It’s Sunday morning, and like many of us cradle Catholics, I am sitting at home reading the newspaper, drinking coffee, and working a sudoku instead of going to Mass.
The latest round of clergy accusations and cover-ups was a bridge too far for me. The behavior of the leadership of the Catholic church for so many decades is simply indefensible.
And all *thinking* Catholics that I know are conflicted about church teachings. After 2000 years of changing doctrine and policies, who among us can even say what the current church doctrine is, anyway? Do we still believe in limbo? Can you still buy your way out of purgatory? Can nursing mothers eat meat on Fridays?
In my youth, I remember a priest haranguing us during the homily about not being a “cafeteria Catholic”. He said (and of course it was a he) that you couldn’t “pick and choose” which parts of Catholicism to embrace.
Um, I don’t know any Catholic who is not a cafeteria Catholic.
Here’s what I’ll take in the buffet of Catholicism:
I’ll have the teachings of Jesus, the model of the holy family, the respect for human life, social justice, and care for the poor.
I’ll pass on the patriarchy, the secrecy and cover-ups, the ban on birth control (I mean, really????), the attitudes toward homosexuality, and the subjugation of women.
I will always treasure the rich and varied multicultural arcana of the Catholic church, though. As missionaries went around the world converting local populations, they incorporated many local traditions into the faith.
As a pack rat myself, I love the junk-drawer aesthetic of Catholic churches around the world. There are all sorts of visions of the Virgin Mary commemorated in statues (some with beautiful clothes and real hair), gruesome images of martyrs, folk art thanking the Virgin for miracles, tons of statues of saints, and stained glass depicting parables.
I love the many forms of the Virgin Mary, the mysteries of the Rosary, novenas for special intentions, church music, holy days, the monstrance and tabernacle, vestments, church ladies, and community celebrations with cheap wine.
In conclusion, I have no conclusion. I guess for now I’m a cultural Catholic. Will I go back to Mass? Maybe. Maybe not. But I’ll always have the holy family in my heart, and I will strive to be more like Jesus. He was a very cool guy.