Posted by: cjobrien | 11 April 2010

The Church’s Deeper Problems

From Andrew Sullivan, a reader writes regarding his recent experience with the Catholic Church:

My grandfather, a devout Catholic who attended Mass every morning at 7 am, died late in the afternoon on Easter Sunday after a brief, unexpected illness. While he was truly at peace with the coming end, for our family those few days (Holy Week) were filled with sadness and uncertainty.

Early Sunday morning, my mother and some of her sisters were invited to attend Easter Mass in the hospital chapel. They did so gratefully. During the homily, rather than offer words of comfort and hope, the priest launched into a tirade about how the Church was under attack from those looking to destroy it, how the Pope must be protected at all costs, how the birth control pill destroyed American society and threatens the future of the Church because Catholic women are not having enough children, and how Evangelical Christians must be supported and revered because they alone are trying to save the unborn.

Not one word of his homily was dedicated to the physical or emotional pain of the hospital’s patients and their families. 

That’s the point where I’d have walked out the door and never looked back…

In essence, that’s what I did after going through a similar experience. Mine were quite as egregious as the one described, but they were many and all added up to the final “death by a thousand cuts”. I found the church far more concerned with how I was to vote in coming elections than whether or not I was spiritually content; it was more concerned with the amount of money the parishoners were providing than in addressing social injustice; it’s voices most often were the self-righteous conservatives like Bill Donahue than the lonely priest trying to comfort the sick and the poor in urban jungles; it cared less about the virtues of reason than loyalty to whatever pseudoscience would verify god, the creation or more importantly, the preferred history of the church. In the end, the church and its teachings could not stand up to any objective view of science, history and human behavior and whatever conditioned loyalty to the church I had left…simply vanished. It was not the “deeper failure” of the church that ultimate drove me away…but it helped drive me (and my family) away much faster.



  1. This is why people leave never to return.

    A shame the Church refuses to learn.

    We need a Luthor for this age.

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