I am a brand new Catholic (received April 7), and am very happy to be home. Briefly, I came from a Evangelical Protestant Church, through which I learned scripture very well, and prepared through 1-1/2 sessions of RCIA, during which I voraciously learned tradition and history. God has led me to the Church by His grace, and I pledge to be faithful to Him, and to Her, the rest of my life.
My concern is with the parish through which I came in. Although the people are wonderful, and well-meaning, the overall teaching and emphasis has been sitting badly with me for some time. The pastor espouses a sort of New Age universalism with no real non-negotiables, and seems to expect nothing of the parishioners but to “keep an open mind”. My requests as to participating in the sacrament of penance (which, still, would be my first), were met with, basically, “That’s not really done so much any more, except by those who can’t let go of it.” The overall environment of this parish, modeled by the Pastor and one or two of the priests, is one of extreme distatste for Church hierarchy, disrespect for the Pope, and encouragement of dissension.
At first, I stayed, believing God had led me here to teach me something by showing me the more “liberal side”. Now I am staying because I believe I have an obligation to stay with the parish which welcomed me into the Church… despite the fact that I have an extreme distaste for the disrespect that the Pastor shows to the Pope and the Church’s laws and beliefs.
I have brought these concerns up to my RCIA leader and my Sponsor, both of whom I respect and honor greatly. My RCIA leader believes much the same as the pastor, and assures me that universalism and dissent are, indeed, the heart of Catholic teaching. My Sponsor agrees with my concern for the lack of respect for the Pope and the Church, but stays because “It’s the right place for his family.”
I need advice, as well as prayer, to know what to do in this situation. I am very grateful to the people of this parish for teaching me and welcoming me; however I know and read enough to recognize error and disrespect, and it is making me uncomfortable. What is a new Catholic’s responsibility to his parish? When is it time to be concerned about my growth in my new faith being stunted, and when is it time to be concerned about not being overly reactionary?