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A dissatisfied Catholic

from: Gary

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A very dissatisfied Catholic  here. I definitely want to lose my religion. Over 50 years confessing and then committing the same sins. I can't be what I am not.

While I think there is a god and afterlife, I want to pursue it without the church which was made from ancient fables by old men, changed forever after.

How can I lose the guilt that was beat into me at Catholic school by barbaric nuns that are now all gone? Any advice for further readings or help?

Thanks, Gary

PS: I still feel god will punish me for this, My closest friend, my brother, recently passed and my parents "Who were saints on earth." I have a wife and kids, yet they do not mean as much to me as my brother did. Thank you for listening.

Gary

The Patriarch replies:

Thanks for writing, Gary, but given you still think "there is a god and afterlife," I'm not sure I'm the best person to point you in the direction best suited for you. But as a high proportion of the supposedly ex-Catholic resources of the web seem to be disguised fundamentalist Protestant outreach ministries or Catholic attempts to bring people back to the Church, I'll try and give you some alternatives.

It's not clear whether you want to disassociate yourself just from Catholicism, from all Christianity, or from organized religion in general. But if you still want a spiritual home, I'll make a few suggestions in varying distances from the Roman Catholic Church without having to step into the fundamentalist swamp.

First off - getting rid of the pope and his invented infallibility. I'd suggest two possibilities; The Old Catholic Church and the Episcopal Church. Both have congregations with a range of views from conservative to liberal Christianity. Either is worth checking out if you have not abandoned Christianity.

Another option to look at is the Quakers - they also have a diversity of views, a range from fundamentalist Christianity right through to non-theism. If you can find a nearby Quaker Universalist Fellowship or a non-theist Quaker fellowship, either might provide you with a spiritual home. Or, there is the church I usually recommend to agnostics looking for physical church rather than an internet presence, the Unitarian Universalists.

Now - if you want to get right away from all the trappings of religion, you probably want some internet resources.

First of all, I'd suggest you look at Ex-Christian.net. It's got a good range of articles, testimonials from those who have moved away from faith along with active discussions. It also has a bookstore in which you might find some useful reading. Also, I searched the site using the term "catholic guilt" and found several articles you might find useful (catholic guilt).

Other than what you can get from that search, I'm not sure what the solution is to your feelings of guilt. According to a recent study as reported in The Guardian, Catholic guilt is a myth and followers of other religions feel more guilty about sinning than do Catholics. If guilt over sins (rather than true moral wrongs) is affecting your life, then perhaps a little professional counselling is warranted. Or perhaps you need to find a way to relish committing those sins the nuns were so offended by. Just enjoy imagining the look on sister Mary-Agnes's face if she could see you now....

Getting away from guilt and back to stepping away from Catholicism, you might want to follow Ed Babinski, an ex-Catholic, an ex-fundamentalist, and now an agnostic who maintains a lively dialogue with Christians. You can find his blog here, and if you follow him on his Facebook page, you will find a continuing stream of recommendations for further reading, both online and in print.

Also on Facebook, there is a small ex-Catholic group through which you might find some mutual support from others who understand.

You said you think there is a god and an afterlife. I presume you believe in a caring god, and that heaven is a reward for those that lived a good life. If it is a caring god, then surely that god is not going to make the entry to heaven decision based on those lucky enough to have been born into the right religion. Rather it should be based on how well you've lived your life, and "sin" as defined by a supposedly celibate clergy does not enter into it.