Saturday, February 19, 2011

Definition: Catholic

I've been a Catholic my whole life; I've received all the sacraments in due course, go to Mass weekly, and go to Confession (not as often as I should, like many others). But a recent FaceBook discussion made me wonder if I'm the only Catholic, or one of a minority, who finds it difficult to follow the Catholic doctrine (Magisterium) verbatim.

I know many Catholics who vote for political candidates based on the candidates' view on abortion alone; for these Catholics, it's a single-issue election. I'm not one of those Catholics. 

For the most part I agree with Catholic doctrine, but there are issues with which I disagree. I am pro-life, for example; I consider abortion equivalent to murder. That being said, though, I hesitate to support laws that would make abortion illegal, for several reasons. First, I recognize that I live in a pluralistic society, one in which the majority of people do not agree with me. I also recognize that there are instances, however rare they might be, in which an abortion is necessary. I also understand that unless sex education is properly taught - in the schools or by parents, by someone - many will consider abortion the best method to end an unwanted pregnancy. I can divide the issue into two separate issues: moral and civil. Morally I believe abortion to be wrong; however, there is something to be said for providing various options, making an abortion much more difficult to obtain without making it outright illegal.

Gay marriage is another one of those issues. A family has come to be redefined as two parents who are able to care for a child and each other; I do not believe marriage need any longer be defined as something for only a man and a woman.

I think much of the church's doctrine was prescribed at a time when people simply didn't understand the world around them. The church will continually disallow women becoming priests because Jesus had no female disciples. Imagine trying to send out two single women at the time of Christ in the Middle East; it simply would not have been permitted. (Come to think of it, even now the Middle East is not exactly a bastion of gender equality - and I say that as the granddaughter of a Syrian man who didn't believe I should do anything more than graduate from high school and immediately start a family.) Perhaps it's time to rethink some of these policies.

Obedience is the difficult thing for me; the most I can do at any given point is to leave myself open to differing viewpoints, in essence to leave myself open to what God wants of me. I am not a conservative Catholic, and the older I get, the less conservative I become in my thinking.


1 comment:

  1. I became Catholic by choice in 2006, and while I generally agree with the teachings of the Church, it is still a struggle to accept absolutely everything. And then there are things that while I know they're "wrong" I have a hard time letting go of them. But in general, I like the faith and I like that in general it is clear cut - too many other churches are wishy-washy. I like having something that gives me a moral compass.