Friday, March 10, 2006

Boston Archdiocese: I'm Done

I was raised a Catholic. Though I've questioned my faith over the past few years, I've always believed in what I used to think were the central tenets of the church: Help the poor, give people free choice to do whatever they want in today's world and try to build what many like to call a "Christian" society. While I learned years ago that a Christian society is not synonymous with a good society, that doesn't mean that I didn't think the Catholic Church couldn't do its part in forming one. Living in the Boston Archdiocese for the past few years has taught me otherwise.

I renounced my faith, to my family, several months ago. Most didn't care; I don't belong to a particularly religious family. For one thing, my parents are divorced (and my dad remarried). According to the Catholic Church's view of the eyes of god, my two half siblings, who I love more than I could ever describe, are bastard children. Obviously, that doesn't sit well with me. Yet, I stayed with the church. It wasn't until the child molestation scandal in Boston that I began to truly question staying in the Church. I decided that I could no longer consciously attend mass, but I didn't renounce my faith at that point. I figured I'd give the Catholic Church the time it needed to clean itself up - while I silently protested as one of the many to stop filling the pews.

Then-Bishop O'Malley came to Boston with great fanfare. He was a PR-coup. The Catholic Church couldn't have picked a more suitable Bishop to govern the Boston Archdiocese in terms of appearance. The man isn't flashy. Cardinal Law lived a glamorous life: He had a palace to live in, limousines to take him to vacation homes, fine clothes and jewelry. Cardinal Law was a Pope in Boston; Bishop O'Malley was Friar Tuck.

O'Malley abandoned the palace and vacation homes and sold them for income to help pay for the child molestation settlements. After that, he quickly decided to move forward with a plan to close church after church. While church closings were inevitable with declining attendance in the Boston Archdiocese, O'Malley rushed them. Many of the churches O'Malley closed also had parochial schools: O'Malley left little time for parents to scramble to find new ones. My confidence in O'Malley, along with many in the Archdiocese, plummeted. O'Malley wasn't the savior he appeared to be.

Still, I didn't leave the Church. I remained a Catholic, if in name only. I was what many devout Catholics liked to rail against. However, there was more to it. I really felt that by remaining in the Church, but not staying active in it, the Church would eventually get it. I wasn't alone. I was probably one of thousands in the Boston Archdiocese silently boycotting pews (and withholding donations). However, nothing changed. Soon, O'Malley began to even bicker with a new wave of child molestation settlements. He was aloof and rarely was involved in Boston.

Then he began to play politics, along with the entire Catholic Church. The Presidential election was in full swing. President Bush wooed Catholics across the country and for the first time in decades, more Catholics voted for Republicans than Democrats. Though the gap between rich and poor was growing rapidly and society was quickly becoming a new gilded age, like the early 20th century, the President and Pope convinced America that hating gays and loving cells were more important than the 44+ million Americans without health insurance.

I still wouldn't have left the Church, but I began to think. Why was the Church getting involved in politics? Surely, being against abortion is a perfectly rational and acceptable position. While I'm strongly pro-choice, I personally wouldn't encourage anyone to get an abortion. But, it's just not my right to tell anyone else what to do with their body.

Similarly, the Catholic Church is well within its rights to preach to its followers to reject abortions, but not politically interfere. The Church is in a perfect position to help lower abortion rates without such political interference: it could have kept its morality intact as well as have done its percieved mission. It could reach out to its members who would consider abortion and offer up alternatives: the church is a wealthy organization and could surely find great homes for babies up for adoption. In fact, one of the few great organizations within the Catholic Church did exactly that: Catholic Charities.

However, in another appeal to the masses before the upcoming election, the Catholic Church renewed its hot-button issues to help Republicans. After all, Senate seats are at stake. In South Dakota, in a brazen act that ignores the Constitution, abortion is banned. Surely the church supports that effort, despite the fact that the foundation of this country was tossed out the window.

But it gets worse. It's one thing to support something that's happening, it's quite another to instigate it. Rather than find homes for those who have none, the Church has stopped Catholic Charities from organizing adoptions because they'd have to allow some gay parents to adopt under Massachusetts law. Never mind the fact that the organization has only allowed a handful of gay parents to adopt and in those few cases they were among the neediest and most handicapped, full-time Presidential candidate/part-time Governor Romney had meetings with the Catholic Church just as President Bush did with the Pope. Two non-Catholic politicians using the Catholic Church to do their bidding and the Catholic Church encourages the political-religious marriage. Well, in my eyes - like the Church's with my parents - there can be no divorce. The Catholic Church married politics in an attempt to advance hot-button issues instead of helping millions of Americans.

Millions of Americans. Millions of Americans. Millions of Americans. I just can't stop myself from thinking of that number. Like I said, I left the Church several months ago. I realized millions of Americans were being betrayed. I realized millions of Americans would lead a worse life. Tens of thousands will die this year because 44+ million Americans don't have health insurance. Millions more struggle to pay, living a slightly worse life. Somewhere between 30,000 and 100,000 people have died in Iraq, sent there by a Republican government. Yet, what does the Catholic Church care about? Cells in a mother's womb and the few neediest kids who would have wicked (good) gay parents. I used to question my faith, but now I have all the answers: The Catholic Church, and the Boston Archdiocese in particular, doesn't deserve any support of the people they have abandoned: every American.


joe schlieff said...

You've left the archdiocese, but have you rejected God and Jesus? That's all that really matters.

Kelly said...

What Jeff said...sorta. Please don't reject Jesus.

Millions of Americans. Millions of Americans. Millions of Americans. I just can't stop myself from thinking of that number.

Me neither. Every time I ponder how many babies have been killed in the womb since 1973.

God bless you.

Ryan Adams said...

Well, since I've had multiple comments, I'll respond. I'll always be a spiritual person; however, I'm going to take a break from religion for now. I'll probably come back to it at some point, maybe even some point soon, but it won't be in the Boston Archdiocese unless it does a complete 180.

Now, I'd like to reply to Kelly's comments. You know what Kelly? I agree with you. I'm not a supporter of abortion. I don't want people to get them. However, that doesn't differentiate me from almost anyone I know who actually has had an abortion or is pro-choice (and I am pro-choice). It's a difficult decision that women who would have been mothers often deeply regret. People who are pro-choice aren't pro-abortion. Let's give them viable alternatives and less people will choose abortion.

Instead of trying to ban abortions, Kelly, I think you should spend all the time that you can give to convince people not to have them. After all, being pro-choice isn't being pro-abortion. If people know that there's not only viable alternatives, but that those alternatives are actually better than abortion, then most people would take them.

However, as it stands, the choices remain few. Therefore, people choose abortion. Ending the Catholic Charities participation in finding homes for children who need them - because a dozen or so of the *neediest* children (who wouldn't have otherwise had homes ) will do nothing to help lower abortion rates.

We need real solutions to real problems. Simply trying to ban abortion doesn't address any of the real problems.

Catholic Charities should have expanded its adoption programs, not eliminated them. Imagine the possibilities of a well funded organization like that. It's a missed opportunity.

Instead of getting involved with politics, the church should remain in the realms of preaching and charity. If it did, I would instantly rejoin.

About Ryan's Take