Why I Remain Catholic


Last week, a friend asked why I put up with the Catholic Church.

On my seventieth birthday, I did a lot of re-thinking about my life and public posture and positions. I would like to be around for a few more years. My health is rather good for a corpulent old man; and longevity is characteristic in my paternal and maternal families. Nevertheless I know the clock is ticking for Jack and now I more carefully state my positions and beliefs.

I am indeed a follower of Jesus Christ. I am far from perfect; but my life is anchored in his life and teachings and spirit. I am also a member of the Roman Catholic Church. That church educated me, opened me to contemporary life, and sill sustains me. It is not a perfect institution; but then no institution is perfect. Indeed I can write horror stories about the Roman Catholic bastards — bishops, priests — who over the years cheated and screwed me. Pious bastards! No other words can better describe them. Despicable human beings.

On the other hand, I have known and have been nourished and supported by some remarkable Roman Catholic lay people, women religious, ordained ministers, bishops, and cardinals. One cardinal saved my skin when another cardinal tried to screw me and get me thrown out of the church and fired. Another cardinal and an archbishop became my spiritual fathers and gave me human support and encouragement in particularly dark moments of my life. No small things. Great men! Great Catholics!

I went to Roman Catholic grade school, high school, college, and university. My education was excellent and my formation left me an informed and critical thinking believer. Not afraid to ask questions.

As a contemporary Catholic I remain particularly critical. The papal administrations of JPII and Benedict XVI were not healthy moments in the history of our church. What will happen under the most recently elected Bishop of Rome remains to be seen. Time will tell. Nevertheless I am not much of a papal person. (And I am an American anchored in the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence.) The age of absolute monarchs is over and gone. I am more a follower of Jesus of Nazareth than the Jesus of Rome.

I must also say I am very disappointed in and about the current group of US Roman Catholic Bishops. If some of them were in my theology classes, I think I would have to flunk them. Their knowledge of church history and their understanding of biblical exegesis is pathetic. Far too many of these men proclaim their ignorance with an offensive and demeaning arrogance that has no place in the community of faith.

But the Catholic Church remains my home. It is where I live and work. There are bastards in the church but they don’t guide my life. There are also giants and wonderful women and men. Truly saints! I respect, appreciate, and admire them. And in the Catholic Church I have experienced more saints than bastards.

A number of my friends have left the Church of Rome. I understand what they have done and why. They have taken steps I chose not to take. They remain my good friends and sisters and brothers in the faith. One Lord, one Faith, One Baptism, one God who is Father (Mother) of all! Together we pursue the Truth. Together in respectful dialogue and fellowship.

And so we move on…in our pilgrimage.

15 thoughts on “Why I Remain Catholic

  1. I am a Roman Catholic presently worshiping in the Luthern tradition. I could no longer abide what is happening in the RCC. And the offical theology that is proclaimed to be all truth, misses the mark most of the time. I love the RCC but I felt I had to go where my spirit is nourished and God’s love is proclaimed as unconditional.

  2. Thanks, Jack. Your statement is concise and powerful. I keep reminding myself (and anyone else who will listen) that WE are the church. The hierarchy are only a part of it and, at this point, on the margin.

  3. Jack,
    I fully understand your feelings and thoughts. While there has been enough good for you from the Roman church, what about the millions of former Romans who have been damaged and continue to be damaged by those bastards. When is enough enough for you liberals who refuse to take a stand that will cause those bastards to notice that there time has passed. If we who fight from the outside could be joined by those of you on the inside, that might bring all of this to a head.
    Jerry

    • Jerry, I guess we all have to try to bloom where we are planted. My goals remain education and formation: getting good and correct information to people and helping them develop skills for critical thinking. Jack

  4. Thank you for sharing this very beautiful read Jack! No matter where you are, there are always people who are like these “bastards” and they will do nothing but pull you down. Don’t let them dictate your life. You can always be better than them. Stay faithful and strong! May God bless you! 🙂

  5. Happy 70th Birthday, Jack! My husband, Lee, and I continued to be encouraged and inspired by your thoughts. Lee, too, just turned 70 and has retired from active diaconate ministry. God’s good graces to both of you! May we all continue in the joy of being church in Christ!
    Annette Packard

  6. Jack, I like your line “I am more a follower of Jesus of Nazareth than the Jesus of Rome”, and feel the same way myself. I think it is possible while remaining in the many goods of the Catholic tradition, at the same time to “transcend” the limitations of the roman system and be aware of the good that is everywhere in everybody. I believe the fundamental roman doctrines, but don’t much care for the systemic abuses. I think Jesus left the system long ago, but remains very close to his folks. I do not want to leave Eucharist, but I don’t believe only a male celibate priest is the only one who can “make it happen”. Same goes for many other such considerations. Thanks for writing this.

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