I have to start by saying that I think that the current Pope, Pope Benedict XVI, is kind of a jerk. He reinstated a Bishop who was a known Holocaust denier; he has urged priests to deny the Eucharist (a sacrament for Catholics) to pro-choice believers (most specifically, to Nancy Pelosi); and most recently, he has advised physicians to deny abortion as legitimate option for women, saying “it solves nothing,” even when it can prevent suffering of the newborn or the death of the woman.
For the purposes of transparency, I feel the need to disclose that I was raised Catholic. I was one of those hyper-involved Catholics too. I sang in my choir, I was at 3 different services throughout the week, I was the leader of my youth group, I attended the National Catholic Youth Conferences, my volunteer work got me featured in a national Catholic magazine… you get the point. I was fully indoctrinated.
And I was lucky. I had an awesome priest. He listened to the youth in his congregation. He encouraged us to question the teachings of the church, and to have faith in the teachings of Jesus. Maybe he was unorthodox, but he was the perfect priest for someone like me.
Since Pope Benedict XVI was elected, the Catholic Church seems to be suffering more and more misogynistic and bigoted decrees, and surprisingly, less and less membership. This is the good news. The bad news is that the members that remain are more and more radical in their beliefs, and the Church is reinforcing these beliefs. It won’t be long before the Catholic Church is mimicking the Westboro Baptist Church and their message of hate in the name of God.
What the Catholic church needs to realize is that, without serious consideration for both the teachings of Jesus Christ and the current age that we live in, the Church is irrelevant. Or, rather, it has made itself irrelevant. Reasonable people are not interested in following a religion where everyone hates everyone else; where women and men are oppressed by their leadership, and where lives are put into needless danger.
Jesus taught us to love the sinner; to dine with the prostitute and the tax collector. The Catholic church is not infallible. It is lead by men. Men who are themselves fallible. Has the church forgotten their own message? The teachings of their prophet? And how can they expect thinking men and women to follow them when their message is mixed, at best, and tragically hateful, at worst?
Now, back to the abortion topic: If the Pope, who is the “mouthpiece of God” (for Roman Catholics), and a representative of Catholicism worldwide, is encouraging his priests to spread hate by refusing the Eucharist to members and is encouraging doctors to break their oath to protect their patients by allowing women to die when it could be prevented, when does it stop? The more radical the believers of a church, and the more justified they feel in their message, the easier it is for their members to perpetuate crimes (like the murder of a physician who performs abortions).
This must end. Regardless of the fact that I no longer consider myself to be Catholic, I have not excommunicated myself. Which means that I am technically a representative of the Catholic population. I have had an abortion. I am a woman. I am intelligent. I am appalled at the message that is being communicated to women in the name of “God”: you have no place here; you are worthless.
It may sound trite, but the church needs to ask themselves: What would Jesus do? I, for one, would bet that he would not approve of the Church’s more recent actions.