For many, many years I’ve joked that I have too much respect for priests to attend confession. If I were to go, it would go along the lines of: “Forgive me father for I have sinned, it’s been 35 years or so since my last confession – how much time do you have? Cause I got lots of ground to cover…” After watching Mea Maxima Culpa tonight, I must revise my joke.
I’ve no respect for priests as they are soldier/pawns involved in the most corrupt institution in the world. On the day that Joseph Ratzinger decided to step down as pope, it’s clear that not only did he know of the widespread sexual abuse cases worldwide, but worked his institution to ensure the perpetrators of the abuse were able to continue in their criminally transgressive behavior to keep the church from acknowledging the extent of the damage.
I was raised Catholic, indoctrinated basically from birth in the mysticism of the church. So I have little problem saying this – if you’re Catholic, and you still consider yourself Catholic after taking in the full spectrum of the criminal corruption of your church, you’re either mentally deficient or irredeemably brainwashed.
Obviously, given the sheer numbers of those that call themselves Catholic, it would appear that most adherents have chosen instead to keep themselves as ignorant as possible of the atrocities practiced by the church – what else can explain the continued affiliation?
The numbers must be doctored as well. I’d bet dollars to donuts that I am still on the Catholic roll, a check mark on a ledger somewhere in the Vatican, by virtue of baptism and no record of excommunication. I’m simply a bad, or lapsed, Catholic, but Catholic nonetheless.
Of course I haven’t been Catholic since 1977 when my parents split up and I’ve considered myself an atheist for the last decade. But to the mother church, I’m still part of the bolstered flock. Given this accounting system, most of Ireland would still be considered Catholic. This despite the fact that the country’s reaction to the churches pervasive sex scandal has left Ireland turning away from Catholicism and religion in droves.
A WIN-Gallup International survey conducted last year found a dramatic decrease of those affiliating with religion in Ireland over the last 7 years – from 69% in 2005 to 47% in 2012 – a 22% drop! The same survey found that 44% of what was one of the most religious countries in the the world now consider themselves without a religion while 10% self-identify as atheist.
This is, to me, one of the interesting data points. It represents the long gray journey that takes place between losing religion to losing faith altogether. This doesn’t, nor shouldn’t, take place overnight. Reading the poll data, you have to ask what is the difference between “not a religious person” and “atheist?” For all intents and purposes, I lost my religion in 1991. It took another 12 years before I could leave my faith. In those intervening years I would have best fit in the category of “not a religious person.” Faith, or belief in god, was long ingrained in me – from my Catholic roots to my, later, Protestant conversion. Shedding religion was difficult, but letting go of faith is probably worse than letting go of heroin (I only have experience in the former and not the latter, so the analogy may be without merit).
Religion, the formal doctrine providing the framework for nurturing faith, is the water and soil necessary to sustain belief. When religion is removed, you are left without a reinforcement system that is designed to dispel doubt and foster belief. My journey began as an effort to reconcile this situation. I began by going back to church – ha, no, not the Catholic Church! Just our local Methodist church, while simultaneously studying the bible. It was through studying the origins of Christianity and the formation of the Catholic Church, along with the formation of church doctrine and theological thought, that it dawned on me that the whole thing was a sham! The realization that your entire belief system is a lie is enough to shake you to the core! You then must traverse the 7 stages of grief!
You don’t just wake up one day and declare you are no longer a Christian.
Which is where a near majority of my Irish cousins currently find themselves – on a road and journey moving them from no religion to no belief. Of course not all will make it, but the fact that atheism has grown by over 300% in the last 7 years indicates there is a robust support network being established to help them along the difficult path. My Facebook friend Michael Nugent has worked tirelessly to put support networks in place for people needing assistance.
To close this one out, I return to the beginning – the Holy Catholic Church is not holy by any stretch – it’s a man-made institution whose sole purpose is to survive. It has nothing to do with god or saving souls – it exists to exist and the main goal of the church leadership, from the pope down is to see that this continues. These people may have had the best of intentions when entering the church, but the institution itself is evil and corrupt and will find a way to pervert the best of people.
It’s amusing that here in America, we have such an inherent distrust of the government, and its potential for abuse of power, that we limit the amount of time a person can be president. And despite the fact that members of congress face a potential term limit every two to six years, we don’t even trust ourselves not to keep sending politicians back to Washington. The idea of limiting the number of terms one can serve in the House or Senate has wide appeal. Such is the disdain and distrust for a career politician – because we “know” through experience the longer one stays in government the greater the potential for corruption is. Now imagine what a lifetime spent in the church hierarchy gets you, yet we never consider for a moment the potential for corruption this provides.
The mechanics of the U.S. government is barely over 200 old. The Catholic Church has a 15 century head start and has perfected corruption!