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Brought up as Catholic and feeling alienated by the church

(16 Posts)
Alandria Wed 15-Jun-11 15:59:38

Hello everyone

I've just rejoined the site after not visiting for years. I remembered this board and thought it might be a good place to get some points of view on my situation.

I was brought up as a Catholic. Everyone in my family is Catholic. My husband isn't baptised or interested in any religion but is happy to support me in anything I feel is right for our children (2 and 9).

My real problem is I'm finding it really hard to relate to the Catholic church. On the occasions I have been to mass in recent years I have heard the Priest give sermons on the perils of marrying outside the faith and the effect it will have on your children (I have a wonderful husband who loves his children, surely this is the important thing?) There are other things I have realised I don't totally agree with too like the view on homosexuality and contraception.

I have never approached the priest about getting my children baptised as I feel very awkward about it, like I don't derserve to as I don't tick all the boxes. I feel being Catholic has a lot of 'conditions' which cause what I can only assume is my Catholic guilt lol

I belive in God but maybe it's man's interpretion of him and the organised religion side that I find it hard fitting into. It upsets me that my children aren't baptised (I worry if something happens to them iykwim..) and I feel that I want to be attending church regularly with them and teaching them about God but that my religion doesn't 'fit' me, or them.

I consider myself a Christian. I believe and wish there was a place for me, like some kind of non-denominational church that was just Christian. Does that make any sense?

I'm sorry for the loooong post, I guess I'm just wondering if anyone else can relate to my crisis of faith!

cjel Wed 15-Jun-11 19:31:18

I can sypmathise had a friend whose preist told her she had commited her children to hell because of her lifestyle choices - they weren't drastic just normal choices. I would definately try another denomination if it would help. Some c of e churches are quite 'high' churches similar to catholic. Or you could go the whole hog and try a llively baptist or evangelical. I remember my Nan - a catholic- Telling me she was really pleased I had started church(methodist at the time) and God was there so she didn't see a problem with it at allxxx

tuffie Wed 15-Jun-11 20:22:56

I am a catholic and my husband is an atheist. Most catholics I know, myself included,have big issues with the catholic teachings you mention - contraception, homosexuality. So please don t feel alone on this one. However, we have a great group of very open minded people at our church and we focus on our faith and on our friendship and shared values which are based on Christ's teaching which ultimately is the important thing. It also depends so much on the individual priest. We are so lucky in that we have a very liberal priest who is not against contraception and is in favour of women priests, and is very open to all opinions. He welcomes all non believers- including my husband !- with open arms. It is such a shame that you can be put off going to church because of your priest who appears to have very old fashioned ideas. Is there another catholic church in your area you could try ? Or as cjel suggested, try churches of other denominations until you find one you can relate to.
Please don t get despondent - the church is such a huge body that, as with any organisation, there are bound to be things you don t agree with. Try to focus on what you believe in, not on an individual priest's interpretation of the faith.

Monty27 Wed 15-Jun-11 20:27:12

I'm a Catholic and divorced. I've never heard anything like this in the church I attend. Me and my children hae always been made to feel very welcome by all of the Priests that have presided there over the years. confused

I can't say the same for all of the jumped up congregation, but most of them were ok.

acorntree Wed 15-Jun-11 21:14:04

I'm catholic, married to a non-catholic agnostic who has always supported me and dd in our faith but doesn't come to Mass with us. We have always had huge support from the parish priests in the three parishes we have lived in. They are always friendly with my dh and glad he supports us. I think if a priest gave a negative sermon about the perils of marrying outside the faith and the effect it will have on your children I would go and challenge him on it....or perhaps drive to the next parish for Mass.

Like many catholics, there are comments coming out of the vatican from time to time that I really struggle with. There have been times when I feel very alienated by the Catholic church. Sometimes I have felt unwelcome and shut out - but everytime I think I am going to leave, and pray about it, I find something happens to draw me in more deeply. It's a little disconcerting at times, but I think what I'm trying to say is you are probably not alone in sometimes feeling alienated. But there are many wonderful, sincere, compassionate and tolerant catholics.

Do you want to stay Catholic, or would you be happier elsewhere. Do you have Christian friends or colleagues from other churches you could speak to?
I stay catholic because the way we meet God in the sacraments is very important to me - but there are other ways of being Christian.

CateOfCateHall Thu 16-Jun-11 19:28:45

"I can sypmathise had a friend whose preist told her she had commited her children to hell because of her lifestyle choices - they weren't drastic just normal choices."

Wow, I'm really surprised by this. I've never heard any priest suggest children would go to Hell because of their parents' own actions and that's not what the Catholic Church teaches, either. He was way off message.

CateOfCateHall Thu 16-Jun-11 19:58:31

"I stay catholic because the way we meet God in the sacraments is very important to me - but there are other ways of being Christian."

I stay in the Church for Sacramental reasons, too, even though I have a bit of difficulty with some areas of Church teaching. Basically, though, I couldn't leave the Church because I couldn't leave Jesus in the Eucharist.

Alandria, sorry to hear of your bad experience. All the priests in the parishes I've lived in have known I'm in a mixed marriage and it's never been an issue. Maybe you could try another parish where you could find a priest you feel comfortable with, as others have suggested, then decide if it's for you and whether you want your children baptised into the faith. I don't necessarily think you have to "tick the right boxes". When I went to pre-Baptismal sessions prior to my own kids being "done" there were people from all sorts of backgrounds, unmarried, in mixed relationships etc. I think the main thing is the commitment to bring your kids up as Catholic Christians.

OP - I am you! I have been Catholic all my life, all my family are Catholic and I couldn't have imagined anythign else. In the past year though I have become really disillusioned with the Catholic Church - and felt time after time more relaxed and welcome in C of E churches. I am not quite sure how I feel anymore - definatly Christian, but I just cannot relate to a faith anymore that is so flawed (in my opinion). I had to pull my DS out of a Catholic school recently and was afraid almost of a non catholic one.... but it has been far more warm and friendly. [lost]

Joolyjoolyjoo Thu 16-Jun-11 20:12:47

I too can relate to this! My DH is christian, but not catholic, but doesn't practise any religion as such. He had no problem with the dc being baptised, and I did it at the time, as my mum, who died shortly before dd1 was born, was very staunch catholic, and I knew it would make her happy confused

I also loved being a member of the catholic church and community as a child, and wanted that sense of community for my children, and they love going to mass, as our parish is very big on involving the children, and has a designated children's mass every week, where they have their own liturgy, and meet up with all their schoolfriends.

However, like yourself, more recently I find myself really questioning a lot of aspects of the catholic religion sad. I feel it is important to have a spiritual aspect to life, although I am not an every-week attendee at church, but I sometimes feel uneasy about my "chosen" religion. As the dc are now very settled at the local catholic school, and appear to enjoy their religious life in the school and church, I can't realistically see myself uprooting us all to seek out a new religion, so I sometimes feel a bit "trapped" into catholicism, iyswim?

Our church itself, and local priest are, however, lovely and welcoming, and I still enjoy the community aspect of it. But I sometimes feel a bit of a hypocrite, if that makes sense, as I feel the other members of the church are more "real" catholics than I am!

Alandria Thu 16-Jun-11 21:47:52

Thank you everyone, it's really nice to know others understand!

I think like others have said I enjoy the community and spiritual side of it and if I'm honest, in some ways they tradition of it. It's really important to me that my children are educated on 'christianity' as a whole but by me rather than shoehorning them into Catholic school.

I've been reading about Methodism and it makes sense to me and sounds like something I'm 'looking for'. There is another Catholic church I can try, maybe a different priest would help?

There is also an ecumenical church which is CofE, Baptist and Methodist but I'm not sure what this would 'mean'. Do they just have a vague christian service on a Sunday that's non denominational? And if I did have my children baptised in an ecumenical church, what would they 'be'?

I'm also scared that some members of my family will be upset if I do something different iykwim.

Monty27 Thu 16-Jun-11 23:13:26

Gosh reading the posts, perhaps I just take from it what I want and ignore the bits I don't like, largely. No-one will put me off my beliefs, and I'm continuing to attend church etc in the way that I've been brought up.

Perhaps I'm just shallow. But certainly the church I've attended for 20 years has never judged me.

Al - maybe try another church, but times move on, some parishes move with it, some don't, I was lucky with mine.

cjel Fri 17-Jun-11 09:35:14

In my experience non denomination can be better because they go back to biblical teaching and not just the historic rituals built up over hundreds of years. Your dcs would be christian!!! Whichever denomination you go to it will still depend on the preist to some extent on what sort of church it is and bear in mind that methodists do change ministers regularly. I think there would be nothing vague about mixed service, I think it would be christian and the people attending willbe like you and not sure about the man made ritual side of it.xxx

WisteriaWoman Fri 17-Jun-11 11:50:46

HI Al, sorry to hear you're having a tough time. I would second the suggestion that you could look for another RC church. I was raised going to a v v liberal RC church and was shocked when I went to a more traditional one. (I don't attend now). I've a friend who is Russian Orthodox and while I know v v little about how they practise there is a lot of similarity with RC. (Except - priests can marry and you can marry 3 times!!)

mariamagdalena Sun 19-Jun-11 01:04:09

Alandria, I'd second what the other posters say about the priest being unusual. And about many Catholics having difficulty with the official Church teachings on a whole range of subjects. In fact, I'd say your priest is displaying an attitude on mixed marriages which shows he too has issues... the problem for you is that his difficulties are at opposite ends of the spectrum to yours grin

JohnStuartMills Sun 19-Jun-11 08:36:12

The Catholic church is a political organization; a very undemocratic one (the guys at the top are only elected by their peers). Like any such body, their raison d'etre is self preservation. The pope was only voted as 'infallible' by his buddies in 1800's. It was a close vote re contraception. Could have swung the other way. Basis of decision was really about other issues. Also, I think a lot of other concerns colour decisions, not the right or wrong of issue in hand.

Also, I think their guidance on homosexuality and many other issues is particularly bankrupt considering it has been shown the vatican ordered various hq's in different countries not to cooperate with authorities re abuse of children by their workers and indeed have get out clause for lying when believing to tell the truth would be wrong (or not wanting to tell the truth), calling it a 'mental reservation'.

I would feel quite liberated to go with an a la carte version which suits you given the political nature of many so called 'teachings'. That sermon sounds way off the mark. I'd go to another church if he was a regular guy.

There are a lot of good people in the Catholic church, not necessarily (maybe especially not) the party faithful.

Accept what you think is right in good conscience. You are as entitled to call yourself a Catholic as the guys who make it up as they go along to suit themselves.

Disclaimer: think this of most churches, not just Catholic (however it is a particularly undemocratic example)

Whatever about the theology of the church, the psychology can be very comforting.

PedigreeChump Sun 19-Jun-11 15:28:09

I have honestly never heard any similar teaching within the Church, having attended for 26 years now. I find the sermons almost always thought-provoking and reaffirming of the values of love, charity, peace, acceptance of others etc.

I admit I am selective with what I really adhere to and love about the Church, and what I kind of "gloss over" as I'm not sure where I stand on it. Most of my family/friends are similar I think. I believe it's possible to take on board the overwhelming majority of teachings, ethos and spirituality which is incredibly positive, and remain on the fence (or even against) the rest. Some might not agree with this approach but it works for me.

I hope you find somewhere you are comfortable and happy with soon, whether that is Catholic or another denomination. Good luck.

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