t know why I feel the strong need to reply to you, but I want you to know I am very sorry to hear about your personal experiences with the church and how your friend’s life was destroyed by a terrible individual in the church. I can’t even imagine the pain your friend went through and the pain you went through. I’m not here on Sunday morning to debate politics, or church doctrine or “save you” or anything like that. I don’t know anything about you. What I do know is that God is good and does good things in people as well. This last year I have been doing church a different way, and it’s crazy how life has changed and unfolded in so many positive ways. If that’s not for you, that’s ok too- it’s not my job to preach to you about it. But I do want you to know I am very sorry to hear about the hurt and pain that is on your heart.

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