I am an ex-Catholic. I made that decision when I was 18 years old, when I started to realize what was happening around the world concerning your priests and our children. As the stories piled up I watched and I waited, and again and again, nothing was ever done. Then one day I found out one of the old priests from my hometown church admitted to molesting children. He wasn’t arrested nor was he made to answer for his actions – he was moved from in front of the congregation to a desk job in a different town – that was the day I left the church forever.
I’m not asking you to change your ways because I want to come back, I don’t, I found a much better relationship of my own creation – something I have formed out of instinct, love, compassion and The Golden Rule – I’m much happier now, so thanks but no thanks.
What I do ask, is that you seriously consider electing a Pope who will keep a few things in mind:
Letting your priests abuse children, then covering it up, is not the way you treat God’s children.
Not giving those abused children (who many are now adults) the proper care, therapy and help they need – you have just created generations of abused children and screwed up families – your thousand or so cover ups has turned into tens of thousands of problems, issues and more abused children.
Using guilt and fear to keep your members in line, or at least coming back, that can’t be a good business model the more we become an educated world, just a hint.
If you truly want to spread the word of Jesus (who you claim to love), I don’t remember him shouting against gay marriage, abortion or single parenting…which for some reason you have chosen to focus on quite a bit (not to mention telling your followers to vote for the ‘anti-abortion’ candidates – somehow ignoring the fact that the ‘anti-abortion’ candidates are usually the war-mongers among us). There is an entire book of things Jesus was all about – feeding the poor, healing the sick, befriending the lame – so perhaps a little more focus on the things Jesus ACTUALLY does in that book of yours – and a little less focus on those things you THINK he would be against. History has shown us that we humans, when we pretend to know the whims of God(s), we’re usually very wrong and people tend to die – or did you forget your own Church’s history? Inquisition anyone?
Lastly, as you come together to choose a new Pope (and let’s not pretend God has a hand in that, you and I both know it’s politics just like every other election among humans, he doesn’t help any more than he helps a team win the Super Bowl) – could you at least make an effort to choose a man (because we know you will never choose a woman) – who has enough respect for the Church, his role as Pope and love for the God you claim to worship, to do what is right by humbly (and swiftly) taking care of all of those people who gave you their money, their hearts, their love, their trust and THEIR CHILDREN – all which were abused and neglected by those you put in places of power.
I ask this of you, because it has become clear that those who still belong to the Catholic Church are too scared/apathetic to even consider staying home one Sunday, en mass, to show that they do not support a church that allows children to be molested. That I will never understand. To believe a God will punish you for missing one Sunday in church, rather than applaud you for standing up for the safety of children – if you truly believe that, I don’t think you understand your God.
And no, you won’t win me back, or the millions who proudly proclaim ourselves to be ex-Catholic. However, what you will do is at least give us a sliver of hope that the church we grew up in, were baptized in, had our first communion and our confirmation in, attended catechism in and was the only real connection we had with any type of organized religion – you will at least make us not live the rest of our lives ashamed at what we once were a part of.
I’m ashamed to say I was once a Catholic, but if I’m really honest, I don’t think I need to be ashamed at having been a member of your church – it is you who should be ashamed at what you’ve allowed my church to become.
Shame on you.
And now, with the stepping down of this Pope, here is yet another chance for you to fix things. To move toward a better world. To act the way you tell the rest of us we should act. To come from a place of good. So, are you brave enough this time around, or do we all keep pretending we want a better world, while allowing it to be destroyed by the very people who claim to represent a God of Love? I guess the ball is in your court…yet again.
I’m not going to hold my breath, but I will remain hopeful. God’s speed.
Vince is the author of Einstein’s Shutter, among other works.