Now that I've been Episcopalian for a few months now (dang, time flies), stepping outside of the Roman Catholic Church has given me more time and space to consider the various things that the Church does that made me uncomfortable, because it made the Church seem so unwelcome, inflexible, and intolerant. Here are some of them, in no particular order.
Please recognize that I am not a Biblical scholar or a theologian, and it is very very possible that I'll make errors in this series. Please be respectful about providing any corrections and when sharing your viewpoints in the comments, below. Please also understand that two people looking at the same issue can come to two different conclusions.
Ordination of women. This didn't bug me too much growing up. Funnily enough, I started worrying about this after my father said I was a radical liberal feminist in cahoots with a radical liberal feminist priest. Might as well be guilty as charged, right? (just snarking.) The main argument is that Christ was male, and therefore priests who take after Christ must also be male. Similarly, the 12 Apostles were male. However, couldn't the male-dominated Christianity scene be a consequence of the time and place where Jesus lived? I mean, Judaism was a very patriarchal religion and culture. If Christ had come to that time and place as a female, would he have had the same effect as the male Christ? Probably not. But if He came to earth in the middle of a culture of matriarchy, then He would very likely have been a She, since the message of good news would spread better that way.
At the very least, I thought, at least let women be deacons.
Married clergy. I used to argue that it was better for priests to be celibate, because of all the work they have to do. It would be hard to raise a family and be a priest with how much they're having to take on with the current vocational shortage. However, Fr. Cutié describes the benefits of married clergy pretty well, saying that he thinks having a wife and children would help keep priests from getting burned out psychologically and emotionally. It would certainly help reverse the vocation crisis by allowing men who are called to both marriage and ordination, to do so.
Social justice. I used to love the Roman Catholic church for being so strong on social justice. It just isn't right that so many families fall through the cracks, so many children go hungry, and that so many people live on the streets. I hated how a bad series of financial events could make people land in the shelter. It's extremely hard for these families to climb their way out of the hole once they slid down. I loved that they would work hard to provide welfare, health care, food, and shelter. I loved that there were activists working to try to improve, and preferably, stop the deportation process. I loved that the Church is so strong against the death penalty and against abortion.
Unfortunately, the Church has moved away from the broader social justice movement in favor of focusing on solely the rights of unborn children. Recently, they reprimanded the nuns for caring so much for the poor, the sick, and the hungry, because the bishops thought they weren't focusing hard enough on the unborn. But, you know what? We also have to take care of those who are already born. The nuns are doing marvelously at that. Why not take that effort that's going toward reprimanding the nuns, and put it toward supporting them instead?
Discrimination against GLBTQ. Similarly to the social justice issue--shouldn't all charities provide aid and assistance for people, no matter who they are? Unfortunately, for the sake of taking the hard line against gay people, they're sacrificing the quality of life for children in foster care or awaiting adoption. Some Catholic adoption agencies closed their doors just because they didn't want to place kids in gay families. Some Catholic schools are also discriminating against kids if their parents are gay. It's maddening. Why are they sacrificing children's welfare or education? It doesn't matter if kids have two mommies, two daddies, or a mom and a dad. So long as the parents are loving, kind, sane, and not abusive, who cares what they do in the bedroom? It's again bringing sex into issues where kids are concerned.
Same goes for health care. Some Catholic places of work don't want to provide coverage for gay spouses, even though it would be kind to do so. It has a detrimental effect on people, simply because these Catholic places of work are overly concerned about what they're doing in the bedroom.
Same goes for charities. Why would it matter if charities are feeding, ministering to, or housing gay couples? The point is that they're providing for basic human needs. It's not about accidentally providing legitimacy to couples that are anything other than heterosexual--it's about helping people.
Filed under: Becoming Episcopalian