Sunday, October 4, 2009

The faith of religion

I am baptized and confirmed Roman Catholic. Both of my parents can be classified as "devout". I guess I can be classified as "non-practicing". Though Going-to-Church growing up was a cherished part of my life, all of this country hopping and well, general busy-ness, has given me the convenient excuse of missing Sunday morning mass for years. Though whenever I find myself home at the folks’, I look forward to accompanying them to our family church and sharing this special part of my faith with my son.

Recent and not-so-recent events have made me question The Roman Catholic Church, not my religion. Not my faith. The latter, my friends, is unwavering. Whether we're Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Protestant or Catholic, we all believe in a higher being, an afterlife and the promise of a heaven should we choose to live our lives in accordance with a fundamental set of rules. It's only these rules that distinguish one religion from another. I won't go into the wars raged over religious supremacy, the innocent lives lost, etc. All seemingly a product of, "My religion trumps yours".

I think religion helps us feel a sense of belonging. It forms communities centered around these common principles and gives us a network of support, channelling our universal faith.

We look to our religious leaders for guidance, understanding and knowledge where our faith is concerned. We trust them, we bow to them, we honour them as holier than ourselves. They set themselves apart as examples of what a true INSERT RELIGION follower should be.

And what, my dear faithful friends, happens when these leaders fall from their thrones, prove themselves to be sinners (and worse so) than the flocks they claim to shepherd? What if instead of protecting their lambs, they prey on them and victimize them? What then becomes of our faith in being a Roman Catholic or INSERT RELIGION?

Well when I read the news today, again, of yet another Catholic priest accused of pedophilia, I could no longer ignore the impact it has on MY religion. Because this particular priest was a Bishop (a high post in the Catholic Church) and one who worked tirelessly to bring fellow priests to justice for their crimes. He was an authority on the subject, an advocate and it turns out, a likely wolf in sheep's clothing. Caught at a border crossing with child pornography on his laptop.

There is research out there that suggests this is no more prevalent in the Catholic church than in other religions..the abuse of power by church officials in such a horrible way. But with all the media focused in on "my" church, it certainly casts doubt on the research, for me anyway. Does the celibacy required by Catholic priests breed this kind of behaviour? Some argue it does. More research suggests it doesn't. One also has to wonder if the Catholic church is a safe haven, a breeding ground and/or a hideout for the lowest forms of life that walk among us, the pedophiles.

Would relaxing the celibacy law prevent these monsters from penetrating our institution? Is that the answer? Sure you could say that the few bad seeds taint the entire population. And yes, I'm positive there are some wonderful priests ministering. But the increasing number of bad seeds sprouting is killing the garden.

I know fellow Catholics who have stopped going to church, stopped supporting their churches with financial contributions and because of this widespread disease have fled to other religions.

Where does that leave me? I really don't know. But what I do know is that my church is not doing enough. Their reputation for sweeping cases under the rug, providing counselling to these molesters and simply transferring them to other institutions and/or forcing them into retirement as opposed to bringing them to justice is dumbfounding, disappointing and disheartening.

My trust in my church has been broken and it would take a miracle to re-establish the bond. We believe in miracles. We believe Jesus Christ died for our sins on the cross and was resurrected. I'm waiting for a miracle. And in the meantime, I'll continue to believe in Him, pray with my child and worship with my family.

In the end, I believe we all answer to “God” and as for the Catholic Church, well they have an awful lot to answer for.

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