I have been a practicing Roman Catholic my entire life. Over the past year, I seemed to have lost my faith--primarily over a newly surfaced incidence of sexual molestation from my childhood; not by a member of the clergy, but by my then-best friend's father.
This man, all of a sudden, started attending Mass at my church. It bothers me terribly that he and I are on "equal footing" so to speak when it comes to receiving the Eucharistic sacrament. It doesn't seem fair to me. I understand that God is a forgiving God and that he may have made amends, but I still have to deal with this every day of my life. I feel incredibly betrayed by a God with whom I used to share a personal relationship. I feel like I want this man to be shunned and humiliated and flogged and beaten and . . .and . . . and . . . you know what I mean? Not welcomed as my brother in Christ.
I thought this post would be a survey of sorts of disgruntled Catholics. It has, however, become a rant of my own.
Anyway, in the last year, I have given up the Eucharistic sacrament and have sporadically attended (though not participated) in Mass. I feel like the last thread of my faith is gone and there's nothing left.
Peace to all of you in your holiday celebrations.
If he has confessed and received absolution, then unfortunately, he has every right to receive. I still think, however, that people like that will get theirs from God when they die, if not before.
Don't let him win - he's taken enough from you without getting your faith too. Hold on to your faith, even if it means changing churches.
Is your abuser a known sexual predator? He may be at mass every Sunday but that does not mean he is in good standing with the church...does the church even know? And it certainly doesn't mean he is in good standing with God. Be assured that you and he are NOT on equal footing, no matter what HE may believe. I agree with the previous poster...don't let him win, don't let him take something else from you that is important to you (your relationship with God).
I know that's it's easy to become disgruntled with the Catholic church with everything over the past year, but remember that clergy sexual abuse is not exclusive to Catholicism nor is it more prevalent in Catholicism than in other denominations. Our world presence as the largest and oldest Christian denomination makes our happenings gather more publicity. It's something that MUST be dealt with and we should be fighting to make sure that it is dealt with in a way that makes the incidence of abuse in Catholicism decrease to as close to zero as humanly possible.
I also take heart in a few things about my church...that their view of pro-life includes opposing the death penalty, that the Catholic church does more to help the poor than any other church, and that (at least where I grew up) they help without trying to convert. I am, however, a Catholic in a VERY conservative, bible belt city. We are the minority here and I have developed a whole new appreciation for my church when surrounded by what I am surrounded by...and also heartened by knowing that the largest and best charity organizations in this city are run by the Catholic church, which is a definitive minority (4 churches in a city of greater than 250 churches).
So sorry for the abuse you have come to realize happened. Are you in therapy? I'm guessing you suffered deep harm, which can color all areas of your life, as it is impacting your faith.
It is not the church's fault you were abused. But I can certainly see how you are uncomfortable worshipping at your particular church now, when he is in the same room. Ick!!! You don't feel safe.
Could you talk to a counselor? Or even the priest? Or both. Whichever you think would help you more. It is a heavy topic, that of: he is a criminal, and abuser, but now is apparently feeling pure enough (having confessed his sins or crimes or not) to take Christ into his body and soul every week. And what does that mean for those who really do struggle with ther sins?
Best wishes as you heal.
I changed my religion when I reached adulthood. I realize that G d only knows what is in someone's heart. The clergy are just trained humans and have their foibles also.
Beware of men in robes. Priests and Judges alike.
The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it. We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.
You were victimized in a horrible way by a man who did a horrible, horrible thing. You have every reason to be in such turmoil. Please do seek out sound, sensitive counseling to help you in your struggle with faith.
One thing to remember about forgiveness is that one must be truly repentant to be forgiven. If this man went to Confession but wasn't truly sorry for abusing you, then it didn't "take", so to speak. If he was truly sorry, then he needs to try to make amends with you. Have you considered confronting him? Maybe saying to him, "I see you receiving Holy Communion and I'm wondering if you ever repented of molesting me?". My goodness, that would be so frightening for you, but maybe it would help you to feel like you have nothing to be ashamed about... he is the one who should be standing there squirming and feeling uncomfortable.
Sweetie, God didn't betray you... this terrible man did. God has been there with you every moment. Jesus wept when he saw one of his precious children being hurt. Every grace you've received to help you cope with this abuse has come from the God who wants to heal that wound in your soul. That terrible man exercised his free will in the pursuit of evil and he will be held accountable for that.
Run to Mary. She's your spiritual mother who will never let you down. She loves you with the tender protectiveness of a mother and she will gently lead you to her son. And he's waiting for you in the Eucharist. Never let anybody rob you of that great gift.
Who knows if this man has repented of his evil or not, that is between him and God. However, sin NEVER occurs in a vacuum. His sin hurt you terribly.
I second the notion that you should talk to priest or a counselor. If necessary, change churches.
Maybe this man did repent and is truely sorry, and will never jurt another girl again. Let's hope so. Maybe he is still sinning and doing terrible things. If so, than that is a terrible sin for him to be recieving the Eucharist. Either way, God will judge him.
You need to work on healing yourself.
My advice for you is Pray, Pray Pray. Pour your heart out to Jesus. Go sit in front of the tabernacle and pray, cry, whatever you need. Talk to Mary, she is a women, and understands your pain. Seek comfort in her arms, (the very same arms that comforted Christ)
Hugs and Prayers
Once you get past the "one true church" brainwashing, you just might find a faith community that will rock your socks. We've joined a United Methodist church now, but there are also other denominations that suit us well. I can't tell you how wonderful it is to have my five year old daughter squeal with delight when the bishop comes for her annual visit. "Look Mom, Bishop Susan is a woman!" So much better than her questions when we went to a catholic church and she noticed there were no female priests. "Mom, why does Jesus not like girls?"
But EF mom, I find your blatant Catholic bashing a bit insulting. You are 100% entitled to express your opinion, but have some respect for those of us who are Catholic. And this particular thread does not seem the right place for bashing as we have a woman who has been through a lot and is struggling with her faith in God overall...insulting her lifelong belief system seems inappropriate.
Please let me know if this is inappropriate of me to say, as I truly don't mean to offend.
If it speaks to your condition, that's wonderful for you and I hope you are happy.
I'm sorry for going off topic...I'll shut up now
I understand that you wanted to share your perspective with hippymama and that your perspectives are different from mine. Onward and upward. Great. I'll defend to my death your right to share your views. But surely you could have done so without making those of us who are Catholic look like Stepford-esque idiots.
|Originally posted by waldohood
I still take issue with only male priests and the always male God. Do any of you struggle with this? And, if so, how do you seek to find resolution?
Hi. As you know, I ain't no Catholic, but, as to the all male hierarchy in the Christian church--I do have some insight that might shed some light.
When Paul wrote his letters, it was obvious he respected and valued women and their spirituality. He mentions many by name. Women were active in the early Christian church--they performed rituals of initiation, and there are hints they even performed baptisms. Paul traveled with a woman he called his wife, altho it was a platonic relationship. But she was his equal in Christ.
Soon after xianity was "invented," it began to be co-opted by men who wanted to use it as a power base. (These were the early days of the Roman Empire, remember.) Verses were added to Paul's authentic letters, saying women should be quiet in church. Then whole letters/sermon style tracts were written and attributed to Paul. These letters described the setup of bishops and deacons and laity that the Roman church uses today. But these directions were not a part of Paul's (or certainly Jesus') ideas of how we should worship God. If you get a hold of a copy of the Oxford Study Bible, all of these explanations are in the footnotes. Very enlightening and empowering!
You can see Jesus respected women too--read all those Marys as one woman and get a nice picture of a whole person. (tidbit--Mary of Magdala, not John, was the beloved disciple.)
If you study gnosticism/mystical xianity, you will find a goddess in Judaism/xianity. She is called Sophia in Greek, which means Wisdom. She is found in the Apocrypha (eg: the Wisdom of Solomon), and is said there by God to have existed with him before the creation. Whenever you see the Holy Spirit or Wisdom mentioned in the Bible, read: Sophia!
There is a book available called _The Other Bible_. In it are the other Jewish/Christian books rejected by the Roman Church. The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Nag Hammadi Texts, the Apocrypha, etc. They fill in the gaps and make many of the contradictions and inconsistencies in the accepted bible make more sense.
I wish you a piece of Sophia! And peace.
I do not want to judge anyone, nor do I want to tell anyone how to believe, but the Church did allow priests to marry in the first millienium.
The Eastern Orthodox Church does allow their priests to marry to this day.
There are some orders in the Western Church that does allow their ordained priests to marry to this day however.
It seems to me that it was economics that was one deciding factor. If the Church does not have to provide for a priest's family and only for the priest, then money is saved for the Church, especially if the priest is only working for the Church.
Dh's family is Irish Catholic and very conservative in their views, so any break from the church will be blasted.
They already think I am too liberal and I say not, but, hey it works. Now, I think I am just rambling. Sorry.
I would never come out and tell this in a public forum but I'm so sad to hear you feel you've lost any remaining threads that hold you to your church. I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this.
I, too, was molested as a child. It happened once, but the impact will never leave me, especially since it was at the hands of a close relative.
I would find myself wondering how this man could go to church every Sunday and accept the eucharist when he's never asked ME for forgiveness KWIM?
With my parents by my side I was able to confront him many, many years later but I did not get what I was hoping for...him to admit it. Part of me didn't *expect* him to admit it, but it was what I felt *I* needed.
Through prayer I have since realized I need to feel more sorry for him than for myself. Whatever possesses a person to do such a thing is a much more horrible place to be. Don't get me wrong, as I said before this will never leave me. But...I have more pity then I do anger.
We cannot judge another's relationship with God - don't take that burden on. Leave that to the Father. If you allow this man to determine whether or not you have a meaningful relationship with God you're giving him a lot of power over your life and your happiness.
I recently miscarried at 12 weeks. In my deep sorry I received a letter from a dear friend's aunt who is a nun. In the letter she told me to bring my sorry to the cross as Jesus does not want us to carry our burdens alone. Out of everything my family and friends told me, that touched me the most so I'm sharing it with you in hopes you will find comfort as well.
Remember, God's teachings are the truth but we humans are delivering the message and we will make mistakes. If no one in the parish knows of this man's horrible act, how else could he be treated? He will have to make amends - sometime, somewhere.
Peace be with you as you go through this journey.
(I am in no way saying that what I have felt or done should be done by you - I'm just sharing my views and experience).