In my 25 -secrets post, I mentioned I was trying to return home to the Catholic Church. My resolution didn’t last a week. I was sent a registration form by the Church I planned on joining. I can overlook that the first question was, “do you wish to receive weekly donation envelopes?”
Right after name, address, phone number, the form inquires:
Marital status Married (recognized by the Catholic Church
Married (not recogized by the Catholic Church)
Then the usual, single, separated, divorced, widowed
Immediately I am faced with the dilemma. Do I lie so I can receive the Eucharist and be considered a good Catholic? Or do I tell the truth and be regarded as a fornicator? Neither of my marriages are recognized by the Catholic Church. My ex-husband horrified and alienated his four daughters by having our marriage of 28 years annulled, because he lacked “due discretion” at the time we were married. He didn’t give me any prior warning. Imagine my horror at getting the letter from “The Tribunal.” I didn’t contest the annulment; we had just gotten divorced about 4 months previously. I wanted to put the bitterness behind us.
The humiliation of my annulment isn’t enough for the Catholic Church. As I understand Catholic canon law, my husband’s first marriage would have to be annulled by the Catholic church because it was a valid Christian marriage recognized by the Anglican Church. Only then could we be remarried in the Catholic Church, and I would cease to be an evil sinner who couldn’t receive communion because my husband and I are fornicators and adulterers.
Would you want to belong to this church? I was feeling upset and depressed, and in a moment of weakness wanted to run home to Mother Church, the church of my parents, grandparents, cousins. I should remember that it never works. Usually the first time I go to Mass, I hear a sermon that makes me want to walk out.
I have always found my feminism and Catholicism incompatible. Things started to go wrong at age 7. We were preparing for First Holy Communion. Having 5 brothers, I immediately noticed that the boys wnt up first. When I asked sister why, she complacently replied, “Because they can be priests. They are closer to God.” Three years later, I was outraged that my younger brother could be an altar boy and I couldn’t, even though I knew the Latin responses about five times better than he did.
It was immensely healing to see the Eucharist performed by women priests in the Episcopal Church. Even my mother, born in 1921, was an active member of the Catholic Women’s Ordination Conference. I have to try harder to find my Episcopal Church home. True, some Catholic Churches have impressive social ministries. But I cannot forget how the Church regards women and gays, how a celibate clergy cannot understand human sexuality in general.