​No, I'm Not Proud Of The Catholic Church Right Now, But I Am Still Proud To Be A Catholic​

​No, I'm Not Proud Of The Catholic Church Right Now, But I Am Still Proud To Be A Catholic​

Sexual abuse from Catholic Church leaders have left many shocked and appalled.

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For years now, we've seen the headlines. Constantly new details have been released regarding sexual scandal and abuse innately intertwined with the very structure of the Catholic Church in the United States and around the world. Most recently, we have been made aware of some of the very most egregious of these abuses, coming from Pittsburgh. The world has been shocked and horrified by the horrible atrocities of abuse against children and other members of the laity.

These atrocities impacted children. Perhaps most of all.

I'm what you might call a "cradle Catholic". My parents grew up in a predominantly Catholic town and met at a Catholic high school (aptly and affectionately called, "Catholic High"). My grandparents met at that same high school a couple decades earlier. One of my earliest memories is kneeling around my brother's bed praying the Our Father with my family, and saying the special prayer we said for our family. My First Communion was almost certainly the highlight of my elementary school career. Throughout high school, I altar served at least one Sunday per month, and was a part of the altar serving team our priest affectionately dubbed "the dream team". We did a lot of funerals, because we were very well put together. Its always been a part of my life, and a very significant one at that.

These atrocities impacted children.

I teach Sunday School for K-8 students at the Newman Center here on campus. I do not really know how to face these kids. I grew up very sure that my priest was somebody I could trust, right up there with my fourth grade teacher and my gymnastics coach. My priest knew me, I knew him, and he loved me in a completely appropriate, let the little children come to me way. The priests at the Newman Center Parish are wonderful, and certainly reflect my childhood experiences with priests. But these kids aren't dumb; these kids are seeing these headlines, and they're hearing the news. These kids know that this happened, that the Church hasn't dealt with it strongly enough, and that it affected kids just like them. So how do I answer their questions?

I am a lifelong member of a Church that seems to have forgotten the children it is meant to serve. I do not know how to explain to them why that is, because I myself do not truly know. I prefer to believe that it's all just a simple matter of corruption, of human nature getting the best of people who should be trustworthy. But that's far too simple an explanation, and it does not go anywhere near far enough to make me feel comfortable with what has happened.

In Pope Francis' letter to the 1.2 billion Catholics dotting the globe, he addresses all of the points I'm making. But it is still hard to reconcile where the Church has been (and even where it is in some cases) with where it is going. I am not proud of the way in which these issues have been handled, and I am not proud of the Catholic Church right now. It is a hard time to be Catholic.

That being said, I remain proud to be one. I do not condone, but rather condemn, the egregious and revolting actions of priests and the bishops who defended them. I am proud, however, to see that our pope also condemns these actions, and that he places his hope in the laity, those with the power to answer the questions, to keep the children safe. I'm proud to be one of the people helping to teach the children positive interaction with faith and faith communities. This means showing children what a normal interaction with a leader should look like. This means teaching children about the intended role of a priest. This means, most of all, holding leaders accountable.

Authority does not warrant abuse thereof. It should not ever have warranted abuse. If the Church is unable to hold itself accountable, the laity must be able to do so.

I am proud to be part of a community set on effecting real change in the Church, so that I, along with so many others, can finally be proud of the Catholic Church in addition to being proud of being a Catholic.

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12 Bible Verses For Faith In Hard Times

Remind yourself that God is always with you.
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Lately, I have felt lost at what God wants for my life. Ever since I've come back to UWG everything has been horrible. It seems that I can't catch a break. I'm trying my best to focus on school, work, and extracurricular activities. But it's hard when I'm having issues with my apartment/roommates and knowing my family back home is struggling and needs many prayers. All, I keep thinking is maybe Carrollton isn't where I belong anymore. I've asked God if He can guide me in the right direction. Below, I have found Bible verses that have helped get me through these rough, past couple of weeks.

1. Isaiah 43:2

"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you."

2. Psalm 37:5

"Commit your way to the Lord. Trust in Him, and He will act."

3. Romans 8:18

"The pain that you've been feeling, can't compare to the joy that's coming."

4. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed in strength, and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future."

5. Joshua 1:9

"Be bold. Be brave. Be courageous."

6. Ecclesiastes 3:1

"There is a time for everything and a reason for every activity under the heavens."

7. Isaiah 41:10

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand."

8. Isaiah 66:9

"I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born, says the Lord."

9. Psalm 91:4

"He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings, you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart."

10. Psalm 62:1-2

"My soul finds rest in God alone, my salvation comes from Him, He alone is my rock and my salvation."

11. Philippians 4:13

"I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

12. Jeremiah 29:11

"For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Cover Image Credit: pixabay.com

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Maybe, All You Really Need Is Love

An article in which I discuss the topic of faith and organized religion and just how strange it is.

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Faith is so weird.

I am incapable of speaking for everyone but being raised in the Bible Belt, spending my elementary education in a Catholic school, growing up in a religious home, and spending every summer since third grade at a church camp, I can say that it's hard to think sometimes. My parents are very respectful of other religions, and I know they will read this so know that this is not a complaint, but it was just naturally assumed that I would be Episcopalian too. It was never forced down my throat or shoved into my life, it's just the way the world works. Obviously, there are reasons not to believe and reasons to believe and I really don't know the answer or if God is real but I know that love is real. The idea of organized religion has always bothered me. Everyone is given a set of instructions to follow and it is expected of them to follow. Go to church on Sunday. Go to the Synagogue on Saturday. Do not eat food that was not given to you. Suffering exists, to get rid of if you must get rid of attachment. There are stories upon stories, teachings and scriptures that people take too seriously in my opinion. I've never read the Bible from start to finish. I plan on it, one day, but I don't think it holds any sort of answer. It was a book written by a bunch of men back 2000 years ago. The book has been used to explain why we should have slaves, why we shouldn't allow gays, and where a woman's place should be. So no, I don't believe we should follow the Bible. Especially the Torah. I mean G-d was actually pretty brutal. G-d will make a flood one day to kill off most of the earth then help Abraham and Sarah have a kid only to tell Abraham to go kill Isaac. Not to mention the series of plagues G-d inflicted on the Egyptians for enslaving the Jewish people.

There's a line in one of Madeleine L'Engle's books, "A House Like a Lotus", where the character Max is philosophizing the world with the narrator, Polly O'Keefe. Max goes off into a monologue in which she states, "If we kept God and got rid of religion, the world would be a much better place." To me, this makes sense. In my comparative religions class, my professor started off the semester with the statement, "Humans are inherently religious" then let the class discuss. The thing is, religion has gained a negative condonation, and rightfully so. People aren't inherently religious. While we do strive for structure and meaning, everybody is different. You can't file humanity between only two titles, we're too broad for that. Madeleine L'Engle was a big-time Episcopalian, and it wasn't until I started collecting her books did I find more meaning into the thought of religion. Her thought of keeping God, to me, is keeping love. It isn't the set plans or rules that we need to follow, it's what you are supposed to learn, and that's just love.

I call myself Episcopalian, mostly because of my environment. My involvement with the Episcopal diocese is without a doubt the best thing to have ever happened to me. It's not because I had gone to some church camp where I found God and read the bible ten times a day, though I definitely still do go to church camp. It's because of the people I met through it. I consider myself religious by association because I spend weekends and summers at these Episcopal events and because I find beauty in Compline and the songs we sing. Maybe that's all we need. Maybe all we need in life is to spend weekends with friends, spend summers serving a bunch of elementary school kids and friends with diverse-abilities. There is a beauty of the collection of voices with nothing but the strumming of a guitar at night, when everything is silent but full. Maybe, all you really need is love to succeed in the world.

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