Monday, September 22, 2014

The Fine Art of Destroying Catholic Families: Losing Your Religion

The reader Gretchen is a liberal who often writes critically of religion, with great passion. Erin Manning asked her if she was once a Catholic. She replied:
Erin, I was born into a deeply devout Irish Catholic family, went to church six days a week throughout my childhood, and went to Catholic grade school and high school.  My parents both went to Catholic colleges, as did my sister.  My dad considered the Jesuits the gold standard for education, and wished it was available for girls at that time too.  My brother wanted to follow my dad to his Jesuit university, but the folks couldn’t afford it, and told me that they couldn’t do more for me than my brother, so we both went to State U.  I married a Catholic I met in graduate school in the church, had all four children baptized and started them in CCD.  My third pregnancy was difficult.  I suddenly went into a quick early labor and after a very, very traumatic birth experience found myself with premature twins.  My doctor had insisted there was only one, so the whole thing was a shock.  We were new  in town and knew nobody well.  My mother and mother in law were unable to come help – my mom was taking care of my very ill dad, my mother in law was out of the country, and my sister had young children of her own.  My husband didn’t have any vacation coming and had to go back to work – this was before FMLA.  So I found myself home alone with four young children, including premature twins who had to nurse every two hours, and were too weak to nurse at the same time, so they could literally stay up around the clock between them. I was bleeding so much I wasn’t supposed to get out of bed. My mother was frantic and said I should call the church for help.  I said they wouldn’t help, so she called them and explained the situation and they said basically what are we supposed to do about it?  So, at her wits end, she called the long distance operator and poured out her story, and the operator connected her with a local home health care agency.  She hired an aide to come help me, and my sister paid for it.  We literally got more help from the phone company than the Catholic church when facing a difficult situation with newborns, which is why I have a very hard time dealing with priests saying “just have the baby and it will all work out.” The pastor at the time had an obsession with “life” and talked a lot about “welcoming life” and why don’t women just have the baby and give it up for adoption if they can’t keep it, and on and on.  The obsession with abortion as the only moral issue seemed to take hold in the Catholic church, and it made me angrier and angrier, listening to his clueless yammering about what women should do, knowing he was going home to a full night’s sleep in the quiet house that I helped pay for, that was bigger than my house stuffed with a family of six.  My husband suggested that steaming in the pew every Sunday wasn’t helping my spirituality.  Then that priest had to leave – he got caught with a young man, but the young man was slightly over 18, so he didn’t go to jail.  The associate pastor did go to jail since his boy was under 18.  The combination of the sanctimonious preaching about what women should do, the cluelessness about how challenging actually having children is, knowing that they didn’t have to live what they preached and couldn’t even be trusted around other people’s children, was the end of Catholicism for me, though the process took many years.  Catholicism was such an ingrained part of me that leaving was like excising part of myself – it was very difficult, but they’d lost any moral authority for me.   I started going to an Episcopal church with a married father as pastor, and found his sermons about making families work helpful in what was still a very challenging time in my life.  My daughter planned to be married in the Catholic church, but they refused to marry her unless her Lutheran husband would promise to raise the children Catholic, which he refused to do.  They were married in my Episcopal church.  Then the pastors got involved with that Ugandan kill-the-gays branch of the church when the gay bishop was ordained, started a schism with the mainline Anglicans, and basically got crazy, so I left them too.  The last time I was in a church was for my grandson’s baptism, and church is no longer part of my life.

Or feasting at the cafeteria:

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