by David Fortwengler
Many friends, supporters and loved ones have asked, even implored, that I change the name of this blog. Those who know and love me argue that the name just doesn’t seem to reflect the person they know me to be. Mainly, that the name sounds mean and I’m not. I know Anti-Catholic League is a provocative name and it’s meant to be. However, it is not because I harbor or promote any feelings or belief in prejudice, bias, hostility, persecution or discrimination against the Roman Catholic Church or it’s members.
My purpose is to provide a counterpoint to the propaganda of the catholic media empire.The emphasis of my writing is to comment on the way the church does business, not necessarily their theology or doctrine. But because it is always an issue at some point, in this first post I need to address the ex-Catholicism and non-belief of many victims of priest sexual abuse, including myself.
Much attention and analysis has rightly been given to the struggle that victims often endure to define their spirituality. Because we were violated by a trusted religious authority and betrayed by a negligent hierarchy, victims understandably question the institution and often describe feelings of “having my faith stolen from me” or even “soul murder.”
The first dilemma for me was to separate my contempt for the organization from the process of deciding what I believe about God. I didn’t want my anger and disgust at the way the Catholic Church does business to influence my belief system. That dilemma cannot be ignored by any survivor because many “believers” in the faith community often portray maintaining your religion as an integral part of the healing process.
Last week on his trip to the UK, Pope Benedict emphasized at least twice that survivors belief in Christ’s message is necessary to overcome their trauma and regain their lives.
“What can we do to help these people overcome this trauma, to regain their life and rediscover confidence in the message of Christ? Care, commitment to victims is the first priority, with material, psychological, spiritual aid.”
"I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ's grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives,"
Disbelief is NOT a Failure to Heal
When abuse survivors decide to leave the church many Catholics want to assume it is just because you had a traumatic instance that turned you away from God, you've been hurt. If you fail to accept the premise of it was just one bad man it’s implied you’re having a knee jerk reaction or failing to see the whole picture. I know my situation involves a traumatic instance, but it didn't turn me away from God, it turned me towards reason. A conscious, well informed decision to leave the church is not “letting the perpetrator win.” I calmly returned to the beginning and began to examine, “What do I really believe?”
Survivors are not Alone
The mass exodus (or exodus from Mass) did not begin in January 2002 when the Boston Globe began its series on the gross institutional negligence of the Boston Archdiocese. The latest Pew Research Poll on religion shows that 10% of all americans are ex-catholics. If it was a denomination it would be second largest in the country. Thirty million people have not left the church because they were molested by a priest. It is because they simply don’t believe in the theology or doctrine. It is a fact that even if we were not victims of heinous crimes when we were children, half of us would not be Catholic anyway.
Next Post - The Journey
The next installment of this series will examine the theology and doctrine of the Catholic Church. Here is the beginning of the upcoming post.
In order to be a Roman Catholic there are two non-negotiable beliefs you have to accept, that Jesus is God and that the Bible is a divine communication to us from the creator. I decided to start there.