Thursday, March 21, 2013

Why I Left the Catholic Church

Sadly, I find that many apostate Christians can see only rules and human failures in the Church. What about love for Jesus Christ and a holy life?

Why I left the Catholic church
Joan Butler Joan Butler is a lifelong resident of Kelligrews, Conception Bay South.
The Telegram (St. John’s)
March 21, 2013

As a non-practising Catholic, I am optimistic that our new Pope Francis will bring some much-needed change and bring people like me back to the church.

I stopped going to mass many years ago because the church I grew up with was no longer relevant in my life. As an adult, I lived in a world of divorce, birth control, same-sex relationships, women leaders, non-denominational schools, and the like. I soon learned the church’s stance on these issues was contrary to my beliefs and values.

The freedom to make the decision to no longer attend weekly mass came after many years of living in a life heavily influenced by the Catholic Church.

Growing up in Kelligrews, I attended the local Catholic school, St. Edward’s, which is now the Knights of Columbus building. I lived closer to the Protestant St. Alban’s School yet had to attend the Catholic school because that was the rule back then if you had a Catholic parent. My mother was Catholic and my father was Anglican so, while such mixed marriages were not common, when they did happen, the children had to be raised Catholic.

One of my earliest memories of St. Edward’s School is how we had to learn and memorize the blue catechism. We went across the street to church as part of our school curriculum, and that also meant going to that dreaded confession box where we had to confess our sins of the past week or month. We could not take Holy Communion without confession and penance and if we did not go to Communion on Sunday everyone knew that you had some sins on your soul.

Going to mass on Sunday was not an option — we just had to go. St. Edward’s mass was 9 a.m., as the priest had to get to Topsail for another service at 10:30. No such thing as a rotation — we were stuck with the early mass. You had to get to the church early to get a seat or you ended up in standing room at the back.

We started every school morning with prayers. Monday morning often included the teacher asking whether we were at mass on Sunday. The teacher always knew, but there was some delight in asking and seeing us squirm if for some reason we did not get there.

Our Anglican neighbourhood friends were not allowed to play cards on Sunday. We were allowed such a vice and even had bingo on Sunday nights at Powers’ Court and a bus to pick us up and bring us home from the Manuels hall.

Due to the denominational school system, we were bused to Power’s Court School — now Holy Spirit — in Grade 5. After Grade 9, local Catholic students were uprooted again and bused to St. John’s for high school at Holy Heart and Brother Rice, and then in the 1970s to Beaconsfield, the first co-ed Catholic high school in St. John’s. Conception Bay South students were bused to St. John’s for years until Holy Spirit finally became a high school.

The dismantling of the denominational school system and the abuse scandals that plagued the church here and in other jurisdictions have also influenced many decisions to leave the church or to become a non-practising Catholic.

Others like me have also stayed away from the church because after our childhood experience, we realized that the church was not going to change.

The election of a new Pope has created a sense of hope for a new direction and that he may be able to attract some of us back to the church. I hope he succeeds.

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