Monday, September 28, 2015

I'm a Catholic and I'm Frustrated with Pope Francis

As you probably already know due to the social media and news explosion, Pope Francis was in America this past week. As a Catholic myself, I anticipated the event with much curiosity. I know some people who were waiting with baited breath for the pope to announce some of the Church's teachings to be invalid. I am so sick of people who call themselves Catholic thinking that the pope will do this!

Nobody, absolutely nobody, can declare "oh, well, {insert issue here} is actually okay to do. We've been wrong for 2,000 years and Jesus was wrong, so yeah." Nope. Not a thing. The Catholic Church is never going to be okay with abortion, birth control, same-sex marriage, etc. (I feel like I should note that the Church still loves and accepts people who practice these things...love the sinner--we're all sinners--hate the sin, and all that.)

And why is that? Because Jesus founded the Catholic Church and Jesus designed the human race for perfection. Sin takes away from perfection and distances us from Him. The things that the Catholic Church (and Jesus) doesn't allow us to do is for our own good.

SO I don't have an issue with Pope Francis and I don't doubt His spirituality nor loyalty to the Church or to Jesus.

THAT BEING SAID.

I had MAJOR issues with the pope's speeches at the White House and to Congress. Everything he said was so...easy. One of my friends commented that he was basically throwing cotton balls. Nearly every single person in America would agree with the majority of the things he said...

But it wasn't necessarily what he said that upset me. It was what he didn't say.  He did say that human life is to be valued, but that was it. He did say that marriage is under attack, but that was it.

What he didn't say was that abortion in this country needs to stop. What he failed to mention were the thousands upon thousands of babies that are being murdered in their mothers' wombs in the United States. What never escaped his lips was a cry to defend the unborn. He had the opportunity to explicitly defend them, and he didn't.

What he didn't say was that marriage is between a man and a woman and cannot be redefined.

I have a huge amount of respect for Pope Francis and the papal office. But I was disappointed, disheartened, and perhaps a little angry at the missed opportunity.

I know that he did a lot of good while in the United States, and brought up these themes while he spoke to the bishops and other Catholics. I'm not discounting that.

But what frustrates me is that he could have boldly proclaimed the truth with love to the president, the congress, and the nation and that he merely glossed over important facts without taking a solid stand. The bishops already know that the Catholic Church is against abortion and that homosexual unions are wrong. It's awesome that the pope brought this up to them! But how much more needed were these truths to be told to the rest of the nation?

I have stood up for the Church imperfectly, but I have still striven to make known her truths with love to those who do not understand. I, and countless others, have been discriminated against and hated for believing what the Church teaches. I felt so let down that the pope did not make a declaration of support of the unborn and traditional marriage to the United States government, when both are in jeopardy.

But, you know what? I am at peace. Even though I was definitely disgruntled...the Catholic Church is more than one man. The people that make up the Church are only humans and we sin. We do not always lead perfectly, and we do not always love perfectly.

I do not hang the truthfulness of the Church on the pope, nor do I hang it on any nun, priest, bishop, or lay person. But I follow the Church's teachings because they were administered by Jesus Christ, and that's who I am striving to follow.

I know a lot of people have left the Catholic Church because they have been let down by those entrusted to lead her. I know many who have been disappointed by the leaders of the Church. I'm sure that I have some ex-Catholics who read my blog. And, in the name of the Church, I am so, so, so sorry. I am sorry for the ways that the people of the Church have hurt you have mislead you, have failed you in any way. I hope and pray that you will find it in your heart to forgive whoever wronged you, and the Church as a whole.

And please remember...the Church is not defined by the failings of its members, or it would have died long ago. The Church is defined by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Since we're on the topic...does anyone have any questions about anything the Catholic Church teaches? So many people believe things about the Church that aren't true, and I'd love to dispel some of the rumors for you.

(ALSO...if you're a teen doing NaNo and would be interested in joining an email-based NaNo support group, please email me: 11anniem@gmail.com! Don't know about NaNo? Visit ywp.nanowrimo.org or nanowrimo.org.)

Have a great week, everyone! May the peace of Jesus reign in your hearts.

17 comments:

  1. I'm impressed at your ability to see that the church is more than the individuals chosen to represent it. We all strive to be perfect but all misstep at times.

    Good luck with your journey.

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  2. Hi!
    I highly agree with what you said. "The Church is defined by our Savior, Jesus Christ"
    I am Christian, but I am not Catholic.
    I know my great grandparents were catholic but I still don't know too much about the difference between being Christan and Catholic. I was curios to see if you could explain to me how you view the difference? And I have heard that Catholics do a lot of things with Mary, could you explain that in more detail?
    Thank you so much! I am really interested in what you have to say, I have read your blog for a while and I remember being surprised the first time I read you talk about your faith. It reminded me strongly of how I talk about mine. The only times I have been in a Catholic Church were at assorted family members funerals. I'm really excited to hear what you think! God bless!

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    1. Hello, Megan! Thank you for your comment and your interest!

      So there is actually no difference between being Christian and Catholic. Catholics are Christians. The Catholic Church is the original Church started by Jesus Christ, though it was originally just called "Christianity". However, when the reformation took place, it became necessary to use the word "Catholic" to show the difference between the original Church and the new denominations that were branching off of the Church (such as Protestantism, Calvinism, etc). Catholics believe in Jesus, and that He is the ultimate Savior of the world. Also, it's important to note, that Catholics fully believe in the Bible (Sacred Scripture). We also believe in something called Sacred Tradition, which is the nonverbal teachings (because not everything could be written down, right?) that the Holy Spirit has guided to be passed down through the ages through the Church.

      Yes, Catholics do have a lot to do with Mary! My devotion to her is actually in its more beginning stages, though I've been Catholic my whole life. Basically, Catholics believe that Mary was perfect-- she was completely without original sin. Otherwise, how could she have held God in her womb?! And just imagine all of the suffering that she endured...watching her beloved Son die, and there's so much more...yet, she remained perfect. She didn't hate those who killed Him, she responded with love to everything. So all that to say, we hold her up as a model of perfection. A lot of people think that Catholics worship Mary, but we don't. A more accurate way of putting things is that Catholics pray THROUGH Mary.

      Look at it this way: If you're going through something tough, and needed prayers, maybe you would say to me, "Hey, Anne Marie, could you pray for me?" (and I would be like heck yes!) So, if prayer is essentially talking to God, we are asking Mary to tell God something for us. Another common question that I've gotten is "Why do you need Mary to get to God?" Well, we don't. But Mary helps aid us in our journey to seeking her Son, Jesus. And isn't that what it's all about? Why wouldn't we want someone as perfect as Mary praying with us, for us? And she's so close to Jesus, she's the spouse of the Holy Spirit, so why wouldn't we want to entrust our prayers to her care, to relay to her Son?

      It's not that we should other "pray through" Mary, though. God wants us to talk directly to Him. But I often end my prayers with "Mama Mary, I entrust this all to you, please pray to Jesus with me and for me." Also, this is totally biblical. When Jesus is on the cross, He gives Mary to John the disciple (who is representing the Church), and entrusts us to Mary's care.

      If you're going to think of it any way, think of it this way: Mary is supposed to be like our best friend who helps us more fully discover Jesus, because she knows Him best (being His mother and all).

      (And the rosary, which is the "Hail Mary" prayer [Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.] is just a way to talk to Mary. She has the ability to give us so many of God's graces! It's incredible to me how much praying the rosary has impacted my spiritual life and brought me closer to Jesus.)

      One last note: nothing about Mary is about Mary. She's perfect, so she's humble, and her heart's desire is for us to come to know Jesus. So we don't pray through Mary for her own sake, but for the sake of becoming closer to Jesus.

      I'm praying for you, Megan! Once again, thank you for voicing your curiosity. Please let me know if any of this doesn't make sense or if you have any more questions.

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    2. Thank you so much! This has really helped me to understand more about the catholic faith! God bless!

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  3. You'd make a great theologian!

    I listened to Pope Benedict's speeches and they were inspiring to me to live a better life. That's what I want from a spiritual leader- leadership. I haven't listened to Pope Francis much, but what I did hear was pretty much easy stuff to swallow. But then maybe with all the fighting and discord, a softer message is needed? Though so many churches seem to be watering down the message just to keep numbers and money coming in, and that's wrong. Better to be poor and powerless than lead people astray.

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    1. Thank you, Elizabeth!

      I'm a big fan of Pope Benedict (and Pope John Paul II!). I think he rarely gets the accolades he deserves.

      I completely agree with what you're saying about "easy to swallow" messages coming from Pope Francis. I think that now, more than ever, a true message is needed (though it can be a hard message--but, hey, look at the crucifixion. That wasn't soft and fluffy.) spoken with gentle love and perseverance.

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  4. I'm not Catholic, but he sounds like a politician. Afraid to take a stand--afraid to make waves. By not offending people, though, he's offending quite a few people, it sounds like. I think there are many people out there who are afraid to speak upon their beliefs because there will be backlash.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Stephanie. Yes, I'm not quite sure what the reasons behind the speech were, so I really can't say if the purpose was to "not offend people". Either way, you're totally right--there are so many people afraid to speak about their beliefs for the sake of preserving a following. And either way, people will stop following them regardless.

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  5. I'm public schooled, so while Pop Francis was on the East Coast the coverage of his speeches would be broadcasted onto all of the local news channels, and for twenty minutes, I would sit eating my cereal and just watch. While I wish I could have watched the speeches in depth, you're right saying that he didn't go deeper.... There were definitely certain parts that were wasted potential. :/ But nether the less,, though he could have spoken more about it, there is still all of us who are still able to take a stand and speak out about these topics.

    xoxo Morning

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    1. Gotcha...and yes, exactly, the Church is more than just one person!

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  6. I'm not Catholic, and have my own opinions on things, but I think the Pope did a decent job. I couldn't understand half he said :P but I did catch some parts that I thought were inspiring. Maybe there's a reason he didn't want to go as in-depth as you, and probably many others, believe he should have. We may never know, but I think his speeches did make an impact on some.

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    1. They certainly did make an impact on lots of people. Thanks for commenting, Chrys!

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  8. Hey I know this is late and I'm kinda sticking my neck out here... but do you Catholics believe in personal salvation? Do you believe there is a time in your life when you have to consciously make the personal decision to accept Jesus, or are you that way from birth? Thanks! I come from a conservative Protestant/Anabaptist church and I don't know much about Catholics =) This post was really interesting, btw.

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    1. We definitely believe that we have to make a personal decision to accept Jesus. We believe that baptism (Catholics are typically baptized as infants) washes away original sin and provides the graces needed to live a good life...but there comes a time in everyone's life when he or she needs to make the conscious decision to accept Christ.

      That being said, we don't believe that that alone gets us into heaven. The grace of Jesus, of course, in Him dying for us gets us there as well as how we let that influence our own actions. A lot of people think Catholics think that we get to heaven by our works, but that's not true. We believe that faith without works is dead, but it's not like a "go to church", "be nice" sort of check list. However, again, as St. Paul says, faith without works is dead. So, we need to accept Jesus and let that influence our lives and the works that we do. The only way we can do that, however, is with Jesus and the grace that He pours out on us from His death on the cross.

      Hopefully that all makes sense! Would love to answer any other questions if you have them. God bless you, Melody! Thanks for reaching out.

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