Dear Catholic Church: I’m Not Coming Over For Easter Dinner
I suppose there comes a time in every man’s life when his faith is tested. As a secular individual, that time came for me when I was about seven years old. That’s when I learned that Jesus could not have possibly hopped on a freaking dinosaur.
Obviously, the more I learned about physics and chemistry, the more I viewed the Bible as nothing more than a guidebook for living as a decent person. But I used to really love the Church. Not the “going to Church” part (c’mon) but I enjoyed being a part of the community of Catholics. I enjoyed the tradition. And until I made the mistake of leaving the New York tri-state area, I enjoyed the kind of theological conversations I’d have with other big city Catholics. I even got married in the Church (which is pretty damn expensive), I went through pre-Cana and everything.
Like so many “lapsed Catholics” before me, as I became an adult I began to pick and choose which church teachings I paid any attention to. No sex before marriage? Whatever, just because you can’t get any doesn’t mean you have to cock-block me, Padre. But there was that one time my girlfriend and I had sex on Good Friday (the most awful day on the Christian calendar). Not good times. It’s all fun and games until you and your lady friend spend Easter weekend doubled over a toilet puking your guts out thanks to some mysterious “stomach flu” that afflicted you only after you climaxed while Jesus was dying. I’m not sure if God exists, but he scares the f*** out of me.
But you know who I’m not afraid of? The Catholic Church. Not anymore. They’ve lost their moral authority.
In fairness, the Church probably lost the right to tell me how to live my life a long time ago: you know sometime between the Crusades and its tacit consent to slavery and the Holocaust. But I wasn’t alive for those atrocities. Instead I have had the misfortune of being a Catholic during this period of global boy raping. And it is simply too disgusting, too sad, and too evil to tolerate. You hear that, Pope Cover-Up? You’ve just lost another Christmas and Easter Catholic! St. Peter, please debit my lost soul against the Pope’s account.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
But the real sad thing is that the Church doesn’t even want me, or people like me. Intelligent people who have an education and would like to believe in something are turning away from the Catholic Church, and Church leaders don’t even care. I mean, did you see Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s Psalm Sunday homily? He compared the criticism being leveled at Pope Benedict XVI to the torment suffered by Jesus. Having your hands and feet nailed to piece of wood until you bleed out and die v. being castigated in the media: boy I can barely tell those two things apart! When the Church starts speaking to educated adults like they are five years old — intelligent people tune out and turn to Star Wars movies for spiritual guidance.
Granted, I’ve got issues with Archbishop Dolan that don’t even involve his defense of a man who couldn’t bring himself to punish child rapists. Dolan is the Shepard of the New York City flock of Catholics, yet all he’s done is spew Vatican hardline dogma since they pulled him out of Wisconsin to teach us city boys just how 5th Century God can be. Somebody needs to take that dude to Chelsea and make him chug whiskey sours until he chills the hell out.
But he and Pope Rottweiler himself are just the latest manifestation of Catholicism’s ancient problems. The larger issue is that the Church has systematically refused to make any sort of peace with the modern world. This isn’t at all new: if Galileo had a blog (and the protection of the First Amendment) he’d have told Pope Urban VIII to come over to his lab and suck on his telescope.
Why would you consistently alienate the smartest members of your faith? ‘Cause let me tell you it, it’s not what the Jews do. No, in reformist fits and spurts, Judaism generally finds a balance between the traditions of the faith and the desire of humans to learn things and progress. You can’t do X or Y after sundown on days A and B. The rest of the time, you’re free to fly your rocket car around the freaking moon and get some spacebabe action if it suits you. And you’ll note, Jews have been able to keep the faithful away from delicious combinations of meats and cheeses for centuries without any kind of outsized concept of eternal suffering in a hellish afterlife.
Meanwhile, Catholic leaders are perfectly happy to let women and men die from sexually transmitted diseases because apparently our God can have his omniscient plan easily flummoxed by a film of latex.
As a Catholic, I was willing to put up with it. I was willing to feel guilty about using marital “crazypills” (my Priest’s word for birth control) and at least tried to be as faithful as I could without giving up my subscription to National Geographic.
But I can’t get over the kiddie rape. I just can’t. If Jesus walked for 40 days in the desert and saw priests raping children in his house and yet still had faith in his path — well, that must be what makes him Jesus and me just a guy destined to live in Hell with all my secular friends. Because I cannot defend this clergy.
I can’t even conceive of how I could respect — let alone worship — a Pope that did nothing to expose and defrock these pedophile priests when he saw them for who they were. And this recent scandal isn’t even the first time we’ve caught this Pope walking down moral easy street. When we found out that, as a boy, then-Joseph Ratzinger was conscripted into the Hitler Youth, a lot of people defended him. Not me. I thought that if you are going to have the moral authority to lead all of the world’s Catholics as a man, you should’ve had the moral backbone to stand up to the Nazis when you were a boy. There is a long line of Catholics who would sooner die than befoul their spirit. Ratzinger does not belong to that lineage.
You want to call the Nazi thing a youthful indiscretion of epic sin? Fine. But what did he do when he found out (after the fact) that this monster in Wisconsin diddled 200 deaf children? It appears all he did was try to shield the Vatican from further embarrassment. He thought it better to let the man die as a part of the Church instead making a statement that child rapists would not be tolerated? Jesus went apesh** on a temple because people were gambling there; Ratzinger went deaf-mute when he learned priests were molesting children. There isn’t enough Kool-Aid in all of Christendom to wash that taste out of my mouth.
This Pope has a pattern of not standing up to moral leadership when moral leadership is his only job requirement.
I think Kevin Spacey said it best in American Beauty: “No, no, no. You don’t get to tell me what to do … ever again.”