After watching “The Journey Home” with Dr. Francis Beckwith last week, it struck me that it seems that when people convert to the Catholic faith they are still filled with love towards the people and faith that they left. However, it’s been my experience that when people leave Catholicism they are filled with bitterness and hate. Has anyone else seen this? And if so, I wonder why?
I’ve lived it. My entire family is still Episcopalian as well as a lot of the folks I grew up with. I still love them all dearly and I thank God for my formation as an Anglican. I have no real bitterness or anger towards Anglicanism per se, but I DO feel anger towards the leaders in that church who have abandoned the faith and the faithful to further their own politicized agenda.
Yes, I have noticed that. Many people paint the Church as the enemy if the Church decries their way of living, or divorce, or obligations. Everyone is different, no doubt…but most of the people who leave the Church I have witnessed do so because of:
Bored at mass/lured by more “exciting” church
Angry with priest/teaching
Misunderstanding of teaching/told lies about Catholic teaching
Yes. Here’s my thoughts on the subject:
When non-Catholics join the Catholic Church it is *typically *out of a pursuit for the Truth. They EMBRACE the Truth. They acknowledge and appreciate all that their old denomination did to form them in the Christian Faith, and merely view Catholicism as the logical step to the fullness of truth. Their love you experience is love for the Truth and thanksgiving for their former denomination’s part in helping them find it.
When Catholics leave the Catholic Church it is *usually *because of some specific sin they want to commit that the Church teaches is wrong: contraception, divorce/remarriage, cohabitation, abortion, homosexual sex, etc. Or they have a particular issue with authority (aside from wanting to sin) such as wanting things their way with regard to the hierarchy, ordination, celibacy, or other Truths of the faith. The Church has the fullness of truth and they REJECT the Truth. The bitterness you have encountered is wrapped up in their attempts to rationalize their actions and justify them.
Let’s not allow selective perception to bias us.
Many people have left the Church because of the sexual abuse scandal—we should not be surprised they are bitter and angry. They maintained their faith despite its being utterly alien to contemporary American life, and wound up leaving it. We can argue they were wrong to do so, but that doesn’t take away their anger and resentment. It should serve, however, as a cautionary tale for the rest of us. We take great solace in the truth of Catholicism, but it also requires that we act as Christlike as possible, and expect our bishops and priests and deacon to do the same. Our brothers and sisters who’ve left the Church over this issue hold Catholic clergy to a higher standard, as they have been taught to do, and as they should do. They should not have fallen into despair, nor should they have allowed anyone to tear Christ from them. We must also reflect that absent the scandal, they would likely be in the bosom of the Church today. Such are the evil products of sin.
It is a bit easier to maintain good feelings crossing the Tiber simply because our Protestant brothers and sisters in America tend to belong to quite different communities, so the sins of bad pastors don’t really translate to them. There are also many more of them than there are of Catholics, so it’s a rather futile exercise to consider them anathema in our own lives.
My wife feels quite bitter toward her anti-Catholic Pentecostal pastor for all the lies and venom he spewed over the years, but that doesn’t translate to anyone else in her old congregation. Why should it? It’s not as though ALL Pentecostals lied to her.
I converted to Orthodoxy from Latin Catholic (then Byzantine Catholic) Church. I have retained many great friends–clergy and laity alike. I will always appreciate the Catholic Church. She was instrumental in my journey and taught me very much. Although I may sometimes express areas that were conflicting for me, it does not mean that I in any way despise or resent the Catholic Church. She nurtured me on my pilgrimage.
Generally, as Catholics, our problem with other groups is not so much what the accept, but what they reject. So by becoming Catholic, one does not need to reject the faith in Christ one had, but rather to allow it to grow into the fullness of truth. This is an objectively positive experience.
On the other hand, a Catholic who goes to some other community is rejecting something. This is an objectively negative experience.
Of course, not everyone reacts the same way, and their are exceptions on both sides, but I think the above explains the general trend in attitudes.
I was born and raised Catholic (Roman). For me the experience was tremendously Christian…very Christ like. How to accept everyone, find the best in them, and to always help a brother in need. For me, the relationship between myself and Christ was
entirely an awe at his ability to wonderful leadership.
However, in the years i was going to Catholic School and Church, i felt, and was taught an entirely different way of life, and it took many years of self battery to find out what was missing from my faith journey. In schools we were taught the big picture. From the Pope down, comunity, togetherness, and so on. The largest term used was “A Christ centered comunity” that eventually made me entirely blank at it’s meaning.
When I looked for help, i was rejected in many forms. Personally by priests, teachers, and a lot of laity. I felt shunned my whole life at the honestly i reached out for answers to. The church was correct, and i was to obey, and to do otherwise delivered many a noses and turned faces from me. I was asking about Christ, they refused to see my comparisons…i was seeking him IN the church and could not find him.
Yet at home, i prayed to him often, asked him questions, saught his cover and comfort…but the man i had come to know, was not taught about in the church and i was so very lonely in finding fellowship and guidence.
THIS is where the church failed me and many others. To be a child of Christ, one must KNOW him. NOT ONE taught us how to find and deliver ourselves the friendship and love of Christ personally. So when i was down, i would go for help and be rejected. So i felt the church and it’s people make me feel unworthy of their club. A club made from his teachings and people used it…like rape, taking what they wanted for personal ajendas and self gratification (and being a past victum of multiple rapes, i know this hollow feeling left behind)
It was the most empty feeling i ever felt being in church…and that was not of GOD, but of human interaction. This is where i went wrong. I was taught to respect my elders, and the elders including the church, and i expected the priest to be Christs representitive. I had not placed the interpretational wedge there. God was God, and the Church was an institution run by humans and therefor falable. There was a difference finally. I should never allow any formal person of the church to steal from me the hope at Jesus knowing exactly who i am, and my worthyness to him.
The gift of religion is delivered in teaching a child how to hope, and give him the tools to find his own salvation. Not to just follow, but seek to KNOW GOD, and Jesus’s soft words came to me many a time, always alowing me the proof i needed. Never once has this happened in church.
I know i am wierd, or the odd duck in my family, and group of friends, but i have such deep love for Jesus, and the strength he has given me through an enormous amount of beatings, rapes, delivery of a child of rape, and the enormous gift this child was to me for 19 years, and with terminal illness, and eventual death. The church did not give me the endurance and still come out hopeful in life…Jesus personally gave me this.
I asked , and i recieved…and just as i do not feel my son at his grave, i do not find Christ in his house. Oh…i KNOW he is there, but how can you see, hear or feel his presence amidst the talking, joke telling, kids with electronic toys, food in lunch bags brought to stiffle tempertantrums etc. And i am going deaf, and can not find peace there at all.
Yet i can sing to God, and find myself in a wirlpool of peace, and running to see Jesus in the garden…and i am a child then watching with adult eyes at her interaction with Christ. His beautiful eyes as i hold his face trying desperately to find the truth in his words when i do not believe i am worthy.
So yes, i am torn, but i do not punnish the Catholic church by blasfeeming it, i am what i am, and my reputation must be firm in not trying to prove to others my worthyness of this title.
Think of parenting, or motherhood. To do so is to teach and give them the tools to survive in the outside world. How to seek strength when all hope is lost. That is Religion, that is Faith, that is godly, and how we can seek dieing to self and accepting his plan. That has taken many years for me, and i am still a work in progress…but i am on my own, except a few friends who have been more Christ like than the institution has ever been to me.
Reverence is missing in church, and HE can not be found in all of the noise…