Children are People Too   Leave a comment

Trigger Warning: Child Abuse, Domestic Abuse

Tonight I want to talk about this post. It’s from a blog that I subscribed to in a very different time, and I haven’t deleted it yet because sometimes I just enjoy listening or reading things that I know are wrong. It might not be a good idea to indulge this fancy, but I occasionally pick up interesting information in this way, so I’m sticking with it for now.

Anyway, I want to reiterate that I do not recommend this blog. It covers some issues that I find interesting that are difficult to come across in other venues, but the commentary on these issues is trite under good circumstances.

Anyway, a post caught my eye because it was about people who had left the Catholic Church and then sought to reenter. I can’t really imagine that happening. The Catholic Church, for all the change it has undergone, still prides itself on being unchanging. For myself, I can be at least that stubborn. So a reconciliation is unlikely, but I figured I’d give the article a read anyway.

As it turns out, the Catholic Church no longer recognizes any formal way of leaving the Church. In the words of the blogger (who, I suppose, can be helpful about some things):

Now, the Church no longer considers it possible to defect from the faith by formal act.  Therefore, there are no canonical consequences from formal defection.  Were a person to film herself signing a document and then publish the photos and take out ads in the newspaper, according to the Church they would not have formally defected from the Church.

So much for handing in my membership card. Anyway, the article continues for a bit, talking about the censure for heresy and schism, when this bit comes up:

Finally, on a slightly different but related note, the Code says in can. 1366 that parents or those who take the place of parents who have their children baptized or educated in a non-Catholic religion are to be punished with a censure or other just penalty. If we have an obligation to maintain our Catholic identity for ourselves, we also have an obligation to maintain the Catholic identity of children for whom we are responsible.

At first, I don’t notice anything wrong with this. Then I remember, children are people too. Seriously. I wasn’t particularly religious at twelve years of age, but going to Mass and going to confession still meant something to me. So if I had been a non-Catholic, and a Catholic family took responsibility for me, would they be required to take that away from me? Children can have religious identities as well, and it boggles my mind that nobody noticed or cared when this bit of canon was being written.

But then again, it doesn’t boggle my mind. One of the reasons I left the Catholic Church was the hierarchy. Not the particular bishops that are in office now (though they might have been enough) no I became frustrated with the very idea of bishops. I guess I had read one too many articles about the sex abuse scandals. Just recently the first church official in the United States was convicted of knowingly shuffling around abusive priests. I had always realized that individual priests were sinners just like anyone else. But I had never before realized how the structure of the Catholic Church created dynamics of exploitation and corruption that were predictable and avoidable. I had believed the structure of the Catholic Church ordained by God. And while I still believe God able to work through such a flawed instrument, I could no longer believe it is His instrument.

The Catholic Church’s attention to hierarchy allows it to forget that children are people who might not want to adopt the religious identity of adoptive parents. This happened the same way so many priests (though, thank God, not all) told abused wives to be obedient to their husbands a hundred years ago. This happened the same way Catholic priests in the south told black Catholics that slavery was not to be resisted. It happened the same way accused heretics were promised safe passage on their way to trial, and once convicted, some were executed because promises to heretics could not be considered binding.

A hierarchy puts people on top and others on bottom, and the people on bottom usually get stepped on. Or ignored.

It’s not quite like eating with prostitutes and tax collectors, is it?

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us. 41 Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward. (Mark 9:38-41)

Whoever is not against us is for us. Amen.


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