The Shotgun Blog
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Why I am leaving the Roman Catholic Church
Readers of this blog have seen me refer to myself repeatedly as a badly lapsed Catholic. I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic faith, and although I don't attend mass nearly as often as I should, I have always considered myself a loyal Catholic, and a member of that faith. That is why it hurts so much to leave it. However, as painful as it is to leave the only faith I have had my entire life, leave it I must, and at the risk of losing many friends, I have to ask my fellow anti-Communists in the Catholic faith to join me in the exodus. The continuing minuet between the Vatican and the Chinese Communist Party has given me no choice.
That the Holy See is looking for a rapprochement with the Communist regime is not news; in fact, it predates the election of Pope Benedict XVI. However, recent developments have made it clear that the Church, and the Pope who leads it, are not only willing to sacrifice the island democracy of Taiwan, but also the well-being of the people of mainland China, including millions of believers who have suffered persecution to resist the Communist-controlled "Patriotic" Church and remain loyal to the Vatican. This I can no longer accept.
Truth be told, I've been considering this move for some time now (last item), ever since I read the story of the "breakthrough" in Shanghai. The Vatican consecrated a "Patriotic" priest as a successor bishop to Aloysius Jin, the Communist Bishop in Shanghai. Worse than that, the Vatican also rejected the request of Bishop Joseph Fan - head of the loyal "underground" Shanghai Church - to have a successor consecrated for him. In effect, the Holy See told the persecuted Shanghai Catholics that it was time to go to the Communist-controlled Shanghai masses. Shanghai isn't alone: "in a journal that reflects Vatican thinking, German Jesuit theologian Father Hans Waldenfels suggested in October that successors to underground bishops would no longer be named by the pope, thereby healing the decades-old split in China's Catholic communities" (Newsweek).
Now, I know a good Christian, even one suffering persecution, should love his persecutors and pray for them. But endorse the persecutors' faith over their own? That one I don't see.
Still, I held back, in part because I wanted to think and pray things through, and in part because of the elevation of Cardinal Joseph Zen. If Pope Benedict was willing to elevate the Bishop of Hong Kong, a longtime champion of human rights and defender of the city's beleaguered freedoms, then perhaps there was hope.
That hope was dashed by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican's Secretary for Relations with States (i.e., Foreign Minister). Archbishop Lajolo's statement, which was released in such a way as to make clear he was speaking for Benedict XVI, was deeply troubling for two reasons. The first was, of course, Taiwan. The archbishop pledged to "immediately" break off ties with Taiwan if diplomatic relations were established with the Communist regime. Lajolo even went so far as to say that (in the words of United Press Int'l via Washington Times), "the spiritual needs of millions of Chinese Catholics were clearly more urgent than the needs of 300,000 Taiwan Catholics." For any Catholic, but most especially an archbishop, to claim some Catholics are more important than others was a rude shock. Even worse, however, was Lajolo's comments on Cardinal Zen - namely that Benedict XVI elevated him not to speak to the increasing danger in Hong Kong, but rather "to signal his concern and respect for China" (Catholic World News via Church Resources).
However, the straw that broke the camel's back was, ironically, Archbishop Lajolo's attempt to defend Zen's political activism. Lajolo insisted that Cardinal Zen (and these are Lajolo's words) "had not interfered in the legislative activity of the state" (CWN via CR). I couldn't believe my eyes. Cardinal Zen is well-known in Hong Kong for playing a leading role in interfering with the Communist-controlled HK Legislative Council's attempt to pass the hideous "anti-subversion" law in 2003 (sixth item). In fact, said interference was instrumental in fueling the "people power" that pushed the local Communists to shelve the law. Either the Vatican is ignorant of the situation in Hong Kong - and Cardinal Zen's importance there - or it is trying to airbrush recent history.
In any event, Lajolo's comments, the actions regarding Shanghai, and the statements on Taiwan have made it abundantly clear: the Roman Catholic Church is looking to accommodate the Chinese Communist Party, and if the Roman Catholic Church is growing comfortable with the Chinese Communist Party, I am no longer comfortable in the Roman Catholic Church.
The fact that I was a lapsed Catholic will make this withdrawal less powerful; it is the price I pay for my weakness in faith. I also understand that it will be much harder for Catholics reading this to join me in leaving; many of them may not consider me a Catholic in good standing as it is.
However, I must ask them these questions. Does the Lord want his Church to seek a compromise with an entity as evil as the Chinese Communist Party? Does "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's" include the endorsement of a "church" the Communist regime used in its war against the faithful? Does the Church honor its martyrs from China's past by trying to find just the right concession to win the imprimatur of the regime that martyred them?
We must all answer these questions with the help of the Lord, and in our own thoughts and prayers, but as for me, I have made my decision. I am, for now, a Christian without denomination. I have left - because I feel I must leave - the Roman Catholic Church, and I hope against hope that I am not the only one.
Cross-posted to the China e-Lobby
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Although I am a Christian I lost my faith in organzied religion a long time ago and the various denominations (Baptist, Protestent, Catholic, etc.)continues to go out of their way to prove me right. As far as i am concerned, who cares if you go to church every week; so long as you are living a good life.
Posted by: Matthew Stonhouse | 2006-03-28 1:27:46 PM
You may consider reviewing the history of the Roman Catholic Church -- if only for your own sanity and to perhaps put this in perspective. Since when has the doxology, or the statements of the Vatican been purely about the Bible or Christianity?
Since you do not attend church regularly, I hardly see how you would lose "your friends". Unless your friends do not associate with heretics.
Sometimes it seems that the world forgets that the Vatican acts as a state and not merely "defenders of the faith".
Your relationship with God is between you and God. There is no need to touch the divine on Earth. After all, his kingdom is not of this world.
When considering leaving a Church it should probably be more about your relationship with the Church you attend.
I almost equate this with leaving Canada because it supports same-sex marriage.
Posted by: William McCullough | 2006-03-28 1:35:49 PM
China e-Lobby: You strike me as an intelligent, thoughtful and well-read person. That does not discount the impression that you're just plain silly. Why do you believe you are better positioned to devine the wisdom of the Lord than is the Pope? I am sure, as history has shown inemerable times, that His will invariable come about through the help of the faithful. If you don't want to be part of the solution, then go ahead and leave (whatever that means in the first place!). Just don't hide behind some rambling monologue disguised as a weak 'protest' excuse over some geopolitical forces you are in no position to fully comprehend anyhow. You only insult the rest of us Catholics (those in good standing or not) who stay on the path and all Christians in general when you pretend to profer some juvinile, foot-stomping, tantrum reason as proxies for concientious objections and then have the unmitigated gall to use your little treatise here as a call for abandonment & mutiny. You could do better, if you feel so strongly my brother, by getting involved with the Church's efforts instead of running away.
Posted by: Gary Ireland | 2006-03-28 1:47:51 PM
Are you going to turn in your Catholic card at the nearest rectory? Your entire statement reads quite interestingly from a geopolitical perspective, but has shockingly little to do with your (or anyone's) own personal attachment to religion of any denomination. "I don't go to church anymore, haven't for a long time, really doesn't mean anything to me other than a label, but HEAR YE HEAR YE I HAVE NOW LEFT THE CATHOLIC BUILDING! TREMBLE IN DESPAIR! Y'all come on now, ya hear."
Posted by: Mo | 2006-03-28 2:21:09 PM
Matthew, Without loading a gun while awaiting the flood of spam Bible verse postings, your last statement of "who cares..." I'd suggest maybe reading Hebrews 10:25
William, well maybe it might come to that, leaving the country because of what it stands for. Would you live in a despot nation?
In other news, I left the RC church because I couldn't see where Mary fit into the big picture of salvation, besides of course the blessing in being Jesus' mother, but she needed salvation just like any other human.
Posted by: tomax | 2006-03-28 2:29:00 PM
The fact that the Catholic Church is cozy with the CCP should be cause for alarm for anyone belonging to that faith. Let's not forget that the CCP has been on a killing spree for the last 56 years unchecked. It is well known that the CCP's persecution of religious groups in China is rampant and growing. Why would any church in their right mind want to associate with this blood thirsty entity (CCP) that shamelessly torture minorities and rights defenders? Please think again...
Posted by: Rebecca | 2006-03-28 3:04:16 PM
I share your disappointment and congratulate you for your candid sincerity.
I wouldn't want to mingle with the CCP either.
Posted by: tell it like it is | 2006-03-28 4:29:13 PM
The catholic church is chock a bloc with fudge packers.
They trapes around an altar in their bizaar costumes chanting some irrelevancies in a dead language.
The Catholic church was once a very powerful and repressive entity. Thank God they imploloded.
Now if we could only get the semtex packers in the Muslim world to implode/explode we would have a better world.
I was raised catholic, but figured it out at age 14 ... what took you so long?
Posted by: Duke McGoo | 2006-03-28 4:50:02 PM
A church is a lot less important than a person's own faith. Being a Christian means repentance of sin, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and to follow Him and practice His teachings.
"God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John3:16. That is all that matters for Christian faith.
Churches often get in the way of the message but that should not matter to your faith. Just stick to God's Word, it's reliable. Don't ever lose your faith.
Posted by: HJD | 2006-03-28 5:03:55 PM
"FAITH IS BELIEVING SOMETHING YOU KNOW AIN'T TRUE"
Posted by: Duke | 2006-03-28 6:21:47 PM
Cornwall Inquiry Hears From Church
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
The Roman Catholic diocese in Cornwall is presenting arguments today to the inquiry looking into how childrens' sexual abuse charges were handled in the community.
David Sheriff-Scott, a lawyer for the diocese, says the church is not a public institution, so it should not come under the inquiry's scrutiny. He says charges that the church is trying to torpedo the inquiry are false.
Many of those who allege sexual abuse when they were children argue that exempting the Catholic Church will gut the inquiry. +
Posted by: maz2 | 2006-03-28 8:11:44 PM
... I think that I would have long ago diassociated my self from that kind of political religion. If you want to follow "the Way" or a righteous path then what do you need a pope for? What is his role in ones personal path to heaven? He is a polititian and he is dong something really stupid by letting the CCP brainwash him just like the other polititians who get lured in by CCPs heavy money filled hand. The CCP is like the devil, it looks pretty and is oh so tempting. One would have to be quite strong to resist it. I am not surprised that the pope does not have that kind of spiritual strength. Just cause you hire some guy to be pope doesnt endow the guy with spiritual strength. That kind of thing comes from following the true way of heaven. If the pope was really on target spiritually I don't think he would be so stupid as to shun Taiwan for the communist party. I'm not saying the pope is so bad.... Just that he's not better than others just cause hes "The Pope"
Posted by: Aly | 2006-03-28 8:52:27 PM
It takes discussions with China to cause a lose of faith. How about the Church's stance on gender, marriage and sex? Are those not a matter of human rights?
It is all deny, deny and deny. Oops, forgot the settlements out of court for wrongdoings - a.k.a fondling boys.
This group doesn't deserve your time or money.
Posted by: Shaky | 2006-03-29 7:05:32 AM
If it's not too much trouble, can we stick to the issue at hand (the Church and the CCP)? I'd prefer to steer clear of other issues.
Posted by: China e-Lobby | 2006-03-29 10:14:18 AM
Religion and politics, doesn't it just make you smile, or weep. "Leaving the Catholic Church" don't you just wish it could make a difference?
The Catholic Church is the largest remaining purely military style heirarcical authoritarian institution on earth. The pope is actually "in charge" and thus he is "responsible" too.
Other Christian Protestant or Evangelical entities allow everyman (or woman) to be his own mini-pope. That's great I suppose, but I find myself a less severe task master over myself in all areas of life, than I find say, the civil laws (i.e. police, speed limits, etc et al).
The Catholic Church provides mechanisms for mere humans to guide themselves toward an understanding of eternity-Divinity-right vs wrong and how we can worship God through our lives to hopefully continue in such a relationship forever.
So what is the pope all about? Well he has to make sure this thing on earth actually delivers what people need: knowledge, counsel, guidance, lots of words for aspects of the same thing.
Human families are the primary means to accomplish all of this, but wisdom doesn't always come when we are right in the middle of raising our kids and getting along at work, etc.
The Catholic Church has played a vital role in providing a "father" for the community (the spirituality and essential understanding of right versus wrong that we agree upon), in much the same way as God has provided the human father for the human family.
The pope must do his job of providing that spiritual "father" figure advice to the entire audience, e.g. "talking" (and literally talking) to nations, peoples, ethnicities, philosophies, with The message. That is the pope's "big" job that gets him on TV. UNFORTUNATELY, the pope is just as human as each of us. Evidently, the pope can be "flattered" or take HIMSELF seriously and think of himself as a "rock star" and become a guy who likes being "on TV."
It's funny how hard it is to do two things at once.
If you are all caught up in being a "rock star" and "on TV" evidently you can easily forget the fact that you have THOROUGHLY PROVEN that homosexuals had zero capacity to be (spiritual) "fathers" to communities of human beings, just as homosexuals have zero capacity to be fathers to human families.
Personally, I believe that pope John Paul II was homosexual, and consequently (based on my lifelong experience in very large corporate organizations and in communities) I believe that ALL of pope John Paul II close advisers, i.e. that would be the 90% of Catholic Cardinals he appointed, including the current pope Benedict XVI would also be homosexauls.
This is a catastrophe for the "small job" of the pope, i.e. his function as the man in charge of seeing that the heirarchical isntitution is run top to bottom by faithful and selfless and holy Priests who do in fact GIVE UP their normal (i.e. hetersexual) individual sexual and human familial desires, so as to worship God as a priest and "father" to a community of "family" of the Faithful.
The current pope (Benedict) and the last pope (John Paul II) seem to have taken entirely to the "big" job of "rock star" on "TV" and talking to "China" or to "Islam". One might call this hubris or pride, which we Catholics understand to be one of the "seven deadly sins" (I've probably got that wrong, it is my wife who is always telling me about my screwing up on these seven deadly sins, and everything else... ;- ) ).
So, you want to "leave the Catholic Church" seemingly because the pope is "talking to China" (my words, not precisely yours).
Well, the pope actually has that as PART of his job description. I would say that portion of his "job description" says: (1) Think deeply about the great issues confronting humanity; and (2) speak out (unafraid - the wonderful language used by pope John Paul II) boldly but effectively for the good of mankind on those issues.
The pope is doing that aspect of his job. You don't like it, because he is getting too cozy with the Communists. Hey, I'm TOTALLY with you with respect to hating the PURELY EVIL philosophy and practice of Communism (we call it Democrat Party platform down here in the States).
But, I think your problem, leading you to "leave the Catholic Church" is that the pope failed in the "small job" of ensuring that Catholic clergy are truely Faithful heterosexual men who have in fact given up a tremendous aspect of life which they would normally pursue (I didn't say "enjoy" because most of what a Catholic man is supposed to do in his family is to control himself and become a real and valid and fine leader and role model, "as Christ" within his human family, and that ain't easy.
You have suffered from the pope's failure to ensure that you had a spiritual "father" in the person of a Catholic priest who could have led you to an accurate understanding of our Faith.
You don't leave the Catholic Church. You merely give up trying to adhere to the strictures which Christ laid upon us by His "simple" message of "Love one another" and stuff like that, which the fully functioning Catholic Church clergy delivers to each of us, without "special" exceptions because, well, you're you...
I admire the great achievement that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thather and pope John Paul II achieved in the defeat of Soviet Communism. It was Reagan's leadership achievement, but he got help, certainly from God, in the persons of Thather and John Paul.
We Catholics paid a huge price for the defeat of Communism (in the Soviet Union) and that price was the near destruction of the Catholic clergy via the 40 year long social science experiment by which the popes PROVED that homosexuals have absolutely no capacity to function as priestly "fathers" of a human community, and by extension, anyone with eyes can see, that similarly, homosexuals have no capacity to function as human fathers in a human family (i.e. contrived with two men and adopted children).
I hold no blind-ignorant hate toward homosexuals, they carry a burden of a psychological problem that I hope can be helped, and one which is in part MY fault, because as part of human society I have participated as our community institutions have continued to deteriorate so that children can become "sexualized" (e.g. pronography, etc.) and thus confused and perverted in their understanding of their identity sexually. This tragedy is done to our children by us as members of communities and societies and nations as well as by us as stupid mindless divorced parents and irresponsible "fathers" and stupid "single-moms" who never think what in Hell is going to happen to their kids without a father in the house.
it is tough to do what we are supposed to do, but it is a lot tougher on our children when we don't. In case you conveniently "forget" that fact then the Catholic priest is real good at reminding you.
If you want to do something with your free time, now that you are no longer "in" the Catholic Church, go out and work your ass off getting your stupid government to undo their vain crazy attempt to "make" homosexuality "normal" and to thus perpetuate and expand this sad evil through to greater numbers of innocent vulnerable children.
And pray that God will intervene and correct the horrible deterioration of the clergy of the Catholic Church (beginning with the top, in that "top down" organization).
Posted by: Conrad-USA | 2006-03-29 11:35:38 AM
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