On a form if I am asked for ‘Religion’ I always put RC or Roman Catholic and recently I have questioned my allegiance to the Catholic Church. By this I do not mean I have questioned my faith as I feel strongly that I am guided in life but I mean that some of the actions or lack of actions of the Catholic Church have disturbed me and also I have been questioned as to how I can class myself as a catholic when I use contraception. I feel this blog may be as much for me to work out my thoughts on being a modern catholic woman as for me to share these thoughts with you.
I was born into a catholic family and whether it is the upbringing or not I don’t know but I don’t think a person brought up as catholic ever fully walks away from the church especially in times of peril and times of sadness. A ‘lapsed catholic’ is often how someone who has been brought up with the church will describe themselves if they no longer attend mass or even do not believe in God rather than other denominations who are more inclined to say they are atheist.
I attend mass, not every week but certainly when my busy modern life affords me the time to do so. My personal thoughts on this are that God does not require me to meet with other people with similar beliefs every week to know I am living the best Christian life I can, in the same way that a person is not a ‘good person’ simply because they do manage to attend mass every Sunday. It’s about being kind, considerate, not lying or cheating not just about making it to church at 10am every Sunday.
My husband and I use contraception to avoid having another child at the moment as our situation with both health and space does not make this feasible. I nearly lost my life as a result of my last pregnancy and do not believe that God wants me to take that risk by becoming repeatedly pregnant when I already have a child to look after.
Whilst on the subject of pregnancy I am willing to put my head above the parapet and say that I am pro choice when it comes to termination of pregnancy. An unwanted pregnancy can be catastrophic for the woman who does not feel able to continue with it. I certainly do not advocate using termination as a method of contraception or without due thought to the consequence of ones actions but i do believe the choice should lie with the women. Whatever a woman decides in this situation she is the one who has to live with it for the rest of her life, whether she has the baby or whether she does not. Maybe I’m naive but I imagine the majority of women who have a termination go through emotional torture over that decision.
As a modern catholic woman I believe the church needs to update its views on a lot of subjects or risk alienating a whole generation. I am content in my faith and pick and choose from my religion, I feel happy with this decision although I understand why some people may find me hypocritical.
The scandal over child abuse in the church has bothered me on a profound level. I have spoken on this blog before about my experiences so I guess it’s to be expected that I may find it triggering but I think it is more about betrayal. I feel let down and betrayed by the church, by people who I should be able to look up to. I think any person or organisation which is held on a pedestal comes down with an even heavier bump with they let us down. I feel let down by the systemic failures within the Catholic Church and the BBC like everyone but I don’t feel I must not follow my faith anymore than I feel I should avoid Eastenders because of the child abuse scandal within the BBC. I have been quizzed recently about how I feel able to support an organisation which has covered for paedophiles for decades whilst people suffered. My answer for this is that I will never agree with what they did but that they do a great deal of good as well as the bad and that we live in a different time now. In the same way the church and the BBC have changed their culture so has society, child abuse is no longer the taboo it once was, thank goodness.
On a very superficial level we have chosen to send our daughter to a catholic school which we are very happy with. I, probably more than my husband, am keen for her to have a faith based education and as we are so happy with the school we would love to send any future children we may be blessed with to the same school however if I choose to step away from the catholic church then our chances of this happening are slim. I am aware how superficial this sounds but obviously our daughters education is important to us and we do want a faith based education… Gosh this is a difficult decision.
So I will continue to write RC or Roman Catholic on any forms I am given and feel at peace with my faith. I have had many reasons to question my religion although my faith is unwavered, many reasons to believe I am not loved by God but every now and then I am reminded that he never gives me a burden I can not carry and usually it is for my long term good.
I’m not usually one to impose my faith on others but I will leave you with one of my favourite bible quotes, one I return to whenever life is hard and seemingly hopeless….
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29, 11