Sunday, April 29, 2012

Today, I am no longer Catholic.

Today, I am no longer Catholic. I cannot be.

The Catholic Church no longer serves as a beacon of a way of Truth, but rather has consistently, intentionally chosen the way of blind paternal ignorance.  And this is the last straw for me.  The position of Her Majesty, The Queen of Christianity, has failed the most basic of litmus tests: welcoming new life into Her (no-longer) loving arms.  She has done so under the blatant hypocrisy that only God can determine who may bring new life into the world.  Her position would be tenable only if She was consistent in the application of such a stand.  She is not.

First, let me post here the recent article that has sparked my ire.   In Indiana a female teacher was fired for undergoing in vitro fertility treatments (for a 2nd time, as the article notes). When the teacher revealed this publicly, the Diocese moved to fire her:

“In its statement, diocese officials said that ‘the church promotes treatment of infertility through means that respect the right to life, the unity of marriage, and procreation brought about as the fruit of the conjugal act. There are other infertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization, which are not morally licit according to Catholic teaching.’ “

The article goes on to distinguish between her role as an English teacher and her employment in a Catholic school – a differentiation that is as absurd as it is asinine.  She was an employee of a Catholic School.  She is subject to her employer’s Code of Conduct.  And, if we are to be fair, no one has been more open about its Code than the Catholic Church.  The problem is NOT her role within the Catholic school.  The problem is the Church’s own application of what God’s domain is and what it is not.

The Church believes that only a married heterosexual couple may bring life into Her World with Christ.  While I disagree with the application of this concept to a whole society for legal reasons, I embrace the Church’s right to demand of its congregants that they follow Her Teaching.  The Church, however, has three problems in this particular situation:
  1. The Church recognizes the sanctity of sex, not the sanctity of family.  
  2. The Church follows one teaching for bringing life into the world, but another as life exits it.
  3. The Church works under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality which allows for a blind eye approach to a world the Church says needs to see The Light.

Point #1
The Church’s position only sanctifies marital sex, not the welcoming of a new life into a Catholic family.  It is not hard to extrapolate this position.  The Church is upset that the couple didn’t have sex to get pregnant.  They did everything else to bring a child of Christ into the world and into His Church.  But, God didn’t make the child; science did.  Only, God gave us Free Will and an intellect and made us in His Likeness to use our gifts for His Glory.  Science is only science, in much the same way that money is only money.  One’s attitude toward science (or money) is what determines the “goodness’ or “evilness” of its application.  But we cannot use science to bring children into the world, says the Church.  God can only accept children brought into this world the old-fashion way, it would seem.  That seems awfully cruel of a God who said “Let the children come to me.”  And what of using science to do God’s greater work – like healing the sick and feeding the hungry?  More on this in point...right now.

Point #2
The Church is explicitly concerned here with how children are conceived and brought into this world.  Sex = OK. Science = unchristian and unacceptable.  I might believe the Church has my soul in mind IF She wasn’t such a blatant hypocrite on this point.  If we are to accept the Church’s POV that only coitus can produce life because it is the Will of God who should be fertile and we should not interfere with the Will of God, then why does the Church ignore this stand at the end of life?  People are under the care of physicians and other scientists to prolong their lives.  We seek healing for clogged hearts, replace failing lungs and livers, and even search for the cure of cancers and diseases.  What is it about the prolonging of life that is so different from the production of it?  How is that we are interfering with God’s Will when we seek medical assistance to fertilize and implant an embryo so that a woman in a heterosexual and Catholic marriage can carry that embryo to term and have he/she baptized in the Catholic Church, but it is NOT interfering when we become seriously, terminally ill and seek medical assistance to give us a cure or prolong our earthly life when God is calling us Home?

Incidentally, let's not forget the science that makes possible God's Greater Glory done in human acts - flying to impoverished countries to work in missions; growing of crops in otherwise infertile conditions; rapid transportation of food / supplies to regions devastated by human and natural disasters; etc. Surely, the use of science in making such things possible cannot be considered in contradiction to God's plan for us.

Point #3
The most disturbing of all reasons is the Church’s double-faced standard of response.  The first time the couple went through IVF, they informed their priest who said he’d pray for them.  (We can argue the interpretation of his statement later.)  The second time the couple decided to go through IVF she spoke about it, presumably within the Catholic school she worked, or at least we are led to believe.  Having made her IVF treatment public, she was told she could start a “scandal” (pregnancy in a marriage is scandalous????!!!!) and she was promptly dismissed.  The Church shows her position to be: if you don’t say anything, neither will we <<wink, wink, smile>>.  THAT is the way the Church operates?  That is acting as God would want us?  It’s only scandal and unchristian if it becomes public?  But we shouldn't be surprised.  Using priest-abuse cases as the barometer, it seems apparent that this is EXACTLY how the Church operates.  Clean up the mess when it is still all in-house.  If it is a layperson, sell them to the wolves.  If it is one of our own, re-assign them and let’s move.  The position and action of the Church is untenable, unchristian, and unlike the way we are preached to live our lives. 

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For whatever disagreements I have had over the years with the how-to's and why's of my Church, I have stood behind her.  However, as the issues mount and the Church's unchristian responses grow in all matter of subjects, and her ardent defense becomes more see through than a Frederick's of Hollywood nightie, I find it more and more difficult to trust in Her goodness and right-ness.  While God's Word may be infallible, the leaders of the Church surely have proven themselves to be very fallible, as well as hypocritical and - in too many cases - immoral.

The opinion of a layperson cannot supersede the teachings of the Church or the directions of Her leaders.  I do not proclaim that it should.  We have been taught by our Catholic teachers, nuns, priests, and the host of servants of the Church to follow The Way - Jesus's life, to acquiesce to the rightfulness and righteousness of the Church and the God-inspired teaching of Her leaders.

I can accept mistakes.  I can accept apology.  But I can choose to no longer follow Her and Her teachings.  I can choose to live my life in spiritual devotion to God and to His Holy Family and His Heavenly Host.  I can choose to live a life of good acts and humility.  I can choose to raise my sons as good men in society and good servants of God. 

But I can no longer accept a double standard of behavior and tolerance and belief.  Maybe I have become "too American". Maybe I *am* using God's gifts of intellect and likeness for "evilness" instead of "goodness".  Maybe I am responding out of frustration like a petulant child.  But I no longer have a choice to live my life as a Catholic they way the Church asks me to. But then, the Church doesn't seem to be living that way either.

The CNN article reports about a woman who was terminated from employment with her Catholic school because her IVF treatments were not in keeping with her employer's code of conduct.  How is our membership of the Catholic Church family any less or any differently compromised?  Is it OK to receive God's blessing and graces while usurping His authority of life (and let's not forget death!) but not OK to accept a paycheck from employers working under His auspices? I most sincerely do not understand how one but not the other can be true.  And, not being able to so understand, I can no longer see how I can be part of a Church anymore than this married, Catholic mother can be employed by His servants.

If my IVF sons are the sins of my arrogance, then label and PROCLAIM me a sinner.  I believe that in my heart that God will show me mercy and compassion even where my Church has failed to do so.