Another person writes to me to ask how a nice progressive person like me could join the (gasp!) Catholic Church…
Dear Mr. McColman,
I read an article about how you were a liberal Christian and have joined the Catholic Church. I don’t understand how you reconcile those two. The Catholic Church is one of the most conservative churches in Christianity. They still refuse to allow women to become priests and their moral teachings are much closer to what Jerry Falwell taught than liberal Christianity.
You’re absolutely right about the current state of Catholicism — which is one reason why the Catholic Church needs members like you and me — people who will pray and work for the renewal of the church so that true justice may flow like a river within it. I’ve come to believe that there is no such thing as a “perfect” church or religious group and so each person must choose his or her community of faith based on a) where we believe we are called to be, and b) the yearning of our own heart. I was drawn to the Catholic faith because of my love for contemplative spirituality and monasticism. While, like you, I believe that Christianity is called to be non-sexist (and I would add, non-racist and non-homophobic), I decided I would “live with” the Catholic church’s ongoing sexism and homophobia, even though I personally disagree with it. Since becoming a Catholic, I’ve learned that there are many Catholics who feel like I do, which gives me hope that someday the church will change.
Of course, the kicker is, I don’t understand how I reconcile an inclusive conscience with the Catholic faith either. I just know that this is where I’m called to be — even though many conservative Catholics would insist I have a defective conscience, and many progressives would insist that I’ve betrayed my conscience by becoming Catholic. Thankfully, since there’s no way I can please both my liberal non-Catholic friends and my conservative Catholic friends, I’ve pretty much given up trying to please any of them. All I know is that, in Christ, “we enjoy our freedom … and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:14, 17). All things held together in freedom: even a postpatriarchal conscience with a thirst for contemplative waters and a church with a grand mystical tradition and a deeply wounded/wounding current leadership.