Maybe I Need To Give An Inch

I’ve been pretty frustrated with the Catholic Church for about a year and a half now. And about a year ago, I quit lending my talents – it felt too much like I was putting my stamp of approval on the whole thing, like I was a public representative of all of the things about the Catholic tradition that I don’t like.

(There aren’t that many, by the way. I happen to believe that gay people shouldn’t be ostracized. That women should have the same rights and privileges as men. That the clergy should be able to marry. That recent "updates" to the catholic liturgy are a power play and are counter productive).

So – after 25 years of every Sunday (sometimes twice and sometimes three times) showing up for church with my guitar, my mic stand and cables, a huge bag of music, and a varied assortment of musicians – I quit. Pretty abruptly, too, although it had been in motion for quite a while.

I was sorta surprised, and so was my family. I’m not a quitter, though – so while I stopped participating, I have been letter writing. So far, that hasn’t made much of a difference. It’s a bit funny – here I am, this decidedly not wealthy, not influential guy who took his guitar and went home and started writing letters. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that almost no one wrote back – but it did.

You see – after all of those years – I felt like I was a respected colleague in those circles. But the president of Seattle University didn’t write back. The folks at L’Arche did – but patted themselves on the back for a policy that sounds like "don’t ask, don’t tell" while I know perfectly well that women and gay people aren’t integrated or accepted. My former high school wrote back to say that they agree with me – and while that was nice – I can’t tell that they are doing anything.

And that’s the worst part. Most of my experience in the Catholic community has been excellent – particularly the Jesuit community. So I expect more. I expect dialogue. I expect reason. I expect standing up to the hierarchy. Most of all, I expected to be heard – and that doesn’t seem to be happening.

So – I don’t know about what is next. I’m thinking that my next step is to write again – but instead of asking what those Institutions are doing – I think I’ll ask about what those leaders are doing personally. It strikes me that personal change is much more possible – and I’d feel at least a bit relieved to know that some of those leaders were engaged in that dialogue.


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