Women in Religion: Confessions of a Lapsed Catholic

29 Jan

Confessions of a Lapsed Catholic 
By Molly Cunningham  

Forgive me Father for I have wandered and sinned. It has been too long since I have felt welcome in the Catholic Church.

I am a twenty-something woman, raised in an Irish-Catholic family. My family has been Catholic since the turn of time. I grew up with an immense appreciation for the Catholic Church and its doctrines. I was taught dear lessons, including  the fact that women play an integral role in the formation and  flourishing of the Catholic Church. My devotional is to the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and the holiest woman throughout the history of the Catholic Church. My patron saint, Catherine of Siena, was a Doctor in the Church. My family has women in religious orders.

As I grew older, however, I began to doubt. Catholicism has a soft spot for doubters; for example, the Catholic Vulgate Bible gives “Doubting Thomas” a prominent place within the post-Ascension miracles of Jesus. My doubts revolved around two prominent issues of gender, which I shall share in this forum for gender discussion:

First, I have profound disagreements with the barring women from serving in “clerical offices,” like the priesthood.

Female disciplines worshipped Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church since its origins in Bethlehem. Historically, however, women have not consistently served as priests within the Catholic Church. The sacraments associated with the priesthood explicitly exclude women as officiants. As successors of the all-male cast of the Apostles, priests are men. The Vatican with its doctrinally infallible leader has always barred women (and married men) from the priesthood. In short, the Catholic Church argues men and women are equal despite the ban on women from the priesthood.  

I cannot agree with the interpretation that women engage equally in the Catholic Church without an option to serve in the priesthood. If a women, a human being created in the image of God, wishes to serve the Catholic Church, why should the Catholic Church bar women from serving. There is no explicit mention from Jesus Christ banning women from serving his message. If the Catholic Church truly wishes to engage in the message of Jesus Christ that we must love one another as we love ourselves, then the Catholic Church must act in this manner when addressing the issue of women and the priesthood.  

Second, I have profound disagreements with the position of the Catholic Church on homosexuality. I believe if God created heterosexual human beings, then God created homosexual human beings. I also firmly believe in the message of loving others as myself regardless of race, creed, or sexuality.  When I discuss this within my family, it prompts reactions of disbelief and shock. Although the Church does not condemn homosexuals as harshly as its Protestant counterparts, homosexuality in the Catholic Church is forbidden as an action.

I also cannot agree with the Catholic Church on homosexuality. The passages in the Old and New Testaments on homosexuality require a contextual reading, which condemn homosexuality for cultural reasons, not for religious purposes. More importantly, Jesus does not mention homosexuality at all within the Gospels. He does not condemn the act or the practice. Jesus teaches the immense and the profound message: love your enemies as yourself. How can a church following this message  make such hurtful doctrines against children of God?  

I understand the position of the Catholic Church on women in the priesthood and on homosexuality. I understand the history of these positions. Despite my understanding of these positions, I cannot accept them as the word of God. It is the word of fallible human leadership. With that perspective in mind, I will serve as a critic of the Catholic Church on its gender positions. The rational, thinking perspective of my mind will not accept exclusion from a Church that claims to be “universal”, the true meaning of the word “Catholic”.

I believe there is a greater presence within the universe. I understand that presence to be a divine presence. I believe this “God” is loving, accepting, and merciful figure. For now, the Catholic Church does not accept this perspective, and I cannot accept the Catholic Church as a woman.  

I pray for a world without gender distinctions. I pray for a world without gender discrimination. I pray the Catholic Church someday will help in achieving this world.  

Molly Cunningham is a third year in the College and is the Editor in Chief for Galatea. You can contact her here.  


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: