A Plea to My Christian Bretheren

Hey guys, welcome. Don’t worry, this is a safe space. Pull up a chair, let’s talk. Conversation is important, and I have a lot to say, but want you guys to feel safe. I know I come off as a raging green feminist hulk monster sometimes, but that’s just because I’m passionate about the issues, and once you know the issues, it’s hard to ignore them, so it’s hard for me to shut up. Not to mention, I’m Irish, so my natural two instincts are either: Fight or Cry. I try to only cry when I have a milkshake and I’m watching the Notebook, so a lot of what I post does seem like fighting (because it is, duh, Kate), but that’s because in person, I’m the least confrontational person you’ll meet. I feel stronger through writing, and when I see so many things just in one news day, the way I deal with that is by writing about it.

But let’s talk.

Pope Francis I’s inauguration felt like a breath of fresh air for this frustrated Catholic. Coming from a Jesuit family, I was exuberant and hopeful for the first time in a long time. I felt like I could finally get to a place where I felt safe within the Church for the first time in a long time. After high school, I was washed up in the resplendence and diversity of the world outside the Catholic Church. There was so much to learn and so many people with different backgrounds to meet. And after I was sexually assaulted at a party, I thought maybe I was feeling lost and hurt because I stopped giving my faith chances to be the healing factor in my life. So I made an appointment with a Sister of Mary who I had seen before and who I felt shared the same ideologies I did. The blame was put on me for what HE did to ME, and I left shaken and worse off than when I came seeking help.

1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another,  for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows  God.

I think, for the first time in my life, I felt like I understood and even shared the same frustrations with the Church my mother also had. I mean, if I had to look through a mother’s eyes, who wouldn’t be apprehensive about an institution that openly welcomed my brother but systematically ignored me? What is it about my female anatomy that makes the Church think I could never have the same piety that my brothers in Christ supposedly have? By telling me I could never rise to the position that could be so easily given to a man, the Church is fulfilling its own prophecy. Who could continue to have faith in an institution that simultaneously praised the “feminine genius” while telling it that it could never compare to that of the “masculine genius”? Is it so hard to see that by praising a “feminine genius” but denying the right to ordination that one hand is reaching out to help while the other hand is pushing against so as not to allow that genius to really fluorish?

What’s even more frustrating is how I’m made to feel by my peers for having doubts. Isn’t questioning a part of life? A way to learn and not blindly follow whatever is being spewed at us? I’m made to feel like I could never make a difference within my own Church, because the moral code “will never change,” when the moral code HAS changed, and could change again. There was a time in the Church’s history where some enslavement could be seen as “just enslavement” if the slaves were treated humanely and justly, which is just like saying, “I’m baking you some cookies but you can’t eat any of them. …..Please.”

“You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

Now I don’t expect the Church to change overnight, but I’m also not going to roll over and just accept that as the way it should be. I don’t believe the Church was meant to be a place where people who questioned or fought for justice were supposed to be told, “Well, what you believe is wrong, so either like it or get out.” An important part of the Catholic faith is the development of the conscience, and the consideration of the unique qualities and total personality of each individual. When addressing moral issues, it’s important to keep in mind the total persons involved and their experiences. Why would a rape victim seek an abortion? Well, it’s not because they’re callous and unfeeling. By judging their decision, you are not taking into mind the person who is involved, their feelings, their pain, their experiences.

Even to say it’s “immoral” to use birth control, especially if you don’t know the WHY behind someone using it, is irreverent of someone else’s personal health experiences and decisions. Why shouldn’t a girl who experiences such debilitating cramps every month experience some relief so she can actually go out and live her life? Why are her reproductive choices any of your business, and what is it to you if a woman decides she either doesn’t want to have children or wants to wait to have children? It is not a woman’s career to pop out kids whenever it fancies you or is convenient for you. If a woman arrives at a decision on her own accord, having talked about it with her loved ones, or even her faith leaders, it is no one’s business but hers what she decides to do.

“Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.”

So, how about this? We’re all sinners, right? Well, how about we stop pretending some people are worse sinners than ourselves? Let’s stop pretending like its our mission to intervene into the lives of other people and make rash judgments about their decisions. As my high school freshman theology teacher told us, when you point a finger there are three more fingers pointing back at you. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Our lives are all unique, our struggles vary, and our “success” as an individual shouldn’t be based on some sanctimonious piety/”holier than thou” notion. You can follow all the rules, but if you look upon someone with judgment, disdain, or harshness, then you are no better than the person you’re judging to be “so bad.”

Romans 13:10

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

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