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catholics - what do you think when the Church hierarchy say something really homophobic etc

(118 Posts)
time4tea Sun 18-Jan-09 09:09:23

I'm a practising Catholic - and a sincere believer in Jesus' message of compassion for others (80s liberation theology I suppose). But although I have a lot of respect for my amazing parish priest, who has so many good things to say about life and faith, and enjoy going to mass, I find it harder and harder to deal reconcile this with some of the Church's teaching about contraception, HIV/AIDS prevention, abortion, and homsexuality. Plus of course, a lot of the cover-ups over sexual abuses against children by priests...

how do you deal with this? it is "their" church and they make the rules. I keep wanting to just leave or disassociate myself from the whole thing but in my profoundest heart, I love attending mass, and see so many other things that are a source for good. But the reality is that the stuff I am concerned about is what is really pushed on in terms of public messages from the Vatican.

is anyone else concerned about this sort of thing...?

sandyballs Sun 18-Jan-09 09:11:00

Yes, very concerned, which is why, unfortunately, I am now rather a lapsed catholic.

sweetkitty Sun 18-Jan-09 09:29:59

I am not a catholic but am married to one and have children that have been baptised, I did think about converting but issues like the ones you have described have prevented me from doing so.

I think a lot of catholics don't agree with some of the churches teachings now but still agree with most of it hence still go, I don't think you have to agree with everything all the time.

gigglinggoblin Sun 18-Jan-09 10:07:19

Doesnt it mean that you are not really a catholic? I find it hard to think you could go to a catholic mass while disagreeing with half of what they say. I am really interested in this as my kids attend catholic school but are not baptised, I was brought up catholic but dont attend mass, I believe in Jesus but cant help but feel he would be horrified by the current pope. Recently went to mass for first time in ages and felt I would like to continue, then heard the appalling stuff the pope had been spouting and felt I couldnt. I thought I believed in a fair bit of it, but tried the test on beliefnet and apparently I agree with 30% of the catholic stuff, 100% neopagan which is a bit different!

misshardbroom Sun 18-Jan-09 13:37:03

I suppose in truth I practice a form of pick n mix Catholicism - I disagree profoundly with the Church's views on contraception and homosexuality and HIV, agree in part with the Church's views on abortion, agree wholeheartedly with the teachings about compassion, respect for people no matter what their age or social standing, doing as one would be done by, etc. I continue to attend Catholic mass because I have a fantastic parish priest who lives in the real world, and who sees his job as finding ways for people to explore their faith, rather than putting obstacles in the way of them doing so. I do find the Pope's statements difficult to reconcile with my own beliefs and I do worry that by choosing to ignore them, I am implicitly condoning them.

mygreatauntgriselda Sun 18-Jan-09 14:26:00

There seems to be a common thread here - I think the Catholic church contains a spectrum of views (like any other faith). The difference I guess is that we are all assumed to agree with the Pope as he has the official word do to speak.I find it impossible to reconcile christian values with homophobia quite frankly. I also thin tha priests should be allowed to marry (as they were originally) and think women should be able to be ordained (but then so does my local priest).

MrsMattie Sun 18-Jan-09 14:33:08

I have no idea how Catholics with liberal views can reconcile their views with the extremely reactionary, conservative views at the very core of Catholicism. It is not just the 'church hierarchy' that is like this. It is the very nature of the religion itself. How can you be pro-choice, accepting of homosexuality etc - and still profess to be a Catholic? Doesn't make sense to me. I struggled with this massively when I first met my DH (lapsed Catholic) and did the RCIA course (wanted to find out more about Catholicism, as DH wanted our son baptised). I could never support a church that publicly likens abortion to the holocaust and thinks homosexuality is 'unnatural'.

(Not going on an anti-Catholic diatribe, honestly. I just think many people downplay the strict, conservative, orthodox nature of the RC church massively - including many catholics themselves).

Tommy Sun 18-Jan-09 14:37:12

As a active practising Catholic, I think "Oh, here they go again" then I just ignore it and get with life in the way I think Jesus is calling me to.

I have never had an anti abortion, contraception or homosexulaity sermon preached at me and I do think that the poplulist view of the Catholic Church conveniently ignore sall the good that it does in the world and just focuses on the sexual morality isuues - which are not actally at the forefront of most ordinary Catholics in the pew IME

AlderTree Sun 18-Jan-09 14:59:56

I think this is why, historically speaking there have been break away groups and new churches, new religions in fact created out of this problem of what you do if you dont agree with the establishment. Essentially wars are fought over the root of these issues.

Personally speaking I guess you have to decide if the mass/church you go to supports what your life and whether you can accpet that there are some there who disagree with your beliefs and the Pope's. If it does you can carry on as long as it doesn't present impossible circumstances for you. Alternatively you will need to find some way to get the spiritual medicine you need outside the catholic church.

Sounds mad but at one time I was very involved in a church precisely because of the clergy leading it and the community support within the people. When I moved from there I failed to find the same experience and have had to adapt and ultimately reevaluate what I believe.

MrsMattie Sun 18-Jan-09 15:02:32

It's not a populaist view. It's fact@Tommy!

The RC church is homophobic, anti-abortion and extremely conservative.

See, I don't understand Catholics that say 'I just get on with being a good Christian and don't pay any attention to all the bad bits of my religion'. You may be practising some sort of Christianity, but it's not Catholicism if you disagree with the Pope (indeed, the Church) on fundamental aspects of the religion.

mygreatauntgriselda Sun 18-Jan-09 15:08:34

I don't agree Mrs Mattie - there are a wide range of views within the Catholic community. You may not regard us as Catholics, (presumably you are catholic yourslf, as you perceive yourself as an expert judge of what is and is not Catholic)but we regard ourselves as such.

MrsMattie Sun 18-Jan-09 15:13:49

So you can disagree with fundamental aspects of the RC religion and still be a Catholic? Wonder what the Pope would say about that..

Catholicism is not known as a particularly 'broad church', is my point.

Btw, I am an atheist. Hope that doesn't exclude me from having an opinion...? (However, my parents were RC, my whole huge Irish family are, in fact, RC. DH is a lapsed Catholic. I did the RCIA course myself and took bible study classes for over a year m - probably studied the religion in more depth than many who profess to be Catholic).

mygreatauntgriselda Sun 18-Jan-09 15:30:55

Yes Mattie, people can have their own diverse views and do. The is a spectrum of views amongst priests and amongst practitioners.

You seem to feel quite threatened by this though

onager Sun 18-Jan-09 15:43:11

I can see how a catholic might say that homophobia is not all the the church is about. However I thought accepting the pope as chosen by god WAS a core belief. If you think he is a sick homophobe then he must not have been chosen by god. Surely that undermines everything.

MrsMattie Sun 18-Jan-09 15:45:28

I'm not threatened at all. I find it iteresting. I know several very liberal people who are RC and I just wonder how they square it with themselves, that's all? For instance, if you are pro-choice, how do you square bringing up your daughters in a religion that is not? Genuinely interested.

And of course there is a spectrum of views - as in any religion - but if one doesn't agree with fundamental aspects of a religion, why continue to subscribe to it?

Tommy Sun 18-Jan-09 15:45:59

yes - sounds like you have a bit of an axe to grind on this issue mrsmattie!

Yes - those are 3 things that the Church has a view on (BTW the Church does encourage Catholics to use their conscience in all areas of morality) but it's not the only thing aboiut being a Catholic. I hardly think that someone who prefesses to be an atheist is in the position to judge and citicise the way other people choose to follow their religion.

I could just as easily say, if you are an atheist, why are getting into such a bother about somehthing that doesn't exist? hmm

MrsMattie Sun 18-Jan-09 15:53:42

I'm not in a 'bother' and have no axe to grind. I just find it genuinely interesting. I have had this discussion with friends / my DH in the past and have never found a satisfactory explanation. Being pro-life, for instance, is not just 'a part of the religion' - it is one of the main tenets on which your belief rests, is it not? That life begins at conception. Therefore, I would wonder how any Catholic could be pro-choice (and I have come across a few people who claim to be both pro choice and RC in my time...a little like claiming to be a chicken eating vegetarian, methinks grin)

Of course, if you only want to discuss your religion with fellow believers, fine by me. I'm happy to bow out. I was initially responding to the OP, as what she said sparked my interest. I had often wondered the same thing. But hey ho.

lingle Sun 18-Jan-09 15:57:56

Hi there time4tea,

Am not a Catholic but went to Catholic school.

I think you owe it to yourself and to your fellow Catholics to perhaps find a campaign group (within the Church I mean) that is willing to work for change.

Imagine how good you would feel if you played a small part in a movement that achieved lasting change smile.

IorekByrnison Sun 18-Jan-09 16:45:28

I think the church has a big problem in judging how to provide moral authority over a huge timespan and hugely diverse cultures.

The church must give guidance as to what is right and wrong - this is one of its primary functions and what people want and expect it to do. However, our sense as a society of what is right and wrong is always evolving, and this process is made considerably more complex by mass communication and globalisation. The church cannot just attend to morality as perceived in Middle England or Rome and ignore those of West Africa, say, even when the moral priorities of each culture are more or less irreconcilable.

So I suppose as a Catholic you have three options:

- to swallow every official statement that comes from the Vatican, even when it runs counter to your own conscience and understanding

- to reject the church as hypocritical, sacrificing the comfort of the liturgy, community, sacraments etc for the sake of moral consistency

- to acknowledge that the church is as deeply flawed, but - not wanting to throw the baby out with the bathwater - to accept membership of the church as a sort of imperfect channel to the divine with one's critical faculties switched on, absorbing its teaching where possible and disagreeing where necessary.

From my experience of practising Catholics, the third option is pretty common.

lingle Sun 18-Jan-09 16:51:43

But surely if enough of you simply said "I think this is deeply flawed" instead of "lovely sermon Father" then change would come?

Surely it's up to you? It's your church - your responsibility if it's doing something wrong.

IorekByrnison Sun 18-Jan-09 17:01:45

I agree lingle. Although you would have to accept that change within the church necessarily happens very very slowly.

mygreatauntgriselda Sun 18-Jan-09 17:09:47

Iorek - excellent point - most Catholics I know are of the third option, as I suspect people of other faiths do as well.

I think we all know and accept that the church ecompasses a broad range of views.

The Catholic church, as you say, crosses o many cultures there will never be one line which everyone agrees with.

I would describ myself as a fairly liberal Catholic. There are liberals and fundamentalists in all faiths.

lalalonglegs Sun 18-Jan-09 17:14:45

I roll my eyes and read the baptism notices on the back of the newsletter/nod at friends/distribute oatcakes to my children.

MrsBrendaDyson Sun 18-Jan-09 17:22:39

i dont see why it has to be all or nothing.

i dont work like that in any other section of my life.

essentially its about faith, the more liberal amongst us, i think hope that jesus- as the first hippy, would embrace everyone.

i absolutely do not want to go shopping for a religeon. so i express my faith through the religeon i was born into.

i make not value judgements here, although i am aware that value judgements are assigned to me, because i am catholic in an amazing negative way, almost daily.

it seems that where there is an affort to be understanding and accepting of muslims, that the same pc brigade think its ok to denegrade someones religeon becuase its ok if they talk about christianity in a negative way.

I personally think the bible is a very important document, it gives us a rough idea of the setting in which to Jesus gave his teachings.

but any extremist could get a walkers crisp packet and make it into a manifesto for their own agenda.

ithink its a great contextual document, historical document, it gives some great moral guidence and stories to help with out payers, i believe some of the writings are beautifuland inspired by Jesus. I do not think that God assigned any more power to their beautiful words than to the words of any talented writer.

i think the pope is a knobjockey of huge proportions and i don't agree with the church hierarchy.

ibelieve the church does good things too.

i believe i canbe a practising catholic and respect the views of many other strands of christianity and respect them for it.

the sally army is an amazing organisation.

I do not believe it is right for me to have an abortion, and i didn't.

I do believe its life from conception.

i do believe that its ok to have sex for pleasure and use contraception to stop conception.

i think that the argument "if god wanted one mans penis in another mans bumhole - men and men would have babies - ergo unnatural" is a huge pile of wank

if god wanted us to fly - we would have wings.

if god wanted asthmatics to live, he would have made them normal

just a stupid argument really innit? becuase the human race adapts and overcomes and changes to situations.

i don't know ONE SINglE PERSON who has sex to have babies

they exist sure - look at the ttc boards.

but on the whole i think you would agree that as a race, we fuck becuase its fun and we like it.

tumtumtetum Sun 18-Jan-09 17:23:03

Can I propose a fourth option?

I am a lasped catholic and most of my friends are practicing, including one couple who are very active in the church.

My option is that the majority (IME) don't think deeply about all this stuff. They have been born catholic, raised catholic, they are catholic. They go to mass, they have the christenings etc and do all the stuff. Most of them believe in god I'm sure. But their religion is their religion and they treat as important the parts of it they want to and turn a blind eye to the parts of it they don't. Not because they are stupid or unthinking, but because they are catholic and that is what they are, and nothing as minor as having different ideas from the pope is going to stop them from practicing their religion.

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