I haven't had too much of a problem with Catholicism, not after a dream I had when I was a teenager. In the dream I was trying to kill a robot nun as she crossed the lawn. My uncle finished the figure off for me. It obviously represented my freedom from the doctrine, much of which I absorbed by half-listening to sermons. One sticks in my mind because when I was a kid, it made absolutely no sense- something about tight sweaters and short skirts. It was the 60's and these must have been dangerous.
Years of living in Europe kept a benign image of the church alive. I loved cathedrals and ritual. One of my first published poems was "Lighting Candles is a Solitary Act". But living in Spain led me to the Inquisition and when I visited the Vatican I was horrified. All of this wealth was what my parents (on their limited income) tithed for, not the mention the poor around the world adding to the collection basket what they couldn't afford.
So I was one of the people who sought the spiritual elsewhere. I don't think I ever considered the church as having much to do with my ideas of spirit. There was Buddhism, astrology, and Jungian psychology to explore, mostly on my own.
This week two things came up which show once again how disconnected the church is from reality. The Pope reprimanded nuns for being "radical feminists" and focusing too much on social justice. Kristof and Down address this brilliantly.
And on Friday I took immigrants and refugees to a health fair. Catholic Charities (which no doubt runs some great programs) had a stand dedicated to what the church does best- sexual education. There was information on natural family planning. If that works for you, I'd love to hear about it. That was the most innocent. One pamphlet denounced Planned Parenthood as promoting promiscuity while another warned that condoms cause cancer. Something to do with talc. Where do they get their science? I was grateful most of the attendees didn't have the level of language to understand this dangerous misinformation. Dangerous for people who deserve accurate information on how to protect themselves from disease and how to have fewer children if they so choose.
Where to go from here? What's next? The writer, Anna Quindlen has formally renounced the church. I'm coming closer. The only thing that keeps me is the hard work of those chastized nuns.