Saturday, April 19, 2008


My wonderful parents raised their three children Roman Catholic, as it was their duty to. I went to parochial schools for most of my life and I was caught in the middle of Pope John XXIII's Vatican II reforms. That spanned the old catechism of holding a priest in higher regard that my father in second grade, to a high school 'rap' class where all we did was sit in a circle and rapped about anything that would come to mind.

Much confused me about the religion I was raised in. When I was old enough to choose my faith, I enrolled in an course in college about Catholicism in hope to resolve some questions. With Father Martin as the professor, to my surprise, I became aware of many things I was not taught previously in my many years of Catholic Schools. "The Roman Catholic Church has tried to change with the times." To my shock, Father Martin then revealed that he was a Marriage Counselor. No, they had not changed! This is an example of what I believe is the problem with the Roman Catholic Church.

The vow of celibacy prevents a Priest from the most common human activities, which is so important in marriage. There is one thought I could never get out of my mind since college: The teacher has no experience. How can someone who has never flown console flyers in need? There is an easy answer to that question. Simply because they are told to.

In my childhood years of Catholic instruction, sex was never discussed, in fact, it was as if any mention of it was hidden under the covers or locked in the closet. What about the opposite sex? Women could only receive six of the seven holy sacraments, since they could not be priests. The implication sometimes lead one to casually surmise that males are the dominate sex and women are mere objects. Another blow to healthy sexual attitudes.

Once the sexual abuse was discovered and revealed, the Roman Catholic Church hid it from the rest of us, a crime almost as severe. The guilty were moved, and many of them did it again! The sacrament of confession, I have always thought, was like a revolving door. One sinned - went to confession - you did your penance, and, alas! Your soul was free to sin again.

It was nice to see both popes, the late John Paul and Benedict, apologize for the scandal. Granted, the church has tried to reform. They realized it was wrong to suggest a priest was the best a boy could be and they made the mass more user friendly, dropping Latin. Still, this elaborate, authoritarian structure still is present.

As for celibacy, it remains too. Over a year ago the pope wrote: "Priestly celibacy lived with maturity, joy and dedication is an immense blessing for the Church and for society itself." I don't see the church changing their mind anytime in my lifetime.

Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States reinforces my conclusion that the sexual abuse stems from the church itself. The elaborate costumes the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wears come straight out of the middle ages, representing a time of tyrannical shepherds and meek sheep. To the country's faithful the pope is the vicar of Christ to the world. An American Catholic should be considered a Roman Catholic first, since the pope at the top of the hierarchal ladder. He is more important, and should have more influence, than the president, that is, if one truly practices their faith like a good catholic should.

The celibacy, the sacraments, the hierarchy, the concept of a conversation with God only through a vicar can cause a soul tremendous torment. Like a rat in a maze, a true path is hard to find. There still exists many 'built in' issues with The Roman Catholic Church. Sadly, it is clear that most of the important problems they will face will be of their own making.

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