My decision to leave the Christian faith didn't just happen because of a few negative conversations, or a few isolated events -- my decision was made because I realized (and experienced) that the Christian faith, for many, wasn't a welcome place for the oppressed, and that, in fact, has been, and in many different ways, continues to be, an agent of oppression for many people. Five years ago, there would be no way in hell that I could ever conceive of leaving the Christian faith. But here I am today. Friends have asked me why, and how, someone who was as zealous a Christian as I could so intentionally and deliberately leave the faith, that I decided, I am in a good, and secure place... and I'm ready to answer why.
While there was undoubtedly something less than consistent about his "Stop being so preoccupied with abortion!/Let's talk about abortion!" chain of commentary this week, the Pope still deserves credit. His actions and words have been constant in their focus on delivering people help, love and protection, rather than on condemning people for their choices or natures. Even Pope Francis's anti-abortion comments to Catholic gynecologists on Friday seemed to centre on the dignity of life, rather than on the sin of those who would take it.
Change in the Catholic church is a slow process. Progressive Catholics should be pleased by the change in language and focus, but not hope for much more. While this type of growth may be enough for the church, the Ontario Catholic school system must be more responsive to issues of equality. Fortunately, the Canadian Catholic community is quick to adapt to injustice.
I was born, baptised and confirmed a Catholic, but I could never relate to the Church. For four straight weeks I attended Father John's 7 a.m. Mass at Saints Peter and Paul in Vancouver in addition to regular Sunday morning Mass. The truth is I knew after my first Mass that I had found my priest at long last.
With the advent of the new Pope, everyone is talking about how the Catholic church should change. When CBC's Peter Mansbridge, interviewed Cardinal Ouelette from Montreal, his questions were all about how the Catholic church should change. Cardinal Ouellet of course mentioned all the plans to protect children now introduced into the church so that the sexual abuse scandal can never happen again.
Immediately after Pope Francis became the leader of the world's 1.2-billion Catholics this week, he prayed for guidance. And it's little wonder. He is the newly elected CEO of the Vatican. The United States, despite a currency mantra of "In God We Trust," has also been forced to undergo serious soul-searching following its 2008 fiscal catastrophe.
Currently the Church is seeing its membership stagnate and decline in the west. The developing world, however, stands in sharp contrast. The number of Catholics is increasing rapidly in Africa, Asia and South America. Suggestions that the Church needs to reform to survive are clearly North American-centric. What Catholicism needs now is for ordinary church members to play a part in reform.
While the Catholic Church adapts to the sudden news that their pontiff will resign at the end of the month after only eight years at the supreme seat of power at the Vatican, predictions and aspirations abound. But has anyone considered demographics? According to a 2004 Boston College Magazine study, fully 50 per cent of the world's Catholics are Latino.
This past December, in one of his most important speeches of the year, Pope Benedict reiterated his belief that the quest for same-sex marriage destroys the very "essence of the human creature." I think what it would have been like for my 14-year-old self, when I started to discover that I didn't really like girls in that way, sitting in church, listening to that priest. What would it have done to me to hear my papa talk of my newfound identity as "manipulation of nature," as this Pope has done? A chorus of "amens" as punishing as a judge's gavel at the conclusion of rendering a guilty verdict.
On June 17, Pope Benedict XVI told Irish Catholics that it is a "mystery" to him why priests and other church officials have been abusing children entrusted to their care for at least the past several decades. Though I am not a Catholic, a clergyman, a child abuser or a victim of one, I may be able to help clear up the mystery.
Last month the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith scolded the Leadership Conference of Women's Religious for subscribing to "radical feminist themes" like social justice and poverty, while being silent about abortion and same sex. It simply looks bad. Many feel that nuns represent the strength and mainstay of Catholic Church.